Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Marathon Training: Week 13

During Week 13, I realized that October would be my first month of running more than 100 miles! If I stick to my training plan for the rest of October, it'll actually be a 139-mile month.


You can see from this Daily Mile graph just how much I've ramped up my mileage since beginning marathon training in late July.

I feel like I barely trained for my June half-marathon in comparison!

A friend recently asked me how I find the time to do all this running. The answer is that I've made it my top priority. Right now, running a marathon that I'm proud of is my number-one goal, and I'm laser-focused on making it happen. Everything else in my life fits in around training.

It's probably easier for me than for many people for several reasons. My friends are all very busy, so we tend to converge only on weekend nights, and that fulfills my need to be social. I'm single, which frees up a lot of time. I rarely work late, and I never have to take work home with me. I enjoy running at night to shake off workday stress, so I don't often dread weekday training.

All that said, my success with training so far boils down to commitment. I've heard a million times that if you really want to do something, you'll find any way possible to do it. If your heart's not fully in it, however, you'll find any excuse to avoid it.

There have been incredible runs and incredibly crappy runs. There have been times when I felt like I could run forever and times when I literally felt like I was going to die.

No one will tell you that training for a marathon is easy. Most, I think, will tell you that it is absolutely worth it.


Monday: 5-mile run

Since the days are quickly growing shorter, I've been putting in extra effort to get back out the door to run right when I get home from work. These dark evenings are exactly the kick in the pants I need to quit procrastinating and GO!

I think this may have been my last evening run that featured a shred of daylight, though — it was fully dark when I finished just before 7:00.

Since I hate the treadmill, I'll be doing lots of night running, so I picked up a headlamp, blinky light and RoadID to stay visible and safe on my runs. The RoadID is something I think everyone should have for running and cycling, whether it's dark out or not — I've heard way too many stories about people who've been hit by cars or who have crashed their bikes and had to be rushed to the hospital. I feel more secure knowing that my parents will be contacted as soon as possible should, God forbid, anything happen to me!

Tuesday: Rest

I spent the evening at a wonderful panel discussion about world travel. It featured all types of travelers, from a young couple who spent seven months having adventures abroad to a professional travel writer who presented tips about staying safe and respecting other cultures.

Just over a year ago, I realized that I really want to see the world. I always love meeting people who are actually doing that because they inspire me to make that dream a reality.

Wednesday: 4-mile run + strength

Earlier this year, I trained for and ran my first half-marathon with the American Cancer Society's DetermiNation team and had an awesome experience. Now I'm volunteering with DetermiNation to help out with PR and social media for the 2012 Rock 'n' Roll Seattle Marathon and Half-Marathon!

On Wednesday I went to my first volunteer committee meeting, and then I went straight to the gym to lift weights and run. It was a very packed night that left me eating dinner at 10 p.m., but I didn't mind since I was busy doing things I enjoy and am passionate about.

Thursday: 9-mile run

This was my first night run with the new headlamp! I think it might be magical because I ran my fastest 9-miler ever — 1:19:49, 8:51 pace.

The headlamp worked perfectly to help me avoid slipping on wet leaves and tripping over sidewalk cracks. It left me with a fun little forehead welt, but I'll take that over a broken ankle any day!

I realized after this run that I much prefer 8- or 9-mile runs over 5- or 6-milers. They're just long enough that I can do a loop around Lake Union instead of an out-and-back somewhere, which keeps me from constantly checking my Garmin to see when I can turn around. Also, I'm crazy. That's the only logical reason why anyone would prefer to run that far, right?

Friday: Rest

Sometimes life just hands you fun gifts, like a free 10-course Chinese dinner! My roommate's boss bought a few tables at a fundraising auction for the Bruce Lee Action Museum, and she invited me to come along on Friday night as her "plus one."

If there's anything I like to do more than running, it's EATING, and this dinner was amazing! I usually don't carb-load or eat anything special the night before long runs, so I was a little worried about how this feast would affect Saturday's 12-miler, but I ended up feeling fine. Ohhh, what a delicious gamble.

Saturday: 12-mile run

I did this great long run with Lindsey, a public defender from Connecticut who had emailed me earlier in the week to ask about Seattle running routes since she would be in town for a conference. I know how intimidating it can be to run in a new city, so I invited her to run with me and we had a blast!

We braved some truly icky, rainy weather at 7:30 a.m.

Welcome to Seattle, right? But Lindsey came prepared with her game face and rain jacket, and the downpour eventually let up and didn't bother us too much. We chatted away for the nearly two-hour run, and, as per usual, a relative stranger became a fast friend through running.

Sunday: Rest

My roommates and I threw a big ol' Oktoberfest party Saturday night, so Sunday was a low-key recovery day — as in recovery from the long run and from all the beers I enjoyed. I had brunch with all my best friends at Hunger to celebrate my roommate's birthday, and then I took a great nap.


Miles run: 30
Strength-training sessions: 1
Rest days: 3
Ridiculous injuries: 1 headlamp welt
Nights I got enough sleep: Zero-ish


Miles run: 271
Miles biked: 68
Swims: 7
Yoga sessions: 1
Strength-training sessions: 16 + 1 shower scrubbing


Weeks 1-4
Week 5
Week 6
Week 7
Week 8
Week 9
Week 10
Week 11
Week 12


New here?


Friday, October 21, 2011

Marathon Training: Week 12

Week 12 (Oct. 10—Oct. 16) was my best week of training yet! I hit a new high of 33 miles and tackled a 16-mile long run, which went so well and gave me some much-needed confidence for the marathon.

I've now been wrapped up in marathon training for three full months, and I kind of forgot that the Rock 'n' Roll Las Vegas Marathon has a 4:30 time limit to accommodate the reopening of roads that make up the first half of the course. That means I have to hit, at the slowest, a 10:18 average pace.

While that's not unreasonable, it's also a bit scary to have that extra pressure for my first marathon. When my long runs go well, I can easily maintain a 9:40 average pace, but who knows what'll happen on race day?

There's plenty of time left to worry, so for now, I'll just focus on training and preparing myself as much as possible!


Monday: 4-mile run

I ran lovely 4-miler in Queens on my last day in NYC. This was definitely my last taste of sun and summer-like temps for a while!

Tuesday: Rest

I took this day off of work and training to sleep in, recover from my trip (I felt a sore throat coming on) and catch up on blogging about NYC. Good decision!

Wednesday: 4-mile run + strength

Confession: I had trouble finding the post that I wrote about this workout, so for a few minutes I thought I hadn't done it and checked it off on my training plan anyway! Then I found this tweet:

Whew, I actually did it! And then I found the post about it, which was overshadowed by a big, freaky-looking picture of me from very early in the morning. Sorry.

Long story long, this workout really did cure my sore throat. It had been bugging me all day, but after running and lifting, I felt perfectly fine and I never got sick. Win!

Thursday: 9-mile run

This was one of the best runs of my life! I owe it all to my magic running tights.

These tights are lined with a very thin layer of fleece, making them super-warm and ideal for cold-weather running. I didn't expect to dig them out of my dresser so early in the fall, but after my nightmarish cold 'n' sweaty 15-miler, I figured I'd try some different wardrobe options.

Luckily, the tights kept me warm without making me feel overheated, and I flew through this run at an 8:55 average pace — super fast for me for this distance. I ran the last 5 miles in the dark, which made me realize I really needed some safety gear for night running! Check out this post about a few things I picked up to stay safe and, you know, not get hit by cars.

Friday: Strength

I usually try to lump strength-training in with two weekday runs so I can have Friday nights off, but I just didn't have the time or will this week. However, I discovered that alllllll the cool people work out on Friday nights because my gym was packed! I was really surprised. I'm sure they all had fun things to do afterward, and I... well, I made dinner. And I blogged. Wheeeee!

Saturday: 16-mile run

My low-key Friday night helped me kick ass on this Saturday-morning run with my new friend Meg! She and I have followed each other's blogs for a while now, and we finally met up in real life for a few loops around Lake Union.

Meg is super-fast — she's on the Oiselle running team and is going to be a 3:40 pace leader at the Seattle Marathon — but she ran about 13 miles at a comfortable talking pace with me, and we had a blast getting to know each other! I love running with brand-new friends because there's so much to talk about, and it helps keep me from checking my Garmin every five seconds to see how much farther I have to run.

At mile 14, we stopped at her CrossFit box to meet her husband and dog and snap a quick picture, and then I continued on home to finish my last two miles. I was thrilled with my average pace — 9:39 — and also with how great I felt for the whole 16 miles. When I was done, I felt like I could have kept going!!

I tried to imagine running 10 more miles on top of that for the marathon... oh, man. I can only hope things go this well on race day.

In banana news, I ran with this one tucked under my fuel belt the whole time — that's two hours and 34 minutes — because I thought I might get hungry during the run. (I didn't.)

The poor banana was pretty beat up and had even lost its top at some point, but it still tasted great. The damn thing also gave me a bruise on my stomach, which I discovered later when I accidentally bumped it with something and cried out in pain!

Take note of Ridiculous Marathon Training Injury #1: banana bruise.

Sunday: Rest

I had a ridiculously strong urge to bake seasonal treats, so I headed to my mom's house for the day. We whipped up delicious chocolate chip pumpkin spice cookies and a chocolate pumpkin loaf!

I highly recommend the cookies — we followed the recipe exactly, except we used regular chocolate chips instead of white, and they turned out so moist, fluffy and amazing! The chocolate pumpkin loaf was also good, although it turned out very chocolate-y and more like cake than bread. Not bad, just not what I was expecting.

I ate about nine of those cookies straight out of the oven, and then five or six every day afterward until they were gone. This is part of why I run, people.


Miles run: 33
Strength-training sessions: 2
Rest days: 2
Cross-country flights: 1
Ridiculous injuries: 1 banana bruise


Miles run: 241
Miles biked: 68
Swims: 7
Yoga sessions: 1
Strength-training sessions: 15 + 1 shower scrubbing


Weeks 1-4
Week 5
Week 6
Week 7
Week 8
Week 9
Week 10
Week 11


New here?


Monday, October 17, 2011

Marathon Training: Week 11

For those of you who are anxiously, breathlessly keeping track of my marathon training — anyone? anyone? — yes, I'm a week behind on training recaps! I usually post a weekly recap each Monday, but this past Monday was a travel day, and then I spent the rest of the week writing about my trip to New York City. (Check out Part I, Part II and Part III of the NYC recap if you missed 'em!)

It feels a little weird to be recapping Week 11 of training (Oct. 3—Oct. 9) when I've now already completed Week 12, but some very awesome stuff happened in Week 11 and I want to remember it.

I'll post Week 12 sometime this week, and then the recaps will resume their regular schedule. By the way, get excited for Week 12, because it kicked ass!!

For now, I leave you with Week 11, which deserves this subtitle: The Return of the Dreadmill.

Week 11

Monday: Strength-training

I came home from work on Monday in a foul mood. You know when you just feel like turning off the lights, crawling into bed and hibernating for a while? That's how I felt.

Instead of skipping my workout — which would've made me feel even worse — I acknowledged all my icky feelings and gave myself a little pep-talk on Tumblr. Then I shut my laptop, ate a snack, went to the gym and lifted my frustration away.

I felt a million times lighter afterward. I felt strong and accomplished not just because I worked out, but because I fought through negativity instead of letting it steamroll me for the entire night.

Fellow Tumblr blogger Dustin reminded me of something very important: "It’s the work we put in on days like this that defines us. Anybody can do it when it’s easy, but sticking it out when it’s hard is what truly makes us better."

Tuesday: 7-mile run

Ohhh, the dreadmill — the most boring, monotonous way to run. It had been a long time since I hopped on one of these, but it was cold and dark outside, and I'm a wimp.

Unfortunately the treadmill stops at 60 minutes, and a seven-miler takes me a few minutes longer, so I stopped it at six miles and then reset it for another mile. As I ran, fellow gym-goers hopped on and off (and on and off) the treadmills around me. I'm sure they all thought I was crazy for spending more than an hour running in place. Maybe I am?

Wednesday: 3-mile run + strength-training

I learned that the key to a good run on the treadmill is to snag the machine in front of the TV showing Jeopardy! It took my mind off of the run, and I actually got some questions correct. For example, "What is Benihana?" None of the contestants got that one, by the way. I guess smart people don't eat at Benihana.

I also hit the free weights again and achieved my goal of twice-weekly strength-training. I no longer dread lifting weights like I did when I was afraid of all the sweaty men at my gym, but I still have trouble working on my core strength. Translation: I hate crunches! Core strength is really valuable for running, though, so I should probably work on that. Meh.

Thursday: Rest — skipped a 4-mile run

I straight-up skipped a run — which I've rarely done this training cycle — because I needed to do a bunch of laundry and pack for my trip to NYC. In hindsight, I realize the run would have taken me less than 40 minutes, and I could have easily fit it in — especially since I waited until the last minute to pack anything but my running shoes.

When I trained for my first half-marathon, I got super-anxious about missing workouts. Now that I have more confidence as a runner, I know it's not the end of the world if I skip a short run every once in a while. I decided long ago to be flexible with my marathon training plan, and that attitude has really helped me avoid freaking out when life doesn't align with my pretty Excel spreadsheet.

Friday: Rest — flew to NYC

Yay for sitting on a plane while hurtling across the country through the sky!

Saturday: 10-mile run

This run through Central Park and along the West Side Highway trail with Theodora confirmed several things:

  • I love running in new cities. It's an amazing way to explore!
  • I love running with new friends. The conversation goes on and on and I'm never bored.
  • It's not impossible to do a long run while traveling. Just make it a priority and make it fun!

Sunday: "Rest" — walked all over NYC

I did the tourist thing and walked for hours around NYC. I suppose that's considered exercise... cross-training, maybe? When you throw in the stairs I climbed at subway stations and all the heavy lifting I did — a bagel in one hand and a massive camera in the other — it was practically an Olympic event. : )


Miles run: 20
Miles biked: 0
Swims: 0
Yoga sessions: 0
Strength-training sessions: 2
Rest days: 2 (or 1, plus one Olympic event)
Cross-country flights: 1
NYC bagels: 2 (not enough)


Miles run: 208
Miles biked: 68
Swims: 7
Yoga sessions: 1
Strength-training sessions: 13 + 1 shower scrubbing


Weeks 1-4
Week 5
Week 6
Week 7
Week 8
Week 9
Week 10


New here?


Friday, October 14, 2011

NYC, Part III: The Last Part, I Promise

Monday was my last day in NYC, and I planned to start it off by dragging my host, Jacob Sokol, on an early-morning, four-mile run.

Then I totally slept through the "early-morning" part.

After my day of sightseeing, I had returned to Queens and fallen asleep around 9:30 p.m. I guess the three-hour time difference, the 10-mile run, the two nights of raucous drinking and hours of traipsing around Manhattan caught up with me. Hey, who knew?

By the time I actually peeled myself off the futon, Jacob was on a business call and I had to run solo. I'm sure he was terribly, terribly disappointed. : )

I ran less than a mile to a park, which contained a playground with a sign designating it as "Jurassic Playground." Naturally, I assumed that meant I must be running in... eh-hem... Jurassic Park... but alas, it was actually Flushing Meadows Corona Park.

Dear Queens: I think you should reconsider.

My run took me all the way around Meadow Lake and back to Jacob's apartment for a total of four miles, which was exactly what I had on my marathon training plan. I love it when things just fall into place like that.

With only a few hours left of my trip, I cleaned up and headed into Manhattan one last time. I boarded an empty subway car, which made me feel like I was in one of those post-apocalyptic movies. Hey, where's the massive crush of people that I'm used to?

Don't worry, they were waiting to get on at the next few stations.

I checked out Parsons The New School for Design (again: "Things I've Seen on Project Runway") and Union Square, and then walked up and down some tree-lined blocks of apartments and townhouses.

This is where I thought for the first time: OK, I could live here.

I'm sure all these nice, cute places cost more per month in rent than I pay in six, but one can dream!

Speaking of dreams, I finally had the celebrity sighting I had secretly been hoping for. It happened to be Chris Noth, of all people!

File under: "People I've Seen on Sex and the City."

I spotted him walking around by himself in the East Village area. He passed me on the sidewalk going the opposite direction, and I awkwardly studied his face to determine if it was really him. I wasn't entirely sure because he had a little scraggly mustache situation going on, but I then saw another passerby nudge his companion and point at him. Boom.

Yes, I acknowledge that I'm a huge, touristy nerd.

One giant cup of self-serve frozen yogurt later, it was time for me to take my last subway ride back to Queens and head to the airport.

I sat on a bench outside of 16 Handles and soaked in as much of the sunny afternoon as I could before I left. It was a short, low-key last day in NYC, but I enjoyed every minute of it.


I once dreamt of attending NYU and living a fun, fast-paced life in the big city. Now that I've been there, I can say that I'm certain I would have loved it. But I'm also certain that the University of Washington was the right place for me at the time, and I'm eternally grateful that I'm not stuck with the hefty student loans I would have needed to go to NYU.

So would I live in New York City now? Probably not. I really love some areas, like Greenwich Village, but I wouldn't pay an arm and a leg to live there.

I can also do without this, which I'm pretty sure is considered some kind of felony in Seattle:

Not to mention that I won't miss the huge crowds, long lines, scary driving, constant honking and overwhelming sense of hurriedness. I don't mean to criticize, because I definitely appreciate that NYC has its own way of doing things, but I'm just more suited for the slower life I lead in the Pacific Northwest.

But would I go back to visit again... and again... and again? Of course! All those delicious, chewy New York bagels won't eat themselves, you know. I had an incredible trip, and I know I only experienced the tip of the iceberg.

The city certainly did its best to win me over with stunning weather all weekend, but I've found that no matter where I'm coming from, I'm more at peace when I look out of an airplane window and notice that Seattle's streets are gleaming with precipitation. But of course.

I feel a new sense of appreciation each time I watch the mountains, lakes and evergreens etch their familiar pattern in the landscape below.

And while exiting the plane, I peer through the glass one last time, and realize that, to me, those rain-spattered windows will always mean home.


New here?


Thursday, October 13, 2011

NYC, Part II: Lens Caps, Landmarks, Parks and Protests

{Click here to read Part I}

First of all, I have to say that I expected to pack long-sleeved shirts, boots and scarves for my October trip to NYC. I'm glad I checked the weather beforehand, though, because it still felt like summer there! I ended up wandering the city while wearing dresses, shorts, tank tops and sandals.

Let's just say I didn't hate it.

Secondly, I'm really glad that I stayed at my friend Jacob's place in Queens rather than at a hotel in Manhattan. Aside from the fact that I saved a ton of money — we're talking at least $1,000, people — I had a blast riding the subway and learning how to navigate my way into and around the city.

I feel like I got more of a real New York experience, you know?

The R train was my main ride, but I also rode the M and the E. Oooh, don't I sound like I know what I'm talking about?

Many people asked me about the plans I had for this trip. They'd ask if I was planning to see a Broadway show, do lots of shopping or hit some famous restaurants. And surely I'd visit a few museums, right?

My answer was always that I had no plans, aside from running in Central Park, and that was just the way I wanted it. I didn't want to pack my schedule full of activities just for the sake of having things to do. I just felt like exploring the city at my own pace, wandering around to see the things I wanted to see and skipping the things I didn't.

On Sunday, that's exactly what I did.

My first stop was the B&H Photo & Video superstore. I had to buy a new lens cap since mine fell between the slats of Nick Reese's rooftop deck the previous night. Oh man, am I glad I went to B&H!

I'm aware that this photo is beyond boring, but this place was crazy. The two-level store was absolutely massive, packed with people and full of all the photo, video and audio equipment you could ever dream of. I figured I'd find the lens caps and just pick out the size I needed... right?

But at B&H, it turns out that you wait in line to talk with an agent, who finds out what you need and types it into a computer. After a few minutes of small talk, that thing — my lens cap, in this case — magically appears behind the counter, and the agent shows it to you to confirm it's correct. He then sends it on a conveyor belt to the checkout area and hands you a slip of paper with a barcode. You take the slip to the payment counter to pay, and then you pick up your merchandise at a separate pickup counter — already bagged and ready to go.

All that for a lens cap. It was pretty awesome.

Then I grabbed an easy lunch and ate at Bryant Park, that place that hosts tents for New York Fashion Week. File under "Things I've Seen on Project Runway..."

The afternoon sunlight was so beautiful streaming through the trees. My photo doesn't nearly do it justice.

I followed up this peaceful scene with a visit to the most unapologetically commercial, touristy area of New York City — Times Square.

I felt like a deer caught in headlights. So many bright, flashing things. So many people. So little clothing.

You may notice that this is not the original Naked Cowboy, but rather a franchisee of Naked Cowboy Enterprises. The original guy is busy running for president... as a member of the Tea Party movement.

We all just learned something right there, now didn't we?

Since I don't buy souvenirs, eat at Hard Rock Cafes or otherwise waste my money, I moved on pretty quickly from Times Square. It was fun to see it, though!

I happened upon other familiar landmarks, like Radio City Music Hall...

...and Rockefeller Plaza. I was more interested in the massive J. Crew (my employer during college) than the 30 Rock building, but I saw that, too.

I decided to walk uptown on 5th Avenue to check out all the fancy shops on my way to Central Park, but I got turned around and realized after several blocks that I was actually heading downtown. Instead of correcting my error, I just found the nearest subway station and decided to visit the World Trade Center site in Lower Manhattan instead.

This is why I loved exploring by myself — I just got to do whatever I wanted!

When I exited the subway at Cortlandt Street, I whipped out my phone and tried to figure out which direction to go to find the 9/11 Memorial. (I'm terrible with directions.) As I waited for a map to load, I realized that people on the sidewalk were standing still — which is highly unusual in NYC — and looking up.

I followed their gaze, then immediately began to cry.

I didn't expect to be hit with such a wave of emotion when I saw where the Twin Towers once stood. I remember vividly the day they fell, and I've seen the footage repeatedly over the past 10 years.

But it's something else entirely to stand in this place and think about what happened here. About who lost their lives here. About how the violent shift in this landscape has forever changed the world.

The flags adorn the base of One World Trade Center, a skyscraper that will reach 105 stories when it's completed in 2012, making it the tallest building in the U.S. Check out this rendering this see what it'll look like.

I didn't make it into the actual 9/11 Memorial since visitor passes weren't available while I was there. (In hindsight, I think this might have been issue with viewing the availability calendar on my phone. I could swear it said that passes were all gone until November, but now the calendar looks pretty open. Huh.)

Instead, I spent time observing the Occupy Wall Street protest at Zuccotti Park, just a few blocks away from the memorial.

A few people played instruments or danced, but most just sat or stood with their signs and stared. Many engaged passersby in earnest conversation. Tons of NYPD officers lined the edges of the crowd, looking at once bored and wary.

But there was nothing to be wary of, at least while I was there. The occupiers were peaceful and organized... and yes, a bit smelly.

I took the subway back uptown, grabbed some food and ate on a bench in Central Park as dusk fell. I took no photos — just enjoyed being right where I was.

I love capturing some moments with my camera, but others need no assistance in being committed to my memory. Those moments are for me. Those moments are why I went on this trip.

A last look at Columbus Circle before I headed back to Queens for the night.


I didn't realize this post would get so long, so there'll be a Part III to cover the last day of my trip!

Sheesh, a three-part recap of a four-day trip? That's New York, baby.


New here?


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

NYC, Part I: Pizza, Pong, Bagels and Bloggers

I finally fulfilled a dream I've had for years: I visited New York City.

In the past, financial struggles held me back from making the trip. But once I paid off all my debt in 2010, I began setting aside money to use for things that make me feel alive — things like running, skydiving, photography and fun vacations. When I wrote my list of 2011 goals, I knew I had to include a trip to NYC.

My (now ex) boyfriend and I booked the trip together months ago, but when we ended our relationship, we canceled the plans and I started again from scratch — alone. The idea of going by myself was suddenly much scarier and much more expensive, and once upon a time, I would have let these things stop me.

Nowadays, I don't let very many things stop me.

I reached out to my blogger friend (and fellow World Domination Summit attendee) Jacob Sokol, who lives in Queens, to see if he wouldn't mind letting me crash at his place. A few months ago, I did a gratis proofreading job on Jacob's debut e-book, Living on Purpose, so luckily he was in the mood to do me this favor. Jacob's such a great guy, though, that I'm pretty sure he would have offered me his futon in a heartbeat anyway!

So on Friday, I boarded an early-morning flight to JFK armed with an exclusive reservation at Hotel Sokol.

I had joked about Jacob's "hotel" serving a continental breakfast, but as soon as I arrived, he actually jumped right into hospitality mode, whipping up a tasty veggie-burger wrap and handing me a Corona. I guess he was really grateful for that proofreading job!

I also couldn't have asked for more than Jacob's comfy living room futon, which came complete with a cat! (I'm allergic, but thanks to a daily dose of Allegra, his two kitties didn't bother me at all. I sneezed maybe twice the whole trip.)

Once I settled in and we chatted for a bit, it was time for my first trip into Manhattan. Jacob's place is just two blocks from the subway, which made it ridiculously easy for me travel between Queens and Manhattan by myself throughout the weekend. But first, he helped me get a MetroCard at the subway station, which I loaded up with $20 — the perfect amount, since I left NYC with only a few dollars left on it. We headed to Lombardi's in Nolita for some real New York pizza.

There was about a 40-minute wait to sit down, but what else would you expect for what's supposedly the best pizza on the planet? Jacob and I split a Margherita pizza (with meatballs on my half), and it was delicious! I don't know if I'd say it's the best on the planet, but my tummy was very happy.

We then headed to SPiN, which was a type of place I didn't even know existed — a ping-pong bar!

SPiN has 17 ping-pong tables, including a main table where everyone watches the pros duke it out. We met up with Jacob's friends, had a few beers and played ping-pong. Our pong skills were terrible and only worsened as the empty beer bottles stacked up, but I still had a lot of fun!

We stayed out late and could have stayed even later, but I had big plans the next morning with one of my favorite bloggers and had to get some sleep.

Bright and early Saturday morning, I dressed in my running gear and headed to Columbus Circle to meet Theodora Blanchfield of Losing Weight in the City. Over the past few years, Theodora started running and lost 50 pounds. She's now training for the New York City Marathon, so I knew she'd be down for a long run.

Luckily, she was also down to run with a complete stranger — me.

It was awesome to be able to run with someone who knew the city! We started out with a six-mile loop of Central Park, then continued on a waterfront path along the West Side Highway. We chatted about everything — running, jobs, families, money, boys — and the run flew by. I ended up with nearly 10.5 miles on my watch, and Theodora hit 15 since she had done a few miles earlier.

My only real planned activity for this trip was to run in Central Park as part of my marathon training, so I was thrilled to be able to do that on a beautiful, sunny morning with a new friend.

I was also thrilled that we ended our run, not coincidentally, near a bagel place. Yum. My first New York bagel was everything I'd hoped it would be — crispy and warm on the outside, soft and chewy on the inside.

I headed back to Queens for a shower and a nap, and then I had a party to go to.

Who the hell invited me to a party in New York? That's right — another blogger!

The fabulous Jenny Blake, who I met in Seattle on her book tour, recently moved to NYC after quitting her job in California. This weekend happened to be her birthday, and her friend Nick Reese hosted a rooftop barbecue at his Greenwich Village apartment in celebration.

When I asked Jenny if I could bring anything to the party, she replied, "A big bottle of rum!"

That's when I knew it was going to be good.

This party was packed with so many amazing bloggers that I don't even want to get into all their accomplishments, because then, like me, you'll wonder, "What were you doing there?"

Well, I brought the rum.

We had Monique Johnson, birthday girl Jenny, Richard Boehmcke and Sarah Peck on the dance floor early in the evening.

We had Chris Guillebeau's genius developer, Nicky Hajal, making funny faces with Sarah.

We had Nick making mojitos with help from Jenny and Marie Forleo.

We had Jacob and Dave Ursillo impressing Jenny with their coordinated plaid shirts.

And, of course, we had Marie teaching the ladies the LMFAO shuffle.

Also in attendance (you can see the back of his head above): Willie Jackson!

We even had Magnolia Bakery cupcakes, since Jenny is a cupcake fiend. They were beyond delicious, and I ate more than I care to disclose to the public. Sarah crafted a birthday candle out of something — a piece of paper? a napkin? — and lit it on fire for Jenny to blow out. It worked!

Tons of these people went to the World Domination Summit, and I already knew a few either from meeting them in person or following them online. I had no clue I'd get to hang out with all these people when I planned my visit, but sometimes great things like this just fall into place.

I'm just amazed that even though I went into this trip alone, I was more often than not surrounded by incredible people.

Tomorrow I'll post Part II of my NYC trip recap, which includes sightseeing all over the city, getting emotional at the 9/11 memorial, hanging out with the 99 Percent on Wall Street and my Sex and the City celebrity sighting in the East Village!

Yes, I was a super-touristy tourist, and I'm not ashamed!


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