Country Living

I think “adulting” is a silly concept, but even I’ll admit I’ve done a lot of really grown up things these past 12 months. I got engaged. I bought renters insurance. I learned de-scaling a coffee maker is a thing and I did it — once — but hey, it’s a start.

And yesterday, I did the most adult thing I could possibly imagine: my fiancé and I bought a house.

The place, a two-bedroom charmer in the Hudson Valley, is everything we’d been looking for: close enough to a train that we could in theory commute to work, small enough that renovations hopefully won’t cost an arm and a leg, old enough that Martin Van Buren — the eighth president of the United States for you non-American readers  — could have popped in for a cup of tea during the final days of his term. (I didn’t say it was a new house.)  We closed Friday afternoon, treated ourselves to a diner dinner and a grocery store run (my Friday nights as a 30 year old > my Friday nights as a 20 year old, just saying), and then passed out on an air mattress in what will eventually be our dining room.

And today, we set about getting to know our new community. Now, some people would do that by window shopping along the main street (which we’ll do), or by exploring the historical sites (which we’ll do) or by frequenting the neighborhood bar (which we’ll definitely do.) But for those of you who like me never go anywhere without your running shoes, we know the very best way to explore a new city is to get out there on foot. So pouring rain and all, I laced up this morning and hit the pavement to get to know my new town.

I had five race-pace miles on my running schedule, and I initially thought I’d do an out and back along the main drive just to get a feel for the geography. But a little googling had told me there was a 5K race happening at the local high school this morning, so I decided to jog in that direction just in case. I got there — soaked to the bone, mind you — five minutes before the race was scheduled to start, and on an impulse, I registered. Besides, the money went to a good cause.

The turn-out was slim, as you’d expect on such a dreary day, but the energy was palpable among the crowd of neighbors. We lined up at the starting line, exchanged pleasantries about how we’d probably all look like prunes forever, and then we were off. The cross-country course, mostly on grass fields and paths, took us around the high school, around the middle school, and through the neighborhoods that I may eventually come to know well. With such a small field of runners, I spent part of my first mile in the elusive front position, but since I was struggling to find and follow the spray-painted arrows, I gladly relinquished top spot and instead followed on the heals of another runner who seemed to have at least an idea of where he was going.

We wove our way around the waterlogged course at a pretty modest clip, trying not to twist our ankles on the slippery leaves. I wasn’t pushing at my fastest pace, but I still noticed as I neared mile 3 that there wasn’t another female runner in sight. I’ve placed in local races before as first in my age group, but never as first female runner overall. As I rounded the final lap, I realized I was going to take home the gold. And by gold, I mean a stuffed lemur (did I mention it was a lemur themed race?) and a sweet engraved medal. I’ll take it!

Winner, winner, chicken dinner. (Why is that a thing people say? And where do I collect my chicken dinner?)
Now, there are hundreds of reasons to consider buying a getaway in a small town — escape the bustle of city life, get some fresh air, grow a garden, see the stars — but for all you runners out there, here’s another: win a race! I’m never the fastest runner in eight-million-strong New York City, but on a rainy day in Rhinebeck, N.Y., I just might be.

Readers, what’s your favorite way to explore a new place?







Yes, All Women Runners

Heads up: this isn’t a blog post about puppies and daisies and fireflies and food. This is a blog post about how two of the characteristics that define me most – being a runner and being a woman – sometimes together mean that I feel extremely unsafe on my own city’s streets. If that’s too heavy for you, I recommend you click out to this link instead and spend the next 5 minutes reflecting on how bad my niece looks as a lion. Cause it’s about to get real.

I’ve been thinking about writing this post for some time, but today just felt like the right day. I can’t be sure, but mayyyybe it has something to do with someone on deck to possibly be the most powerful person in the world saying it’s OK to grab women’s bodies without their consent. Ah, the power of the live mic.

As a runner, I spend sometimes upwards of 10 hours a week on my own in New York City’s streets, often in the early hours before sunrise or as dusk settles after a full day of work. Since I’m usually running in the dark, I stay on the sidewalks, follow the traffic patterns, leave my music at home and always look both ways – even on one-way roads. So you could say I’m a pretty safe runner.

But I don’t always feel safe. That’s because every now and then, as I’m sweating up a storm during my much coveted solo time, I get harassed.

That harassment takes any number of forms. Sometimes it’s a leering old man yelling “Nice legs!” as I make my way up the Queensboro Bridge. Sometimes it’s a “Damn, girl. Wish you’d run to me that fast” as I cruise down the East River Promenade. Once (hey, I warned you I’m not sugarcoating this), it was a “Hey you! Come sit on my face!” from the driver’s seat of a white delivery van standing between my apartment and Central Park.

And that wasn’t even the worst one. The worst was when a well-dressed man on 1st Avenue reached out and groped me just two blocks from my building. I slipped away and sprinted home, but not before his hand made contact with my lower body. I hadn’t realized wearing spandex on a marathon training run meant I had given up the right to the physical privacy of my body. I guess I should read those clothing labels better.

Now, it’s not always so extreme. Sometimes it’s honking or whistling or crude gestures or catcalls, i.e. “locker room banter” that some defenders will say are meant as complements and I should take them as such. You know, since I’m getting older and at some point, the positive feedback on my appearance is going to stop coming my way.

Well, I call bullshit. Because if these were complements, I’d run past feeling uplifted and supported. But instead, these strangers’ behavior always has the same effect: it leaves my heart racing, my skin crawling and me in an immediate fight or flight mode when all I actually wanted was to exercise in peace. And all because I had the gall to participate in my favorite pastime as a solo woman.

So if you read this and are now unsure what is and isn’t OK to yell at women running by you, let me see if I can help explain where to draw the line.

  • Telling a runner heading over a bridge that there’s a big patch of black ice ahead? OK!
  • Telling a runner heading over a bridge that you wish you were her sportsbra? NOT OK!
  • Spectating a marathon and encouraging the entire crowd with athletic-related things like “Great pace!” OK!
  • Spectating a marathon and singling out one runner with physical-related things like “Great backside!” NOT OK!
  • Respectfully nodding, smiling and standing aside when a woman tries to run past you in a small space. OK!
  • Taking advantage of the narrowing sidewalk as an opportunity to reach out and touch said runner. NOT OK!

I realize for certain people (cough cough, Drumpf), the distinction of what is and isn’t off-limits still isn’t clear. So all I can say is this: When it isn’t, I encourage you to always err on the side of not creeping out a stranger who’s just trying to stay fit. The women runners of the world, including this one, thank you in advance.


Whole 30: The Second Time Around

Lots of things in life get better the second time around: leftover Chinese food, running a 10K, Wed Anderson’s entire collection.

And here’s hoping for one more: Whole30.

That’s right, folks. Today I begin my second Whole30, or 30 straight days of clean eating. Or if you didn’t follow along the first time, that means 30 days sans gluten, sans dairy, sans legumes, and sans sugar (including, gasp, alcohol). Or, for those glass half-full readers, it means 30 days of plentiful veggies, fruits, high quality meats and fish, and all the avocados you could ever desire.

I did my first Whole30 in April when I found a year of wedding planning had me reaching for a chocolate escape nearly every work day. I was a pretty healthy eater overall, but mindless snacking and occasional binges left me feeling constantly full, bloated and not quite in control of my own habits. So I committed to 30 days of clean eating, and it was eye-opening: I realized how emotional my eating was and put an end to it, cooked some amazing dishes and (apologies in advance for sounding like an afternoon special from the 90s) realized that I don’t even need a glass of wine to enjoy a night out. Preach!

When my first Whole30 ended, I decided I was still going to eat Whole30-ish, but between summer travel and weddings and life, that started to slip by the wayside. And then at my cousin’s wedding this past weekend, I ate 14 fried clam cakes in the span of 36 hours and my aching belly decided it for me: It was time to get back on the Whole30 wagon.

And apparently I’m not alone. According to the founders of the program, 85 percent of people who do a Whole30 come back for more. They warn that one in four repeaters find it harder the second time, but that’s half-empty talk: that means a  whopping seventy five percent find it easier. And, my god, I hope I fall into the second category.

And I think I will. That’s because going into round 2, I already know what works for me and what doesn’t, making grocery shopping a breeze. In fact, last night, I roasted a chicken, made stock and cooked up a week’s worth of breakfasts, since I know from experience preparation is the name of the game here. I ate my clean food all day long, and I didn’t feel even the least bit deprived. Of course, it helps that my meals were so delicious and filling.

For breakfast, I ate a swiss-chard and onion frittata, plus compliant coffee and a peach.


For lunch, I had roast chicken and carrots that had been cooked in the drippings of the chicken itself. i.e. vegetable heaven.


For dinner, I made buttercup (that’s correct; not butternut) squash soup, and sprinkled it with roasted squash seeds and pomegranate.


And now it’s bedtime, and I feel full and satisfied and ready to take on 29 more days. I may eat my words in a week’s time, but I think this time around is going to be easier.

At least, it’s going to include more roast chicken.


Have any of you done a second Whole30? Any tips?