Thursday, December 28, 2017

2017 Recap

2017 was a wonderful year filled with so many accomplishments and memories. When the new year starts, I'm excited to venture on new experiences. I want to take this opportunity to look back on some moments that got me to this point. Before that, marathon training has been going really well. The weather is getting colder so the times have been slightly slower. I have hit the 20 mile marks twice this month. It has been tough but I am getting stronger. Training has given me a chance to explore new running spots. Pebbles Island State Park has a couple miles of trails along the Mohawk River. In New Jersey, Sussex Rail Trail had some trails off the main route. I really enjoy trail running because it is a nice change from running on the pavement. Enough of the training update, here is my look back on 2017.

Vermont Marathon

Photo: Game Face Media

On Memorial Day weekend, I completed my third marathon in three different states. Prior to this event, I have never step foot in The Green Mountain State. Burlington was a beautiful city but I wish I could've spent more time there. Looking to run a half marathon there soon. You can read more about my experience there, click here.

The Late Show With Stephen Colbert 

Prior to Vermont, I traveled to New York City to be in the audience for a live taping of The Late Show With Stephen Colbert. I stayed in a hotel around the corner from the Ed Sullivan Theater in May 2016. Walking by the venue, I told myself that I will be there one day. If I couldn't get to Saturday Night Live or Jimmy Fallon, this is the event I wanted to attend. With my priority ticket, I was five rows from the stage. The guests were awesome: Jon Stewart, John Oliver, Samantha Bee, Ed Helms, and Rob Corddry. Dave Matthews stopped by to perform a song, Samurai Cop.

Tamerline Farm Sanctuary

This was an amazing experience. Personally, I would recommend visiting an animal sanctuary over a zoo and an aquarium.

Now for some personal achievements:

  • On December 21st, happy to say this, I reached two years of sobriety. No question, it has given me a better perspective on life and more time to learn about myself. I reached out to a couple friends who were a big influence on my decision. 
  • Right after my birthday, I transitioned into a vegan diet. For the past two years, I was a vegetarian but would eat vegan dishes any opportunity I got. I will be approaching one year in February. It is challenging but I feel better about myself physically and mentally every single day. 

Five Years of Running

I can't believe it has been five years since I started running.

As the anniversary approached, I was doing a lot of reflecting on this. Typical Matt would've lost interest maybe one year into an activity like this. If you would've told me that I would run three marathons; eight half marathons; and other various distance races in five years, I would've laughed at you. I can't wait for what the future holds. 

Those were the biggest moments of 2017. I created so many memories that got me to the new year. Concerts, comedy shows, sporting events, traveling, hiking, vegan food searches, and family gatherings made this year positive and fulfilling. Most importantly, thank you everyone who took the time to read my blog and inspired me to dig deep for my potential. Hope your year was amazing and you are living your life prosperously, peacefully, and positively.


Sunday, December 10, 2017

Five Years

This weekend marks my fifth anniversary of running. Considering I started in a 5K race just for fun, it is hard to believe my running has grown substantially. I have been reflecting on it for at least a month now and I'm struggling for words at the moment. Ironic that a 5 mile training run fell on the anniversary date. Thank you to everyone who told me I was crazy to train and race in a marathon. It is crazy that I would finish a 5K race then decide to run a half marathon in 2013. Three years later, I am at the start line for my first marathon on a very humid Sunday and was able to finish the event. In 2017, I have several races under my belt including three marathons and a better understanding of what it takes to prepare.

Excerpt from October, reflecting on my journey:

A common job interview question an employer asks, where do you see yourself in five years? You don't hear that question in too many, if not, any running discussions. Why is that? It is hard to have a five year plan as a runner. Goals change over that period of time. Setbacks also factor in.

Did you ask yourself that question when you first started running? I didn't but it has been on my mind for days now. I bet you are wondering if I have an answer for this question. I'll give you answer.

With my fifth anniversary of competitive running approaching in December, I still want to be running, hopefully injury free. Continue to obtain additional running knowledge regarding training, diets, and workouts. Also, I want to build my community of friends that share similar interests. As my experience grows, I will be looking for that next running challenge.

Running has given me an opportunity to explore other parts of the United States I've never visited before. It gives me a chance to act like a tourist in motion, without the camera. Continue to learn more about myself as I continue to run.

Hopefully that answers your question. Let me ask you, how would you answer it, without repeating my answers? Tough to do isn't it?

There is so much more to learn and experience with my running journey. What started as fun running a 5 kilometer race has transformed into marathon races and growing friendships along the way. My love and passion for running has grown substantially in five years. I'm looking for it to continue as I get older.

If you have been running for more than five years, I hope you obtained the goals and dreams you set forth. For everyone else, where do you see yourself in five years? See you soon.

Thank you to everyone that I have met during my five years of running and inspired me to continue the journey. I have to get running because there are places to see, people to meet, and accomplishments to obtain.

Prosperous Running,

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Holiday Travel

This is a good opportunity to talk about my travels last week. I'm sure you are getting bored reading the weekly training updates. It was a wonderful week taking time off from running and spending time with family. One exception was the Turkey Trot race (more on that in a moment).

Tuesday, I drove to my parents house in New Jersey to celebrate Thanksgiving. First, I stopped at Tamerline Farm Sanctuary in Montague Township, New Jersey. Prior to the visit, I have never been to an animal sanctuary. After the tour and interacting with animals, it was an unforgettable experience. I would highly recommend visiting a sanctuary over zoos and aquariums. The animals were very friendly and excited by my presence. The educational tour guide was pleasant and very knowledgeable. If you would love to find out more about Tamerline Farm, click here. The animals will appreciate it.



After the Farm Sanctuary, I stopped at High Point Park to hike the Appalachian Trail. The weather was beautiful outside so I got in a little over eight miles total. If you hike that portion, be careful of all the rocks sticking out of the ground. The trail had some drastic elevation changes but it was a nice workout.

Thursday (Thanksgiving) morning, I ran in the Krogh's Turkey Trot 5K race in Sparta. My father and sister also participated in the race. They posted very good results and I'm very proud of their effort. Despite not running the past few days, my goal was to do the best I can while not exhausting my body. My final time was just under 21 minutes (20:56). This is the quickest 5 kilometers I have ever ran. Of course, I was very pleased with the result and finished inside the top five for my age group (44th overall). Thank you very much to all the sponsors, event coordinators, volunteers, safety personnell, and residents for making this race possible.

Thanksgiving (Thanksliving, for all the vegans) was very enjoyable. It was wonderful spending time with the family these past few days. Now, it is back to training. Hope your holidays were filled with prosperity and happiness.

Happy Running

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Week 10 Training and Stockade-athon 15K

Another week of training is in the books. I can't believe it has been ten weeks already. Also, I got an opportunity to run in a race for the first time in a few months.

November 7: 4.17 miles/ 30:00.6/7:12 mile
Mile 1: 7:20; Mile 2: 7:11; Mile 3: 7:10; Mile 4: 7:04 with the last 0.17 at 1:16

Not pushing a quick pace this week due to an upcoming race on Sunday.

November 8: 8.0 miles/ 57:43.2/ 7:13 mile
Mile 1: 7:23; Mile 2: 7:07; Mile 3: 7:16; Mile 4: 7:10; Mile 5: 7:09; Mile 6: 7:13; Mile 7: 7:23; Mile 8: 7:03

November 9: 4.0 miles/ 28:04.6/ 7:01 mile
Mile 1: 7:00; Mile 2: 7:02; Mile 3: 6:57; Mile 4: 7:06

November 10: 8.0 miles/ 58:58.4/ 7:22 mile
Mile 1: 7:29; Mile 2: 7:15; Mile 3: 7:13; Mile 4: 7:19; Mile 5: 7:35; Mile 6: 7:29;
Mile 7: 7:24; Mile 8: 7:15

Great tune up run for the race on Sunday. Did not want to push myself because it is going to be an exhausting day.

November 12: 1.5 mile (warm up): 14:27.7 at 9:38/mile

9.44 mile run (Stockade-athon 15K race): 1:06:07/ 7:06 mile
Mile 1: 7:25; Mile 2: 7:11; Mile 3: 7:07; Mile 4: 7:02; Mile 5: 6:54; Mile 6: 6:56;
Mile 7: 6:59; Mile 8: 7:05; Mile 9: 6:49 with the last 0.44 at 2:42

6.5 mile run (post race run): 51:39.9/ 7:57 mile
Mile 1: 8:07; Mile 2: 7:39; Mile 3: 7:42; Mile 4: 7:58; Mile 5: 7:52; Mile 6: 7:56 with the last 0.50 at 4:27

Didn't I tell you I was going to be exhausted after the day I had? Despite the uncertainty of how my day would turn out, I was very pleased with the results. I did not panic when my first mile was 7:45. At mile two, I got it down to approximately 7:30. For the rest of the race, my splits averaged around 7:00. Final time was 1:06:03 with an average pace of 7:06. It was a very exhausting day but very rewarding.

Onto another week of training. Happy Running.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Run Run Run

The past couple weeks, a lot has been going on so running had to be put on hold temporarily. Two weeks ago, I passed my certification exam. This allows me to fit running into my schedule and I could not be any more excited. I'm beginning to run three to four times a week again.

August 12th was 6.3 miles along the Hudson River in Downtown Albany. The time was a little over fifty minutes with a pace or just under eight minutes. Despite the humidity and toughness, I managed to get through it. Not pleased with the times but it was wonderful getting outside for a run before the storm came through the area (7:49, 7:33, 7:45, 7:59, 8:14, 8:25, 2:22). I added two miles on the way back to my vehicle for the cool down segment (8:35 and 8:30).

A few days later, I went out for six miles and the times were much better and not as erratic (7:51, 7:29, 7:34, 7:34, 7:35, 7:41). The time was 45:49 with an average pace of 7:38.

A couple days ago, I was unsure if I should do a run because of the weather. Luckily, the weather held up for the most part and decided to squeeze a run in. 7.5 miles total including getting soaked the last mile. My time was a little over fifty-nine minutes with a pace of 7:53. The times were erratic but I can definitely feel the momentum and strength returning to form (7:51, 7:39, 7:46, 7:59, 8:15, 7:58, 7:45, 3:53).

At the time of this writing, no races coming up for me soon but I plan on doing another marathon next year. It is good to start training and gain some momentum for the upcoming months. Yes, it is a short update but happy running.


Monday, August 14, 2017

Vegan Five One Eats #5

Another installment features a local business here in Saratoga Springs. Vital Eats LLC was apart of  Markets at Round Lake this past weekend. I was very excited that this eatery offered vegan options. Even though they only offered a limited menu, I was in the mood for a quick meal for dinner Saturday evening. At their food stand, they offered curly fries, falafels, veggie burgers, and salads. Trying to recall if I had a falafel before, I chose that with some curly fries.

The falafel contained organic greens, sesame slaw, ginger pickle carrot, and tzatziki. I put So Cheezy sauce on the falafel. For the fries, I used King Ghost Ketchup-Inferno and King Kick-Sriracha Ketchup for dipping.

Let me tell you, Vital Eats knocked the sandwich out of the park and the fries were absolutely delicious. Not sure if they compare to my favorite, sweet potato fries, but I was satisfied. The ketchups were very spicy but that has never stopped me. Since I already mentioned a few condiments, Vital Eats have a wide variety of sauces that you can put on your vegan dishes. I sampled all of them at the Round Lake event and they spice me up. Want to get saucy? You can purchase their condiments online. If you live in the capital region, you can find their products at these locations.

For more information, check out their spicy content (it's not dirty, I promise!) and make sure to visit their booth at the Troy River Front Farmers Market every Saturday. They are also at the Saratoga Springs Farmers Market every Saturday and Sunday (Spa City/ State Park).

Thank you very much Vital Eats for providing amazing food during the festival. Also, thank you to everyone that helped put on Markets at Round Lake. I had an amazing time walking around a quaint village exploring all the local food, arts, and craft businesses.

Get social with Vital Eats: Instagram and Facebook #vitaleatsllc
Markets at Round Lake: Instagram and Facebook #marketsatroundlake

Happy Living

+ Matt

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Firecracker 4 run

Happy Independence everybody. This morning, I participated in the 11th annual Firecracker 4 race. For the eleventh year, Saratoga Springs hosted a tough four mile race through downtown. Where would you rather be on the fourth of July? I want to run a few miles with over three thousand other runners.

Runners Set
I did not eat anything prior to the race, only hydrating my body with water. Stretching and a couple warm up runs helped calm my nerves prior to the start of the race. Now, all the runners are at the start line, running watches getting programmed to their proper settings.

Air horn sounds and the Runners are off.
After taking off towards the first mile, it felt like I was starting slow but did not show any panic. Kept telling myself to run my own race without wearing down at the end of the course. It was surprising to see the time for Mile 1, 6:40. After hitting the mile marker, I decided to conserve energy following runners. It was nice seeing Saratoga Springs residents out on the sidewalks cheering all of the runners on along with musical entertainment. Running through hoses, especially on a humid day like this, was refreshing. I would rather see the mile marker timers instead of having a spectator shout out the time. Around the mile 2 mark, the spectator was shouting out 13:30 as I passed (6:50 mile).

The last half of the race would an endurance test with a couple hills to challenge all the runners. Approaching mile 3, my body started to get tired but I told myself, do not stop under any circumstance. I thought about walking a little bit with less than a mile to go but my mind was telling me to slow down and keep running. The last hill on Excelisor Street was tough not allowing me to give me an extra burst of speed. It did not upset me so I ran across the finish line with a 7:04 mile.

My splits were (6:40, 6:50, 7:00, and 7:04). Yes, the splits increased but I was very pleased with my performance. I did a tune up run the other day with a time of 29:30. Today, my official time was 27:45 with an average pace of 6:57. My Garmin watch was 27:38 averaging 6:53 per mile. Overall, I finished 229th out of nearly 3000 finishers which is a great accomplishment. I'm starting to enjoy the shorter distance races more. Can't wait to get signed up for another one soon.

Thank you to everyone involved putting on a safe and exciting road race. Also, thank you law enforcement and volunteers keeping the runners safe, handing out race packets, and refueling us after the race.  The spectators and musicians who performed along the course were very encouraging cheering all the runners on was gratifying. This was my fourth race in Saratoga Springs and it has been a very positive experience.

Happy Running

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Vegan Five One Eats #4

Hello friends, it has been awhile since I did a featured Vegan eatery. Maybe it was the four bottomless cups of coffee that inspired me to write a post. Yesterday, I met up with my cousin Winsley and Patrick for a delicious brunch at Cafe Madison. Cafe Madison is located on Madison Avenue in Albany, NY. My friend, Jenna, recommended this eatery to me several months ago but never got around to stopping in. Thank you very much for the suggestion.

If you are vegan, make sure to ask for the vegan menu because it is separated from the regular menu. For my first trip, I ordered their French Toast with Maple Seitan Sausage based on a waitress recommendation. Their bread is home made dipped in dairy free batter (almond milk, banana puree, cinnamon, and sugar). The French Toast was delicious and filling. For my next trip, I will be ordering their Loaded Breakfast Burrito. Overall, the vegan options for brunch were very good and would recommend it to those looking for a great brunch spot. Check out the vegan menu here.

There is no food picture to post because I wanted to act like a regular human being interacting socially. That means, not staring at your phone while a conversation is taking place. Cafe Madison was an excellent establishment with great service and delicious vegan food. If you want to be guaranteed a table, I would recommend getting there early because it gets busy relatively quick. Cafe Madison opens at 7:30 Monday-Sunday.

Cafe Madison is located at 1108 Madison Avenue in Albany, NY 
For specials, get social with the Cafe

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Tri-City Valleycats Fathers Day Home Run 5K

Saturday morning was a great day to run in a local 5K race. The race was at Joseph Bruno Stadium on the Hudson Valley Community College campus, home of the Tri-City Valleycats. I've been running mostly long distance races so it was time to switch to a shorter distance. A 5K race is always tough so don't be fooled by the distance (3.1 miles). Overall, it was a very fun and satisfying race. Now, here's the recap.

Wednesday prior to the race, I ran a 5K distance to get myself ready for Saturday. This would be very interesting considering I did not do any running since the Vermont City Marathon on Memorial Day weekend. Wednesday was tough but I got through the run and did very well. My watch recorded negative splits which is a very good sign (7:19, 6:46, 6:34, and 6:20 pace for the final tenth of a mile). Not too bad for not running the previous three weeks. This gave me a lot of confidence heading into Saturday's race.

Saturday morning, I made a couple mental notes not to eat a heavy meal prior to the race. I limited it to toast and a banana while hydrating myself with a couple glasses of water. Do not go too fast out of the gate. Off to the stadium for packet pick up and pre-race warm up/stretch. I'm not as tense and nervous when I do some warm up runs prior to the start.

The horn sounds and the runners are off. Heading up Williams Road into the residential area, I felt very good about my pace within the first mile at 6:28. Heading into mile 2, the fatigue was starting to creep in a little bit. Even though it would be tough to make up ground, I was not getting passed so much. The water stop heading up a hill back to Williams Road helped even though my pace was the slowest (7:02). Once I cleared the hill and headed back onto campus, I was still a little fatigued but not as slow back in the residential streets. I kept telling myself to run through the finish even though I was getting tired. The finish was inside the baseball stadium on the field. The remaining distance was on the warning track. I got passed by a couple runners at the end but I was very happy to see the time at the finish line. My official time was 21:19 with a 6:53 pace. Mile three was a 6:53 pace with 6:20 the remaining distance. I finished inside the top 5 in my age group, 31st overall out of over 340 runners. Even though the splits were not consistent, I was very pleased with the result. To my knowledge, this is the fastest time for a 5K race. Looking forward to the Firecracker 4 race in Saratoga Springs coming up on July 4th.

Thank you very much HMRRC and all the Tri-City Valleycats staff for putting on a great event for Fathers Day. Also, thank you to the volunteers and law enforcement for keeping all the runners safe on the course.

No pictures for this race but it was nice to have a different race recap aside from just marathons and half-marathons. Happy running everyone and stay safe.


Monday, May 29, 2017

Vermont City Marathon

On May 28th, I completed my third marathon. Was it the result I desired? No. Aside from that, it was a very fun event and it allowed me to take in the beautiful scenery throughout Burlington. Prior to yesterday, I have never stepped foot in the state of Vermont. I was very excited to make my first trip a pleasant experience. Why not run a marathon race. Burlington was an awesome city and Run Vermont did an excellent job putting on this event.

When mile one is complete, I look at my watch to see how fast I am running. This allows me to dictate the tempo throughout the race. If the time is between, 7:30 and 8 minutes, that is a pretty comfortable pace for me over a long distance. The first mile was 7:52 on South Willard Street coming back towards Church Street.

Miles 2-7 were surprisingly fast (7:18, 7:19, 7:09, 7:14, 7:23, and 7:20) thinking I could keep that up for at least most of the race. Old North End (Route 127) which was a simple down and back segment of the course was where I had great endurance and strong level of confidence. Running through downtown Burlington was a surreal experience. Spectators cheering and holding up signs was very encouraging. Going down Church Street twice (mile 2 and 9) was awesome getting a high five from a drag queen. All the spectators throughout the course were awesome.

Miles 9-14 were pretty solid, not above an eight minute pace (7:51, 7:22, 7:42, 8:00, 7:46, and 7:59). The scenery was very nice passing through Oakledge Park and Redwood Park. Running on residential streets is always very nice and peaceful. Oakledge Park has a nice view of Lake Champlain and downtown Burlington. To my right was the Earth Clock designed by the Circles for Peace organization. Mile 14 and 15 brought the runners back through downtown again approaching Battery Street. I was thinking about that hill coming up and my pace began to slow.

One of the amazing sights I passed on my run, The Earth Clock

Once I hit the gradual Battery Street hill (miles 15-16), I hit the wall but still kept pushing. I knew if I walked on that hill, the rest of the race would be very difficult for me. For the remainder of the race, my pace started to increase close to nine minutes. Some of my paces were around 9:30. I was constantly stopping at all the water, Gatorade, and fruit stops to stay hydrated because it was getting humid out. Looking at my times, they were slightly better than anticipated.

It was crushing watching the 3:30 pace group leaders pass me at mile 18. As I approached the final stretch, I realized that running is not just about achieving a personal best. It is about enjoying the moment and realizing the accomplishment you are about to achieve. Running through the residential streets off of North Avenue was very fun as spectators lined their driveways with lawn chairs, sprinklers, and rock music. With all that music I heard on the course, I was not sure if I had a headache or more encouraged in my run.

Mile 22 could not come soon enough, the final stretch towards the finish and running along Lake Champlain under shaded trees. Even though my paces were very slow, the spectators helped me get through the race. I was filled with all different kinds of emotions. Did my mental focus suffer? possibly. I started to realize what I have accomplished in one year. My mind was telling me: Matt, you are about to finish your third marathon in three different states. You should be very proud of your achievements. Keep going and do your best. All I can do was keep running, enjoy the scenery, and learn from this race to help me prepare for my next one.

Approaching mile twenty-six, the finish line in sight, the crowds lined the barricades cheering all the runners on. It was quite a sight to experience hearing your name being called and giving you positive encouragement. Finishing in Waterfront Park in the grass was a nice relief after taking a beating from the asphalt. Monday afternoon, writing this post, my right foot is still really sore.

10:40 AM, the rewarding feeling of a medal being placed around your neck after 26.2 miles. This is what I look forward to after several months of training and preparation. Wow, Vermont was an amazing experience. Burlington was a heart-warming city.

Thank you very much to all the sponsors who helped make the event possible. Also, I'm grateful for all the medical staff and law enforcement who provided all the participants with a fun and safe race. All the volunteers were amazing being a part of the running community, even cheering us on throughout the course. All the bands and musicians lined along the course provided a pretty nice running soundtrack. All the photographers lined up throughout the course, how do I look? The aid, food and beverage, and the misting stations were very beneficial throughout the event. All the spectators that came out to cheer us on throughout the course, you were awesome and amazing. You might think you are not doing much for runners when actually you make a tremendous difference. One reason why I enjoy running long distance races. Burlington, you gave me an experience that I will never forget. Thank you for the memories.

With all my love and gratitude,

"In short, running can change your outlook on life and make a new person out of you."- Marc Bloom

Friday, May 12, 2017

Vegan Five One Eats #3 New York City edition

Two delicious vegan slices. Thank you Two Boot's (Lexington Avenue).

On Tuesday, I took a bus to New York City to be in the audience for The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. Prior to that, I went on a search for a delicious vegan establishment. First thought that comes to mind when it comes to New York food staples? Pizza. I went to a couple pizzeria's in previous trips but never talked about my experiences on here. One place that has delighted my taste buds: Two Boot's. They have several locations throughout New York City. Tuesday took me to 39th Street and Lexington Avenue for a couple fresh slices.

I got a friendly greeting from the cashier and looked at the single slice selection. I'm ecstatic when they have not one but two vegan options available: V For Vegan and Earth Mother. Of course, I ordered both flavors because it is rare to have both available at the multiple locations.

V For Vegan contains Artichokes; Shitake Mushrooms; Red Pepper Pesto; Daiya Cheese; and Basil Pesto on a dairy free pizza crust. Earth Mother consists of Peppers; Onions; Pesto; Spinach; and Mushrooms on a whole wheat Sicilian crust (vegan of course).

If you ask me which one was my favorite? Honestly, I could not give you a straight answer. I've had V For Vegan on prior visits and it did not disappoint once again. The crust was soft and I could fold the slice to eat by hand. If you a person, such as, Donald Trump who eats it with a fork, shame on you. The slice was loaded with ingredients for a thin slice and it was very fresh when I arrived. Earth Mother on the other hand was a very thick slice with their "garden" ingredients. This was my first time having this specialty and it was absolutely delicious. I have never had a pizza with whole wheat dough before. I was very impressed with the Whole Wheat Sicilian dough and will have to find it next time I decide to make pizza on my own. Earth Mother did not contain cheese unlike V For Vegan but that did not bother me. I heard it is frowned upon to order vegan cheese on a Sicilian style pizza. Anyone can correct me if I'm wrong.

I apologize if this is a short post, I wanted to get it out before it was too late. Overall, I was very impressed with the establishment on my return. I'll definitely be going back to the Lexington Avenue for those two flavor slices. If you are looking for more locations, click here. Also, anyone other vegan pizza establishments I need to try, please let me know in a comment. Until next time, happy eating.


Monday, May 8, 2017

Vegan Five One Eats #2

On Friday, my second stop for Vegan Five One Eats took me to The Happy Cappuccino in the Crossgates Mall in Albany.  They have a second location in Schenectady on Jay Street with a wide variety of vegan-friendly options as well but menu items are subject to change. The Happy Cappuccino also serves hot and cold specialty beverages made to order. If you are looking for a nice treat after your sanwich, they sell other local businesses bakery items available for purchase.

I attempted to eat at the Jay Street location awhile back but it was taking cash only at the time. A couple days ago, I received a message from the business stating that it was a temporary obstacle and are accepting cards again.

The restaurant was quiet at 4:45 PM except for a few guests chatting at the table over beverages. After a few minutes, I place my order for a Vegan Deli Sandwich containing Seitan, Onions, Mustard, Tomato, and lettuce on a ciabatta roll. The sandwich was good but I felt slightly disappointed in terms of value. A few suggestions to add more flavor visually and taste: add a small side of greens or chips to the sanwich; toasting the bread and an opportunity to add additional ingredients would be beneficial; maybe adding a sandwich special that is only made during a specific time period (weekly). I'm not much of a bread fanatic, but the type used on that sandwich was absolutely delicious and the Seitan slices were very thick. I would love to return to The Happy Cappucino especially Jay Street for a cup of coffee and sandwich.

After finishing my sandwich, I ordered two Vegan biscotti's: Cinnamon Chocolate Chip and White Chocolate Caramel. Don't be deceived by the picture, those two pastries were pretty big. The biggest biscotti's I have ever seen. I will have to purchase them when they are fresh in the morning instead of 5:30 PM. Despite that, I couldn't finish them in one sitting and they were good.

Overall, the selection is good between the two locations. Yes, they accommodate all meat and dairy consumers too. I can't wait to visit again soon. Until next time, happy eating.


 Wow! What big vegan biscotti's you have Bake For You.

Vegan Deli Sandwich

Monday, April 17, 2017

Vegan Five One Eats #1

Since I've been posting food on my Instagram account, I thought it would be a great idea to document my search for great Vegan Restaurant establishments. Also, my endless online research was the inspiration behind this series. Whenever I travel, my first task is to look for nearby restaurants with vegan options. Right now, I reside in the Albany area so my objective was already in full swing. Obviously, I will do more than one and it will focus only on establishments. Any other establishments you can think of, please let me know. I will not limit it just to the Albany area. I figured it would be an excellent opportunity to highlight restaurants that do not get enough attention. Thank you for viewing. If you would like to know more about the vegan eatery, the information is posted below.

Vegan Five One Eats #1: Berben & Wolff's, Lark Street

This establishment was on my list for awhile through word of mouth on social media. Since I was going to a hockey game later that day, this would be a perfect opportunity to check this place out.  It finished second place in the Times Union Best Of 2017: Locally Owned Restaurant category. It is very impressive that a Vegan eatery is getting noticed and tastes are slowly begin to change for the better.

Just after 2 PM on Saturday, the establishment is very quiet and not busy at all. The cashier is taking an order over the phone and the bakery case was almost wiped out. I over hear the cashier telling another customer that it was very busy earlier starting at noon. Berben & Wolff's is open 10 AM-8 PM Tuesday through Saturday and 10 AM- 3PM Sunday. They do not offer a breakfast menu but they make up with a very good sandwich selection and good variety of To Go items. Look out for weekly specials on their Facebook page and their Wing Wednesday promotion.

After looking at the menu for a few minutes, I ask the cashier what he recommends since it is my first trip to their establishment. He begins by telling me that they are out of Jackfruit for their BBQ Pulled Jackfruit Sandwich. This does not deter me and he recommends the Wing Burger with Buffalo Sauce. The Wing Burger contains a breaded Seitan patty; shredded carrots; diced celery; and ranch on a sesame seed bun. I knew a sandwich would not be enough so I ordered a couple items from the bakery case: Snicker Doodle cupcake and Chickpea Blondie Brownie. Yes all their ingredients they use are vegan and they have gluten free options available too.

Earlier stated, the bakery case was pretty much empty but it did not deter me from eating elsewhere. I would recommend ordering early so you are guaranteed a better selection. While I was waiting for my sandwich, I ate the Snicker Doodle cupcake which was good, soft, and the frosting was very creamy. I'll have to try their other flavors they have available. After finishing the cupcake, the server brought out my sandwich which I could not wait to take a bite of. The first bite was absolutely delicious and messy. The dressing was running down the side of my hand. The patty was very crispy along with the sauce hits my mouth with a slight kick. The celery and carrots complimented the sandwich perfectly. I got a side of greens with the sandwich, as always. Personally, I avoid the common chips and a pickle option that usually comes included with sandwiches at most establishments. After finishing the sandwich, I decided to order another bakery treat, Chickpea Blondie brownie. I really enjoyed this treat and was absolutely amazed at how chickpeas can be made in desserts. When I use chickpeas, they are for salads and protein-based dishes. Wrapped in plastic, the brownie was still very soft not hard as a rock. After finishing that second treat, I told myself that I need to order that again with my next sandwich.

Clockwise (from top to bottom): The Wing Burger, Chickpea Blondie brownie, and Snicker Doodle cupcake

Despite the limited menu during the time I spent there, I was very pleased with the food altogether and will be making another trip there soon. It is small restaurant with limited seating but I love those type of intimate atmospheres. Next time, I'll make sure to get there a little earlier, especially on a Saturday. One of the line cooks even asked me how my sandwich was as he exited the restaurant. I really appreciate when staff asks customers how their experience was in person, not telling them to fill out a comment card or share on social media. He was very happy to hear that I told him the sandwich was delicious. I can't wait to return to Berben & Wolff's soon. For now, it is on to find the next vegan joint.

Berben & Wolff's Official Website

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Sunday, April 16, 2017

Code Blue 8K on a Beautiful Day

Yesterday, I ran my second race this year, a local 8K race in Saratoga Springs. The event raised money for emergency shelter in Saratoga Springs, Code Blue Saratoga. It was a nice change of pace competing in a short distance race compared to half-marathons and marathons. I am planning on doing more in the near future. Here is the recap:

Honestly, I was not sure what to expect from the race in terms of performance. It is tough getting to bed late Friday night and turning around a few hours later awake at 6 AM Saturday morning. Before leaving to pick up my race packet, I started off with a glass of water and a cup of tea. After picking up my packet, I went back to the vehicle and sat in the car. After a few minutes, I decided to do a warm up mile in a nearby park. I'm very glad I did because it got me really excited about running and taking on the day. I ran a little over one mile (1.25 to be exact) at just over a nine minute pace. The weather put me in a great mood because it was absolutely beautiful outside and it was very nice running in shorts. I told myself not to eat anything before the race but that failed. At least it was not heavy prior to the race (bagel and banana). If I finished the race between 35 and 40 minutes, I would've been very happy with the results. Now the race is starting.

I was towards the front of the crowd at the start of the race. On your mark…Get Set…GO! Taking off, I felt very good with my pace so I continued running that way throughout the race. When I approach a race, my goal is to run a comfortable pace without getting extremely tired during the run. Quickly glancing at my watch at mile 1, I was surprised at the blistering pace (6:45). I continued on the course and felt really good. I make it a habit of not glancing at my watch constantly because it might throw my rhythm off. Miles 2, 3 and up to the mile 4 marker were very tough due to the constant elevation changes. That is part of every race but I focused on the goal of finishing strong. Mile 2 (6:43); Mile 3 (6:38); and Mile 4 (6:35) and I'm still in total disbelief over the consistent times and pace. Approaching the finish line, I was very surprised to see my time 32:39 with a pace of 6:34. That is definitely the fastest I have ever ran in training and/or racing. My Garmin watch told me I had a record for my fastest mile of 6:25. The emcee announced my name as the twentieth person overall got me very excited. This is out of over four hundred runners who participated. Usually, I'm inside the top ten percent overall which is what I was anticipating in this race. How did I do in my age group? I refueled with rice and beans (a first); water; orange slices; and a banana after the race. Jeff, who ran the race, finishing not too far behind me, looked at the results alongside me. He told me that I finished third in my age group, which means I receive a medal for my accomplishment. Yes, it is a third place in my group and it is an exciting feeling. I do not get these awards very often so it gave me a reason to be happy.

After soaking in the accomplishment, it was time to do a post race run at Saratoga State Park. No I did not duplicate the results in my race which was fine by me. My pace was 8:15 for a total distance of 8.82 miles. My total mileage for the day was just over 15 miles, which is what I planned on doing so my day was very productive.

I want to take this opportunity to thank the Code Blue Saratoga organization, Fingerpaint, Mayor Joanne Yepsen, everyone who donated food, Saratoga Police Department, Hampton Inn, volunteers, and course marshals for making this event possible. Your work was greatly appreciated and I'm grateful for your dedication. Saratoga Springs is a great community which the reason why I love running in your city.

A great day with the sun shining and sitting on the rooftop after a great race

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Training, Vegan Eats, and Code Blue

Sunday was an absolutely beautiful day for a run. I took full advantage of it by doing the long run that morning instead of Saturday. I wanted to be fresh, alert, and focused for this run so that is the reasons for the switch. If I did it Saturday, I ran the risk of being tired or not finishing the run. The weather was perfect, not quite shorts weather, but it was satisfying. 18.36 miles in under two and a half hours with a pace of just of over eight minutes was a pretty good result. As I'm writing this, I went on another run this morning, taking advantage of the great weather. If you haven't been following my posts, I am currently training to run my third marathon in less than two months, Vermont City (Burlington). Unfortunately, this will be the only marathon I will be running this year. I was planning on doing two but I have to focus on my current job priorities. I will still participate in running races but only locally. That is my running update, onto other exciting things.

Here are some vegan food pictures:

 Pick up the Gluten Free Bar in a store near you. It is absolutely delicious.

 Eggplant with tomatoes, mushrooms, and beans

 Ben & Jerry's never disappoints. Can't wait for more non-dairy flavors in the future.

Still have to try the Oreo flavor version. Don't spoil it for me.

Ok, enough of the food pictures. My next race will be this Saturday in Saratoga Springs, Blue Needs You 8K (5 mile). Any chance I get to participate in a running race for an excellent cause. This race supports Code Blue Saratoga, an emergency homeless shelter providing homes during the winter season. It will be exciting to run in short distance races because I do not do it enough. To learn more about this organization, click here. I will have another update this weekend regarding this race. Get outside, the weather is beautiful. Hope your day is going amazing.


Monday, March 27, 2017

Fallen Comrades Run…West Point Half Marathon

Good morning everyone. It is Monday, currently recovering from an amazing weekend in downstate New York. I really needed it especially after a long work week. I traveled by train from Albany to Garrison between Amtrak and Metro-North.

I ran my eighth half marathon yesterday, Fallen Comrades Run. This was the first year that they opened this race to the general public. I found out about this race through the Running In The USA website. My cousin Torey, Ben, and Fran also ran in the race. Shout out to Torey's husband, David and awesome host, Miranda for cheering us on throughout the entire race. Running on the United States Military Academy campus in West Point was absolutely beautiful. We started outside Michie Stadium and finished on their field.

Miles 1-4 were mostly downhill and windy and had the upcoming hills in the back of my mind but did my best to not let it consume me. Checking my watch, I ran a 7:30 mile which is a great pace for me. My goal was to not start very strong and tire towards the end. The first few miles allowed me to take in a wonderful view of the Hudson River on their campus. You can also see the railroad tracks shuttling passengers between Albany and New York City.

Mile 5 was the first big hill which I thought would be the last of the major hills. I would be proven wrong later on. My running was smooth going up hill but I was in need of a bathroom.

Between 6 and 7, I had to detour for a break. I ended up with a nine minute mile because of it but I felt so much better after that stop. Started catching up with some of the runners approaching mile 8 winding through the residential streets.

Mile 9 was the beginning of a very steep hill but I managed to pass runners struggling on their climb. Maybe it helped having the military bagpipe band members playing. Miles 10 and 11 ended up where we ran in the beginning. More winding downhills and found out about THE BIG HILL coming up.

Mile 12 would intersect with the mile 9 marker halfway up, which made the hill steeper and longer. I slowed my pace a little bit and was making good strides passing runners. It was a relief finishing that big hill and finishing on flatter terrain approaching the stadium. My final time was just under 1:37:00 with a 7:24 mile. I set a personal best of approximately 3 minutes and placed inside the top 100 runners overall. In terms of results, it was a very successful day and the weather held up during the race.  The temperature was in the upper thirties with overcast skies. My cousin also set a personal best during her race, awesome job. My Garmin watch told me I ran just under 13 miles but that was the least of my worries. The course was very challenging and fun. It was an honor running alongside amazing athletes, service men, and service women.

Thank you very much to United States Military Academy, NYC Runs, spectators, and all the volunteers who made the event possible. I truly appreciate all your hard work and dedication.

One reason why I love running, amazing family support

Also, thank you Miranda for being an awesome host all weekend. You are simply amazing. Once again, thank you to Torey for making the trip and husband David for cheering us on and taking pictures. It was a pleasure meeting Ben and Fran, who ran in the event as well. Congratulations on finishing, both of you did great. Good luck Fran in the Gettysburg Marathon.

 Great job everyone. You were all amazing out there.

I'm really running out of words so it is time for me to recover for a couple days. Looking at running a 10K race Saturday.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Training for vegan eats and sweets

Week 7 of marathon training concluded yesterday with a 16.5 mile run in under 2:15 with a 8:08 mile. My total miles for the week was a total of 28.8 miles. On Monday; Wednesday; and Friday, I run four miles as a part of my circuit training. I'll get into more detail shortly. The weather conditions and route were absolutely beautiful. For the most part, it was not very cold and the sunshine was a big help keeping me warm. Along with running in a local park, I ran onto residential streets nearby because there is not a ton of vehicular traffic to deal with. The nearby trail is nice but it is tough with all the snow still on the ground, especially after last week.

Whenever it is my day to do a long run, I like to have a light breakfast before running so I am focused and fresh for my workout. My light breakfast consisted of a cup of tea and a smoothie. For the last few days, I'm attempting to reduce my grain intake, notably breads and pastas. My smoothie consisted of: kale; blueberries; banana; avocado; and almond milk. In the past, my routine was to have a bowl of oatmeal with chopped fruit. I decided to make a change and have smoothies. After my light breakfast, I felt more energetic as the run progressed. Since it helps me, I will continue with that regimen. I pack a small portion of grapes, Lara Bar, banana, my water bottle, and Vita Coco Water for my post run fuel.

In my previous post, I stated my miserable emotions prior to and during the run. I was so close to just quitting training until I saw an index card on my dresser drawer. On the card, I wrote an Embedded Circuit Training regimen awhile back that I almost forgot about. After reading it, it gave me a great idea to do my running indoors at the YMCA instead of jumping right out of bed in the morning to start running. Well, Presidents Day (Monday) will be the exception since I do not have to work that day. Ok, I'm on call for my current job. Anyway, I tried the embedded circuit training for three days and really fell in love with it. The change was very beneficial because it kept me very focused and it was nice being indoors for a change instead of running strictly outdoors. Initially, I was dreading having to do the miles on a treadmill but it dawned on me that the facility has a track upstairs. It might look tedious, it gave me a brand new outlook on marathon training. Yes, my weekly miles will be reduced a little. In the long run, it is essential to have your legs fresh whether it is for an upcoming race or still training.

After my run, I decided to splurge at two local food eateries. The first stop was Elevation Burger in Latham for a Vegan Burger. Yes the burger is five dollars but it beats Five Guys and they use fresh ingredients. I added lettuce; caramelized onions; hot pepper relish; tomato; and pickles. It was very good and will be making a future trip back there soon. Next time, I will either get two burgers or a burger and fries. Stop number two took me to Troy called Nibble Inc. Doughnut Shop. My friend Jenna told me about this place having vegan doughnuts, so I was immediately sold. Any establishment with good vegan options, I want to visit. Saturday, they had three different vegan options so I got one of each to sample (Strawberry Cocoa; Orange Cardamon; and I forgot the third flavor. All the flavors were amazing. The gentleman behind the counter told me that they are also available at Whole Foods. That is good to know next time I am down that way. The doughnuts were on point and will definitely stop in again for a few more. They also have gluten free and non-vegan treats as well.

That is my training update for now. I can't wait to start a brand new week tomorrow. Also, I'm getting very excited for upcoming races. Happy Reading.

Look at my face, you can't deny the deliciousness

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Marathon Training Update

Since it has been five or six weeks into marathon training, I thought an update would be useful. This past Friday, my mind was a complete mess over the smallest issues I have no control over. I became depressed and started to question myself for my purpose in training. It started to become emotionally draining when no one is around for support. I initially decided not to run Saturday and quit training all together to get myself still. As Friday came to a close, my heart began to change urging me to go do this long run. I did not do it last week out of fear of a possible injury. Instead of just getting up right away to start running, I began with a light breakfast and tea to ease my nerves.

My run started on the Zim Smith Trail and I was starting to regret that decision. Totally forgot that it snowed the day before and the trail was completely covered. It was pretty miserable running through a heavy pack and my feet started to get wet. After five to six miles, I turned onto a road off the trail that had some residential streets along the way. In total, I completed sixteen miles in over 2.25 hours. It was very slow for me (8:25 pace) but I knew that in the beginning. After the run was finished, my running spirit was revived. Prior to yesterday, I decided to run 4 miles 3 days then do a long run on Saturday. Initially, I was doubtful this experiment would work. After one week, I believe this is a good training plan allowing me to keep my legs fresh for the long run. Is it something I would recommend to other aspiring marathon runners? I would say no because I'm self trained. Any training plans you research should be consulted by a trusting coach. Someday, I will invest time and money into one. Right now, my goal is to get another personal best at my third marathon coming up. I need to work on making stretching post run a habit more often. Right now, my goal is to be ready for Vermont City Marathon (Burlington) coming up in May. Wow, this update was longer than I anticipated. I will have more updates as the marathon approaches. Thank you for reading. Good luck to all runners on your upcoming races. Happy Running.


Monday, January 9, 2017

Fresh For 2017

Hope your new year is off to a good start. Mine is going pretty good so far. I got a gym membership last week for the YMCA. It's been challenging planning workouts but it helps with my daily preparation. Last week, I started marathon training for the 2017 season. I'm running four days a week now instead of three. I have really enjoyed running in residential neighborhoods because it is quiet and the traffic is very light.

My next marathon race is the Vermont City Marathon in Burlington. I love running races in New York but I want to take the opportunity to travel while I have a chance. Another race I plan on running in is in West Point for the Fallen Comrades Half Marathon. Right now, I'm still in the process of finding more races to run in this year.

That is currently what I have going on in the new year. Until next time.