Tuesday, December 27, 2011

It (was) Christmastime in the city

What does a girl who can't run around the city do with two days left before she goes home to Virginia to Christmas?

Why, she walks!

Admittedly, I've been a bit of a slacker when it comes to taking in the Christmas things of the city in the past couple of years. The first year I was here, my friend Caity came to visit around Christmas so we visited Rockefeller Center and Bryant Park, taking in the sights and the shops and anything else that was Christmas-y in NYC (though I still haven't seen the Radio City Christmas Spectacular). I also worked in Midtown West and could visit the Time Warner Center's pretty stars just about every day.
The next year, I was living in the East Village, so getting to the Union Square Christmas market was pretty easy. I went with my roommate, visiting the different stands, taking samples as they were offered, and drinking apple cider.
That Christmas, I got lazy. I decided I didn't really want to fight the crowds. Did I really need to see the Rockefeller Center tree? I asked myself. And decided that no, no, I did not. I was perfectly happy to watch it on TV.

Last year? I didn't even visit a Christmas market. I don't exactly remember why, but living on the Upper East Side and working in Midtown East made the west side seem sooooo far and inconvenient. (It really isn't, but that was my excuse...)

I still haven't gone to the Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular, and I've never gone ice skating at any of the rinks (hope to change that in 2012!), but this year I decided I would make my way to Bryant Park and Rockefeller Center. I was gonna get in the holiday spirit and I was gonna like it, dangit!
The green and red Empire State Building inspired me
to get my holiday on
I didn't plan my outing very well though. Last weekend I didn't do much of anything, and it was so cold outside that I just wanted to stay nestled on the couch at home, watching "Love Actually" and sipping mulled wine. I was busy on Monday and Tuesday nights, so Wednesday was really my last chance to make my way to Midtown West. So after work, I took the B train (a train I used to take to work every day my first year in New York!) to Bryant Park and wandered around the shops. I didn't buy anything, but I did see a gorgeous tree and lots of people ice skating!
Bryant Park Christmas tree!
Then I made my way up Sixth Avenue to Rockefeller Center to check out the tree there:
Nothing says Christmas like the Rockefeller Center tree!
Yes, there were about a gazillion people around the tree, but I offered to take pictures for a few people (holiday spirit, what?!), took a ton of pictures, and definitely felt much more Christmas-y.
Lots of lights
I checked the map app on my phone and saw that it was a mere two mile walk back to my apartment. It was cold, but I thought, What better way to see New York's Christmas than along Fifth Avenue? And so I walked!
Cartier ready for the holidays 
 A Trump building all lit up 
The Tiffany star, sparkling away 
A bizarrely awesome window at Bergdorf Goodman
Two-point-something miles later, I was high on holiday cheer and happy to have gotten in a workout for the day. I turned the corner to get home and was greeted with the most lovely lights that I think I've seen in the city:
I wish they left up these lights all year!
Two days later I was packed up and ready to go home for the holidays (my office is unofficially closed for the week between Christmas and New Year's). My parents had bought a tree, but were waiting for me to get home before they decorated it. So Christmas Eve, we pulled out the decorations and stockings, hanging the ornaments from my first Christmas, my brother's first Christmas, and those that were more recent. I have to say, despite the gorgeous trees that I saw in New York, this one is the best one there is:
Christmas at home!
I hope you all had a very happy holiday and got a chance to up your holiday cheer wherever you may be.

Off to use one of my Christmas presents...P90X! Today's just day 2, but so far, so good! Looking forward to taking advantage of it, especially while I'm injured (three weeks down, three weeks to go!).

Happy holidays all!

Sunday, December 18, 2011


...I did it again.
Another stress fracture. In the same leg. My poor left side has really gotten a beating throughout my life -- I broke my left collarbone at age 5 and at age 10. At age 16 I had knee surgery on my left knee. At 25 I had my first stress fracture in my left tibia, and now at 27 I'm onto my second. At least the injuries seem to be making their way down my body and hopefully will be out of my life forever soon -- crossing fingers that this one is the last one!

When this pain first started (maybe a month before the marathon) I really didn't think it was a stress fracture. The pain was in a completely different place than it had been in when I had last one, my tibia wasn't sore or tender to the touch in the least, and I was convinced it had something to do with a tendon. 

But it didn't get better, and actually felt like it was getting worse. I went back to Dr. Metzl in early December and he decided I needed an MRI, which I had almost two weeks ago (side note: December is flying by way too quickly). I got a call from the doctor's office the day after the MRI and they told me that the doctor wanted to see me and also that I was not to run...definitely an indicator that something worse than tendinitis was going on.

I went in last week and got this lovely image that indicates the stress fracture. Crazy as this might sound, I actually like to see that the stress fracture shows up on the image exactly where the pain is -- it tells me that the pain I had wasn't imaginary! 

I got in a few great runs when I got back from my trip, so I'm definitely grateful for that! And I got through the NYC Marathon with a PR, so that's pretty awesome, too. And honestly? I wasn't feeling all that excited about the March marathon. I mean, I'd come up with a good training plan and was going to run the crap out of the race, but I was feeling a little bit burned out on running. But I still got in a few awesome runs before this happened -- including a really great tempo run in Central Park and a run around my beloved reservoir. For those, I am grateful. 

I have to take off six full weeks from running (a week and a half in! Only four and a half weeks to go!) and have another doctor's appointment. Stress fractures are tricky though, because even when it's "healed", it will still show up on an MRI as not fully healed -- it's not as black and white as an X-ray that will show when a bone has healed from a break. It's more about feel, so in 4.5 weeks I'll see how I'm feeling and see what the doctor says.

I asked him WHY this keeps happening and what I can do to prevent it in the future. He asked me a few questions about what I did in training for the NYC Marathon, and when I said that I was running five days a week, he said he thought it was definitely more related to volume and that I should just run four days a week in the future. Easy problem to fix!

In the meantime, he says I can do everything except for run. Which is awesome! Because last time I had to wear my sneakers everywhere I went (including work!) and could only ride the stationary bike and swim (which I did ummm once...) for two full months. And that was not great. This time, I can spin, elliptical, swim, strength train, etc.

So I feel like I'm in a pretty good place with it! I've still been getting my sweat on five or six days a week and am staying upbeat and positive about the situation. I can't defer the race to another year, but I will probably switch to the half-marathon. Fingers crossed!

Another thing I'm doing in the meantime? Baking. And cooking. My latest creation is a pear and prosciutto pizza with Swiss and mozzarella on homemade whole wheat crust
I also made some delicious pumpkin bread (no idea where the recipe came from...it was so amazing though! I'll link it if/when I find it).

So that's what's going on in Have a Good Run land. I'm going home for Christmas Dec. 23-Jan. 2 and I'm definitely looking forward to it -- baking, cooking, sleeping, Christmasing, etc. Should be great!

Have you had an injury before? How did you deal with it?

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Adventures in Europe: Part 2b

Where did I leave off? Ah yes, the Insomnium concert!

The day after the Insomnium concert, Jennifer and I decided to go back into town, with our hearts set on muesli from Henrici, which Jen says is some of the best she's had. Granted, Jennifer makes a mean bowl of muesli (and heavenly lattes), as evidenced by my daily breakfast...
Yogurt + apple + banana + muesli + coffee = happy Margaret.
I even brought home some of this muesli!
...but Jennifer really thought I should try Henrici's. Unfortunately, we arrived there too late and they were completely sold out of it! I guess it really IS that delicious there! Luckily, they were not out of the flammenkuchen, which is basically paper-thin crust covered in bacon or pancetta, cheese, onions, tomatoes...it was basically the most delicious "pizza" I think I've ever had (and yes, I did use a LOT of superlatives when I was in Switzerland -- it really was that amazing of a place!).
One of the flammenkuchen that we shared
Finally full, we set out on a walk around town, full of cheesy pictures of me standing in front of churches and city scenes (I'll spare you most of these pictures).
View from below
View from above
Jennifer and me on the city wall
We made our way to the city wall which had amazing views, before heading toward the funicular that took us up to ETH, a university in Zurich. From there we had a pretty view of the city and the sunset.
Up at ETH
Afterward, we couldn't resist a walk over to Cafe Peclard for a hot chocolate and more festive decor. 
Nothing says "it's the holidays" like hot chocolate in Switzerland
From there, we headed home and prepared for the next day's journey, which would involve a trip to the Alps!

We started our day with proper fueling for any trip to the Alps -- coffee and monkey bread
Ignore the ugly part on the far end...it was my responsibility
to flip the pan onto the plate and I failed miserably
SO tasty. Jennifer had a mix that we used, but I'd love to try the recipe I linked to above!

Once we'd filled our bellies, we set out for Säntis. In case you were unaware (which I was until just now), Säntis is the tallest mountain in the Alpstein massif of northeastern Switzerland at 2,502 meters/8,208 feet! It took us three trains, a bus and a cable car to get there (with a little stop from the nicest train conductor EVER since we had gotten on the wrong train...), but as you can imagine, it was well worth it. I mean, when in Switzerland, one must visit the Alps!

I'm just going to let the photos speak for themselves...

It was absolutely beautiful! I am so glad that I made the trip out there. It was the perfect way to end my trip to Zurich. As soon as we got home, we had another delicious fondue dinner, and a party with a ton of Jen and Fred's friends. It was so much fun, and I really hope to make it back again...maybe in the warmer summer months? I think it's really only fair to see a place in the cold AND warm months before you decide how much you like it, right?

As I flew out of Zurich on my way to London (I had to fly to Gatwick, then get on a bus that took me to Heathrow five hours before my flight back to the US...needless to say, I spent a LOT of time pacing the concourse and making unnecessary trips to the Harrods shop!), I got one last glimpse of the Alps:
The Alps from my window!
Sigh. See you again soon (I hope), Zurich!

Regularly scheduled Have A Good Run posts to resume next week!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Adventures in Europe: Part 2a


Ahh Zurich! Such an amazing city. I'd been to Switzerland before, but had never been to Zurich so I was excited to stay with Jen and Fred who'd been there for eight months and who could show me around.

As soon as I got to Zurich, we wasted no time in getting dinner and going out for drinks with their friends. I love nothing more than arriving in a new city and trying the local restaurants and bars. We had dinner at Kurrywurst, which basically involved a chopped up sausage smothered in a delicious sauce and topped with curry powder. French fries and beer were the perfect side dishes. I just found out there's a similar-sounding place (wait, no, there's another!) here in New York that I think I'll have to try out. It might sound kind of odd, but I promise it's delicious!
Mmm Kurrywurst...
The next day Jennifer and I set out for the city center and were greeted with a wonderful market at the train station (Switzerland has an amazing above-ground train system -- unless we were on the tram in the city, we literally took it everywhere and it was SO convenient!). We walked around some before we headed to Cafe Peclard, where we filled up on the most delicious croissants and mochas. The cafe was ready for Christmas with baubles, lights, and seasonal treats.
Cafe Peclard
You should definitely go there if you ever find yourself in Zurich!
Walking across a bridge
Next up we visited the Kunsthaus, which is a really impressive museum -- while the museum was on the smaller side (at least compared to the Met, which I'm more used to...), it had a great range of pieces. I especially liked the Impressionists (I'm a sucker for them ever since I studied abroad in Paris!) and the statues by Alberto Giacometti. You'd know his stuff right away if you saw it.

Of course, I needed a snack before dinner, so Jennifer kindly (cruelly? I have been craving one of these ever since I left...) introduced me to Brezel Konig.
Taking a bite out of Switzerland
SO GOOD. If you find yourself in Zurich, please treat yourself to a pretzel. I did on more than one occasion and I did not ever regret it.

If the pretzel is the third-best food in Switzerland, then fondue is the second (after chocolate, of course). Jennifer and Fred have a fondue pot (actually they have two...I almost stole one to take home with me) and we made the most amazing fondue right in their kitchen. I must re-create this at home!
Fon-DO! So good!
The next day Jennifer convinced me to go on a run. I don't know if I was still filled with cheesy goodness, if it that we were at higher elevation than sea-level New York, or if my leg was just being rude, but I found this run to be TOUGH! Hard as it might have felt, the view more than made up for it:
Limmat River
I told Jennifer it was the most beautiful run I had ever been on, and while she didn't quite believe me, it really, truly was. Sure the Reservoir can be pretty, as can Central Park and even the West Side Highway at some points, but nothing can quite compare to this run. And the fact that I ran it with one of my oldest friends made it all the more special. We covered around 4.2 miles in a little over 42 minutes and I loved every minute of it.
And obviously I wore my NYC Marathon shirt...
Afterward we visited the Viadukt shops where I once again ate a delicious buttered pretzel (the chocolate is better in Switzerland, but I swear, even the butter is better there...fluffy and salty and delicious...) and we made our way to the Freitag tower, which is a shop made out of old shipping containers but it has made its way into the guidebooks! 
Freitag tower
We headed home afterward, stopping to admire the graffiti and the view along the way.
Zurich has a ton of graffiti
View from another bridge of the Limmat River
That night was a first for me...we went to a Finnish melodic death metal concert in Aarau.
Insomnium doing their thing
As far as death metal concerts go, I actually quite enjoyed myself! (Fred used to work with one of the guys in the band, which is how we ended up there. Ville is actually also a scientist on top of being a guitarist in a Finnish melodic death metal band!) So yes the music was loud, and no I didn't realize that they were singing in English, but  I really did have a great time doing something completely off the beaten path for a typical European vacation!
Jennifer and me pre-concert
What did I do my last two days in Switzerland?! I know, the suspense is killing you, but this post is getting long. I'll post part 2b later this week! Features include the Alps, more fondue, and a recipe for monkey bread! Stay tuned...

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Adventures in Europe: Part 1

I got back from London and Zurich last Sunday, and between recovering from jet lag and recovering from Thanksgiving, I haven't had a minute to sit and write out a post about my trip! So here goes...

Big Ben!
London was lovely. I literally did not stop smiling for the first 48 hours that I was there (and when I stopped smiling, it was only because I'd finished my scone). I had two wonderful hosts, Sarah (my friend and old roommate from college, who just moved in London not too long ago) and her boyfriend Ricardo.
Sarah and me
We wasted no time and as soon as I arrived, we set out for the nearest pub in search of fish, chips and ciders. We made our way to Trafalgar Square, the National Portrait Gallery, the Horse Guards, Whitehall (where the Queen laid a wreath to honor veterans the next day), the Winston Churchill museum and Cabinet War Rooms (SO cool...if you go to London, you really should go there!), the Thames, had mulled wine in Covent Garden, walked around Somerset House... I saw a lot, and absolutely loved it.
Christmas tree in Covent Garden!
String quartet playing at Covent Garden
Next day we had a traditional English breakfast (baked beans, sausage, bacon, toast, eggs, tomatoes, mushrooms, tea) and walked over to Portobello Market. We walked along the market, to the pastel houses, through Hyde Park to Kensington Palace, and finally to Harrods.
Notting Hill
Why yes, I AM a tourist, how could you tell?!
Monday and Tuesday I was on my own since Sarah and Ricardo had to work, but I definitely kept myself busy. Monday I visited London School of Economics and London Business School, and treated myself to tea -- a pot of tea, a scone, and clotted cream were all I needed to be in heaven.
Tea at Clifton Kitchen
Afterward, I went to Trafalgar Square, then walked along Old Bond Street and New Bond Street to get to Fortnum & Mason (this AMAZING specialty food store), then walked along Oxford Street to take in the holiday decor, which was definitely in full swing!
Department stores ready for the holidays
Pretty lights on Oxford Street
Before I knew it, it was my last day and it was definitely time for a run! I really lucked out with gorgeous weather during my trip (except at night, when I'd come out of the tube station to a misty rain...what's up with that?!), and went for a quick jaunt along the canal that was near Sarah and Ricardo's apartment in Little Venice.
A path along the canal similar to
the one I ran along

We'd done a lot of walking around, and it was lovely to get outside and run!

I hope you enjoyed this recap of my trip to London! Next up: Zurich!