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A Blueberry Treat Whose Name We Shall Not Mention

30 Jun

Some things that I love, in no particular order: carbohydrates that defy definition, blueberries, and GingerKef’s cousin. So when I got the chance to bake a blueberry kind-of-cake/kind-of-bread WITH PresidentKef HIMSELF, I knew it was going to be a good night.

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PresidentKef and I go way back to the early days of this blog, when he was just a young man searching for Emerald City and I was a young, imprudent woman living on Lincoln Rd. Since then, we’ve been basically #BFF.

PresidentKef came into town last week and requested some time in kitchen with Kef, and I was only too happy to oblige. This recipe comes from the 1940s, and has an obnoxiously-appropriate-of-the-era name to boot: Blueberry Boy Bait. Blech. Good to know that in the 60 years between this recipe’s publication and the Neptunes’ production of “Milkshake,” America held true to the ideal that a hefty amount of saturated fat and sugar would snag you a suitable life partner.

Anyway- PresidentKef and I had a blast whipping this guy up. Here’s a mini lesson on when to be precise in baking and when to just go with your gut:

Sadly, there is no chocolate in this recipe– but there is a bunch of butter, sugar, and gluten. I’ve made this two or three times for large groups and it has always been met with demands for an encore appearance (but somehow, not one suitor… hmph). It’s “cake” in the way that coffee cake is, which is to say somewhere in between bread and cake (cread? brake?). Whatever you call it, it’s awesome, and I think you should make it.

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A Blueberry Cake Whose Name We Shall Not Mention

Ingredients

  • 2 c flour
  • 1 TBS baking powder
  • 1 tsp table salt
  • 16 TBS unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 c packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 c granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs, room temp
  • 1 c whole milk
  • 1/2 c blueberries, fresh or frozen (if frozen, do not defrost first)
  • 1/2 c blueberries, fresh or frozen (do not defrost)
  • 1/4 c granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

Assembly

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and flour 13×9 pan (pyrex or metal).
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. In a stand or electric mixer on medium high, beat butter and sugars until fluffy, about two minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until just incorporated. Scrape down bowl between egg additions.
  3. Reduce speed to medium, then beat in one-third of flour mixture. Once incorpated, beat in half of milk. Beat in half of remaining flour mixture, then remaining milk, and finally remaining flour mixture.
  4. Toss blueberries in about 1 tsp of flour (optional). Using rubber spatula, gently fold in blueberries. Spread batter into prepared pan.
  5. Make the topping: scatter blueberries over top of batter. Stir sugar and cinnamon together in small bowl and sprinkle over batter.
  6. Bake until toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes. Cool in pan for at least 20 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

 

Who run the world? Girls.

9 Jun

Now that school is over, the question pretty much everyone is asking is, “What are you doing with all your free time?” I’d love to say that I’m taking up a new hobby or finally cleaning out my closet… but, mostly, I’ve been sitting around watching YouTube videos of girls who kick ass. I’ll distill my favorites here:

Kicking ass at kindness:

Kicking ass at taking down obstacles:

Kicking monster ass:

Actually, kicking pretty much all the asses:

 

Girl mother-effing power. And that’s really all I have to say about that.

Some Wise Words From Other People

5 Jan

While the rest of the blogosphere is writing about goals and resolutions for the coming year, your girl Kef is just trying to keep her head above water. School, work, and self care are each their own full-time job, and I’ve been working overtime at each of them for the last year or so. I’m grateful to have a job I love, to be in the LAST SIX MONTHS of my NP program (#praiseHim!), and to be injury-free enough to run… but none of those wonderful truths make me want to rip my hair out any less on those days when I feel like I’m spinning my wheels (and not in the kicking-ass-on-a-seated-climb-to-your-college-playlist kind of way).

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Since my life is chock full milestones this year–finally being done with grad school, running my first full marathon, transitioning to a new role at work– I’m not stressing about goals set arbitrarily to the new calendar year. I love the idea some people have to choose a word and pursue it as the theme for the year, but we allllllll know I am a woman of many words and could never choose just ONE. So, instead, I’m choosing two phrases to get me through the tough 6 months I have ahead of me:

1) Goals are often simple, but never easy.

The tremendous Kelly Roberts wrote these words earlier this week on the Oiselle blog. I love this mostly because it is an elegant way to state the obvious: the difficult part isn’t figuring out what needs to be done, it’s actually breaking inertia and doing the work. The path to our desired result is pretty clear, if only we get out of our own way and do what we already know is required. Simple to say, never easy to do.

2) There is no secret. Keep going.nosecret

This is a tried-and-true Oiselle maxim I have always loved. It’s easy to feel like everyone else has a vat of the magic sauce that makes everything fall into place effortlessly–especially when they only post the clean-house/best-lighting/perfect-pace picture on social media. This phrase is a reminder that there is, actually, no secret, and that everybody else is in the same boat. As the good witch said, “you’ve had the power all along, my dear”–you just have to keep going.

So that’s my story for the next little while, and I’m sticking to it, whether I like it or not. What are your goals/resolutions/words/phrases for 2017?

 

Five Days in Croatia (Part I): Lots of Firsts

15 Feb

[sorry to email subscribers who received a draft version of this post last week. speaking of which–you should subscribe via email by typing your email address in the box to the right so you never miss the kefi… or any of my snafus!]IMG_4468

After a crazy weekend of wedding events (go to: the beginning, the ceremony, the tearful roastings, the dancing, the prancing, and the details), it was time for the Ndjatou World Tour.  My beloved MrKef and I had taken lots of mini trips together but never a full-fledged vacation, so we were both ready.to.go. after a weekend high on fun and low on sleep.

We chose Dubrovnik, Croatia for a few reasons: 1) it had ample opportunity for both beach and non-beach things, which is key for this Greek-Cameroonian couple 2) neither of us had been there before 3) Game of Thrones is filmed there, so I knew MrKef would be in rare form, and 4) we could make a stop in England on the way back, where both of us have family members who weren’t able to make the wedding but that we very much wanted to see. It turned out to be the perfect choice–we had so much fun together that just picking pictures for this post gave me a joy spurt that should last til next week (or at least through this wintery week–boo). Hope y’all like pictures and captions–’cause that’s what we’re going with today.

Inspired by Monica and Chandler, we told anyone who would listen to us that it was our honeymoon. Sadly, we didn’t get any first class upgrades (the danger of taking budget airlines on your honeymoon, I guess!), but people were excited for us and did what they could.

A very lovely flight attendant gifted us wine and chocolate:

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And an absurdly helpful man at Gatwick racked his brain trying to think of a way to help us celebrate and came up with this, um, Premium Security Pass:

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After a couple of flights and a long layover, we were finally in Croatia! We landed at night but were lucky to find our sweet little AirBnB without problem. We dropped our stuff, showered, and headed right out to explore Dubrovnik! Here’s out first look of this magnificently-preserved Old City:

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MrKef wasted no time getting down to business, and is pictured here with his first-ever miniglass of cordial.

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It was the middle of the Dubrovnik Summer Festival, and the Croatian Symphony was kind enough to have orchestrated a dress rehearsal  to coincide with our first night:

 

Once I found out that food in Dubrovnik is heavily influenced by the city’s age-old ties with Venice (read: tons of pizza and gelato), I decided that if I wanted some  ice cream while on my honeymoon, I would have it–evils of refined sugar be damned.

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In other news, we both got a good giggle out of this flavor, because well… these are the things that give us the giggles (just ask JetSet about that time he played Cards Against Humanity with MrKef).

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After a stroll and an ice cream, we headed back home. This would be a good time to discuss what it meant to get to and from the Old City from where we were staying. We chose this specific AirBnB because it was cheap ($68/night!), boasted beautiful views (we’ll get there) and was, by far, the closest to the Old City for that kind of price (only 700 meters from the Old City gate!). What the AirBnB description failed to mention is that it is 700m straight up 379 stairs! Somehow I never got a good shot of allllll the stairs, but here’s a little peek into what quickly became the bane of MrKef’s Croatian existence.

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Anyway, after a 24 hours of traveling and a trek up those stairs, we slept like babies. When we woke up, we got our first real look at Dubrovnik. It did not disappoint:

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This would be the first an only time that MrKef would rush down those stairs– he just couldn’t wait to explore.

We spent most of our first full day just poking about, planning out the next few days, and taking a billion selfies:

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And then it was time for another first: some random people came up to MrKef and gesticulated something about a picture. Because MrKef is a lovely human, he assumed that they wanted him to take a family photo. Turns out that they wanted to take their picture with him because he’s black.

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It’s possible that they are just huge Extra Black Gelato fans… but probably they are just from an insular part of the world. Diversity is an asset, people.

Anyway, after a yummy pizza lunch we took the Dubrovnik Wall tour. This is a good time for a quick history break: Dubrovnik was founded in the 7th century and was an important port for the next 1,000 years. It was settled and conquered a few times, was a de facto outpost of Venice for much of its history, and still is comprised largely of building that was completed in the 16th century. Despite some high profile damage in the 90s, the  city remains nearly perfectly preserved/restored. The wall tour takes you around the city from the perch of 10-meter-thick fortified walls, and was definitely a highlight for us–not to be missed!

This was so beautiful that I could not choose only a few shots, so I will just post a whole bunch:

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Please notice all the trek up the wall stairs!

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Not exactly regulation, but major points for commitment to the game!

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After that tour, MrKef fulfilled a fantasy: sitting on the Iron Chair!

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Later that night, we had a romantic drink at the Troubador, Dubrovnik’s live jazz spot.

 

And because he’s a romantic at heart, we slow danced in the street when the band played “What a Wonderful World,” which got all those children you can see jumping around in the video pointing and laughing.

To end our first full day, another first:

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Yep, that’s right: mojitos to go!

IMG_4565That seems like a note as good as any to end on… and it’s past my bedtime, so come back next time for some day trips, manspreading, and funiculars!

(Almost The Last) Wedding Wednesday: Reception Kings and Prancing Dads

20 Jan

Today we’re gonna finish up the party pics I couldn’t get posted last week, next week it’s all about the amazing work MamaKef put into this life event, and then its honeymoon in Croatia time. Sharing all these fun wedding moments has been great, but I’m ready to move on. (Part I ; Part II ; Part III ; Part IV)

First things first, I have to crown a King of the Reception. I’d like to think everyone had a great time at our little fiesta, but there was one guest who stood out in a sea of really fun people as the person having the MOST fun: RussianBearKef himself! There was not one single scene the photographer caught without him in, having a blast. A smattering of the many snapshots of one of my dearest friends getting down with pretty much every woman I know:

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Impossibly, we have known each other for TEN years– so because I can, I think we need a before-and-after comparison:

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I rather think we’re getting better with age (and less Russian Bear!).

It was an extremely tough decision. The runner up goes to SummitKef, for cheering us on SO wholeheartedly as we fed each other beignets and baklava. The whole photo series is priceless, but here’s just one to wet your whistle:

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Back to the party:  the FamiliaKef really knows how it’s done:1503

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FINALLY, JetSet learns how to Wobble.

While my family was dancing, MrKef and co were up to some very-usual antics

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#posselove #brandeis

Naturally, FlailKef, SpeakToSomeoneAboutThatKef and I were picking some apples and putting them in our pocket:

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It was just a room full of dancing fools!

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The most beautiful couple on the planet, clearly.

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I think this is me “dancing” to Makossa

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Countless cool points were won and lost that night.

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Partying like we should have in 1999.

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Things reached a fever pitch when MamaKef’s cocktail hour props made their way to the dancefloor:

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Not in a frame, but they’re two of my most beloved, so I’m going Blogzilla and throwing it in there, anyway.

In case there was ANY wonder whether this whole night had been worth it, a miracle happened. Our last song of the night was “New York, NY.” Everyone was swaying in a circle, minding their own business and belting it out along with the original Bl’italian when…

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… SUDDENLY MRKEF’S DAD AND MY DAD ENTERED THE CENTER OF THE CIRLCE HOLDING HANDS AND PRANCING:

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It cannot be understated how happy this made me– my father does NOT dance, does not like attention, and does not touch other humans. My reaction was pretty much the same as KPopKef’s, captured wonderfully in the background to the right.

Once we got over the shock, everyone piled through the dads to form a bridge.

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1589 I honestly think this is the happiest moment of my whole life. I bemoaned the process of putting together a wedding for a price below the Federal Poverty Line for an entire year, but  I would happily pay twice the cost of the wedding just for this amazing memory!

Beautiful MakeUp and Emergency Hair Touchups: Colleen the Stylist
Amazing photography provided by: RMN Photography
Venue and gracious coordinators of logistics: Key Bridge Marriott
White dress the bride could live with: BHLDN
Alterations that kept the bride IN said dress: G2G Couture
Perfect party music played by: DJ StereoFaith

Wedding Wednesday: Syrtaki, Stanky Spanx, and Suspenders

13 Jan

Okay so today there’s good news and bad news: the bad news is that I had some technical difficulties this morning uploading all the party pics I wanted to use, so I may have to draw the reception out into two posts–sorry y’all. I tried to be a really low-key bride, so what I spared you in Bridezilla moments will be made up for in Blogzilla posts… okay? Great. The good news is that the upload failed pretty much right at the moment I was trying to teach JetSet how to Wobble, so he is spared one more week of embarassment.

So, after we rehearsed, said “I Do,” and MrKef got a major roasting, it was finally time to start the party. Clearly, there’s only one way to do it: Zorba (syrtaki if we’re being technical, but just go with it)! 1081

People tried–they really did–but eventually it devolved into a circle of clapping while the Greeks took care of the speedy bits.

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And then it was all party, party, party!

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Unfortunately, there is now photographic evidence of my doing the most STANDARD white girl dance post-college– one point in the “ChefKef-is-secretly-an-UGGs-wearing- PSL-sipping-basic-babe” column:

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Eventually, an epic dance-off between WokeUpLikeDisKef, RumNRedBullKef, and BabyKef broke out, which was amazing beyond measure.1173

No need to drop the mic– BabyKef threw down with her trademarked “Stanky Spanx” dance:

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Of course, MrKef and I had to then show off some of our signature moves, like Playing Dice:

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and “Ay! Ay! Ay! Ay!”

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and, my personal favorite, the Ashanti/JaRule Thug Love:

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Somehow, we forget to put Ma$e on the “Must Play” list, so MrKef had to do without his DiddyBop on his big night. Shame.

While all this was going down, there were beignets and baklava to be had!

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The beignets came from a random Cameroonian lady who turned out to be a total drama queen. The baklava came from the most amazing woman alive, Kat at Baklava Couture. Further proof that Our Greekness is Your Weakness? I think so.

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HomeBrewKef was surprised to find himself 100% on-trend at this shindig

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And that, sadly, is where my upload ends– more next time!

Beautiful MakeUp and Emergency Hair Touchups: Colleen the Stylist
Amazing photography provided by: RMN Photography
Venue and gracious coordinators of logistics: Key Bridge Marriott
White dress the bride could live with: BHLDN
Perfect party music played by: DJ StereoFaith

2015 RnR Brooklyn Half Recap: She Thought She Could and So She Did

13 Oct

Another race in the books: I ran the Inaugural RnR Brooklyn Half Marathon last weekend!

My updates here are sporadic, at best, these days so for those trying to keep track at home I’ll catch you up: I decided in March that it was time to get serious about running and make some goals. I had been chasing a sub-2:00 half for some time, and, while that was the main goal for this season, I also had less quantifiable things to achieve. I wanted to become a stronger runner who could run predictable races and get through this season injury free.

But mostly, I wanted a half time that started with a 1.

My “A” race for the season is the OBX Half in November, and my original intention for Brooklyn was to use it as a training run. I was under strict orders from my running coach to “jog it–no time goals,” and I had just completed a tough week of high mileage running, which had only gone okay, and I hadn’t performed nearly as well as I had wanted to at my track group time trial on Thursday. All of this to say, I wasn’t feeling “race ready” as I headed up to NY.

Grand Army Plaza, starting line for the 2015 RnR Brooklyn Half

It took an inordinate amount of time to get from DC to NY, and after finally fighting all the traffic 95 had to offer, the heavens opened up and let down a deluge of rain and wind pretty much the second I entered Brooklyn. The expo was just about as poorly planned as I’ve seen– the Brooklyn Expo Center is RIGHT on the water, which means it’s surrounded by one-way streets… not the best plan for getting 17,000 people in and out. Plus, they put the t-shirt pickup outside (though the chocolate milk people somehow got to stay indoors… go figure), so everyone was forced to trek into and out of the pouring rain at least twice to complete expo errands. No bueno, RnR.

Things were not looking all that positive, but I finally made it to JetSet and KimmieKef’s house, where I was greeted by Mr. Met himself,

photowho made the brilliant suggestion of getting my customary pre-race gluten-free pizza from Telio, where they have GLUTEN FREE SPANAKOPIZZA. Yes, that’s right my dearies– glutenfree dough covered with onions and spinach and feta. I am so sad to report that we did not take a picture of this gift from God, but rest assured that it was kefi in a box. Man, oh man.

Flash forward a few hours and the Mets have won their first playoff game since 2006 and it’s race day! After some coffee, eggs and a GF waffle, I got on the train and made the long trip out to Brooklyn. I sat there feeling kind of tired, a bit rundown the miles I had already put in that week, and just let the loop of negative talk run for awhile, until this question came to me:

“Who has time for thoughts like this?”

And then, just like that, I decided to be happy, see how I felt, and run whatever race I had in me that day.

It’s a good thing I decided to stop being miserable before I got off the train, because what awaited me was… chaos.

rnrstartofficialThink that picture is actually a starting line shot? It may also double as the line for the portapotties. I didn’t count, but it seemed like there were approximately 9 portapotties for 17,500 people. I got there with exactly 6 minutes to spare and thankfully talked my way toward the front of a very.long.line, which is more than I can say for this guy,

rnr guy who cut the portapotty linewho looked at a half-mile long line of women who had to pee (and at least one of us who had to poop!), darted into a portapotty and came out flipping everyone the bird. Not cool, dude. Not cool.

Anyyyyyywaaaay, so now I’ve taken care of business and am ready.to.go. I made the last-minute decision to run with the 2:00 pace group. We exchanged niceties and then waited… and waited… and waited for the 7:00 start.

At 7:31, we got going. Apparently, the other 17,499 runners had to wait in some insane security line. Not sure how I missed that trainwreck, but for once I was glad to be left on the platform!

Miles 1-3

Our pacer was Garrett, who is a superstar on the Dashing Whippets. It was his first time pacing, and his plan was a 9:05 pace for a 2:00 finish. Great, sounds like I could stick to the race plan of “just jogging” and still make my goal time of sub-two.

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Garrett and someone who is not me.

Well, you know what they say about best laid plans. The start of the race weaves around a traffic circle and it was tight and crowded. Garrett was a gem and charged through. We picked up a few more pace group members and pressed on. We were just ahead of that 9:05 pace, which at first really freaked me out, but then I realized that I felt GREAT and banished the last of those doubts lingering in the back of my mind. Miles 1-3 8:57, 9:15, 8:56.

Miles 4-6

Now we were getting into the meat of the race, and Garrett was going nuts. First he was running at an 8:30 pace, then a 9:30 pace… it was an emotional roller coaster for me and I decided to get off the ride. I was still feeling really good, so I let the good times roll and took water at each aid station. I was grateful for the flat course and the AMAZING crowd support–there were spectators everywhere!

The 10K mark was the point at which I realized that I was really going to do it: I was finally going to go under 2:00. In a race. I had expected some big emotional moment at the finish line when I did this because I have known for so long that I can do it and have come just short of the this goal 3 or 4 times, but you know- the most emotional moment for me was right there at the halfway point, when I realized I would do it and my first reaction wasn’t so much surprise or shock as it was, Well, of course you are. I feel like the phrase “She thought she could and so she did” has been going on on a lot of runners’ instagrams that I follow and it felt particularly true on Saturday: I had put in the work, and now it was time to reap some results! Miles 4-6 8:35, 8:49, 8:57

Miles 7-9

Previous to the 10k point (or there about), the course is on residential-ish streets. Miles 6-10ish were an out- and -back on a long, boring stretch of almost highway. I was lucky enough to happen upon a woman named Hayley (whose name I only learned because she had a HUGE cheering section at the turnaround) who was not only running a perfect 8:55 pace, but also blaring music out of her phone because she had lost her headphones. Hayley and I ran pretty much in sync and together for 4 miles without exchanging words or acknowledging that we were doing it! This is when I realized how much I like running with people (which I hadn’t done at all in this or the last training cycle) and decided that I would bring that part of my training back. Thanks to Hayley who got me through some boring middle miles with her tunes and on-point pace! Miles 7-9 8:52, 8:56, 8:52

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Thanks, Hayley! Also, isn’t the internet scary that with very little info I could find her?

Miles 10-13.1

There was a small off ramp that had a fairly steep incline, and I decided to power up it and I was back on my own again. I was starting to feel it here, but I reminded myself that I had no time for negativity and kept it moving. Pretty soon, we were in the park! Crowd support in Prospect Park was so good that the entirety of the last 5k felt like being in the Finish Chute! It was also the worst part… most of mile 12 was up a long, slow hill. I just focused on getting to that last mile marker and making sure nothing catastrophic was going to get between me and this damn goal! And then, there it was: the FINISH! I clocked in at 1:57:44 for a 5-minute PR and finally-FINALLY- A SUB-TWO HALF!!!!!
Miles 10-13.1: 8:43, 8:48, 9:07, 8:10, 2:37 (0.39–my watch said the race was a bit long).

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Race recap:

Pros:  this was a mostly-flat course with awesome support and especially good aid stations– 10 water stops in 13 miles? Yes please! Getting to the start was super easy on public transportation. Oh, and did I mention that medal is also a BOTTLE OPENER? Big ups to whoever thought of that one. And, of course, Garrett and Hayley, my official and unofficial race pacers!

Cons: a poor choice for the expo location + crazy security lines + way too few portapotties meant you had some really pissed off New Yorkers on your hands before they ran 13.1 miles. Add mile markers that were consistently off, a lackluster smattering of post-race food (shouldn’t bagels be required if the race is in NY?) and really poor post-race signage (how the hell am I supposed to know how to get out of Prospect Park?) and you have some disappointed runners–isn’t the whole point of a huge event company like RnR buying up all the little guys that they can execute these details anywhere?

Take Home: I’ll run this race again next year if it works for my schedule, but I won’t plan a season around it.

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