Monthly Archives: January 2012
My body hurts. But in a good way.
This weekend was another one chocked full of friends, working-out, and (thankfully) sleeping. The adventures started Friday afternoon when Greatist headed over to Chelsea Piers to try SurfSet, a brand new fitness class that had us paddling out to the “ocean,” ducking under and catching waves, jumping up, and definitely wiping out—all indoors. The board simulates a real surfing experience, and was a full-body workout too (insert: planks and squats on a wobbly surface). And while SurfSet does help people train for the real thing, I kind of hate waves (don’t like large bodies of things collapsing on me) and am not a huge fans of sharks (heard they’re not that friendly). So I’d be more than happy to stick to the indoor version and try it again.
Later that evening, I went to Jim & Kate’s for sushi and was re-reminded that spicy tuna and soft-shell crab topped with eel, avocado, and caviar is the best thing in the entire universe. Then it was time for immediate sleep, since I had a 5:30 am wake-up call.
On Saturday morning, I ran my first 10K ever down in Prospect Park, and had a blast. But before the race, might I add that I wasn’t expecting the L to be crowded at 6 am, but I barely got a seat? Where was everyone going?! Anyway, about 50-thousands trains and hours later, I made it to the starting line with Jocelyn and Laura, and Beyonce led me out through mile one.
Now, I really had no idea how I was going to feel, especially since I’ve been doing a lot more strength training recently and haven’t clocked in more than four miles a day (on those silly treadmills, mind you). But I felt surprisingly good, so I just went for it—comfortably. I kept a steady mid 7-minute pace throughout, experienced an amazing runners-high at mile five, then finished strong. All good things! However, the best part came after—breakfast—which was with Laura and Jocelyn, along w/ new pals Susan and Betsy.
I devoured an omelette, and then trecked back to Brooklyn to collapse in my bed (at noon) and wake up an hour later, starving (woops). I ate what was probably the largest banana I’ve ever seen in my life, and went baaaaack on the train to attend a Kettlebell Kickboxing class with Kelly! I was half-ready to fall asleep, half-ready to foam roll my legs out for days, but I put in as much effort as my body could muster and felt the burrrrn. Unfortunately, I have awful coordination and take to direction poorly, so any sort of fitness class that involves lots of movements and sequences and left rights kick jump twirl spin loop-dee-loop, makes me feel lost and confused and sometimes I just stop. Till someone comes over and helps me. Which happened.
The rest of the evening was a haze as I was in-and-out of napping and reading and writing and listening to music with Ali, until I rejoined the rest of the Saturday-night world for some drinks with some frieeeends. I treated myself to a delicious bourbon cocktail, then went back home with Nicole and Ali to make cookies and watch The Daily Show before collapsing happily, for the third time, into bed.
Ali, Nic, and I all woke up around eight, and enjoyed a morning of coffee and mellow tunes before heading to different boroughs—Manhattan, Queens, and Brooklyn. I went yet again to South Brooklyn to run, but this time it was a group fun-run with Jack Rabbit that took us over the Brooklyn Bridge, through Chinatown’s New Year celebration, and back over the Manhattan Bridge. And it was also 10 miles—a distance I have never run.
Verdict? It was AWESOME. The pace averaged at a comfortable 9:30, but the last mile was around a minute faster, and I felt like I could’ve kept going (always a good sign). But besides the run itself, it’s always great to meet new runners who share that same crazy passion and who ALL have stories of ironmans and marathons and what have you. (One day?).
Then, of course, there’s the view.
After the run, the group enjoyed some bagels and coffee at JackRabbit, then Laura, Jocelyn and I headed over to The Bell House for their mac-n-cheese takedown. Before the doors opened, we headed to the bar (obv) and ordered three mighty-fine classy drinks: zin, allagash, and bloody mary (hydration at its finest). Then once the event began, we ate about five thousands pounds of mac n cheese and discussed some favorites (lobster mac, that one with all the bacon crumbled on top, and the leek and sauteed onion dish) while critiquing the not-so great ones (oyster mac, kale and chicken sausage, and the deep-friend ball). Winners were announced, more mac and cheese was consumed, and then it was time to go home. And collapse (again) in bed at 5PM. And not get out till tomorrow. Life rules.
So, a surprising number of you read my blog post about Search Engine Terms. (I still don’t understand the whole “i hate it when a chinchilla eats the universe” thing either). Like….an oddly large number of people.
What I’m trying to say is, if you liked that post…. you’re welcome. Now, I have a favor to ask.
Greatist is in the running for Healthline’s Best Health Blog of 2011. And it’s silly. We need a lot of votes.! So I would be extremely extremely appreciative if you can vote here! And yeah, they ask for a login with Facebook/Twitter, but just delete it afterwards if need be. The vote (which you can do everyday) counts!
AND…once you vote, send your address to swag [at] greatist [dot] com and we’ll send you a STICKER. Yup, you heard right. A sticker!
Oh, and your support will help us win $5,000. But it’s not (all) about the money. It’s about getting by with a little help from our friends. That we appreciate so much. For whom we strive to deliver the most high-quality and entertaining content to daily.
So from my heart, to yours, please vote. It’ll mean a lot!
Love, The Greatist Team
On a whim, I joined spring track my freshman year of high school. I was always an athlete, playing basketball, soccer, tennis, heck—even golf— for most of my life. So I thought I’d give myself a “break” from balls and racquets and considerable coordination and do track for a few months. I’d be a sprinter.
Except that my coach made me run the 400m at my first meet. The 400 is technically still a sprint, but it’s a long one. One whole trip around the track. A quarter mile. It’s pretty much 350 meters longer than you’d ever want to sprint, and in my awkward running briefs, tanktop, and bulky sneakers, I got on the line and ran it in 71 seconds. Not terrifically fast.
But fast enough. My coach came over to me and said, “Laura, it’s time to get you a pair of racers. And turn you into a runner.”
Spring track was mostly a blur, as I blindly fell in love with the sport. I didn’t feel much pressure since I was young and new, but I kept getting faster and breaking personal records, surprising my coaches while staying completely oblivious to time. Mostly, I enjoyed the people. Only a certain person voluntarily “runs for fun,” and our team was bound by this shared delirium that running is painful, and it’s hard, but it’s…oddly addicting and satisfying, and…fun. We’d sing songs on long runs, have rain dances when it’d pour, and treat ourselves to Paradise Pizza after a tough workout. We’d dye sports bras and socks before big races, and eat boxes of LIFE on school buses before all-day meets. We all bought bright red spanex, too.
I soon learned the big names in Suffolk County—Cummings, Sheffey, McDermott, Tschirhart—and slowly entered this secret, underground running world. I knew what 300m cut-downs meant (and that they were way harder than 200m cut-downs), I could feel paces, teach drills, dominate a fartlek, and measure my stride at the long-jump pit. I’d go on dyestat, and finally read Once a Runner, becoming engulfed in that 400m workout scene: amazingly epic, and terrifying.
And of course, there was Prefontaine. I watched Without Limits and quickly learned about Pre, the running legend who raced under Bill Bowerman (who founded Blue Ribbon Sports, now known as, well..NIKE) at the University of Oregon. He tragically died at 24, at that time holding American records in the 2,000 to 10,000 meter races. Pre is probably best known for the quote ”to give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.”
But let me tell you, that gift is hard to use well. Really hard. Expectations are created, but certainly not always met. Turns out 5K’s are way harder than 400-meter sprints, and I could barely finish a cross-country race without wanting to collapse. A horrible 800 leg in a Distance Medley Relay moved us from a 2nd place seed to an eighth place finish. I developed asthma and was hooked up to nebuilzers before races, I dropped batons, fouled on the long jump line, and sometimes… just ran slow. I knew which workouts to dread (mile repeats at 6:30 pace, hill repeats up Laurel Avenue) and when to freak out on race day (doubling in a back-to-back 4×800 and 4×400, or quadrupling with the triple and long jump). It’s actually incredibly easy to hate running, to lose patience, or to simply burn out.
But it’s also terribly addicting, and naturally therapeutic. And besides, who needs drugs when running can make you high? It goes beyond that, though. Running changes people. Everyday I read about someone who picked up running and it changed their life. And it’s so incredibly empowering to know that you, yourself ran X miles—your legs carried you that far, at that speed. By now I’ve run thousands of miles. Thousands! That’s so cool. And it doesn’t matter how fast or how slow, it just matters that they happened, whether pounding on a treadmill or circling on a track, running through trails in the woods or dirt paths in Africa, through bustling streets in Manhattan or humid beaches in Puerto Rico.
And your running relationship may change, which is totally okay. I was a mid-distance runner that would barely venture out for more than four miles. I retired my racing spikes (and competitive nature) and lost all my speed, learning how to simply enjoy the wide-open road, ditching my watch and just going. I’ve become my own teacher— disciplining and supporting, critiquing and congratulating. And it’s often the only time in the day when life is …just about me.
Running both balances and challenges, exhausts and relaxes. It makes me sweat and think and release and work. But most importantly, it makes me appreciate my body that goes the length…. and my mind that allows it to happen.
Well, well. I’ve noticed some prettttty interesting keywords people have used to get to this blog. At first I thought only supportive friends and family that oddly want to hear what goes through my crazy head read this, but turns out there must be some randos who accidentally search for something weird in google and end up…here.
So here are the top ten search engine terms from this week…..and my comments. Ya crazies.
Laura Schwecherl camping Okay. You know me well enough to be able to spell my last name and know I have a blog with the word “camping” in it. But you don’t know the exact URL, which means you are a peripheral friend, if I had to guess. Friend of a friend? Stalker? Ex-boyfriend? Uncle Bob? Fess up.
I hate it when a chinchilla eats the universe Yeah, me too :/
William j Clinton museum Not totally random, since I did go to this museum and had a damn good time. But seriously, how many google pages did you go through to end up here?
Bedroom hotel new york I’ll consider it.
Bizarreness This makes sense, seeing as I’ve used this adjective quite often to describe my life. Even in a blog-post title. But the weirdest thing about that post is I took the first picture a block away from where Greatist HQ is (months before I worked there!) Now that’s bizarre.
Sister fuck brother You’re sick.
Mountains K, this makes me happy. Love me them mountains! Gonna climb Kilimanjaro! And get married on a mountain! And ski down one soon! …Glad you found me here.
Is a broken down hottub worth buying Probably not.
Movie with deformed face Batman returns? Hunchback of Notre Dame? Mask?…..Pay it forward? Sorry you didn’t get what you were looking for here.
PS) I posted the cutest video of Ali on my tumblr (with her permission). So go watch it.
OK. First, go visit the nicest place on the Internet.
Thanks, okay. Hello! Happy Sunday! I’m currently at my favorite Sunday spot—Second Stop Cafe. It’s a little hide away in Williamsburg with strong coffee, amazing soup, and a creaky-floor. Very lovely.
I had wanted to get out of bed super early to run a 4-mile race in Central Park, but couldn’t get myself on another subway since I’m preeeetty positive 80 percent of my weekend was spent on mass-transit. Someone was killed on the tracks on 3rd ave (very sad), so I took a sneaky (and very, very, long) detour through Brooklyn, Queens, and Uptown Manhattan to make it down to Flat Iron to hard chill at HQ, get some writing done, and go to the gym to work on my new goal of doing three unassisted pull-ups. DAH. Afterwards, I jetted back to BK since the L started up again, and quickly changed and got some food together before attending a house warming party in Prospect Heights. Since New York City has yet to assemble a reliable train that runs north-south in BK, I went baaack to Manhattan to grab a train that would take me to my destination (an hour later!). It was great great great to see Melissa’s new place + all of her teacher friends. Most people there were Peace Corps fellows at Teachers College, & it was fun to hear them gossip
about their students (just like little kids always talked about their teachers) while asking about their past travels abroad. As far as food goes, there was a mixed spread: raw oysters, home-made Chex Mix, and rice krispies treats. I approved. Lots. Alas, when it was time to return north, I tried to transfer back at the L when I was greeted with the dreaded ….red tape. Thinking I was stuck in Manhattan, I happily (those few Hot Toddy’s may have helped) wandered around Chelsea while thinking of who I could call to crash with, until I realized I should just walk as far east as possible, then get a cab, till I aaalso thought that maybe just the 6th ave entrance was closed and tried my luck at another entrance and voila! Got on the train. But had to wait for awhile, of course. And… I may or may not have taken a quick cat nap on the platform, until a very nice old lady woke me up so I could get on the train.
In other news, Penn Badgley from Gossip Girl (not that I’ve ever watched the show or anything you know?) wandered into this hole-in-the-wall bar on Friday night, and I watched him start making out with a gal that was asking him WAY too many questions about the show (gotta play it cooooool). I wasn’t totally jealous or anything, so I started chatting in spanish with an Argentine who happened to be sitting on the other side of me. I know approximately seven words in spanish, so the conversation was sort of repetitive and awkward and the Guinness wasn’t sitting well (who buys a girl a GUINNESS?!) and I eventually fled. Sad face.
And, now, NOW I would love to go running in this beaaautiful snowy weather, but I only brought home one sneaker. So I may go run in one shoe. Or go to yoga. #namaste.
I’ve always had a weird fascination with stars. Let’s get serious…as a kid, I remember waking up in the middle of the night to go to the beach and watch a crazy, crazy meteor shower. Another time, I set my alarm for 2AM so I could go out on my neighbor’s roof and search for shooting stars with him. And today, I do my best to look up to find any in this washed out city—letting me appreciate even a few small blinking dots (They’re probably just planes, but shhh.)
Still, I never really took the time to figure out the constellations. Stars are seemingly chaotic—how was I supposed to look up and find these patterns in the sky?
But what are stars, really? The boring answer is they’re huge exploding balls of gas that are roughly, oh, 25,300,000,000,000 miles away. They’re (literally) hot commodities— with a surface temp of 100,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Regardless, it’s an interesting concept, these stars. Most dont really care to know about the thermonuclear fusion of hydrogen, or its radiative and convective processes, or even that they’re biiiillions of years old (great retirement plan, huh?) Instead, there’s this universal (pun!) feeling of peace, wonder, mystery, and romance, as we glance up at these incredibly massive spheres of plasma, recreating them into tiny, twinkling dots of hope— and comfort.
Which brings me to this photo, courtesy of Nat Geo:
Here, a man gazes out at the stars along a beach in Southern Malawi. I was struck by this photo when I saw it for a few reasons. First, well, I thought this was a picture of someone on the moon (woops), but once I realized he was on solid (earth) ground, I mused at how he could literally… be anywhere. And this reminded me of when I stumbled upon my own African shoreline, and gazed out into an abyss of starry dots. I was wondering where the hell I was—I was in such a foreign place— but I looked up at a familiar sky, and felt a tension between the ordinary and the unremarkable.
I had arrived in Ghana a few weeks prior, and when I wandered to this beach, this was the first time I saw three little dots in a row—the tail of the Little Dipper. I didn’t know what I was actually seeing at the time, but that overwhelming moment of realizing where I so significantly and insignificantly was, was marked by these three stars.
And they followed me. I made a note to look after these dots as I traveled to other shore lines, villages and jungles. And when I returned to New York—icy and bitter, fast—I continued to gaze out at what were now my little dots, pretending I was back in the warm palms of Western Africa, recreating memories and moments that were thousands of miles and minutes away, by simply looking up.
And I dunno, it’s a cool concept to me. That we can literally be anywhere in the world and see the same three blinking stars—reproducing them into whatever memory or emotion or concept we’d like. Stars can connect so many person on this earth, making the world seem a bit smaller as we gaze at these ginormous astrological objects that are incredibly out of reach— but so conveniently wrapped up in our minds eye.
1. I’ve lately been obsessed with listening to good music in my great headphones…pretty much anywhere. (Guess I don’t follow my own advice). And most recently I’ve been into The Local Natives, an L.A. born band that’s full of three-part harmonies, rustic, yearning vocals, some oober fun chanting, and roller-coaster melodies that hit me in the heart. Want a good starting point? Listen to Cubism Dream.
2. This past week, I’ve reached my life goal of having 100 followers of twitter (#candiehappy). Now I’m up to 119, but who’s counting? Oh, me. But whatever. I realized the value of twitter a few months back, but now I finally see how relatively easy it is to create relationships and spread good content through this funky 140-character communication vortex. And it’s #SO #EXCITING.
3. Oh, I didn’t go out Friday night? And I stayed in and made a tumblr? Eeek.
4. Speaking of social media, I read this interesting piece on how the U.N. uses it. And, they’re even considering using PINTEREST. I guess it’s to “spread their message,” so should be interesting to see what they pin. If anyone has additional insight on how the U.N. can effectively use Pinterest, please fill me in…. I’m still sort of boggled. And uh, while youre at it…check out my boards?
5. And while the U.N. is figuring out Pinterest, they’re also trying to stop the mess that is Southern Sudan. I read this piece and found myself in a funk; sometimes I think I’m not connected well enough to what’s going on in this beautiful, yet heart breaking world.
7. The other day it was windy. But not windy enough to blow down a billboard. But still, a billboard fell. Steps from our apartment!
The other day Kelli asked me what my aspirations were. Well… sort of. Her boyfriend had wanted to know (currently all he does know is the approximate time I walk from 22nd street to Union Square every night…swear that’s not creepy) and she relayed the message. So Steve, since you’re now following me on twitter (#thanks) and may see this post if I tweet it (#mosdef), this is for you.
Aright. I have this thing where sooo many things intrigue me, adventure and the unknown provide me with comfort, and I have absolutely no ability to switch off my head that’s constantly bursting with stories, ideas, desires, and questions. And at one time, I had a long list of aspirations that filled every screaming moment of curiosity: getting a Masters in global health, signing a record deal, writing a bestseller, running (fast) marathons, making music in West Africa, climbing mountains, and winning the lotto and doing nothing but knit and build lean-to’s.
But I’ve recently realized that even if I could achieve all that (let’s be serious, I, eh..wouldn’t), I don’t know how valuable that would be. Could I put my heart into it all? Would each feat have the same meaning, or would that meaning be spread thin? And maybe even this: could there be some aspiration I didn’t even know existed? And how would I find it?
So I turn to my favorite book by Herman Hesse, Siddhartha. One of the most important quotes (to me) is, “Perhaps that you seek too much, that as a result of your seeking you cannot find.” And I think for a while, I was constantly seeking out a certain goal (or seven?) and became tunnel visioned, doing anything and everything I possibly could to attain every goal in life. And while that’s not necessarily a bad thing, I didn’t really let life sort of lead itself in a direction unbeknownst to me.
I graduated and moved myself to D.C., since I landed a job that fit “perfectly” with my Anthro major and slight obsession with African cultures. And while the Smithsonian African Art museum sounded lovely, I knew next to no one in D.C., and ended up quitting my job almost a month later in an intense, tear and anger filled meeting (woops). From that moment on, many other things happened as a result of my fierce “seeking” quest. And four jobs and probably 20 something states later, I found myself unemployed in New York City, the one place I had been trying so hard to tear away from.
But then, life seemed to work itself out. I stopped feverishly seeking, and (so thankfully) landed a job that intersected my passions, talents, and work rhythm. I found amazing people and have made wonderful friendships. And I’m living in a city that I used to hate… and then appreciated… and now, maybe, am slowly beginning to love. And I want Greatist to succeed beyond the success it has already gained and have the whole world see its vision—its incredible value.
And my aspiration? For me, I think boxing myself into one specific goal is just as dangerous as having too many. Instead, I’m devoting my energy to this: genuinely impacting others while staying curious, challenged, and happy. And whatever country I end up in, project I devote my time to, and people I surround myself with, I will spiral all my energy into this hope.
And climb Kilimanjaro.
We’ve acquired a typewriter. (And so far, it has been).
And speaking of tumblr’s (genius segue), Ali and Grace started one of their own, titled Is this your single glove? Basically, they go around and take pictures of single gloves, recording where the glove was found, at what time, a description of the glove (three adjectives), and usually where the person was headed when the glove was spotted. (I mainly use this blog to see what Ali’s up to when I’m not around) (She got a bagel on Saturday). In any case, the goal is for everyone in the whole entire universe to start looking out for single gloves, submitting photos, and making this thing go viral. Cause, why not? You can submit your own photos/details to singlegloves[at]gmail[dot]com. Happy looking down!
Heeeey. Hope you all had a fabulous weekend. If you’re in New York, I’m sure you were slightly confused by the weather, seeing as it was about 5 degrees earlier in the week and 50 this weekend. No mind…it made for a wonderful 5 mile run from Central Park to a Cassoulet cook-off in the East Village (5 is a trending number). But before that.
Friday, I tried something new: Boxing. One of the trainers at New York Health and Racquet has been trying to get me to try it, and let me tell you…it’s AWESOME. I was totally into hopping around the ring, giving a one, two, three punch..ducking under..throwing a left hook. Man. My trainer told me there was a “pop” behind my punch, meaning I could probably kill you (watch out!). Yet, about twenty minutes into my Rocky debut, Frank had me running around the ring, throwing 30 punches, then jumping down and doing burpees, then more punches, then pushups (with gloves, mind you), punches, mountain climbs, more punches..it went on and on. And on. Then when I thought I was free, we did a 15 minute ab workout where I contemplated dying. Frank was pushing me along, saying “cmon, you want that six pack!” while I thoughtfully replied, “no, I really really don’t.” In any case, I somehow recovered and headed to the Rubin Museum, where I watched people swing around on ribbons (see picture, aint lyin), had a glass of wine, felt like passing out, went home and ate dinner, and..fell asleep. At 9. Perfect Friday night, if you ask me.
Things got real on Saturday, as Greatist + friends headed over to Times Square (?) to try some Kundalini yoga. I had done it once before (which I actually wrote about), so I was a bit scared. Yet, my second time around was a lot more positive and purposeful; our teacher really had us focus on putting intention behind every physically challenging movement and soft, inward breath. By dedicating the practice to something while using the pain to destroy negative energy, I was really able to get the most out of the class.
Having felt so “centered” from yoga, I decided that going out and drinking a fair amount of whiskey would make me feel like my old self. The night somehow consisted of travels to both the Lower East Side and Greenpoint, which are always two completely different worlds. On Ludlow, we had this dude come up and ask “are there any bars around here?” where I responded, “well…there’s one right in front of you, a million right behind you, oh, and seventy thousand straight up ahead.” Apparently that was the green light for him to keep talking, where he explained how he paints pictures that teach people how to play tennis. Real winner. Back in Brooklyn, a more clever pick-up attempt was made at Flo, though apparently no sparks:
On Sunday, I woke up and headed to central park to meet up with my new friend Laura, and meet two other NYC runners, Katie and Jocelyn. I met Laura through Greatist (she is an awesome, supportive reader!), where I soon learned of her amazingness: she has run 50 marathons in 50 states. YEAH. Katie and Jocelyn are also wonderful wonderful people (not to mention marathoners & triathletes, too!), and the four of us hit it off. We winded through central park, made our way over to 1st avenue, and eventually down to a path along the East River. Five miles later and we arrived at Jimmy’s No. 43, a dank, (literally) underground restaurant that was holding a Cassoulet cook-off. The modest entrance fee went directly to local farmers whose crops were destroyed by Hurricane Irene, and the event included generous tastes of DELICIOUS bean and meat stews. I’ve never eaten so much duck confit, pork shoulder, and bacon in my life…and may I say I was in heaven. Our favorite dish was by two Austrian chefs who ended up knowing a bunch of Schwecherl’s from my homeland. (Why all these small-world things happen to me, I do not know).
The four of us talked running blogs, good food, and other things about LIFE, while well-dressed people kept asking us, “wait, did you actually run here?” And…..I may or may not have been coerced into running a Ben & Jerry’s Marathon in Burlington in May. EEEK. We’ll see. PS) Below we’re with our Austrian chefs/boyfriends. Obviously I was GLOWING.