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