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Archive for November, 2010

The Parade

You might remember that my plans for Thanksgiving morning involved marching in the Macy*s Thanksgiving Day Parade as a balloon handler for my company’s balloon.

I’ve had kind of a disappointing week. I had expected to spend my week off from work at my parents’ house running during precious daylight, cooking delicious meals, and generally relaxing.

Unfortunately my knees have been bothering me and then half a mile into my run on Monday I twisted my ankle. Badly. There was no swelling, but I could barely walk home and I was out of commission for a while.

I didn’t get to do much cooking and while my meals have been pretty healthy, I’ve been doing a little too much snacking and having a few too many sweets. But that’s ok, it’s just one week.

Come Wednesday afternoon I was excited to head back into the city to be ready to go bright and early Thursday morning.

After somewhat fitful sleep my alarm went off at 3:15am on Thursday, I snoozed it until 3:30, but didn’t really fall back asleep. When I woke up I almost felt like I was getting ready for a race. I was up early, I had to bring specific, limited things with me, and I had to make sure that I was well-fueled and that I used the bathroom before I left 🙂

After g-chatting with my friend Natalie in California I left my apartment around 4:15. I walked to the subway and unfortunately there was a 17 minute wait until the next train. During the entire 17 minutes I was the only one in the station.

I got off the train a block away from the hotel where we were meeting and as I crossed the street I got physically stopped by a policemen telling me the block was closed and questioning me as to where I was going. He even asked me if I was a “clown.” Eventually I got through and made my way to the hotel.

There were tons of people outside and a few different lines depending on what you were doing. I found a guy I work with and together with found the rest of our co-workers who had already arrived.

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It was cold, but not unbearable. We made it inside pretty quickly and the hotel lobby’s festive decor really helped get us into the mood.

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After showing my credentials and ID we were allowed upstairs to the costume area.

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There was a small bathroom we all took turns using and then we went to retrieve our costume.

After getting into our costumes 4 of us decided it was too hectic for the hotel and that we’d head out to the buses that were supposed to take us uptown.

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Sadly the heat on the bus was set to about a thousand degrees and our driver had no idea where he was going so that experience wasn’t too great. After driving in circles around the Upper West Side one of the women I work with went to talk to the driver and, although he said he wasn’t supposed to, she forced him to let us off the bus.

This meant that all the out-of-towners on the bus with us thought we knew what we were doing, but luckily it wasn’t too hard to find the b@lloons.

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At that point it was still before 6:30am so we had A LOT of time to kill.

We took some pictures and hung out, I complained about how thirsty I was. A producer and camera man from Good Morning American came by to film us for some b-roll (we didn’t make it on), and we waited.

See the giant helium tanks?

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This is one of my favorite pictures from the day

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It was lovely to watch the sun rise over the West Side of Manhattan. Even though the waiting was getting pretty excruciating.

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They finally let us under the netting but even then we had an hour and half wait until we actually started marching.

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Finally, we got to start moving. All along the route the crowds were insane!

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Once we started moving we went really quickly. In no time we were in Columbus Circle and then Times Square.

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After that we were in Herald’s Square and in waiting for Sesame Street to finish so we could pass in front of the big cameras in front of Macy*s. I didn’t make it on TV, but Meredith (not Matt) turned and waved at all of us.

Once we finished the main route we walked up 7th Avenue to about 38th street and deflated the balloon.

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I like how you can see the rest of the parade, still going on, in the distance here

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Our balloon took a while to deflate so while we were lying on it (yeah…) we had another balloon pass over us

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After we were all finished we went back to the hotel, returned our costumes, got a pin, and were on our way.

I made the 11:10 train to my grandparents house and was celebrating Thaanksgiving just like I do every year by 12:45.

My favorite part of the whole experience? Seeing the kids all along the route who recognized the balloon. Anyone who knows me knows that I’m not the biggest fan of children (keeping it real here), but they were so excited that it really made my day.

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Even thought the temperatures in NYC haven’t quite been typical November-cold, I’ve still had the urge to cozy up in the kitchen.

So what did I decide to do when my plans fell through on Friday night? Cook!

I started out with Mama Pea’s Dough Balls.

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Verdict? Something clearly went wrong. I think it might have been my Earth Balance. They were really crumbly and dry. But thankfully my roommates and the people at work really liked them!

Next I moved on to Corn and Red Pepper Chowder.

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A new soup place recently opened by my apartment and I had some delicious corn and red pepper soup from them the other day so I thought I would try to recreate it.

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I ask this question: what is a “large” shallot? All the shallots I see are always so tiny. It took me an eternity to dig through one of the shallot bits at the Greenmarket to find these large-ish shallots.

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Verdict? Not as good as what I had from the soup place (I’m sure they added a lot of fat to theirs, I used vegan margarine and didn’t whipping cream or whole milk), but still pretty delicious.

Also on Friday night’s menu? Hard apple cider beer bread.

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This is the fourth time I’ve made Rachel’s recipe (third time with hard apple cider and once with pumpkin beer) and I really love it. Especially with the apple cider.

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Verdict? Always delicious.

I’m going to re-try baking the dough balls this weekend at my parents’ house. I will let you know how they turn out.

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I have some exciting news!

Th@nksgiving morning I will be walking, holding a balloon, in the M@cy*s Th@nksgiving Day P@rade!

(The reason I’m writing it with the a’s all funny is that I’m doing this for work and I don’t want anyone from my office to find the blog. So forgive me.)

My company is sponsoring one of the new balloons and I was selected as one of twenty people from the office who gets to hold it!

This past Saturday we went to the Meadowlands in NJ to learn how to be a balloon handler.

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Balloons in the distance.

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We all got matching sweatshirts. Everyone thought they were so funny, but as a huge geek I really love mine.

This was also the first time the press got the see the new balloons and M@cy*s did a great job of coordinating everything.

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They even had refreshments, although there was only coffee and cold water that tasted like stale coffee (it was in a coffee urn). Even when they finally got hot water it still tasted like stale coffee. That was my only complaint. It was cold and I was sick and I wanted something hot!

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They do plaster models for the balloons which I thought were really interesting.

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Finally they started explaining to us what to do.

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This guy is our balloon “pilot” he walks backwards at the front of the balloon giving us instructions to raise the balloon, lower the balloon, turn, go faster, slow down, etc.

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There were a lot of hand signals to learn.

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Then it was time to do some group stretching. Just some arm circles, leg lunges, and 10 jumping jacks.

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Finally we got to go close to the balloon.

They let the air out through this giant zippers located all over the balloon.

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I didn’t get any pictures of our balloon flying (since I was holding on for dear life), but I did get some shots of the other new balloon, kung-fo P@nda.

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When they deflate the balloon they lie on top of it to get all the air out when they’re folding it up.

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It was a massively cool experience and I’m very excited for Th@nksgiving. We’re supposed to be done by 10:30 so I will still get to have dinner with my family, which is great.

And I will have worked up quite an appetite. Holding onto the balloon is incredibly difficult. I was holding on and pulling down on that string with every once of my body. Cross for fingers for no wind on Th@nksgiving!

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New York Red Bulls Game

As anyone who’s read my blog probably knows, I’m a pretty big sports fan. My goal after the World Cup was to keep my love of soccer alive. Happily, I’ve managed to do just that.

I often spend my weekend mornings watching European games and this past week I went to see a live NY Red Bulls game.

The Red Bulls actually play at a brand new stadium in Harrison, NJ that’s relatively easy to get to on the PATH (but a huge pain to get back from as thousands of people are trying to leave and there are FOUR turnstiles to accommodate everyone).

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The stadium holds about 15,000 people and even though this was a playoff game it was maybe 70% full.

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The area behind the goal that was directly across from our seats is the supporters section. They were really fun.

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The players finally came out.

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There was a bizarre amount of smoke from just one corner of the stadium.

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Then the game started, it was surprisingly difficult to get good pictures at a soccer game.

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At the end the Red Bulls lost and were booted from the playoffs. I wasn’t too disappointed as I had never seen them play before. However, the experience was really fun (minus the getting home, oh and the awful stadium food) and I’d love to go to another game next season.

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2010 NYC Marathon

Today was one of my favorite days of the year in NYC, the Marathon!

(Check out my 2008 and 2009 recaps, if you missed them!)

I got up around 8am, had some breakfast, took some Dayquil (I have a nasty cold), and headed up to Fourth Avenue to watch the race.

I was looking for a few people this year, but the only one I managed to spot was Leslie from And Her Little Dog Too. I yelled “Go Leslie!” and then “I love your blog.” She turned and looked at me and looked slightly taken aback, but happy. Hopefully I was encouraging and not creepy! 🙂

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Anything look off to anyone?

First, as always, were the wheelchair people

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Oddly I remember taking more pictures, but maybe my camera ate them? Or my cold has made me delirious.

Then it was time for the lead women

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Then it was time for the elite men.

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Unfortunately they didn’t clear people out of the street like they normally do so my view was blocked by people in front of me.

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And my camera didn’t focus correctly. But it’s ok, I still had fun.

Finally it was time for the masses.

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Silly people still in front of me. (Sorry, I’m sick and crabby.)

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Couldn’t figure out what that guy had on his head.

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I liked this woman who stopped to take pictures.

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Tutu!

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Cute brother and sister, I didn’t even realize that until I was looking at pictures to post.

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Long line for the toilets.

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All-in-all a great marathon. I was out there cheering for about 3 hours and then I was too tired and sick to do any more.

Congratulations to everyone who ran!

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NYC Marathon

Tomorrow is the NYC Marathon and although I’m feeling a bit under the weather I’m still excited to go out tomorrow morning and cheer the runners on. I’m hoping I’ll manage to catch some of the bloggers who are running.

Check out my 2008 and 2009 marathon recaps.

And check some of the marathons things that I’m most excited about:

Former tennis player Justin Gimelstob is attempting to run the marathon, despite many injuries, to win a bet with Andy Roddick.

I hope to see the Chilean miner.

And I think these people should shut up.

Edited to add: This blog from The Times is a must-read. My favorite paragraph:

In 1970, with money from his own pocket for soft drinks, safety pins and cheap watches for the winners, Lebow organized the first New York City Marathon, a four-loop race in Central Park. The event was underwhelming, with 127 starters and only 55 finishers who undoubtedly outnumbered the spectators. Nonetheless, Lebow was determined to build on it.

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Coney Island

Ok, I haven’t posted anything in a while so I thought I’d do a recap of a trip I took to Coney Island a few weeks ago.

Even though I’ve lived outside of or in NYC my entire life (minus 4 years of college) I had never been to Coney Island. I was supposed to go to finish the Brooklyn Half-Marathon at Coney Island, but then I got injured and decided not to run.

So at almost 25 and a half years old I had never been to Coney Island.

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It wasn’t warm enough to be real beach weather, but it was still nice to spend some time outside, watching the water.

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I wonder if this guy found any treasure?

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These people were knocked out. I didn’t know what their deal was.

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I didn’t know what that was.

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We did not try to shoot the “frea.”

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I wanted to ride the Cyclone but it wasn’t running 😦

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This picture made me realize that what I first said isn’t completely true. We went to the NY Aquarium on a third-grade field trip so I guess I have technically been to Coney Island before but never to the beach.

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I like what I thought was a child is holding a beer.

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Sexy Merman towel in a shop.

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It’s awful but I love the hot dog eating contest. So gross.

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Isn’t the subway station gorgeous? I think it’s very European.

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Then we went to get French fries from Nathan’s.

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Check out the calories.

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And then we cross Surf Ave. and took the subway home. Well, not really home, actually to a bar, but eventually home 🙂

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