highlights of new york and home!

Why hello!  It is Friday and I suppose that would be exciting, but I’m working Saturday and Sunday…sooooooo nevermind, weekend!  However, last week (and weekend!) were quite the obvious since I had a week of vacation and put it to good use.  My mom came to visit for about five days, then we headed back to Chicago together for about another five days.  Hooray!

There were stressful times (more on that later…), there were really fun times.  My mom is good at doing things that aren’t OMG NEW YORK, but still highlight what the city has to offer.  Our thing to do this time was to go a knitting shop and have a mother-daughter learn to knit day.  Well, my mom knows how to knit, so maybe it was more of a “teach Susan how to knit” day.  We headed over to Knitty City on the Upper West Side and asked the ladies who work there to help us.  They were great!  They recommended a pattern and a type of yarn that would be good for a newbie and got me started.

Well on my way!

They have a ton of yarn and are really helpful.  Although they have classes, you can also walk in and sit at their “knitting table,” and they’ll help you if you have any problems.  Or people just come in to knit with friends.  The place was busy – lots of people coming in for yarn.  And they have a dog who wanders around the store…and we met a 91 year old woman who still lives on her own.  She was a sassy New Yorker, which I suppose is fair at age 91!  I picked up knitting fairly quickly (with some help!), and if you fast forward a few days, you get this:

image Finished product!

Let me know if anyone wants to do more knitting with me – it’s fun and winter is coming!

Other highlights in New York including visiting the Today Show, which my mom loves to do when she comes to the city.  It’s crazy how close you can be (HI MATT LAUER!), but you can’t really hear anything they’re saying.  All the hosts seem so genuine when they move around and talk to the crowd, and I’m impressed with how calm and collected they are.  I suppose that’s why they’re on national television and the rest of us aren’t…

Good morning!!

We were most likely on TV at some point, but I forgot to record it before leaving so I guess we’ll never know!  Afterward, Mom and I walked down to Eataly to sip some cappucinos (with a pastry for me – no gluten free options for Mom!).  We hung around Eataly long enough for the marketplace to open…after grabbing some pasta, tomato sauce, and fancy Italian drinks to make dinner later, we had a meat and cheese plate for lunch.  It was deeeeeeeelicious!  And perfect for sharing.  The couple next to us was on a six week tour of Canada and the US.  Their next stop was New Orleans – such good food there, I was a little jealous.

Another highlight was lunch with my 93 year old great aunt – she has quite the background and always has stories to tell.  She lectured me on how relationships must have balance and that things start to go south when that balance stays…unbalanced.  Of course, my mother later told me she’d been married four times…oops.  But otherwise, she’s 93 and still living on her own!  She would love to work, but apparently no one will hire a 93 year old, so she just writes code for her stock trading program all day.  haha.

After a delayed flight and a cab ride from a Somalian who was shocked to learn that we actually know where Somalia is (and that I’ve been to east Africa…), it was good to be home.  I got to spend plenty of time with my Katies, and we had some serious catching up to do!  Bonus points since the catching up involved some of my suburban favorites (Baker’s Square, Buffalo Wild Wings), and of course sitting in my driveway in Katie’s car for an hour.  The usual.  Another perk of being home is having this guy follow you around everywhere:

coffeejax Coffee with Jax.

Jax is my parents’ dog…he’s 12 pounds of glory and just wants to be loved.  By everyone.  He loves sitting on your lap and will sleep at your feet or cuddle up next to you.  I want to steal him and bring him to NYC.

We also spent an afternoon going to the pumpkin patch and carving pumpkins.  For some reason, I remember cleaning out the pumpkin being a much harder and more time consuming task when I was little, but it was quite painless this time around.

Pumpkin patch with Dad!

And, of course, the finished product.  I opted for a scarier approach while my Dad did a little more silly:

image Hooray for Halloween!

And to leave you with the glory of fall, the tree in my parents’ front yard is on fire.

image And it’s winning at fall.

When I’m home, I sometimes wonder why I ever left…but the New York adventures are also quite fun, and it makes coming home a little more special.  I’ll be heading back for Christmas, so that picture will be snow covered!

To add to the list…what “off the tourist path” things do you like to do in NYC?

chicago suburbia versus nyc

Greetings from 35,000 feet!!  (Or however high we are…)  I’m currently blogging from somewhere south of Detroit, which I’m sure will change in a matter of about five minutes.  My flight from Chicago to Philadelphia ended up boarding on time, just to sit at the gate for over an hour while they attempted to fix a frozen drain.  Ah, gotta love it, but I can’t argue because I’m going to be on the east coast tonight instead of Friday.  I’m sure you never thought you’d ever hear me say that I’d be happy to be landing in Philly, but I’ll take it at this point.

Although I’m not nearly as sad to be leaving Chicago as I used to be when I was returning to Philadelphia earlier this year, that doesn’t mean that I don’t still love Chicago and my family and friends.  It was a short visit, as it always seems to be.  This trip was a bit different than the last few…leaving NYC and going back to suburbia at its finest really exemplified the differences between the two locations, both in life and in running.  Let’s check it out in list form because who doesn’t like a good list or two?

Life

  • Driving.  I haven’t driven a car in two months, so when I got in the car to meet my friends for breakfast, I had to do a double take on fixing the mirrors and figuring out where the window wiper controls were.  I mean, it was just like riding a bike, but still a little weird to have something that was once so natural seem a little foreign.
  • It’s SO quiet here!  I live in the “sleepy” Upper East Side, but there’s still a fair amount of noise, whether my neighbors are yelling or sirens are raging.  Not so much in suburban Chicago.
  • People don’t know how to walk here.  For some unknown terrible reason, I decided to brave the third largest mall in the country the day after Christmas.  I know, I’m an idiot.  I’ve learned to maneuver the Manhattan streets like a pro…no one in the mall can walk with any sort of purpose.  Get out of my way, I’m a New Yorker now.  (Kinda…)
  • Not every yellow car is a taxi.  In fact, I don’t think I saw a single taxi while I was in Chicago.  How odd…

 

Running

  • Fewer people.  Well…duh.  The concentration of people in Manhattan versus the suburbs is clearly quite drastic, but I was blown away by how few people I saw while I was out running.  This especially applies to the number of people who are out walking around.  Everyone is in their cars because you don’t walk to the grocery store.
  • Fewer stops on the run.  I live about a mile from Central Park, which means weaving along as I follow the traffic lights to get me to the park where I can run freely for as long as I want.  I never make it across Madison Ave without hitting a red light, and if I want to run along the west side, that’s about 2.25 miles of stop and go traffic.  In the land of suburbia, I used to do a 20 mile run with maybe one or two stops if the traffic pattern was working against me…and I certainly didn’t grow up in the country!
  • Mindless runs are easier.  Or at least for now they are.  I’ve done these runs back home so often I could probably do them in my sleep.  I know where the mile markers are without looking at my beloved Garmin.  Perhaps I just need to learn to pay less attention to my Garmin and just run in NYC.  Ah, easier said than done.
  • Faster runs.  Maybe it’s because I’m not paying attention to my Garmin.  Maybe I’m excited to be back home on my favorite routes.  Maybe it’s the lack of stop and go and weaving around people and their little dogs.  Whatever it is, I’ve been flying on my runs at home and they seem nothing short of easy.  Maybe that’s why I ran my best time at Chicago this year?
  • Fewer running groups.  If there’s one thing that NYC doesn’t lack (and there’s very few things that NYC doesn’t lack…), it’s running groups.  Or someone to run with.  NYRR lists a bajillion (count them!) running clubs, and at any given time you can find at least someone else running in the park, whether you know them or not.  Back home, not so much.  Sure, the running groups exist, but not nearly in the quantity (and I’m willing to argue quality!) as found in NYC.  Nor did I pass any other running when I was out there.

 

So which is better?  I have absolutely no idea.  I love my old running routes and flying on them.  I love having a wide variety of running groups to choose from in NYC.  Trade offs are made, just like in other aspects of life.  I may not have laundry in my apartment, but I have any type of food at my fingertips.  I may have any sort of running group to run with, but I have to fight eight traffic lights to get to them.  I suppose that’s one of the good things about running…you can run anywhere.

What do you think?  Do you prefer city running for the social aspects (speed can be involved in that!)?  Do you like suburb/country running for the ease and quiet about it?  I’m still undecided…but I’ll go on a run with you in any setting!  :)

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My last run in Chicago before heading home was another fabulously fast run that felt like I was simply jogging along.  I hit up one of my favorite long run routes that has some hills (or at least, as hilly as Chicago will be).  I know this run so well and my legs are just on autopilot whenever I run it…I even know what points in the street I’m going to cross, and I generally don’t even have to look over my shoulder to check for traffic (even though I always do) because 99% of the time I can hear it behind me, unlike NYC where you really have no clue.  Here we go:

Monday, December 27
8.03 miles in 1:00:33, avg pace of 7:33

Last miles in 7:08 and 7:02.  Woo woo.  And now I’ll stop being such an idealistic runner…

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