Dining Out and Brunching at Alden & Harlow

Alden & Harlow has been on my list of WANT, no NEED to try for a while. It is located in Harvard Square and while I run through it about weekly, getting myself across the river in non-running mood seems like a chore, or maybe it’s the parking and red line situation. However, we are trying to make a better effort at going across the river and checking out the Cambridge and Somerville dining scene that is all the rage. Alden & Harlow opened in 2013 and focuses on small plate inventive American cuisine from a constantly changing menu that I need to try each time from now on.

Booked weeks in advance, Tony surprised me with a date on Valentine’s day this year We are usually a home made pizza and nap type of couple but a gal can’t complain when offered a fancy dinner.

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Our meal started with a complimentary snack of PICKLED beans topped with sesame seeds. Getting a serving of veggies and the much needed electrolytes in one chew.

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Next we got the patatas bravas which were the best I ever had! Like I’m still dreaming on these a week later. They’re spicy, with some pepper relish and and a garlic flavor like no other. GET THESE if you go. The rest of the menu is optional, but this is a MUST.

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Our next selection was the smoked duck breast! Candied walnuts and jam bounced of the flavor

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Next was the smoked trout and I think I may have reached my smoked foods limit because I have to confess I didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought I would. The roe and latkas were a nice touch but I wasn’t digging the trout as much.

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The superstar of the night (after patata bravas of course) was the Secret Burger. It’s not so secret given that it’s listed on the menu, but supposedly the quality is limited. We were dining early side of 6:30 PM. 8 oz of meats, with a house made roll and chips topped us up for the night.

But where’s the dessert? Well… we were feeling a little stuffed (maybe the secret burger did us in).  But don’t worry I got to try those as well!, A week earlier I also had a brunch with the gals (Galatine) and of course the irony of waiting 5 plus years to try Alden and Harlow is that I was invited to two reservations in one week. If course I couldn’t miss out because brunch and dinner are not the same!

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The Bloody Mary is on the menu “Spicy, Savory & Necessary” and they are not lying! A rich flavor with their famous pickled green beans that I learned is apparently their thing.

img_20190209_114542.jpgI went back and forth on what to pick, but ultimate went with them lamb belly hash and was not disappointed.  Although I wouldn’t have complained for a bigger slice of sour dough bread #gimmeallthecarbs

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The dishes are all on a slightly smaller side as the are designed for sharing or for those who are on a diet and not marathon training so I had to tag on this side of cheesey grits to hold me over until the next meal. It ended up being the perfect companion to the lamb hash.

And I probably should have stopped there but what’s a Galatine without dessert?

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Olive Oil Cake with Earl Gray whip

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Smoked chocolate bread pudding with ice cream! Hot out of the oven

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and my favorite were these simple but soooo good almond short bread biscuits and custard

There was also a cinnamon roll I had my eyes on, but the ran out by the time I tried to order! I guess I’ll need to return soon to get my non-sticky hands on one.

Checking Out Sarma in Somerville – A Dining Review

Sarma has been on my radar to scope out for a while. Constantly being praised and hyped up, it was a shocker that last minute reservations aren’t really available. So why night we decided that we need a treat ourselves dinner out so we went night by night until a dinner time slot was open (about 6 weeks out ha!)

The interior is modeled after Turkish meyhanes, Mediterranean a la gastro pub. For those of us a little less cultured in food and vocabulary, the menu has a side glossary of common terms used in the menu (and I guess so we don’t bother the server?).

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They also have a surprisingly good beer selection and I stuck with Save the Robots, a New England Style IPA.

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First step up was the seven layer hummus that will make the rest of your hummus meals feel like a bore.

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Next up was the biscuit pork belly with jalapeño-whipped feta

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And because Tony can’t pass an opportunity to test out a new take on nachos, we got the lentil nachos with spicy feta fondue, radish tzatziki, cabbage, sprouts

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Next came the monk fish grape leaves, my favorite dish of the night. It is served in a miso avgolemono, maitake, yuzu, puffed rice

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Next came the Brisket Shawarma that looks like tacos with apple hilbeh, fenugreek, barley, everything bagel

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We wrapped up the final course with feta cheese gnocchi in a saucey loukaniko, rabe, red pepper, olive crumb.

Overall, with our hungry eyes we ended up ordering 6 small plates, a bit ambitious for the two of us. I recommend starting with 2 per person and adding on one at a time as they do come out very fast! The menu changes often with seasonally so can’t wait to return!

Sarma – 249 Pearl St. Somerville, MA  – street parking was relatively easy

2018 B.A.A 10K Race Report

Maybe 10Ks are not that terrible.

Yes, I wrote that. After swearing for years that a 10K is a miserable distance. It’s got all the painful parts of a 5K that just refuses to end. However, the B.A.A. 10K felt different this time. I don’t know, I guess lately I’ve been embracing each racing distance almost like a racing virgin. Guess a 3 years racing gap with a rejuvenated love for running again can make you love the things you used to hate.

After my fun run, but race in my mind, Donut 5K, I signed up last-minute for the BAA 10K cause all the cool kids (my friends) were doing it. I generally don’t do BAA races because well I am cheap ($10 per mile!!!!!!), they’re early, and crowded but I’ve been feeling like I needed something now that I haven’t ran a BQ in a few years. However with summer hitting up Boston (who else is dying after 6 straight days of 90 degree weather?), the racing options besides post work evening 5Ks have become slim and this race started at 8AM. Early, but doable with an easy access of starting in the Boston Commons.

I picked up my race bib and race shirt at Adidas’ B.A.A store, RunBase and won’t lie, I was pretty pissed off to learn the shirts were Unisex. Prime example of sexism in the running industry by race organizers and sponsors. First of all, no they’re not unisex, they’re men’s that you think I should settle for. Let’s have a race director use women shirts as unisex and see how the men react. The shirt is part of my race fee, I deserve to havee a damn shirt that fits just as much as any male does. Also, Adidas makes women shirts, this isn’t a local race director putting on their first race who doesn’t know how what a tech shirt is to begin with, this is a well-oiled B.A.A. machine that should know better. A store for runners (not just male runners) should respect and realize the value in giving shirts to women that are cut to fit them. Running in ill-fitting clothes is a great way to get hurt and hate running. RunBase & B.A.A, you should be ashamed of yourself. SHAME SHAME SHAME

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Plus the shirts had unicorns 😦

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 Anyway back to race night as I’ll rant about “unisex” shirts another day. Although I am up to 10 mile runs now, I still had the race night butterflies that seemed a little like joy and excitement crushed by extra flavorings of fear of oversleeping, or stomach problems  so after waking up like 10 times, I finally gave up at 6AM (hey, I usually wake up at 8am) and decided to eat and get dressed. It was also probably not a good time to realize on race morning that, that I probably should have done workout clothes laundry the night before because my options of running clothes were limited to blah, eh & meh. At least I found an old unused sports bra and blessed the workout gods that let me forget this one at the bottom of the drawer.

So walking out slightly like a toddler who dressed herself in the morning half blind in clothes that no longer fit quite right, I still had goals in mind. My public goal, 50 minutes (figured with a 23 min 5K, this seemed reasonable given double the distance and the confusing weather where I felt overdressed and underdressed all at the same time). My secret goal was 48 minutes wanting to stay slightly on pace with my 5K time.

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So walked over, tummy feeling relatively okay, pondering if I drank enough water (yea probably didn’t cause half a cup of tea doesn’t count as hydration); I started trying to figure out corrals. It was self-seeded (with 10,000 runners in a relatively narrow street, I was surprised they didn’t do required seeding. I saw a 5:59 pace sign (yea definitely not even in my prime), and then the signs just dropped off. I started walking back and forth trying to figure out where my paced peeps are all at and settled on basically finding other women who looked like me, short girls, slightly soft with muscular legs and decided, yea these are people who probably run like me.

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Despite the feel of confusion when I tried to seed myself, the race started really smoothly! I fangirled over the elites like Meb & Desi doing their strides or charge ups or whatever it is that real runners do before a race to warm up (isn’t that what the first mile is for?). And before I knew it, it was my turn to run around 8:05 or so.

I stopped running with a Garmin when I was constantly injured. Getting reminded of my pace on a regular basis would frustrate me because I kept wanting to run at my former speed and so I was still running device naked. I had runkeeper on in the background of my phone, but with no audio queues. Instead I just ran by feel of where I pushed myself just enough but not enough to heave on the side of the road (or worse). At the mile markers, I estimated I was running somewhere around 8 minute miles. Also surprisingly, my corral seeding strategy worked as the group I was running with was in pretty similar pace where I didn’t have to zigzag to pass people nor was anyone really zigzagging around me. baa10k_coursemap The course starts and ends at Boston Commons and is basically the JP Morgan corporate challenge course that doesn’t end because part two is the BU 5K.  It runs up Comm. Ave, a short bypass to Bay State road and back to Comm. Ave to continue past all the BU green line stops wrapping up into a turn around by West Campus just to see the other side of Comm. Ave as you make your return.

Overall, the course is “flat” with the exception of the rolling hills around the BU Bridge. I cursed and really wondered how 15 years from when I was a little BU Freshman, that this damn thing is still under construction. The cursing at the bridge distracted me for the next few miles (I hate that damn bridge) as I looped back into the 2nd half. Cursing at things is usually what leaves me face planting into concrete, but luckily I avoided that stage in this run as I realized I had less than 2 miles to go (33%!! Yea anyone else think of miles in race through percentages?). While I was happy that I was feeling pretty comfortable in my pace (look Ma, no walk breaks!), I was struggling trying to pick up the pace as glory of negative splits came to my brain know that going back should have a decline. I guess with no real speed work under my belt, it makes sense I had no surge abilities.

As I went past the 6 mile marker, I did try to kick a little (or kinda look like a duck trying to run out of water for bread crumbs) and damn is that .2 miles always taking forever. But just like that it was over and I was into the finishing area. Medal check! I was stuck in a daze between wanting to grab all the “free” food I can and the feeling of if I eating anything this moment, I may throw up. There were bagels, bars, chips, cranberry raisins, and probably more crap that can let you eat up to your heart’s desire. Being lazy, I settled for a few bags of chips and a bottle of water and went to find Tony who was waiting by the finish line (yet somehow missed my champion finish line crossing).

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My runkeeper app said I ran 6.33 miles but the satelite on my phone isn’t the most accurate so the pace may be a little offer, but overall I am pretty happy with the fairly steady pace versus my old style where I start fast, die mid way, and drag myself through the finish.

Official finish time was 46:37! Woohoo I hit my goal and it’s been a damn while since I hit goals (I estimated for the photo).

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 Another unicorn joins the collection

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Avocado Dreaming – #Blendmoreveggies Boston Brunch Tricks

I don’t know how, but one day I woke and toast, warmed up bread, became a trendy thing. Yup, things you ate as a little kid in your pjs because the toaster was the only thing your mother trusted you to use in the kitchen (okay, maybe that’s just me). You know what I never did have as a little kid, avocado! I somehow spent 20 years of my life in vain without this vegetable (or is a fruit?) in my life! Luckily that gets me to my first trick of enjoying avocados!

AVOCADO Toast!

And yes, writing in CAPS always makes it that much tastier. Seriously, don’t shake your head at me in hipster scum disdain. Avocado toast is pretty amazing and one spot that excels at it in Boston is Tres Gatos in JP! Check it out. And no, I don’t just love the place because it has the word cats in it. (Although that does help just like my cat leggings).

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AVOCADO Smoothie

Yup, instead of peanut butter, add an avocado for a creamy filling texture. Avocados are an excellent source of fiber and protein and pack an array of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants! Smoothie King in Back Bay (and other places near you!) just released a Veggie Avocado Pineapple Smoothie (tip, you do have to tell them to not add sugar if you want yours veggies only, but the pineapple gives the perfect amount of sweetness!). FullSizeRender (9)

Check out their site for more ways to #blendsyourveggies and #drinkyourveggies or sign up for a $2.99 smoothie coupon!

Grilled AVOCADO

Because honestly, nothing tastes better than when it’s grilled. That it reminds me of summer and I miss summer.

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This is not my picture because I kinda made mine disappear in 5 seconds before it takes my phone to turn on, but Toro  in South End at one point had this as a brunch option! Hopefully, they’ll bring it back soon!

 

Do you have any favorite, non traditional ways to enjoy avocado? Any recommendations?

Welcoming Spring with True Runner

This post is sponsored by Vocalpoint and True Runner. All opinions are my own.

Hi there!

Remember little old me? Yea, I’m still around, still slightly limping but mostly running! I found some things that work for me (maybe before I jinx it, I’ll write a post for it) and it’s been helping me gear up for Boston. So much… that dare I say I am dreaming bigger? Yes, I think, if the stars align and I do enough meditating, I might even have another BQ in me for 2017! I don’t know yet which race will be it, so if you have recommendations, let me know! I’ll try to re-qualify during the Boston marathon, but historically, I just never perform well in that race. I get excited and go out too fast, the headwind in the final 10K makes me whiney, and the whole wait to start drains out about 30 seconds of each of my miles. I’ll try, but plan B race needs to be found before September. I don’t know if my foot will ever love me enough to run daily marathons again, but I think there are hopes of me completely this list

If you’re a runner, Boston is probably one of the best cities to call your home, despite the drama and craze that comes from the Boston Marathon. With that large demographic, there’s no really no shortage of running stores, running groups, and running events. Especially once the sun starts to shine!

Recently, I’ve been exploring some new hoods and stumbled upon True Runner in Chestnut Hill Mall area (shopping mecca as I explored the new Wegman’s that opened up). True Runner  carries a wide range of shoes, apparel and gear to support all your running needs that you can come up with and more.

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Not only is True Runner a store created for runners, by runners, it’s also a community. To celebrate rising temperatures and the start of running season, True Runner is hosting their annual Spring Gear-Up event on Saturday, March 19 & Sunday, March 20.

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Spring Gear Up Event

March 19 | 9:00 AM

The Gear-Up Event will have a bunch of delicious nutritional samples to try and be sure to stop in and take a picture in our photo booth. Share your photo and your “Why I Run” story with us socially for a chance to win great prizes. On-site brand reps will have countless giveaways and don’t forget we will have True Runner freebies all weekend long.

March 20 | 10:30 AM

The Gear-Up Event will have a bunch of delicious nutritional samples to try and be sure to stop in and take a picture in our photo booth. Share your photo and your “Why I Run” story with us socially for a chance to win great prizes. On-site brand reps will have countless giveaways and don’t forget we will have True Runner freebies all weekend long.

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Additional Event details:

    • Photo booth: share your picture and your “Why I Run” story on social media for a chance to win great prizes
    • Face painting
    • Prize wheel: spin the wheel for a chance to win prizes from top brands
    • Nutrition sampling
    • Brand reps on-site offering product expertise and demos

For more information visit True Runner and join fun kids like the ones below!

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Come join me on Saturday for a fun run at 9AM and to welcome the new spring collection at True Runner!

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Learn more about True Runner on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter!

Indo-Rowing with B-Tone Fitness & A call for Help

I decided to be a little bit silly recently and participating in something that is so not my style. A runner’s world cover contest. Do I think I’ll win? Of course not, I cannot compare to the legions of more popular internet personalities and then there’s the runners with cancer, I really can’t compete with cancer nor do I want to. In the grand scheme of things, my personal struggles are simple and small. None the less, I entered for a chance to be on an issue of Runner’s World because why not. And while I know, I won’t win, I would still love to make it to the leadership board! If you can take a second and vote for me a day or 2 or every day? I would appreciate it. The website requires a verification through twitter or facebook, but you can close out when it asks for your email.

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VOTE VOTE VOTE <333 Free candy for all who vote, free hugs for those that vote twice! 

I struggle with putting myself out there daily since unfortunately these contests always allow multiple votes, but you can’t win if you don’t try, even if it’s last place ;).

So while I’ve been struggling with my plantar fasciitis, I’ve been trying to look at alternative forms of exercise. Truth is, I can’t love anything as much as the feeling of air in my lungs and full body movement of running. I’m not very coordinating, so running is my best hope. However, as they say you can’t alway get what you want, but you can get what you need. Other workouts, might just be what I need until I resolve my chronic drama. And making a great effort today with PT! Hopefully, I’ll like this one!

So one of the things I got to try last weekend was Indo-rowing at B-Tone Fitness on Newbury street. What is Indo-rowing? Think of a spin class only with a rowing machine! And the machines they use are the wooden water rowers style like in the opening scene of House of Cards (if you watch, I only watched the start of first episode).

What is Indo-Rowing?

The unique format of Indo-Row® (yes, just like Spinning, its a registered trademark, go capitalism!) captures all the elements of competitive, on-water rowing, creating a class that is fast-paced and engaging from the first minute. From “Skills and Drills” to “Waves and Recoveries,” and the final build up to a friendly but competitive “Race,” Indo-Row® quickly converts first-timers to devoted team members.

And to be honest, after trying the class with a bunch of Boston Bloggers on Saturday, it really lives up to the description.

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I can’t vouch for the results as I only tried one class but I can tell you that it was intensely heart thumping for me! Maybe being an ultra-runner last made me incredible weak in quick cardio workouts, but I struggled with some panting as I tried to get into a rhythm.

Our instructor Jody was great.  For those of us like me who are terrible listeners she had this diagram.

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Photo credit to ParkerthePrepster

And for those of us who can’t handle the whole workout on a level of 8 out of 10 crap, there’s metrics, beautiful metrics to help guide your improvements and efforts.

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The monitor displays time, distance, stroke rate, speed/intensity and total calories. Really everything you need for feedback on efficiency and workout level.

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We started with a mix of workout styles from a warm up to a pace test. We followed by some endurance workouts and intervals and concluded with a relay competition with our competitors across from us. For the fun video, check out my instagram and see which side won!

For more on the studio and class check out B-Tone Fitness. The studio is located at 30 Newbury Street on the forth floor in a side room facing the front of the street.  Currently btone is featuring an Introductory Special (3 classes for $30). Indo-Row is just one of their classes. They also offer Tone and Barre Blast. For those of you who followed me for a while, know that I tried Tone and personally the workout itself is just not my style. I am uncoordinated and terrible at listening to instructions, but something like Indo-Row was perfect for me and even with my terrible ability to follow directions, I still felt like I was able to follow and get a great sweatfest out of it!

2015 New Bedford Half Marathon Race Report

As a Boston runner, there’s just certain iconic road races that come to mind. Boston Marathon, of course. Falmouth Road Race…which is pretty much the celebrity running party of the year, and New Bedford Half Marathon. The 38th annual New Bedford Half Marathon was held on March 15th, 2015 at 11AM. Race registration started at $50 and goes up to $70 the week of the race. The race generally sells out and there is no race day registration; however, this year the race director made an exception.

The race calls itself a fast course, but I think that might be because some of the fastest local runners are running it that day as part of the USATF competition, and it’s an optimal Boston marathon prep race.

For a while, many of us wondered will the race go on? As mother nature and global weather change dumped 100+ plus inches on Boston, races were dropping of the schedule one by one… in fact another race that was rescheduled for the same day in NH, was cancelled instead. New England runners have just become accustomed to race day cancellation disappointments. Luckily for me and all the other runners, New Bedford race director, volunteers and the City of New Bedford were fully dedicated to putting on this race! Cancellation was not even a thought that crossed anyone’s mind.

But first the beginning:

Back in January with my eyes full of hopes and dreams, I added New Bedford Half Marathon to my schedule as a goal A race… I really thought that with decent speedwork and dedication, I could focus on a major PR for my half marathon time. Then my plantar fascia drama started and I just tried to hold onto any fitness I have. The snowstorm after snowstorm did not help my training. And because I’m just THAT lucky, a few days before the race I happened to catch my annual cold nightmare of the year. I drank cups and cups of tea, honey, lemon, orange juice and rested hoping to get better by race day.

So there I am on race morning trying to convince myself I’m not sick. It worked for about as long as 8AM when my friend came to pick me up for our drive to New Bedford where I asked if we can do an emergency pharmacy run as I loaded up on more advil, sudafed (already had) and nasal spray before our drive down south. New Bedford is about a 70 minute south of Boston from us and for the most part on that day we hit no traffic going there or coming home. I proceeded to cough medicine myself up to the point of being a zombie.

We got to the New Bedford YMCA where number pick up was really easy. I expected it to get a bit crazy with so many runners, but the race volunteers had multiple tables set up based on race number for pick. The race had strong security but not overwhelming and annoying. They quickly scanned through all bags that would go into the Y and were only allowed in the locker rooms and not the gym part. The locker room was toasty to say the least, but there was a good amount of lockers in there for the girls. We showed up about an hour early as due to snow there was limited parking and we wanted to make sure we had no problems. Got lockers, changed, got bibs and were all set and ready to run. They had many bathroom options from the YMCA indoor to porta ones outside.

10 minutes before the start, Sonia and I left the safe warmness of the Y and walked the two blocks for race start that was already packed with runners. I know the race had pace groups, but it was hard to find as the excitement took over. We took a photo and parted ways.

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At this point, I still had delusions that I could run a decent race, not a PR race, but a decent run. And then the gun went off. Immediately I felt like a cliche in a movie… you know that scene where someone busts their face on the floor and slows down to slow motion… well don’t worry I didn’t fall, but every step from the start felt (and was) in slow motion for me. My limbs and mind just felt fogged as the days of lack of eating and drowsy meds took it’s tool.

Within a mile, I changed my goal from time to just trying to finish. There was the option to drop out, sure… but here’s the deal, I love running races and even when I’m not racing per say, I like finishing. The idea of dropping out just because I knew my time was going to be terrible felt ridiculous to me.  The other things that went through my head was the city and volunteers put a lot of time and effort into clearing the snow off the roads so we could all run, so of course I should take advantage of the offer. And most importantly, this was 13.1 miles, only half the distance of a marathon and if I was ready to drop out, what am I going to do next month when the Boston Marathon comes up? There is not enough time to train and catch up. It’s just not possible for me this year. The only thing I could do is embrace the suck, endure and get it done with. The pain and perseverance is what makes us runners, and ultra runners sign up for things that most people consider crazy. Or maybe it’s the masochism.

The course is quintessential New England. It has rolling hills, crazy winds and a beautiful seaside view. However, unlike many New England small races, the course is closed to traffic. The locals and police were super encouraging! Even when I was half crawling in my walking break, the police would stop traffic to give me priority.

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New Bedford as a town/city has its charms and troubles. There’s lovely old architecture with cobblestones, churches and other signs of how historic the city is. And then there’s the uneven road and giant potholes that turn parts of the race into obstacle courses with fast food chains that can be anywhere middle America.

The course is a single loop from what I can tell and a good chunk of miles are on the ocean side. This helps balance out some of the rolling hills that hit you in the first and last few miles, but it will not serve as much protection from the wind.

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Aid stations were every 2 miles with water, but I didn’t see anything that looked like calories/fuel. I did see a medic table at many of the water stops, so I’m sure if I needed something I could have asked. I didn’t feel hungry (or pretty much any thanks sudafed!) but it would have been smarter had I carried some fuel for this race.

I kept my run walk method where every mile or so I would need to walk to catch my breath… as runners would run by me and pat me on my back telling me I could do this. I must have looked really pathetic? Or runners are just that friendly. It was great to spot many familiar faces from TARC events and other running events! Makes you remember just how small our running community is even in a sea of so many faces!

I don’t know how, but eventually I got to the final 2 miles and I said to myself, there, that wasn’t so bad! Except the final two were on a hill with a headwind! With enough panting and determination, the finish line came in and I pushed my little heart and lungs and stubby legs all the way across.

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I ended up finishing 1:57:12, 27 minutes slower than my January goal and 20 minutes slower than my average half marathon time leaving me completely wiped out for the next two days.

The post race food was pretty neat. The city is known for fishing so the post race fuel included clam chowder and fried fish sandwiches.

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and the race shirt was neat, as green is my favorite color when I’m not wearing pink.

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Overall while I would rate my own performance a C, the race would be an A in my group. It has great swag, post race food (although I would have liked a non-fish option), seltzer! (polar was a sponsor), closed roads with supportive police at intersections, small but big feel (local race with many runners!) and an overall great vibe. Sure, I would like to flatten most of the hills and create a wind barrier from the wind, but then it wouldn’t be a New England race. Plus if history means anything, it’s one of the few races that we can rely to not get cancelled due to weather with full local support! Something that’s getting a little rare lately, (yea looking at you Hampton beach, Hyannis, Salem and all the other canceled races).

Hopefully next year I can run a redemption!