Friday, April 20, 2012

The Best Part of My Week

I'm a pretty lucky person.  I don't know a lot of things, but that's one thing I am absolutely, positively confident about.  I lead a charmed life, filled with loving, wonderful, intelligent people.  I've never had to go without something I needed.  I've been given (and worked my toosh off for) an excellent education.  I am healthy.  I have everything.


I imagine most of the folks who read this blog (all 5 of your wonderful selves), like me, live in a world that is filled with opportunity.  For a long time, I thought everyone saw the world this way: full of potential, available to everyone.


Boy was I wrong.


For lots of people, opportunity doesn't exist.  The world is harsh, full of predators, and it's going to chew you up and spit you out. Whether its because of the conditions of the environment, challenges at home, or an internal battle, not everyone lives in a world with potential.


This is heartbreaking.


I think everyone deserves to feel like tomorrow can be a better day.  Everyone deserves to feel like they can change direction and believe that things can be better or different.  That's why I am so lucky to be involved with Back on My Feet.

BoMF is a "national nonprofit organization that is dedicated to creating independence and self-sufficiency within the homeless and other underserved populations by first engaging them in running as a means to build confidence, strength and self-esteem."  

They let me run, three days a week, with an incredible team of runners.  Some of my teammates are residents at a local shelter, some of my teammates are runners from the neighborhood.  We get up at an ungodly hour, start our warmups before the sun is up, and it is the most awesome thing I've done in years.  I look forward to waking up at 4:30am to run with this team.  

Some of the individuals I run with, didn't feel like the world held a lot of opportunity.  BoMF literally gets folks back on their feet and into a supportive community of runners.  There's a lot more to it, but the team running alone has already inspired me and some of my fellow runners into believing that one day at a time, with one foot in front of the other, we can move forward into a future full of opportunity for everyone.  There are second, third and fourth chances for all of us.  Even if you weren't lucky enough to be brought into the world in a perfect bubble like mine, you can have a bright future.

I am so grateful to BoMF.  They're not solving all the problems of the world.  They're giving individuals an opportunity to see what's possible.  They're empowering individuals to set goals and reach them.   That's pretty powerful stuff.  

Thank you BoMF, and thank you to my fellow runners, for making the 5:30-6:30am hours the best of my week. 

To learn more about Back on My Feet (or to make a donation!), visit http://www.backonmyfeet.org/.

Monday, April 9, 2012

My Accidental PR

You know that race I thought I was unprepared for?  I SET A NEW PR! A significant one for me, too.  I've wanted to run a 10K in under 50 minutes for awhile now, but I wasn't sure if I could.  Well check me out you guys, because apparently I got faster!



To be honest with you, this is the first race I ever let myself really push from start to finish.  I tend to adopt a cautious pace until I'm mile from the finish, because I'm afraid I'll burn out. On Saturday, however, the weather was perfect, I had no expectations for myself, and I figured if I burnt out it wouldn't be the worst thing in the world.

I ran without a watch, didn't check the time clock when I crossed the start, and just went for it.  I knew there were a handful of hills (Central Park can be a beast), so I made sure I wasn't wearing myself out right before each of them, but otherwise I just ran.  I kept repeating the phrase "keep following your feet, keep following your feet."  In a lot of ways this race was completely about me listening to my body and turning off my brain.  It went like this,

Brain: This is kind of hard.  We should probably slow down a little bit.  I'm afraid you're going to wear out.

Body: I got this.  Take an hour off and just follow the feet.

Brain: .......

It was actually pretty great.  After the race I literally got a water, did a U-turn and got on the subway since I had to shower before my family came in to sight see for the day.  I knew I had just run a great race, but I didn't think about my time; I was feeling good and I just went about my day.  Imagine my thrill when I checked the race results yesterday and found that I shaved almost 3 minutes off my best time!

The whole thing has me wondering what I can accomplish if I really go balls to wall.  Could I run a sub-2 half?  Can I shave 20 minutes off of my marathon time? Run an ultra (.....ummmm stop.)?  Ok, so some goals might be more realistic than others, but it's cool to think that I'm improving as a runner, even though I'll probably never win a race.

What are some of your fitness goals?  Do you prefer to strive to do your best instead of setting benchmarks?

Friday, April 6, 2012

Motivation: Lost and Found

Remember back in January when I was supposed to run the Manhattan Half but it sort of got snowed out/I was too lazy to run it if I didn't have to?


Well I was very much not ready to run that race.  I took a bit of a break from running over the holidays and it took me all of January and February to get back on the horse.  Now I am by NO means in training mode, but I've been getting in a consistent 15 or so miles every week, which, for my "off-season" is acceptable (not ideal, but life goes on).

Anyhow, my first actual race (that I AM going to show up to) is tomorrow and I'm pretty excited!  It's a 10K, so it's small beans and I'll be slow as molasses, but I'm psyched because... (Run on sentence much?)  I'm using this race as the kick start to my half marathon training for the BROOKLYN HALF!

This popular NYRR race, that I've been trying to run for the past three years is always sold out before I get the memo.  This year, I stalked that registration site like a cat on a piece of twill and I got it! So on May 19th I will run from lovely prospect park down to the coney island boardwalk to devour a nathan's hotdog before 10am.

Sometimes all you need to motivate yourself is within you...other times, you need a reward.  Do you give yourself rewards for consistent training and strong performances?

What works? What doesn't?

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

I flew the coop

Sometimes a girl's just got to pretend she doesn't have a blog, right?

A few things happened that put me on a wild spiral into no man's land

1) I finished my last full time gig and started freelancing ,
2) My PC died and I upgraded to a MacBook (i'm still figuring things out).
3) I went to New Orleans on my first vacation in three years.
4) My graduate thesis is in the works. (blank stare)

Sooo, as soon as I get myself together, I'm going to upload those pics from my trip and tell you all about the amazing food we ate.

<3 aubrie

Monday, February 13, 2012

My Favorite Date Spot (in honor of Valentine's Day)

A few years ago, one of my favorite people introduced me to Wo Hop (17 Mott Street, downstairs, go NOW).  Lucky for me, we still go there.  It's a hole in the wall Chinese restaurant that's been a favorite of locals and tourists alike for more than 30 years.  I know some awesome folks who've been going there since the 70s...and let's be real, lower Manhattan in the 70s was not such a great place to be, so it'd have to be reallllllly delicious to make that trek, no?

Anyhow, Wo Hop is incredible, and it's SUCH a fun place to go on a date, be it your first or your thousandth.  If you go on a Friday or Saturday, or really any day when it's decent out, expect a line coming out of the ground, but trust me, stay and wait!  When you get seated, I need you to order the wonton soup.  I promise you, it is the best wonton soup you will ever have.

IMG_0120

The crunchy noodles are optional, but they're pretty good too.  The wonton soup is NOT optional. SO GOOD.  According to my favorite, Wo Hop is a "noodle place" so he always get's lo mein.  It's pretty good, but I like to get a little bit of vegetables in my meal, so I often go with the chicken with broccoli.  The broccoli is always fresh and just cooked enough.

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Luckily, the portions at Wo Hop are ginormous, so you can share dishes with YOUR favorite person.  (Honestly, it's technically all family style...except for the wonton soup, DO NOT SHARE, get your own.)  When all is said and done, I guarantee you'll be so full and happy, if you weren't love in the way in, you'll be in love on the way out ;)~

IMG_0122

How could I not love a restaurant that sends me home with this message?

Happy Valentine's Day!!

Monday, February 6, 2012

My Favorite Snack Right Now

I don't know about you, but I go through phases with my tastes.  Lately I have been digging ice cream, probably because I realized that vanilla ice cream is fantastic with warm fruit.  Here's how it works.

1) Pour some frozen berries in a bowl.
2) Microwave it
3) Add ice cream
4) Enjoy the amazing deliciousness of summer in the middle of winter


YAY!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Newsflash: I Crave Structure

Ok so.. for someone in the world, working part time from home is dream come true.  Forgive me for sounding ungrateful, but I'm not that person.  I like to busy, frantic even.  I'm only working collectively, say 15-20 hours per week, and since I only have one class and my thesis is plugging along, well...I have too much time on my hands.

photo borrowed from raywj.com 

Frankly, all this free time is making me feel a little listless.

photo
Frankenstein wishes he was busy too
So I've decided, if a job & school won't do it, I'm going to have to schedule myself within an inch of my life.  Because let's be real, if I have four hours to write a blog post, go for a run, take a shower and write a press release it ain't gonna happen...buuut, if I have 30 mins to write a blog post, 1 hour to go for a run, 30 mins to get dressed and showered and an hour to write a press release, I'll also manage to write a chapter of my Master's thesis & knock out some strength training in those four hours.  I just need to be structured.

This is totally normal, right?

So part one of this plan is to get up at the same time everyday and workout as if I were super busy.  Morning runs and workouts are coming back folks.  I'll let you know how it goes!

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

January NYC Bloggers Playdate

This past weekend, Keelie of Sweat = Success (it really does, she is living, breathing proof), organized another fabulous NYC Bloggers Playdate!  I love getting to know other bloggers and fitness enthusiasts, the ladies who I've met at these get togethers are so awesome.

This month, Dasha Libin of Kettlebell Kickboxing hosted us for a class.  I'm not going to lie, I took a kettle bell class recently (for the first time) and I was so sore afterwards that I walked down stairs sideways for four days (I wish I was kidding, ask my friends and family), so I was...intimidated.  Unfortunately, I love a challenge and am physically incapable of saying no to a free workout (fact).

kettlebells!

Dasha and her co-teachers were 1)fantastic and 2) hot.  I don't know about you, but when I walk into a fitness class and the teacher looks amazing, I want to be doing what she's doing.  They walked us through each of the exercises and corrected our form (SO important and SO often neglected in fitness classes).  By the end, I was a sweaty mess who couldn't wait to come back for more.


The whole gang (photo from Sweat = Success)


If you know me, you would guess that I was very very hungry at this point, and you would be right.  Luckily, part of the NYC Blogger Playdate always involves food (let's be real about why I go)!  We headed deep into Chinatown to check out Buddha Bodai, a vegetarian dim sum restaurant.  We didn't know when we started on our journey that we would end up in the midst of the Chinese New Year.

photo
FLAGS! (this one's for C-Lou)

Dragons! (Also reminded me to be excited about Game of Thrones Season 2)
When we finally made it to the restaurant we were really hungry, but there were about a million and five  delicious sounding options on the menu, so deciding was yet another adventure.

serious menus demand serious concentration
In the end I could't settle on one item (shocking, I know). I split some dumplings with my friend Colleen, rocked a wonton soup & spicy rice noodles with eggplant.


All good things folks, all good things.  Finally, full & exhausted, we took a picture (we are bloggers) and called it a day!
From left to right: Keelie (Sweat = Success), Toni (Running, Loving, Living), Ashley (Freckles & Spice), Me, my beautiful friend Colleen, Meredith (Dare You To), and Erika (Shoes Shirts & Other Sh!t)

There were lots more bloggers around for the workout, but alas I do not know them all! If you want to know about the next NYC Blogger Playdate/want to talk about blogging/plan a fun event everyone should go to, let me know!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Working from Home

Last week I finished my internship and began life as a freelancer.  Nowadays, I work from home for two companies on a project basis.  It's been...an adjustment.  I'm a little bit high strung, so being in the house all day can be a challenge.  When I'm not doing work, I've found lots of ways to amuse myself. 

Up first, LOTS of running.  The weather outside had been gorgeous and I've been taking advantage of it.


Sometimes a run will make you hungry.  If you have a midtown meeting, you can meet your favorite person for lunch at a diner and order this amazing dish:

This was by far the freshest most delicious gyro with greek salad I've ever gotten at a diner.  It was incredible.  Maybe if you walk past a Bikram Yoga place every day, you could pay $20 for the unlimited introductory week and learn the glory that is lying in your own sweat (overshare, sorry).

I liked it, but at the regular price, I won't be able to afford to go week after week.  Le sigh.

Do you ever work from home?  What do you fit into your day when you don't have to go into the office?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Delicious Food Week & Healthy(er) Beef Stew



I am officially dubbing the fourth week of January 2012, Delicious Food Week.  I have been eating so much amazing food it is ridiculous.  It all started on Saturday when I headed out to Brighton Beach for Ukranian Food at Cafe Glechik.
In all honesty, I could not tell you what any of those things were, but they were delicious.  My grad school classmates (aka some pretty awesome women who I adore) and I had a slew of appetizers, split several entrees family style and got dessert!  (Did you know pierogis came in a dessert variety?)  I won't tell you just how affordable it was, but I HIGHLY recommend this place.
 
On Sunday, the Giants were gunning for the NFC Championship so I naturally went to dinner at the home of my favorite Giants fans.  I TOTALLY forgot to take pictures of the food, but we had a straight up delicious home cooked meal of chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, sauteed carrots and salad.  You can imagine that, right?

Since I indulged all weekend, I'm trying to integrate some delicious into my healthy weekdays.  Toast with peanut butter, sliced apple and cinnamon?  That makes the cut!

 

Also on the list of delicious goodness: BEEF STEW!  I know, I know, it doesn't sound very healthy, but here's why it is.  
1) I used naturally lean beef from Trader Joe's
2) I used vegan vegetable stock with sea salt (the sodium on this stuff is WAY lower than typical stock & is chock full of delicious herbs
3) I folded in a tablespoon of flax seed meal for some extra omega 3s
4) I added collard greens and kale!

Juiced up/Scaled Down Beef Stew (a made up recipe from yours truly)

Ingredients
1.5 lbs lean beef cubed
1 tbsp olive oil
1 white onion sliced or diced
2 cubes low sodium vegetable stock
4 cups of water
3 potatoes cubed to desired size (I cut em pretty big since you want them to stew a long time)
5 large carrots cubed to desired size
2 tbsp flaxseed meal
1 tbsp flour
3 cups of tough greens (any variety will do)

Brown meat in the pot with olive oil, once lightly browned on all sides add onion, simmer on LOW for 10 minutes.  Add water and vegetable stock cubes (or 4 cups of low sodium vegetable stock), cover and simmer for 10 minutes.  Add potatoes and simmer for 1 hour on LOW.  Add carrots and simmer on LOW for another hour.  Mix flour with a little bit of water and add to pot, stir until it is completely dissolved.  Stir in tough greens, cover and simmer for at least 30 minutes. 

You don't have to follow my instructions exactly, basically if you put everything in a pot and cook it covered on the lowest possible heat for as long as you can wait, it will turn out delicious.  It isn't exactly a salad in terms of nutrition/calories, but it's a pretty delicious way to get some things that are good for you!

Happy eating :)

Saturday, January 21, 2012

What do you do when your race is snowed out?

So I was supposed to be running the Manhattan Half Marathon this morning, but because NYC got its first snow of the year, they made it a "non-competitive event" that you didn't have to run to get credit for. If I was a good runner, or lived near Central Park, I would've bundled up and gotten out there to run 13.1 miles in the snow for fun...but I'm not a good runner.  I'm a bit on the lazy side, and getting that 9 + 1 credit for 2013 from the warmth of my own bed... well that's just awesome.  So at 5:30, I went BACK to bed to the sound of plows pummeling down the street.  

At 9:30 I got up for real, made myself a delicious cup of coffee from the french press (this is my new favorite thing EVER), 
 made some toast with peanut butter, apple and cinnamon, and eased into the day.
 

Since I played the snow day card on this morning's race I resolved to head to the gym.  I knocked out an hour long vinyasa class, ran a mile on the track and did a 20 minute plyometric workout in which I sweat like a (insert expletive here).  Yay sweat! 

This afternoon I'm headed to Cafe Glechik, a Ukrainian restaurant in Brighton Beach with my fabulous grad school classmates.  I'm sure I'll have some fantastic food & friend photos for you later!

Do you still run outside when its snowing?  How bad does it have to be for you to call it a snow day?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

A Long Wintry Weekend

This weekend was COLD man.  Luckily, I had some work to do inside so I didn't feel too guilty staying in, on the couch, with a mug of hot whatever.  Hot whatever started with the first cup of coffee from my new French Press (a present to myself for nailing my third semester of straight A's.  Grad school = 0, Aubrie = 4.0)!
In case you were wondering, the coffee was delicious, but I was too excited to remember to take a picture.

On Friday night I went to this KILLER kettlebell class that kicked. my. butt.  No joke, folks, I was dripping sweat on the floor of the YMCA cardio room and my legs are stilllll sore (4 days later?!).  Needless to say it was all kinds of awesome and I can't wait to go back!  However, the sore made me even more of a couch potato and after an unsuccessful mile on Saturday morning, I retreated to netflix and a warm blanket.

On Sunday my parents came up for the day, and my mom suggested going to Central Park...on that tepid 18 degree day.  Really, mom?  I talked her into the Smithsonian Museum of the American Indian in Battery Park (inside) and a trip to the World Trade Center Memorial (less outside than Central Park?).  We had a great  day, and I have to say I was incredibly impressed with the WTC memorial.


Because the water cascades down two levels of darkness it gives you an incredible sense of loss and weight.  You can't see the bottom, it's just this endless drop.  It's powerful and beautiful and captures what an enormous loss that day was for our country.

After the memorial it was time for the game!  Now, I'm an Eagles fan through and through, but my dad grew up in New Jersey, so he has a soft spot for the Giants, and my boyfriend's a huge Giants fan, so we were cheering on the G-men this weekend.  We watched the game at this awesome bbq/mexican place in Park Slope called Rachels.  They have $4 margaritas (yay!) and this:



Can you say HOLY GUACAMOLE?  That was my dad's dinner.  It was huge.  For reference, that's an iPhone at the top right corner of the photo.  The width of this burrito was longer than an iPhone!  He ate about 2/3 of that thing, which I personally find very impressive (and potential inspired by the $4 margaritas).  I had a taco/enchillada combo with black beans and rice that was just right.  I will definitely be going back there soon.

Now, where am I going to watch the games this weekend?

 

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Bagel Friday!

whole wheat bagel with strawberry cream cheese = awesome start to the weekend

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Boring Dinners and a Late Start to 2012

So the big event I've been planning at work FINALLY came and went and now I'm on the path to a regular life again.   After the craziness of the past few months, I'm definitely looking forward to having some time to myself to refocus and relax.  I hope to stop eating dinners that look like this:

 
(morningstar farm "buffalo wings" and frozen veggies)

and start eating meals that look more like this:
 
(homemade ministrone from herbivoracious.com)

Basically, I want to slow down, enjoy life and take care of myself.  I know I'm a little late for the resolution wagon, but I've set a couple of large life changes I want to make in 2012 and smaller goals that I want to accomplish towards them.  

1) 2012 is for feeling good.
I will take a vacation.  I haven't actually taken a vacation in 3 years...unacceptable.  One week of 2012 will be devoted to me going somewhere to enjoy myself.
I will take care of myself.  I'm going to keep my nails done b/c it's something simple I can do to slow myself down and make sure I'm taking care of me. I'm also going to make sure I'm going to the doctor (and dentist) when I should. 
I'm running the 2012 NYC Marathon (my second marathon thankyouverymuch).  I want to get stronger and faster before I begin training so that it's a more comfortable process this time around.  

2) 2012 is for building for the future
I will start actively saving again.  Before I started school I had saved some money, but that got re-invested into my education so my savings are pretty measly right now.  I'm going to start putting money away again, and I've already opened a mint.com profile to help me out!
I graduate in May (provided I finish me thesis...), so the plan is to find a permanent job in the next few months.  While this isn't completely within my control, I'm going to launch the most ambitious job search I can.
I will learn about building a business, investing, and owning property so I know what options are available to my inner hustler entrepreneur.  I will also bring my shoddy knowledge of either Spanish, French or Russian to fluency.  I'm bored of being mono-lingual.

3) 2012 is for being a responsible citizen
I will buy fair trade, organic, or local whenever possible.  I will buy vintage, recycled and thrift when I can, make more at home and be more proactive about recycling, reducing the waste I create, and reusing what I can.  I will grow herbs!
I will volunteer 100 hours in 2012.  
I will be more patient, considerate, and respectful of people in my life and strangers (even the ones walking SO SLOW 5 people wide on the sidewalk).  Everybody's got it rough sometimes, everyone has somewhere to be, and let's be real, it's not like I'm late for an appointment to save the world.

So that's my plan for 2012; to feel good, to build for the future, and to be a responsible citizen.  What are your goals and resolutions for 2012? 

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

January 11, Hot Toddy Day


With a blog called Drunk on Opportunity, I have to let you know that today is National Hot Toddy Day.  In addition to being a delicious way to feel all warm and fuzzy inside, hot toddies are chock full of antioxidants from black tea and cinnamon. 

Celebrate!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

It's official, I'm in!

Hey ya'll, I am SWAMPED since the event I've been working on since JUNE is this Monday, but I couldn't wait to tell you my news!

NYC Marathon registration status: Accepted


!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

2011 Redux

Things that were great about 2011:
I finished my first year of grad school with a 4.0
I got to usher at the Royal Shakespeare Company's productions at the Park Avenue Armory and therefore see LOTS of amazing Shakespeare
I got to teach a college course AND was asked to return to teach the class next year
I learned A LOT about... A LOT actuallly
I found out I'm a lot stronger than I thought I was
I RAN MY FIRST MARATHON!!!
I got to spend a time with some of my best and oldest friends

Things that were awful about 2011
It was overwhelmingly busy
I got my heart broken
I was extremely frustrated at my job
There were roaches in my apartment
I felt lower than I've ever felt


I'm a very optimistic and usually every year around this time I think, "How could next year be any better than this!?", but not this year.  I had thought that 2011 was a pretty rotten year, but looking back it seems like a victory.  2011 was a year full of growing pains.  Things that I took for facts were challenged, the limits of my mind, body and sanity were tested, and I hardly had a moment to breathe for the last four months of the year.  However, while the stable footing I'd been standing on for the past few years fell out from under me, I've learned that I can stand pretty well on uneven ground.  I learned that I can tackle hills, find my balance in the dark, and when I really can't handle it on my own, that I have more amazing people in my life than I ever could have imagined.  Yea, a lot of things about 2011 really sucked, but they put me in a great place to start 2012 and I couldn't be more grateful.