Tag Archives: NJ

Newport 10k: Race Entry Giveaway! {closed}

UPDATE: The giveaway is closed! Thanks for entering, and congrats to Dori for winning! I’ll contact you with the details for how to register!

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As I mentioned in my post earlier this week, I have an awesome race entry giveaway for you!

For the last two years, I’ve posted about the Newport 10k in Jersey City and encouraged any of you local folks to join me. I didn’t run it two years ago thanks to my femoral stress reaction but I did run it last year and had a blast! So I was excited when they asked if I’d be a VIP blogger again this year, and even more excited that they offered an entry to one lucky blog reader!

Just like every year, there are a few key reasons why I think this race is so great:

  • It starts so close to home! That means I don’t need to take the PATH and subway and worry about travel plans just to get there like I do for most other races. And if even you don’t live IN Jersey City, it’s super easy to get to (you can take the PATH from NYC, or drive since there is ample parking).
  • It runs through my neighborhood. It runs down the street on the opposite side of a small park from my apartment. You can see my apartment as you run by!
  • It’s flat and has minimal turns, which means it’s fast.
  • The views! Yes, I live here and run in the park and along the water multiple times a week, but the views of the city skyline never get old.
  • I know a bunch of people that have run it in the past and sing its praises, which is good enough for me!

So, if you’re looking for a fast spring 10k, come run in Newport with me in May! You can enter to win a free entry below, but even if you aren’t chosen you should come run it with me anyway!

What: Newport 10K

When: Saturday, May 5th, 2018 at 8:30 a.m. (registration starts at 7am)

Where: Newport Town Square, 100 Town Square Pl, Jersey City, NJ 07310

Background: Known as the fastest course in the tri-state area, the Newport 10,000 is a 10K road race along the Hudson River waterfront in Jersey City’s community of Newport. Recreational and elite runners will have the opportunity to compete at the highest level for their share of $15,900 in prize money. The USA Track & Field-certified course is comprised of flat and local roads that interweave along the Hudson River Waterfront Walkway and provide spectacular views of the Manhattan skyline. Racers have access to four water stops during the race, as well as clocks at each mile.

Beneficiary: Proceeds will be donated to the Barnibas Health, Jersey City Medical Center, the area’s newest regional referral teaching hospital, providing the highest level of care for women and infants, and trauma and heart patients.

Distance: 10 kilometers (6.2 miles)

Registration fee: $30

Event Website: http://www.newport10k.com/

Seriously, come run with me! Or if you’re in the area, come out and cheer! If you want to enter to win a free race entry (that you have to redeem by April 14th), you can enter by leaving a comment to the question below, and I’ll pick a winner on Monday 3/26!

To enter, answer the following in a comment below: What’s your favorite race distance? And WHY?

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Race Recap: Greta’s Run 5k

I remember September 11th, 2002 just as clearly as I remember September 11th, 2001. The days were eerily similar – beautiful blue skies, light winds, and a perfect late summer/early fall day… and tragic. After a moment of silence outside on our high school’s front lawn for the first anniversary of September 11th, I went off to lunch. Our high school offered four lunch periods, 5th, 6th, 7th, or 8th… and I was lucky enough to have 5th (yes, I was hungry by 10:54am for lunch). After that I can’t remember what class I had, but I remember being in math class 7th period. That’s when our principal came over the loud speaker to let us know there had been an accident in the front of the school, and that everyone needed to stay put. Naturally we all began to panic. My classroom was towards the back of the school near some fields, and we just watched as police cars, fire trucks, and ambulances went racing by. It seemed like hours passed… and they did. Our teacher would get a phone call every so often with information, but she wouldn’t share much. Eventually though, we saw a helicopter land on the field out back, and a few stretchers go racing by.

I’d later learn that during 7th period, as students were sitting out front eating lunch, a gust of wind came along that was strong enough to knock a very large (dead) tree branch from it’s trunk. Under normal circumstances this wouldn’t have been an issue, as students wouldn’t have been in the front of the school at that time. However, construction prevented them from sitting in the courtyard, so the tables had been moved to the front. Unfortunately the giant tree branch fell on a group of students (mostly freshmen) eating lunch. Everyone recovered, except for Greta. Her injuries were too severe, and three days later she passed away. Our school was rocked to the core by this tragedy – how could a student, simply sitting outside eating her lunch during the first week of school, be killed? It just didn’t make sense. I had known the family from YMCA swimming, and was completely heartbroken for them. There were vigils, wakes, and the funeral that almost the entire student body attended. I know that I will vividly remember those days for the rest of my life.

But as it happens so often, out of tragedy comes something positive. Last year, one of my friends (and former CCD students) organized a 5k run in Westfield to raise funds for a program to serve adults with special needs, who typically age-out of programs as they get older. So while I wasn’t able to run last year, I made sure to mark it on my calendar early and register right away for this year. I knew that regardless of the outcome of my actual race that it was a cause I wanted to help support! But onto the actual race report…

The race didn’t start until 11am, so I had plenty of time to get a good night’s sleep and have my pre-race breakfast. My mom came with me to the race, and we were there with plenty of time to spare. I went for a quick warm-up, and lined myself up towards the front of the race. I started chatting with a fellow runner, who it turns out knows quite a few people I went to high school with! After some songs from the choir (that’s right, choir), it was time to run. Per the usual, I nearly tripped over a little boy who started in front of me and decided to stop about 50 yards past the start. Thankfully I didn’t fall (and I don’t think he did either). The first mile came relatively quickly (6:38) and I felt decent. I knew that if I could hold on to that pace, I’d PR. Of course by 1.5 miles I wanted to quit, but I knew I had to keep going. By the time I was halfway, I had picked off quite a few runners, including a handful of females. No one was saying anything, but based on what I could see ahead of me I knew I was either second or third. I slowed down a little during the second mile (6:45), but this portion also had the most “rolling hills.”

New PR! And 2nd Overall Female

New PR! And 2nd Overall Female

I told myself just to hang on the best I could for the third mile, and it was here that I heard someone yell “alright! Second female!” I had no idea how close the third place woman was, so I tried my hardest not to slow down. The course had a lot of turns but I think I managed to cut them all really well (Garmin actually read 3.1!). Once I turned by the middle school I knew we were almost done, so I tried my best to kick it up to “puke pace” … which turned out to be the same pace I ran the first mile in – go figure (6:38). I crossed the finish and saw that the girl I had been chatting with earlier, Erin, was the overall female winner! We grabbed some water and decided to do a cool-down together before heading back over the the finish area for the awards. It didn’t hit me until after I had finished that I ran a 20:35, which is actually just over a minute faster than the PR I set in July. Icing on the cake was my 2nd place female finish!

Kennedy approves of the medal

Kennedy approves of the medal

After the race my mom and I got Starbucks and a sandwich from my favorite bagel shop, and I made a trip to Trader Joe’s before heading home. It was really great to run a race that supported an important cause and was in honor of a really great girl. It was also fun to see a lot of familiar hometown faces and catch up with some people! This is definitely a race I’m going to keep on my calendar for every year.

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Virgil’s BBQ: Smoky Goodness

Last night a group of us headed into the city to have dinner at Virgil’s BBQ in Times Square. Feeling super touristy, we got the ultimate hit of that when we bought our round-trip NJ Transit tickets. For both my fiancé and I to travel from our train stop in Edison to New York Penn Station, we each paid $24.50. Yes, you read that correctly. Almost 50% more than we paid before the price increase (it was only about $17.50 before!). Needless to say, our trips to the city will be a little less frequent, and probably by car for the foreseeable future.

Despite that little road bump, we definitely enjoyed our dinner. We started off with some hush puppies for the table which were AMAZING. I typically see hush puppies in a ball-like form, but these looked more like mozzarella sticks. They were served with a maple-syrup butter, and I had to use serious restraint not to eat the entire plate. Unfortunately, they were super filling, leaving me little room for my actual meal. As for drinks, they have a lot to offer in terms of beer, wine, margaritas, and mixed drinks. My fiance and I went for their beer flight of Magic Hat (Circus Boy, #9, and Virgil’s), while others got the “June Bug” mixed drink, lemonade, and root beer.

Hush Puppies with Maple Butter

As always, I spent some time prior to our trip familiarizing myself with their menu. It’s weird, I know, but I like to think by previewing the menu beforehand, my decision making is made easier once at the actual restaurant. I decided on the Fish Fry, which was actually their special for the day; it had calamari, scallops, shrimp, monk fish and cod served with homemade waffle chips, cornbread, and two types of creamy tartar sauce. It was really good, but I barely made a dent in it! My fiance went with the two meat combo of Memphis spare ribs and Texas brisket and two sides of macaroni and cheese and mashed potatoes. Some of our other table mates had the barbeque chicken, smoked ham, fried chicken po’boy, and the “pig out” which came with a little bit of everything – bbq chicken, Texas link, ribs, brisket, and two sides!

Fish fry with homemade waffle chips

I don’t think there was much conversation during, or even after our meal – everyone loved everything, and they were STUFFED! We had little room or motivation for anything afterwards, so we wound up heading back home, feeling old and lame.

Two meat combo of ribs & brisket w. mac&cheese and mashed potatoes

I have to be honest that I was a bit worried prior to the trip. Everyone aside from me had been there before, but I had an inkling that based on it’s location (46th St. right across from the giant Toys R Us in Times Square) that it was going to be gimmicky, and really over priced. Turns out that I was almost completely wrong. Yes, it was somewhat expensive, but we got A TON of food, and it definitely wasn’t gimmicky like I expected. So, I would absolutely go back. But this time, I’d get something that was in one of their 1400lb capacity smoker!

Barbeque chicken

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Rita’s Tour – The 2010 Edition

This past Saturday was the first day of Spring. So, as they do every year, Rita’s gave out free 10oz servings of their famed ice all day. Being a bunch of gluttonous children, my fiancé (you can read his tour round-up here) and a group of friends and I decided upon the ultimate task – 10 Rita’s in one day, a new flavor at each location.

Last year, the group made it to about five locations in only a few hours (it was a Friday so needed to be done after work). Knowing that this year it fell on a Saturday with a gorgeous forecast, we got cocky. About a week prior to the event, a few different e-mails were exchanged with maps of potential stops. It included a trip to Stuff Yer Face in New Brunswick for ‘bolis, and a detour to look at a potential wedding venue. We also stumbled upon a Cupcake joint, Sugar Mommy’s Cupcakes, that I’ll detail in a separate blog entry.

After starting our trip at about 12:30pm and devouring our ices at about 1, we then spent the next 8 hours driving to various Rita’s Ice locations in New Jersey. We made stops in Bridgewater, Somerville, Flanders, Denville, Berkeley Heights, Westfield, Plainfield, and finally Edison. We searched for a Rita’s in Morristown that no longer exists, and ran out of time before heading to Milltown. But at any rate, I sampled eight different ice flavors, preparing me for the season ahead. They included Alex’s Lemonade, Green Apple, Florida Orange, Sugar Free Cherry, Wild Black Cherry, Coconut, Pistachio, and their newest edition – Peeps. Oh yes, you read correctly – Peeps flavored ice! As in the little bird shaped marshmallows that are covered in sugar, usually found in Easter baskets. It tasted nothing like Peeps, but more like birthday cake, which I was more than okay with. It’s neon yellow color was another selling point.

I really liked all of the flavors. But, I think Alex’s Lemonade and the Coconut were my favorites. I think the only ice I wouldn’t order again would have been the Wild Black Cherry. That was definitely sub-par, and had more of a grape flavor than anything else. The Peeps was also super-sweet, so that would have to be consumed sparingly.

By about stop 5, we were all looking for food. The mere thought of devouring ‘bolis at Stuff Yer Face is what I think kept us going. So, we decided to head there after our 7th stop. When we finally got to the restaurant, we made no qualms about our purpose. We didn’t get drink wristbands, and ordered water and an appetizer almost as soon as we sat. After surviving on water ice for almost 7 hours, we needed solid food, quickly. We all dug in to our hot wings and onion rings as soon as they were brought out, and anxiously awaited the arrival of our stromboli. The restaurant has a lot to offer; there are pre-suggested combinations, and also a “create your own.” My fiancé always orders the same create your own, and after trying it, follow suit. It has mozzarella cheese, chicken, buffalo sauce, onions, and broccoli. It is absolutely amazing.

After realizing the time, we knew we’d only have time for one more Rita’s, since they close at 9pm. We headed to the one nearest to where we live, and waited in one last line. By the time we got our ice it was 9:15, and the line showed no chance of stopping.

I woke up today feeling great. Sure, I might have been a little sugar hungover, but I managed to run 7.5 miles (longest single run logged yet!) and I could absolutely eat another Rita’s Ice right now, preferably a Gelati. I’m so excited that ice and ice cream season is finally here. I’m looking forward to more outdoors frozen treat devouring, and saying goodbye to eating it while hiding under a blanket indoors.

All in all, our group (4 people) went to 8 locations, and sampled 20 flavors. Pretty impressive, if I do say so myself! I hope Rita’s is ready for next year, because we’ll be back – bigger and badder than ever!

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Deliciousness in Downtown Westfield: Xocolatz

To celebrate my Mom’s birthday, and also our engagement, my fiance (I’m so excited to get to say that now!) and I joined my family in Westfield for brunch this past Sunday. We went to my family’s favorite restaurant, Xocolatz.

Most restaurants can be classified into different categories; based on food, overall vibe, type of restaurant, or other factors. Every so often, however, there are restaurants that don’t fit a particular mold. Xocolatz in is one of those places.

The restaurant itself is adorned with historic pictures of Westfield as well as other cute and spunky décor, like a placard letting patrons know that if their children run rampant, they’ll be served espresso and promised a pony.

Serving breakfast, lunch, dinner, and brunch on Sundays, the restaurant is always crowded. Reservations are recommended, but despite the crowd, you never wait long. Because it’s such a local favorite, it isn’t quiet and intimate; it’s bustling and bright.

The waiters and waitresses all wear black and don’t write down your orders. Although they don’t have a paper and pen crutch, the waiters and waitresses seem to be spot-on. Your orders are served in a timely manner and are always correct, and they’re quick to make sure your beverages are at a comfortable level.

The ambiance is great, but the stand-outs are their dishes, as the menu is expansive for a small to mid sized restaurant. Often times restaurants that boast larger menus have mediocre food; a jack of all trades but a master of none, if you will. This isn’t the case with Xocolatz. While their menu isn’t pages long, the different types of food that are offered really do have something for everyone. The dishes often combine a Spanish flair (fried plantains, chili, etc.) but they also have other favorites including daily quiches, quesadillas, chicken parmigana sandwiches, tropical hamburgers, seafood dishes, and daily specials. The specials rarely repeat, and you can count on something new and exciting every time.

The food itself is extremely fresh; the salsa tastes like the tomatoes and onions were just cut and combined, the bread tastes freshly baked, and seafood dishes are far from “fishy.” The combinations are different, so don’t be afraid to try something new!

They serve a special brunch menu on Sundays, and while they’re BYOB, if you bring the champagne, they’ll provide the orange juice for mimosas. And though you might be dining at the restaurant during their specified brunch hours (11am to 3pm), you can always order off of their lunch menu if brunch isn’t your thing. Since they are open Monday thru Sunday, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to try everything!

While we were there, I went for the Oaxaca breakfast burrito, filled with chili, onions, peppers, cheese and eggs. It was served with a simple green salad and avocado. It was absolutely delicious! My fiance, also an avid Mexican/Spanish food lover, went with the Tex-Mex omlette, so we could share. The omlette was stuffed with onions and peppers, cheese, and jalepenos.  The omlette was served with breakfast potatoes and toast. Each of the dishes were served with some sliced fresh fruit as well. The other notable dish ordered by our group was my mom’s dish. She ordered savory crepes that were stuffed with onions, goat cheese, and spinach with eggs served over them.

Everything we ordered was absolutely delicious. I’ve had brunch, lunch, and dinner at Xocolatz and have been extremely impressed every time.

Check out the delicious nomz below, and head over to their site to look at the menu and their daily specials. If you’re in the area, definitely go!!

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Holiday Meals

In the spirit of the season, a group of friends organized a Holiday dinner this past Friday at a local martini bar that happens to have an extremely interesting, and delicious menu.

Located in New Brunswick, Clydz is a happy hour favorite, but also serves some very interesting food choices. For our meal, we were able to choose from four menu options, and it came with a salad and dessert. Our options were Oven roasted Giannone chicken with a grilled portabella mushroom, asparagus and red onion potato gratin, Venison flank steak with rattlesnake-rabbit sausage, garlic whipped potato and French beans, Charred Berkshire pork tenderloin with herb spaetzle, braised greens and whiskey-maple glaze, or Holland pepper stuffed with roasted wild mushrooms, organic tomatoes, basmati rice and Boston lettuce salad.

Originally, I was trying to decide between the Holland Pepper, or Oven roasted Giannone Chicken. However, after the firsts half of the table ordered, and I am pretty sure everyone got the Venison, I decided to be daring. Since my boyfriend and I enjoy pretty much all the same food and we’re not afraid to share, we decided to get the pork and venison to split.

All I can say about my meal: wow. I’ve never had venison, rattlesnake, or rabbit before, pretty much because I completely refused. The thought of it still bothers me a bit, but it was SO good! The venison was super thin, tender, and moist without being stringy or chewy (which I was afraid of). It was cooked medium, and was absolutely perfect. It tasted like a regular steak! The rattlesnake and rabbit sausage was definitely a new flavor. It had an interesting spice to it, but it was also awesome. As a true Irish girl would, I also devoured all of my garlic whipped potatoes, and green beans.

I’m not a big pork fan either, but my boyfriend’s pork was equally impressive. It was tender, and had just the right amount of seasoning to go along with it. The spaetzle, however, was sub-par. One of my friends likened it to charred cardboard. The braised greens were a little too charred for my liking as well. But the pork itself was absolutely delicious!

We washed down our meals with some Cabernet and Merlot, and then moved on to dessert. The dessert menu was just as impressive as the dinner course; three types of gelato or sorbet, bittersweet chocolate truffle cake, pumpkin cheesecake, and creme brulee just to name a few! I went with the bittersweet chocolate truffle cake, of course, and it was amazing. My boyfriend got vanilla gelato with espresso drizzled over the top; also really good – just like coffee ice cream!

Needless to say I was stuffed by the end of the night, and didn’t make it much longer when we moved on to a bar down the street. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to take any pictures of my food because the lighting was super dark in the restaurant. But, trust me when I say it was all phenomenal! There wasn’t an unsatisfied member of my party, and most of the actual dinner was in silence, because everyone was in awe of their food and enjoying every bite!

So, if you’re in the New Brunswick, NJ area, and are looking to try something different and have a few cocktails along the way, I definitely suggest checking out Clydz!

I’m definitely looking forward to the rest of my holiday eating! Now it’s off to make some cupcakes for tonight’s Festivus party 🙂

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