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The Boulevard Diner (North Bergen)

The Boulevard Diner (North Bergen)

After the Irish Festival 5k last month, I found myself hungry in North Bergen.  Going to diners on the weekend can be hit or miss regarding how busy they are, especially in North Bergen.  When I arrived around 11:00, every table but one was taken.  Perfect! By the time I left, around noon it was much less crowded.

Atmosphere: A
The Boulevard Diner is everything you expect in a diner. The outside is modern, while the inside has plenty of booths, tables, and a full-length bar.  There is also an alcohol bar which is more common in North Jersey than south.

The boulevard diner north bergen nj

Coffee: B
The coffee was brewed hot and fresh, and the waitress brought a few refills.  There was nothing to write home about, but it was good coffee.  Not that I should have drunk as much as I did since I was on a road trip.

The boulevard diner north bergen nj

Food: A
There is everything you can imagine at the Boulevard Diner.  There are plenty of breakfast options, as well as healthy lunch options, and of course dinners such as seafood and steak.  As usual, after a road race, I tend to be somewhat hungry.  I decided to order the steak and eggs.  Sometimes diner steak is awful, and sometimes it’s good.

Luckily this was not only good but the best diner steak I’ve personally had.  The portion for a breakfast steak was also huge!  It was cooked medium rare as requested with two over easy eggs.  It was definitely one of the best breakfasts I’ve had in a while.

The boulevard diner north bergen nj

Service: A
For how busy the Boulevard Diner was, our waitress was very attentive and friendly.  Our food came out extremely fast as well.

Price: $
For my steak and eggs and coffee, the cost was $18.

Overall Thoughts/ Would I Come Back?
I enjoyed the Boulevard Diner a lot, and it was definitely one of the better diners I’ve been too.

Atmosphere: A
Coffee: B
Food: A
Service: A
Price: $10-20
Overall: A

You can see all 199 diners here. 

The 200th NJ review and a look back at diners both come next week! 

Questions for you:
Do you have any questions, topics you would like to see in the Diner Awards post?  (like favorite breakfast, worse food, etc).  Let me know!
What is your favorite way to eat eggs?

 

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The Chestnut Diner and Bistro (Vineland)

The Chestnut Diner and Bistro (Vineland)

The Chestnut Diner and Bistro has been on my to-do list for a long time.  It’s less than an hour from my house, but it’s deep into the South of New Jersey, so it’s not on the way too much.  I decided to go on a hike around Maurice River, so it seemed like the perfect opportunity to go.

Atmosphere: B
When I arrived around 10:30 on a Saturday, it was packed.  In fact, it was one of the few diners I’ve actually had to wait for a table.  It wasn’t a big deal, and I got one within 5 minutes.  There is outdoor seating, and the inside is one big room with booths, tables, and a full-length bar.  It’s not a big, stereotypical diner but a nice one.

Chestnut Diner and Bistro vineland

Coffee: A
The waitress put more whipped cream on the coffee than actual coffee.  It wasn’t a bad thing, and I gladly took it all.  The coffee itself was great too.  As far as diner coffees go, it was definitely one of the best.

Chestnut Diner and Bistro vineland

Food: A
The Chestnut Diner and Bistro has a lot of unique options.  They also have both vegetarian and vegan options which can be tough to find in a diner.  The pear and spinach salad sounded good to me, but I decided to make a last minute decision for the New York Omelet.  The omelet was cooked well.  The New York omelet was filled with applewood smoked bacon, mushrooms, ham, and Swiss.  I enjoyed it and one of the better breakfasts I’ve had.

Chestnut Diner and Bistro vineland

Service: A
Even though the Chestnut Diner was busy, our waitress was attentive and brought out drink refills.  The food also came out surprisingly quickly.  In fact, I’ve been to places with only a few parties that have come back slower.

Cost: $
For my omelet and coffee, the cost was $11.

Overall Thoughts/Summary:
I liked the Chestnut Diner and Bistro and it’s one of my favorite diners down in that area.  If you ever find yourself in the Vineland area, I would definitely go.

Atmosphere B
Coffee; A
Food: A
Service: A
Cost: $8-12
Overall: A

You can see all 198 diners I’ve reviewed here.

Questions for you:
What is your favorite breakfast?
Do you like omelets?

Copper Mountain 25k (2:58)

Copper Mountain 25k (2:58)

This is going to be one of my lengthiest race recaps, so don’t say I didn’t warn you!  Before running the UnderArmour Running Series at Copper Mountain, I had no idea what to expect.

While I have run one trail race in NJ, it didn’t have the same climb and elevation changes that races out west do.  I had not run a trail race out west, and I had never raced at anything above 7000 feet of elevation.  I went into the race with zero expectations but finishing.  I could have finished in 2 hours or 4:29 minutes and felt good about it.  In short, I exceeded all expectations for the race including my time and experience.

Due to the length of the recap, I’ve broken it up a little bit.

Before the Race:

Before the race, I fueled as if I was running a marathon.  I knew I would be running for several hours with extreme climbs, so I knew I needed to get as much fuel as possible.  There were several food places available at Copper Mountain, my favorite being the Ten Mile Tavern.

The 25k started at 7:30 am.  Around 7 am, I realized I couldn’t get my Nathan Hydration Pack open.  I had opened it back home to make myself familiar with it.  After basically attacking Sarah to help me, I went over the Fleetfeet Rochester guys, and they were able to open.  Since the pack had gone from 0 elevation to 9000 quickly, the vacuum seal was shut entirely.  After that situation was thankfully fixed (in writing it sounds like I’m calmer than I was), I was ready to go.

Even though there were 5 aid stations, I opted to bring my own water.  I was 100% happy that I did, and if I raced again, I would choose the exact same one.

The Race:

After chatting with Jill at the start, we were off.  I started towards the back, and in hindsight, I could have probably started a few rows up.  The first mile was my slowest because we were so boxed in. I felt like I could move faster than I was but the number of people made it difficult. I logged a 15:10 first mile and I was happy with it.  I was winded, but also I knew it was faster than the pace I needed to make the cutoff.

under armour copper mountain race me running

The next mile was a long incline.  It wasn’t steep, but it was narrow and singletrack.  I kept plugging along with nothing of note except the crowds had begun to spread out.  I was still with a relatively large group of people which kept me motivated.  I wasn’t in it alone.

Around mile 2, began one of the hardest inclines I’ve run.  Not the hardest, because that comes later on.  The switchbacks were steep, and I could see rows and rows of people higher than me climbing.  It made me mentally question, what am I doing?  I have all of that to go.  What kept me together was the people around me.  I was neither the first nor the last.  I was a solid midpack person.  Seeing others going through the same thing made me feel more motivated.  I didn’t feel like I was climbing a mountain alone.

We climbed, and every time I felt I needed water, I sipped some from my pack.  I was thankful for the hydration pack, and if I run the race again, I’ll use the same one.  I ended up drinking all of my water in the pack.  My calves were tired, and for a few brief moments, I thought about walking.  I didn’t, but it crossed my mind.

under armour copper mountain race me running

Around mile 4, I took my first gel.  It was just under an hour, and I planned to take a gel every hour.  I don’t have a flavor preference, and honestly, my stomach can handle any flavor/brand the tasteless being my least favorite…but it will go down).

The switchbacks were done, and we began climbing a fire road.  People spread out, and I had my own space.  It flattened for a brief moment, and people flew by me like I was standing still. With my running college nickname, Mac truck Hollie, I went the same speed.  (Mac truck because I go one speed uphill, downhill, and on flat surfaces).  I knew the climb was not over.

We climbed for a while and then I saw a sign that said: “stay to the left”.  Suddenly, I saw racers coming down the opposite side.  Many had the 50k bib, but a few had 25k too.  They were a few miles in front and had already reached the peak.

Mile 6 and 7 were rough.  You were climbing and watching racers ease down the downhill faster and with less effort. I knew they had already put in the work to get there. I just kept plugging along and staring out over the mountains.  It was beautiful, and I could see for miles.

Finally, after a couple of 12-minute miles, I reached the top.  The energy at the top was unreal.  People cheering, Taylor Swift playing, and a table of cookies, gels, Gus, Powerade, and Red Bull.  I grabbed another GU and Red Bull.  I took in the view for a second and just stared out while drinking my red bull.

under armour copper mountain race me running

I had never had Red Bull while running but I decided since half of everything I was doing was new anyway to just go with it (new shoes, new hydration pack, new elevation, new race terrain…).

Downhill Until it’s Uphill:

Then I began the long stretch downhill.  I’m not a great downhill runner.  In fact, downhill is a very weak point on mine.  I am clumsy and injury prone while running downhill, so I take my time. Many people passed me downhill which was fine.  I didn’t care.

The next few miles were all downhill.  In my mind I thought, is this it?  Are we done climbing?  The hardest is done.  I was logging around 10 min miles and cruising. For the next few miles, I ran alone and enjoyed it.  Just me, running downhill, on an open fire road. I found some secluded woods and quickly used the restroom.

For the next few miles, we kept going down and mentally I had checked out of climbing anything else.  Which is unfortunate because around 10 miles we crossed paths with racers who were climbing.  It was a mix of bibs and I asked someone climbing if we were going that way.  He said yes, and it wasn’t the only climb.

All of a sudden, a racer going another way said: Whoa, are you Tim’s wife?  I said yes, and it turns out one of his college skiing teammates was running the race too.  We caught up after the race which was neat…you never know who you’ll see on the mountain.  Seeing someone, I knew gave me a second wind.

under armour copper mountain race me running

Once we reached the bottom, ready to go up, I knew I was about get served a piece of humble pie.  We dipped to a point and with a water stop.  I grabbed Powerade and began on the first incline.  The include lasted about half a mile, but it was grueling.  My calves were screaming at me, but I was passing people.  I thought to myself, I must really be stronger in the uphills.  I climbed, and my run became more of a cross between a short stride and hike.  I was still moving about the same pace, but I think I could contend for race walking.

We reached the top, circled around and went right back down.  The same racers I passed, passed me.  Someone called out, yeah Jersey.  I asked where he was from and he said Denver…so I said yeah, Denver (clever I know).

After the downhill, we went right back to the uphill which honestly didn’t seem as bad as the earlier uphill.  Maybe I was more mentally prepared, but I powered up and passed the same people who passed me going downhill.  I knew we had to go downhill for a few more miles so I knew they would all drop me later (which to no surprise, they did).

Technical Downhill is Hard:

Around mile 12, we started the technical downhill.  Out of everything, it was my absolute least favorite part. Not because I thought it was a bad course design, but because both downhill and technical trails are my weakness.  Together, at the end of the race was grueling.

I had to pay attention to every place my feet landed for the next 2 miles and it made me slower, less efficient, and worried.  I didn’t want to roll an ankle or fall.  I didn’t care though, my goal was to finish not to run fast and hurt myself because I wasn’t paying attention.

I was extremely fortunate there was no one really around me for almost a mile. I was able to take my time without getting into other racers way.

Around mile 14, a man came barreling through and almost ran into me.  We ended up climbing up a short incline to the fire road and going down.  He quickly ran by me on the wide open road.  From there, I knew I had about a mile and a half.  Just 1.5 miles to go.  I told myself, half of a 5k and a downhill 5k at that.  My quads had started cramping, and my IT band was singing me a sweet hate song.  I wasn’t injured, but 7+ miles of downhill made it tighten up.

The final mile headed into more single track downhill, and we popped out.  I looked down, and I could see the village.  I could see the finish line. OMG, I’m doing it.  I kept staring at this surreal finish line.  Then I crossed, and it was done.

under armour copper mountain race me running

Post Race:

I grabbed a couple of bananas, chatted with people, and then went up to my hotel room for a while.  I felt proud and accomplished.  I enjoyed my first big trail race and it could not have gone better.  Under Armour did a great job and I liked the course a lot. Looking forward, I’m not married to trail running, I just like to run.  I am thinking I’ll do the Under Amour Killington Race as well.  I’ve heard while the elevation is lower, it’s much more technical.  Like anything in my life, I can’t plan too much until closer but I would like to do it if my schedule allows!

Questions for you:

What is the hardest race you’ve ever done?

Have you ever done a trail race?

Brooks Glycerin 16 Shoe Review

Brooks Glycerin 16 Shoe Review

For the past few versions, the Brooks Glycerin has been one of my favorite shoes.  It’s soft, neutral, and like a sponge underneath your feet.  If you’re looking for daily training with a lot of cushion, then the Glyercin is a great choice.

When the Brooks Glycerin 16 came out, I knew I wanted to try it sooner rather than later. After going through a few pairs of running shoes, I decided it was time to replace mine.  Keep in mind, I’m not associated with Brooks in any way.  I work in a running specialty store and like shoes.  Also what works for me, might not work for you so take every shoe review (including mine) with a grain of salt.

Brooks Glycerin 16 Shoe Review

So What Updates are there?

Fit:

As with most running shoes, especially Brooks, most of the upper is now seamless.  It accommodates wider feet, bunions, and just more feet in general.  Seamless toe boxes allow companies to fix as many feet as possible. I wear a 10-11, and the 10.5 regular widths have been excellent for me.

The upper is a double mesh that is both breathable and stretches to adapt to movement.  Your feet don’t feel constricted (not that they ever should in a running shoe).  If your feet tend to overheat quickly, this breathability will allow for more airflow.

Brooks Glycerin 16 Shoe Review

The Ride:

More Cushion

Or as I say to customers that come into the running store, more cushion for the pushing.  The biggest update for the new Glycerin is the addition of the DNA Loft Cushion.  What does that mean?  Why does it matter?

DNA Loft Cushion is a combination of the Brooks signature material.  It’s a mix of their signature cushion: DNA foam, as well as air and rubber.  This provides a soft feeling while still responsive and “poppy”. Slightly Different from the Hoka Clifton, that is just soft all the way around.  The ride itself feels smoother.  You won’t feel like you’re clunking around in a high cushioned shoe.

Conclusion:

I liked the Brooks Glycerin 15, and I like the Brooks Glycerin 16 just as much.  I don’t feel “too different” in the shoe, and for the past few years, it’s been a reliable shoe in my rotation.  I typically wear it in daily runs and occasionally for warming up or cooling down at a race too.

Current Shoe Rotation:

Daily Runs: Brooks Glycerin 16, Diadora Fly, New Balance 1080, Hoka Clifton 5

Workouts: New Balance 1400, Nike LT Racer

Races: Nike LT Racer, Nike Fly

(as you can see, I have a few reviews to work on, but I always wait until I have at least 100 miles on shoes)

Questions for you:

What is your current favorite shoe?

What is a shoe you’ve had in your rotation?

Hiking High Mountain with a View of NYC

Hiking High Mountain with a View of NYC

Recently, I took a short trip to Passaic County in North Jersey.  While in town for the day, I decided to hike a short trail at High Mountain in Passaic County. Even though it was cloudy, there was a faint view of NYC.

I was surprised by how quiet the trails were in the middle of the populated area.  In fact, I didn’t hear any car traffic and only saw two people on the neighboring golf course at the very end.  (That’s right, no one on the trail!).  There are a few loops you can do and you can get a hike of about 6 miles if you desire.

I will say, there are sections of trail that can get muddy after heavy rainfall and I was glad I had my Goretex (waterproof) Brooks Cascadia.

While the trails are well marked, finding the path in the beginning was tough.  It starts right near the traffic circle.  Once you get on the trail, it’s easy to follow.

In order to see the NYC skyline, the hike is only about 1.6 miles.  It’s somewhat steep but nothing rigorous. Once you get to the top, you can see a great view, but you can also stand on the rock nearby and get an even better view.  It was cloudy when I went so I didn’t have a picture-perfect view.

Here are a few photos:

Here is the start from the traffic circle.  Since there is no “trailhead”, if you can’t find it just walk around the entire traffic circle.

High mountain passaic county nyc

Hiking High Mountain with a View of NYC

Even had some deer spotting

Hiking High Mountain with a View of NYC

Overturned tree

Hiking High Mountain with a View of NYC

Hiking High Mountain with a View of NYC

View of NYC

Hiking High Mountain with a View of NYC

Neighboring Golf Course where I saw the only people of the trek.
Hiking High Mountain with a View of NYC

In all, if you’re looking for a local hike with a good view of NYC, High Mountain in Passaic County is a good one.

I had a great time and would definitely go back.  Hopefully when it’s a little bit more clear!  It’s great if you are looking for something with a view, or even with pets, or kids.

Here are other hikes I’ve done this Spring and Summer:

Hiking Turkey Swamp in Freehold
Exploring Cattus Island in Toms River
Exploring Hartshorne Park in the Highlands
Hiking to the Cape May Lighthouse
Hiking Bear Mountain in a Downpour
Hiking through Belleplain State Forest

You can see all hikes here.

Questions for you:

Have you ever hiked with a view of a City?

What is your favorite hiking shoe?

Training Last Week: Working and Running at 12000 Feet

Training Last Week: Working and Running at 12000 Feet

So much to unpack from last week and weekend.  To say it was one of the best weekends I’ve had in awhile is an understatement.  I don’t even know where to start.  Training last week was good.  Even though I positive split like a boss, I had a decent “first workout back,”,  Then as most people know, over the weekend I ran the hardest running race I’ve done.  Can’t get much better than that!

Monday: 20 minutes easy
Tuesday: 60 minutes easy
Wednesday: 12X400 road/90 seconds rest (average 6:10)
Thursday: Am 30 minutes easy/PM: 2 miles Colorado
Friday: 45 minutes easy Colorado
Saturday: UnderArmour Copper Mountain Trail 25k (2:58)
Sunday: Rest and travel home

Thoughts:

There isn’t much to unpack there.  All of my runs were just that, easy.  I don’t have too much exciting about them because there wasn’t too much excitement that happened.  I ran easy.  My easy 2 miles in Colorado was a 2 mile (26-minute run) through the trails we were going to be running.  Running those miles, made me wonder, how the heck I would finish the trail race.

Took me about 26 minutes to run 2 miles but the view was worth it.

A post shared by Hollie (@fueledbylolz) on

12X400 Workout:

The workout started well, and the first 6 averaged around 6 minute pace.  The second 6, however, just felt like a brick hit me and I couldn’t get my feet to move any faster.  I didn’t hurt injury-wise, but it was a reality check that I haven’t been doing speed the last few months so I won’t go as fast as when I was.  The second 6 averaged about 6:20 which with some work I hope I can progress faster than that again.

Copper Mountain Trail Race (2:58)

The Copper Mountain Trail Race was one of the best races I could hope for. I was running an intense trail race in Colorado, something I’ve never done, at an altitude I’ve never done.  I haven’t felt that nervous for a race since my first marathon, the NYCM.  I had no idea what to expect, and my only goal was to finish.  Making it to the top, I didn’t feel sick at 12000 feet of altitude, but to be honest, I think it’s because I hydrated well and took my time.  My slowest miles were definitely in the beginning.  They weren’t the hardest climbs, but I didn’t want to take it too fast.

The hardest parts (for me) were actually the technical downhill climbs towards the bottom.  Because I run (and walk) on my toes, my calves are far stronger than other areas of my legs.  I got passed by far more people on the downhill (maybe about 10 or so?).  I am very proud of my finish.  I had no idea what to expect and had zero expectations.  I could have finished in 4:29 (the cut off was 4:30) or the time I did and feel happy about it.  I’ll have a full recap soon.

The next week will be a lot of TLC.  I would like to get in a workout, I will be traveling again for a big family big birthday.  Probably no races next weekend, as I am going to the Taylor Swift concert ha!

Posts from the Week:

Today is My Birthday

Hiking Indian Wells State Park

Questions for you:

What has been your hardest race to date?

What is the highest elevation you’ve ever run? 

Parthenon Diner (Branford, CT)

Parthenon Diner (Branford, CT)

On the way home from Rhode Island last month, we decided to stop at the Parthenon Diner in Branford, CT.  It was an easy stop less than half a mile from the highway, so it made sense.  After eating out all weekend, we wanted something easy, simple, and light.  I didn’t do much of any research and saw the Parthenon Diner was right off the highway.

Atmosphere: B
When we arrived, we saw it was reviewed as one of the top diners in CT.  The atmosphere is big with plenty of space.  There is nothing out of the ordinary, but it does have plenty of room, so you never feel as though you’re sitting on top of anyone.

Coffee: B
The coffee was good, and I have no complaints.  It was definitely stereotypical diner coffee and slightly burnt.

parthenon diner branford ct

Food: B
There are plenty of options at the Parthenon Diner.  One thing, I appreciated was the number of specials. When you eat out for several days in a row, saving money at restaurants seems like a bigger deal.  I ordered the beet and goat cheese salad with steak off of the specials menu.  There were plenty of beets and goat cheese, but it could have used a few more greens.  The steak was that of normal diners.  It tasted as if it had been frozen and recooked.  It wasn’t bad though, and I would order it again.parthenon diner branford ct

Service: C
Our waitress took a while to come to our table, and we quickly realized it was because she was on her smoke break.  She was friendly but definitely smelled very strongly of cigarettes.  From what I can gather based on timing, she went on a smoke break a couple of times.

Cost: $
For my salad and coffee, the coast was $15.

Overall Thoughts/Summary:
I liked the Parthenon Diner and would go back.  It’s an easy stop right off of 95.

Atmosphere; B
Coffee: B
Food: B
Service: C
Cost: $10-20
Overall: B

You Can See All Diner Reviews Here.

Questions for you:
Do you ever order off of the specials menu?
Do you like beets?

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