Categories
Races Running

A Most Violent Year

I was signed up for the Run10Feed10 10K race on the West Side Highway this morning, and if I’m completely honest, I knew as a crawled into bed at 8:30 p.m. there was already a slight chance I wouldn’t make it to the starting line.

There would have been lots of plausible excuses to justify skipping the event:

  1. The 7 a.m. race start on the far side of Manhattan meant I had to be up and ready to go by 5:30 a.m.
  2. The weather was forecast to be muggy and wet.
  3. My training schedule wanted me to run 8 miles so I was going to have to tack on two brutal extra post-race.
  4. My fiancé was at his bachelor party so I had the entire glorious bed to myself.
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Dramatic re-enactment.

Still, the night before I pinned on my bib, laid out my race gear, charged my watch and tucked myself in at an ungodly early hour, prepared to rise with the sun (or an hour before it, no big deal) and complete a fun race with world-famous swag that I’ve been looking forward to for weeks.

I was up at 5 a.m. and, like the Millennial I am, checked social media before my feet even touched the ground. And that’s when I saw it: a friend had posted that she’d been a block from the explosion and was alerting everyone that she was ok.

My mind started racing. What explosion? What had happened in my city between the hours I stopped looking at my phone Saturday night to when I awoke to my alarm Sunday morning? In this terrible 2016 where bad things never seem to stop, what was it this time?

I quickly found out, as you all now know too, that it was a homemade bomb that detonated on Saturday night in western Manhattan, injuring 29 and fortunately killing no one. A second device was located and removed several blocks away. This came on the heels of a different explosion along a racecourse of a 5K charity event in New Jersey earlier that day. I realize it’s what the people who commit these acts of violence want, but I can’t lie: These three events together had me wondering if I should really be leaving the relative safety of my Queens apartment and heading toward the direction of the previous night’s horror. It was only 5:30 in the morning, but I was already spooked. Terror, 1; Anne, 0.

I nervously messaged a runner friend who was racing the much more impressive Marathon Tune-Up in Central Park that morning, and she said she wasn’t backing out. In fact, the New York Road Runners, who put on that grueling 18-mile event, had already put a notice on their website overnight announcing the race was still on and that security would be on high alert. As much as I lambaste the Road Runners for their crowded race courses, they certainly know how to calm their runners’ nerves in challenging times.

But I wasn’t running that race. I was running a race put on by … Macy’s and Women’s Health magazine? And my event’s organizers didn’t feel the need to reach out to participants to let them know if the previous night’s events – which transpired just a neighborhood away from the race start – meant anything had changed. Like was the race still on? Were they canceling bag check? Were trains and buses to the starting line still operating? Would there still be powerbars at the finish line or had the terrorists ruined snack time, too?

I went to the Run10Feed10 website – and found nothing. I checked to see if they’d e-mailed race participants – and saw nothing. I took my questions to Twitter – nothing.

At this point, it wasn’t so much fear of further acts of violence so much as fear that I’d travel all the way to Pier 84 to find out the race had been delayed or postponed and no one bothered telling me. I didn’t need coddling post-explosion but I needed information, and I didn’t feel like the race organizers were giving it. So I did something I’ve only done once before – I untied my running shoes and crawled back into bed. In today’s race, I wasn’t even a DNF. I was a DNS. #shame

When I awoke again at 8 a.m., I saw that the race had, in fact, gone off without a hitch, and later saw the organizers did finally announce on Twitter 39 minutes before the starting gun that the race was still on – thought that wouldn’t have been enough time for me or hundreds of other Long Island runners to make it in. Hear, hear, Jess PhD!

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So instead of vying for a new PR today, I slept in, made some coffee, ate breakfast, and turned on the news: where I immediately encountered a former FBI agent telling New Yorkers the best way they could respond to the explosion was to keep living their lives: whether that’s going to a movie, walking the dog or going for a run. Alright, TV man, I said: I won’t hide out here all day.

So I laced back up – number and all – and went out for my 8 miles.

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And they were glorious, humidity and all. You know why? Because this city is glorious, and its running paths are glorious, and its water fountains are glorious and its resilience is glorious. I may not have made it to my 10K race today, but not because I’m giving in. We New Yorkers never give in.

How did you celebrate NYC this morning?

 

Categories
Food

Digging Deep: How to Use Up Ten Million Carrots

Summer 2014 brought a lot of new things. Ben and I moved in together. A pope visited Asia for the first time in 25 years. My poor niece was forced to take the Ice Bucket Challenge against her will. 

But that summer also opened my eyes to something significant culinarily: the brilliance of the carrot.

Growing up in the suburban 1980s, carrots were a vegetable only served steamed with a dollop of butter and dill or as part of a frozen vegetable medley, often still frozen. Then baby carrots came onto the scene in the early 90s, and carrots had another avenue into my mouth: doused in Hidden Valley Ranch. Throw in the occasional carrot cake for my dad’s birthday, and those were literally the only ways I ever consumed carrots from 1985-2014.

But then in summer 2014, I experienced something glorious. While dining out at Bobby Flay’s Spanish restaurant Gato with a visiting friend, I ordered the charred carrots in a bold piquillo pesto, and my relationship with the orangest root vegetable was transformed. 

I realized that for all those years, I had been eating carrots wrong. They weren’t best experienced as a token raw crunch or as an obligatory floating mass in a chicken noodle soup — they were made to be roasted. And so I started roasting them, and in mass quantities. I experimented with a lot of combinations, but my favorite was an homage to ol’ Bobby himself: tossed in olive oil and sea salt, roasted at a high temp until nearly blackened, tossed with pesto and adorned with a dollop of Greek yogurt. Pure bliss. 

 
In the two years since, I’ve upped my carrot intake exponentially and was always excited to open my CSA to find a handful of them… That is, until they stared arriving in the bucketful. I pride myself in being able to finish a whole CSA delivery in its entirely before the next one arrives, but this past week, I failed miserably — at it was all the carrots’ fault. 

Seriously. So. Many. Carrots. I almost asked Ben to take an American Beauty-style photo of me covered in strategically-placed carrots, but I realized that might be weird. So here they are laid out on my kitchen table instead. You know you still like them, Kevin Spacey.

I tried my old tricks — roasting, eating them raw — but there were just too many. So I had to get creative. 

First, I folded them into mac and cheese via this recipe for a dish that I found satisfying but that Ben said could have done without the carrots. Fair enough. 

 
Then I puréed them into soup, following this recipe but adding a whole can of coconut milk and significantly more hot sauce. I also used unsalted almond butter instead of peanut butter, which may have been a big mistake considering how much I had to season it after. Still, turned out pretty decent. 

But after all that, I still find myself with an ungodly number of carrots left. How, carrots, HOW?!

I stumbled across this gluten-free carrot flatbread recipe in a Cooking Light last night, but there’s no way fake bread actually tastes good, right? Any other ideas for mass carrot usage? Or should I just use this as an excuse to make a carrot cake? Dessert: the delicious solution. 

I’m open to suggestions here folks! Unless you’re Facebook, in which case your suggestions are terrible. Just take a look at the slideshow they tried to make me create and post on Sunday morning. 

An epic carrot night out indeed. Great insight, Facebook. 

What would you make?

Categories
Uncategorized

Wedding Planning’s the New Marathon

Whenever I catch up with friends and family this year, I’m asked one of the following questions:

  • How is wedding planning going?
  • Are you and Ben liking the new Queens apartment?
  • Why did your dog move to Hawaii without you?
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The Big Reveal: She’s not my dog.

And then there’s the follow-up question everyone who reads this blog inevitably asks next: Will you be running a marathon this year?

My standard response, while a bit canned, has gone a little something like this: “I’m planning a wedding this fall. THAT’s my marathon this year!”

I started saying it as a joke, but the closer I get to the big day, the clearer it becomes that this response is dripping with truth.

In fact, wedding planning and marathon training have an awful lot in common, from the frustrations and pitfalls to the anticipation and excitement. So without further ado, here’s my list of how planning to run 26.2 miles is a heck of a lot like planning to marry your better half.

Planning ahead is key. Show up at the starting line without having trained and you’ll have a miserable eight-hour slog ahead of you. Show up at your wedding day unprepared and you may be toasting with Starbucks lattes instead of the champagne you forgot to order. Both marathon training and wedding planning go much smoother when you’re organized and ready. For both events, put the big date on your calendar and work backwards to set achievable milestones (like racing a half or booking a DJ).

Oh, the gear you’ll buy. I didn’t think I would buy into the consumerism portion of wedding planning… and then I saw a “shed for the wed” workout shirt and I caved. And — I’m ashamed to admit — it’s not even the only bride-inspired piece of clothing I own. Likewise, just try to walk through a marathon expo without purchasing some new gear you don’t need. That’s why I’m going to someday name my autobiography “Too Many Tank-Tops: The RiledUpRunner Story.”

You may want to tweak your diet. Runners need to up their carbs substantially in the weeks leading up to the big day. Brides and grooms may find themselves doing the opposite. While some versions of wedding weight-loss are unhealthy and dangerous, wanting to clean up your diet in the months before your wedding can have a great impact on your complexion, your sleep and your mood. I’m even considering a return to Whole30 for the final weeks, since it left me with so much energy… though only if I can make an exception for non-paleo bachelorette-party wine. #nonnegotiable

You’ll find yourself talking about it all the time. You’ve heard Ben’s joke before: “How do you know someone is running a marathon? They tell you!” Even if you try to talk about other things, a runner’s upcoming race always seems to sneak back into the conversation. Same thing with wedding planning. I don’t TRY to talk about it all the time, but since it’s consuming so much of my time, it can’t help but find its way back to the forefront. After November, I’ll know about current events again, I swear.

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Right now, I know mostly about bridal showers.

But while marathon training and wedding planning have a lot in common, they’re different in one key way. They say for marathoning, the 16-weeks of training is the real achievement and the race itself is just the victory lap. But while a race ends the second you cross that finish line, the wedding isn’t a conclusion: it’s a beginning. Instead of putting your feet up and retiring your shoes for the winter like you do after a race, a wedding means the beginning of a marriage, and that’s where I’m told the real work/fun begins.

And I can’t wait to find that out for myself. Seventy days!

But who’s counting?

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