Let’s Run Together – For Real This Time!

It’s currently snowing (and hailing) outside, but I’m trying to distract myself from it by thinking of warm weather running…

If you remember, last year I wrote a blog post about the Newport 10k in Jersey City that happens each year in May. I was excited to finally run a race in my city, only to have it thwarted with my femoral stress reaction. But good news, I’m going to (attempt to) run it this year! I was so excited when they asked if I’d be a VIP blogger again this year, because I’m determined to get myself to the start (and finish) line this go-around.

Just like last year, there are a few key reasons why I think this race is so great:

  • It starts so close to home! That means I don’t need to take the PATH and subway and worry about travel plans just to get there like I do for most other races. And if even you don’t live IN Jersey City, it’s super easy to get to (you can take the PATH from NYC, or drive since there is ample parking).
  • It runs through my neighborhood. It runs down the street on the opposite side of a small park from my apartment. You can see my apartment as you run by!
  • It’s flat and has minimal turns, which means it’s fast.
  • The views! Yes, I live here and run in the park and along the water multiple times a week, but the views of the city skyline never get old.
  • I know a bunch of people that have run it in the past and sing its praises, which is good enough for me!

So, if you’re looking for a fast spring 10k, come run in Newport with me in May! (Hey look, that rhymed and I didn’t even do it on purpose). Need more details? Here you go!

What: Newport 10K

When: Saturday, May 6th, 2017 at 8:30 a.m. (registration starts at 7am)

Where: Newport Town Square, 100 Town Square Pl, Jersey City, NJ 07310

Background: Known as the fastest course in the tri-state area, the Newport 10,000 is a 10K road race along the Hudson River waterfront in Jersey City’s community of Newport. Recreational and elite runners will have the opportunity to compete at the highest level for their share of $15,400 in prize money. The USA Track & Field-certified course is comprised of flat and local roads that interweave along the Hudson River Waterfront Walkway and provide spectacular views of the Manhattan skyline. Racers have access to four water stops during the race, as well as clocks at each mile. The race will be followed by Newport’s annual Post-Race Party, which is going to feature a live DJ, refreshments and prize drawings. Win NY Mets tickets, NY Red Bulls Tickets, a 1-hour massage or several restaurant gift certificates!

Beneficiary: Proceeds will be donated to the Barnibas Health, Jersey City Medical Center, the area’s newest regional referral teaching hospital, providing the highest level of care for women and infants, and trauma and heart patients.

Sponsors: Riker Danzig Scherer Hyland & Perretti LLP (title sponsor), Cosi, Courtyard Marriott Jersey City, New Jersey Beer Co., Yelp, Verizon

Distance: 10 kilometers (6.2 miles)

Registration fee: $30

Event Website: http://www.newport10k.com/

Seriously, come run with me! Or if you’re in the area, come out and cheer! It’s been really great weather the last few years (hoping this isn’t jinxing it) and I had a fun time cheering. I’m planning to go out for a beer (and food) afterwards… so the more the merrier! And even if you can’t make it this year, keep it in mind for next year.

Let’s Run Together!

Back in February I had a post called “Come Run With Me!” It was before I had the dreaded injury, and I was all set to run the Newport 10k in Jersey City, and I wanted you to join me. While I didn’t get to run, I did cheer and get called an ‘asshole’ for cowbelling at 9am. But that’s besides the point. Lucky for me, they also host a half marathon in September so I’m going to run that… and I want you to run it with me!!

Similar to the 10k, this is a race I have yet to do, despite living in Jersey City for almost two years. It’s in September, so it actually fits in really nicely with people’s longer training runs for upcoming fall marathons. I’m scheduled to run 18 miles that day, so why not do 13.1 with a few hundred people? I mean, I’d be running in Jersey City anyway! So when I saw it would work with my schedule this year, I immediately signed up. Then, as luck would have it, I was contacted and asked if I was interested in being a VIP Blogger for the race. Of course I said yes! So seriously, let’s run this together!

What: Newport Half Marathon

When: September 18, 2016 at 8:30am

Where: Newport Town Square – 100 Town Square Pl Jersey City, NJ 07310

Background: Jersey City’s popular half marathon championship marks its 23rd year! Recreational and elite runners from around the country can compete for $3,000 in prize money on a USA Track & Field-certified course that interweaves with the Hudson River Waterfront Walkway from Newport to Liberty State Park.

Beneficiary: Proceeds are being donated to the Jersey City Medical Center, the area’s newest regional teaching hospital, proving the highest level of care for women, infants, and trauma and heart patients.

Registration Price: $50

Seriously, come run with me! Or if you’re in the area, come out and cheer! It was absolutely beautiful last year and I had a fun time cheering. I’m planning to go out for a beer (and food) afterwards… so the more the merrier! And even if you can’t make it this year, keep it in mind for next year.

Open Faced Tacos

In a perfect world, there would be more hours in the day available for me to do the things I enjoy: run, cook, read, SLEEP!, etc. However, as we all know this world is far from perfect, and most of my day consists of driving in New Jersey traffic to and from work, sitting in a cube for 9 hours, and then trying to create a delicious meal as quickly as possible to leave enough time to do homework, getting in a workout, and somehow having a little time to relax and plan a wedding. Boy oh boy, life is going to be so fun when I throw kids into the mix!

But I digress… Monday night’s dinner was a nice twist on our regular burrito, with a little less work. I actually had a little more time available, because it’s been rainy and I finally got back to running over the weekend. I was able to complete a mile on Saturday before stopping because the uncomfortable feeling in my ankle/heels started to become a little more painful. Then on Sunday I tackled two miles, and immediately came home and threw my entire foot in a bowl of ice water. I probably could have done another mile, but I didn’t want to push it and I also felt terribly out of shape. I struggled to keep myself going slowly enough not to make things worse, but by the end of that second mile, I was glad I stuck to a 9:30 minute mile pace. Tuesday’s 3 miler was back to an 8:40ish pace, but it definitely hurt afterwards. I’m slated to run a 5k October 9th so I’m hoping I’ll be up to 3.1 miles somewhat comfortably. As of right now, I’m not sure if I’ll pull out of the race or not. We’ll see what the next week and a half has in store.

Dinner was pretty straight forward – some taco sized tortilla shells, refried beans, cheese, ground beef with taco seasoning, and salsa. From there you can really make it your own, depending on toppings (of course you can swap the ground beef for soy crumbles, or nothing at all). I decided to dice up and sauté a few pieces of yellow onion, and a habanero pepper to add some heat. I mixed it into the ground beef that had been cooked with some taco seasoning, chili powder, and adobo. Other than that, I just had to slather the taco shells with refried beans (Old El Paso has a fat-free spicy version – yum!), throw the toppings on the shells, and bake. I suppose this open faced taco is similar to a tostada, however I didn’t use actual tostada shells. My parents have them, though, and they’re awesome.

They were definitely like mini Mexican pizzas, which I was more than okay with. Combine Mexican food and pizza? I’m sold. Next time, though, I’ll probably switch up the toppings and do something a little out of the box. But I encourage you to give these a try!

Open Faced Tacos
– Serves 2-

1/2 lb. lean ground beef
1/2 yellow onion – diced
1 hot pepper – diced (jalapeno, habanero, etc.)
taco seasoning and other spices to taste
4 taco sized torilla shells
1/2 can refried beans
1 cup shredded cheese blend (“taco” or “Mexican” will work)
1/4 cup salsa
(sour cream, guacamole, and other fixin’s are optional – and delicious!)

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees
2. Grease baking sheet(s) and place torilla shells on them
3. In a skillet, brown ground beef with onion, pepper, and seasoning until completely cooked
4. While skillet mixture is cooking, spread the refried beans evenly on the taco shells
5. Drain the meat, and evenly distribute on top of taco shells, finishing it off with an even coating of cheese
6. Bake for 10 minutes, or until taco shells have a slight brown crisp
7. Top with salsa and enjoy!

Running and food are a perfect combination

Downtown Westfield is doing something right. At first, you might think to yourself – why on earth would I want to run a 5k at 7pm at the end of July? That’s just asking for torture. Well, perhaps because you’ll get to eat all the pizza you want as soon as you cross the finish line. Yes, as soon as you cross that finish line the first thing on your mind is water and to continue walking, but once the nausea passes and you realize it’s over, hunger sets in.

For the past few years (I believe about 9) Downtown Westfield in New Jersey (my home town!) has been doing a 5k pizza run extravaganza. If you’re unfamiliar with Westfield, it’s a pretty nice town; it’s won the Main Street USA award a few years, the television show Ed was filmed here as well as tid bits of quite a few commercials and movies. It was also called home by the creator of The Addams Family, Langston Hughes, Dave Brown (Giants), Zora Neale Hurston, Earl “The Pearl” Monroe… you get the drift.

This is my second year running the race, and last year it was actually my first 5k, and second road race. It started to drizzle and there was some serious wind and lightning before the start, but I was hopeful it’d hold out until we were done – and it did! I decided to rock my newly acquired No Meat Athlete shirt, which is adorable! Even though I’m not 100% veggie and my fiancé joked it was false advertising, I think the idea behind the shirt, and the fact that I’m at least conscious and mindful about what I eat is what counts!

Happily rockin' my shirt pre-race

I had a little trouble starting MapMyFitness on my iPhone once the race started, so people were pushing me out of the way (rude!). It was honestly one of the rudest races I’ve ever run – people were cutting me off left and right, zig zagging so I couldn’t get in front of them, and elbowing me and invading my personal space! I had a cramp within the first half mile till the end, and my side is actually a little sore from it. But in the end I finished in 25:21, almost a minute faster than my previous PR, set last October. Hoorah! With the heat and humidity, and it being at 7p after a full day of work, I was very pleased.

Down the home stretch... I have no idea how both feet are planted

Once the race was over, my fiancé had a slice of pizza while I guzzled a ton of water, and we focused on trying to cool off. Since the race was in my home town, my parents so graciously offered for us to come over to enjoy dinner from one of my favorite Thai restaurants, Thailand. Being a creature of habit, both my fiancé and I ordered our ususals; I got Pad Kee Mao, and he got the Chicken Pad Thai (nice and spicy, of course). We also all shared an order of spring rolls, and some salad. I’m a huge fan of the salad because it comes with some fried tofu and a delicious peanut dressing. After relaxing a bit more, we shared a caramel pretzel Klondike bar, which are my newest obession. I’ve always been a huge fan of Klondikes, but these are amazing! Crunchy, sweet, and salty are the perfect combination. I highly recommend them.

I’m looking forward to some more deliciousness this weekend, including a trip to the beach tomorrow for our half day with a stop at WaWa, and some type of BBQ on Saturday. Oh yeah, and some running.

Happy healthy nomzing!

Better late than never: A trip to Medieval Times

Last weekend, I took a trip to Medieval Times for my friend’s 27th birthday. I wrote a review for Examiner.com here, but I figured I’d throw together something a little less formal for the blogosphere. Just to note, despite almost everyone in my elementary school class having gone here at least once, I nor my fiance had ever been.

The concept is pretty cool – dinner and “tournament” – basically live action theater while you eat. I was shocked at how expensive tickets are (about $60/person), but was then informed that if you buy them in groups, there’s a discount. Now when I say discount, I mean almost 50% off if you by 4+ tickets at once, and for most, they go in large groups, so it’s the way to go. You definitely get your money’s worth at $33 a ticket, too.

The building is shaped like a castle, and people often tailgate outside prior to the beginning of the show, since they’re scheduled times each day of the week. I was surprised to see people tailgaiting a dinner show, but then realized a few things: 1. we’re in New Jersey 2. we’re a stones throw away from Giant Stadium, so it just runs in these people’s blood. Plus, once I got inside and made my way to the waiting area where they had the bars, it made even more sense – their drinks are expensive! To be fair, you should expect that, it’s gimicky and they need to make some extra money some how; I can only imagine the type of electric bill they get! A few people in our group got drinks, but my fiance and I decided our money would be better served elsewhere, considering a pint glass filled with Sam Adams was $25! Ok, so the glass was actually glass and you could keep it… but still!

After we hung out in the bar area that also served as a souvenir shop (of course filled with overpriced nicknacks that a child will beg and cry for, only to play with for a day and forget about), we were direct to our assigned seat (we were the blue knight). From there, everything goes pretty quickly; your serf or wench will explain to you how it works, pour you your tomato soup, and run off to grab garlic bread and drinks. The show begins not long after that, and somehow the serfs and wenches manage to serve you the rest of your dinner (a large piece of chicken, a spare rib, and half a baked potato) in the dark. You’ll be entertained by horses doing tricks, a hawk flying above you (you have to stay in your seat during this), and some impressive acting with a tournament.

Both my fiance and I had a hard time understanding what most of the people in the show were saying, but we enjoyed watching the action anyway. I did feel badly for the horses, though. I know just from common knowledge that in general horses don’t like loud noises. Well let me tell you, that show was LOUD. With the music, banging of the props, and just the general atmosphere, it was even a bit much for me at times. I was extremely impressed at how well they handled everything, though, and they were right on cue with entering the arena, leaving, and doing their assigned tricks. My heart did ache for them a bit throughout the show, though.

So this is a food blog, and you must be thinking, well, how was the food?! It wasn’t bad, actually. No, I’m never going to be craving Medieval Times’ dinner, but it was good enough. The chicken’s seasoning was a bit salty and the rib sauce was only half flavored, but it wasn’t bad. I can only imagine the amount of time and effort (and the size of the ovens) it takes to prepare a meal for all of the people that are at a show. So for that, I was impressed. They do offer a vegetarian option, but I’ve heard from multiple people it isn’t good at all – it’s just a few vegetables thrown on a plate, and isn’t nearly the same amount of food as the meat eater’s option. They also give you a “pastry” at the end of the show with some coffee (if you’d like). Ours was esentially an apple turn-over. Not bad, but it tasted eerily familiar to the frozen Pepperidge Farms one’s I’ve gotten for myself. Similarly, their garlic bread tasted just like the frozen Texas Toast you can get at the grocery store. I’m not going to fault them for it, though, they have a lot of mouths to feed!

It definitely isn’t a place to go for the meal – you go for the experience of being transported back to, well, medieval times. I’m not itching to go back, and probably won’t unless someone else suggests it, or until I have children of my own. But hey, I had fun, and I can finally say I’ve been. So take that, elementary school friends!

Sonic Drive-In

I can honestly say I’ve seen commercials for Sonic, “your ultimate drink stop” for a solid 5 years now. My sister and I would watch, practically salivating and complaining about how all we wanted was one of their slushes or delicious breakfast burritos. Living in Central New Jersey, we were never lucky enough to have one of our own… until now.

Recently, a Sonic Drive-In opened in North Brunswick, and another is being built in Greenbrook. There are already a few out there, one in north west Jersey, another in Waretown, and one in Forked River. For the most part the already opened locations were too far a drive to justify for a drive-in fast food joint. The newest member to the Sonic family, however, oozes convenience. So much so, that I’ve gone two days in a row.

The first time I went was in Pennsylvania with some friends. I was overwhelmed by the menu, and stuck to a cherry slush and chicken wrap with tots, of course. The next time I went, I tried the breakfast burrito, which was AWESOME. I then tried the bacon cheeseburger on Texas toast, which was amazing when I first ate it, but not so great a few hours later.

Yesterday, I tried the California burger and a blue coconut slush. These were both delicious though I could have gone for more Thousand Island dressing on my burger. Instead of the regular tots, my boyfriend and I split the chili cheese tots; best decision ever. Today, after watching the Travel Channel’s “Hot Dog Paradise” I went for the chili cheese dog with regular tots, and a cherry limeade with a shot of vanilla. SO GOOD!

The food really is so much better than your average fast food joint. Throw in ordering from your car and having them deliver it to you on roller skates, I can’t think of a better scenario. I can honestly say I don’t think there is a single thing on the menu I wouldn’t try. Just their drinks alone are mind blowing.

This is absolutely a place you need to find, and eat at. Most of them don’t have indoor seating (though I think a few do), and some have outdoor seating. They have quite a few drive-ins, and most also have a drive-thru. Even if you just hit it up for something more than your 7-11 Slurpee, (between 2 and 4 every single day is happy hour, with half priced drinks!) you’ll be glad you did. I can’t help but think of Napoleon Dynamite every time I order tots, but I’m more than okay with that.

So keep ’em coming Sonic, us New Jerseyans have seen your commercials for years, and we’re hungry for the deliciousness!