Sides Diner and Grill (Long Branch)

Sides Diner and Grill (Long Branch)

Before exploring Sandy Hook, I decided to stop at Sides Diner.  Sides Diner is a relatively new diner down the shore, so I was looking forward to trying it.

Atmosphere: A
Sides Diner is located in Long Branch right near Red Bank. It’s located on the main road in a stand-alone building.

sides diner and grill long branch

The inside is a small modern looking diner. It has a full-length bar, a few booths, and tables.

One thing I must include is that the bathrooms were one of the most well kept of any restaurant I’ve been too.

Coffee: A
The coffee was brewed hot and fresh. The waitress refilled it often, and I have no complaints.

sides diner and grill long branch

Food: A
Sides Diner has a lot more healthy options than many diners. There are kale salads, plenty of sandwiches, along with the standard breakfast and lunch options. Sides are only open until 4 pm, so there aren’t dinner options.

I decided to order the French onion soup. It came out quickly and had plenty of onions as well as a thick layer of cheese on top. It was delicious.

sides diner and grill long branch

I was craving a gyro, so I ordered a beef gyro. It came with French fries. The Gyro was good. It was nothing extraordinary but it tasted good.  I will never learn my lesson that gyros are not easy to eat.

sides diner and grill long branch

Service: A
The server was friendly, and the food came out quickly. I have no complaints.

Cost: $
For my soup, gyro, and coffee, the coffee was $18.

Overall Thoughts/Would I come back?
I really liked Sides Diner, and if I’m in the area, I’ll be back.

Atmosphere: A
Coffee: A
Food: A
Service: A
Cost: $8-15
Overall: A

You can see all 220 diner reviews here.

Questions for you:
What’s your favorite soup?

Race 13.1 Baltimore (1:30.58)

Race 13.1 Baltimore (1:30.58)

I’ve been trying to gather my thoughts about the Race 13.1 in Baltimore. I made the decision to race only a few days before. It’s not the first time I’ve decided to race a half right before and I figured it would be a good workout.

We drove down the night before and got to Baltimore around 9 pm. I couldn’t fall asleep and since the race started at an early 7 am, the alarm clock at 4:45 wasn’t welcomed. There have only been a few times an alarm clock has jolted me awake, and of course race day was one of them. On race morning, it was one of a few things that went wrong.

I got ready and on our way our for coffee, the hotel door lock mechanism wasn’t working, so we got locked out of our room. I had things I could race with so instead of wasting time with that situation, we just went over.

Then race packet pickup took over 30 minutes.  That wasn’t too big of a deal, because I had no plans to warm up anyway.

Because of the packet pickup, the race was delayed, and I stood at the start freezing. When the race finally started, I was stiff, tired, and running 13.1 miles was the last thing I wanted to do. I reminded myself the race was a workout to get towards fitness. I’m far away from running another 1:22, but every PR starts somewhere.

As we were off, I settled in with a few high school kids. The race went out past a bagel shop, and helicopter pad did a 180 turn around .75 in. I hit the first mile in 6:37 which was relatively shocking.  That is faster than one of my miles last 5k.

As we rounded another turn, we saw the 5k/10k off, and I saw my husband. I started to settle into a groove and hit the second mile in 6:47.  That was better, but I struggled to get into a groove.

We went around the Harbor on a very narrow path. I could have easily fallen into the Harbor, and the number of turns on the waterfront made it impossible to get any momentum.  I surprised myself and consistently ran around 6:40.

Then we merged with the 5k and 10kers who were mostly walking. It was an extremely unpleasant and dangerous situation for everyone. The half marathoners were forced to weave around 5k/10kers who were walking or walking 2+ across. I watched as two people collided (both were fine).

None of the half marathoners were able to get water or Gatorade at the stop, because of crowding. Sure, I could have stopped and waited for water, but I didn’t.

Around the water stop, there was a direction for 10k/13.1 to go one way, and 5k to go another. It seemed like they needed a few more volunteers there because many people went the wrong way. Following the crowd didn’t “cut it” because the crowd was so large.

me running race 13.1 baltimore

After that, the race spread out because it was just the 10k and half.  We ran straight through Baltimore and then around the Harbor.  On the roads, I was maintaining between 6:40-6:45 mile and on the harbor pier, I was maintaining about 6:50. I was pleased because my body didn’t feel that great.

I needed to pass a few 10kers on the Harbor Pier. The path was narrow, and as I tried to pass, I slipped on the slick Harbor Pier. While I was able to catch myself and not fall, I became worried I had strained something (I strained my quad a long time ago, running on a slick surface).  Luckily, it was nothing.

I passed the halfway point in 44:20.  I was surprised but happy. I thought, wow I could break 1:30 again today.  Clearly, that didn’t happen.

The second half of the race got much rougher for me. Mentally, I wasn’t into it.  Mile 7 felt as though it took forever.  I saw the leaders coming back towards me. I saw the first guy and decided to see how far ahead he was. I watched my clock, and he was almost 3 minutes ahead of all racers.

Around mile 8, we did a 180 around the Under Armour Headquarters to head back. I’ve always wanted to see the Under Armour building and it was massive. The next few miles, I just focused on trucking forward.  My miles were slowly creeping into the 6:50s.

Around mile 9, two people who weren’t racing began jogging by. The race volunteer almost missed me to tell me the turn (which I cluelessly would have missed too). I yelled, do we turn here and said: Are you running?

At mile 10, I told myself “just a 5k” to go. I remembered the New York Marathon when I said the same thing.  Mile 10 was lonely, and I ran a 6:55.

The final two miles went along the pier. It was almost as if right at mile 11, my lefts seized up and got heavy. I never felt great during the race, but I went from eh, to not feeling good at all. I ended up talking with a guy for a few seconds which broke up the monotony.

The final two miles felt like the final miles of a marathon.  We met back up with more 10kes, and I weaved around people on the narrow pier.

Finally, we rounded the last turn, and I could see the finish. I just wanted to be there.  I ran the last two miles in 7:22 and crossed the finish line in 1:30.58.  The 10k/13.1 finished together and I only wish I had noticed what was happening around me at the time.  I make a finishing cameo around 1:02.32

I am pleased with my effort. From the number of runners on the narrow course to the amount of turns, I didn’t find it to be an easy course. I know I didn’t run the tangents well, and I believe my GPS said 13.3.  I don’t put much stock in GPS data, but I didn’t take the shortest possible route.

The weather, however, was beautiful. I am glad I chose to run the race, untapered and to see where I was at. I don’t regret running and I had a fun time in Baltimore.  I am glad all of the small issues came up during one race: lack of sleep, hotel issues, and race course woes.

I’ll continue racing as much as the weather cooperates in hopes to build back fitness.

Questions for you:

What is the most dangerous race you’ve run?

Are you good at running tangents? 

Why Internet Shoe Reviews are Worthless

Why Internet Shoe Reviews are Worthless

Why Internet Shoe Reviews are WorthlessThis is a topic I’ve written about before, but I think it’s important to write about again,  As someone who puts out plenty of internet shoe reviews, it might even seem weird I’m even writing it.

The short story is, no running shoe is perfect for everyone. Not that the Nike 4% Vaporfly, not the Brooks Levitate 2, not the adidas ultraboost.  Yes, you would think they were all the best, by how much those shoes are hawked.

Since I work at a run specialty store,  I’m lucky enough to try new running shoes. One of the perks of my job is being able to see the newest and latest shoes on the market. The downside is half of my paycheck goes to work.

Why Internet Shoe Reviews are Worthless

For the most part, I purchase a new shoe monthly from work, run a hundred or so miles on it and review it. If I like the shoe, I run in the shoe for a lot longer than 100 miles.  For instance, I almost always have a Brooks Glycerin and Hoka shoe in my rotation.

If it’s not my favorite shoe, I run it once a week, wear it to work, or give it to someone. I also don’t run in shoes that knowingly won’t work out.I’ve turned down several blogging opportunities for a free shoe because I would probably end up with an injury.

Why would I buy a shoe that would set me up for failure and injury?

I’m not reviewing a shoe for what works with your feet but for what works for my feet, and that goes with any shoe review.  It’s easy to spew facts about how a shoe has changed, but there is no way to tell if a shoe will work until you run in the shoe.

No two feet are the same including your own two feet. Each shoe works well for a particular foot type and doesn’t work well for a specific foot type.

For instance, I supinate; have high arches and wide unshapely feet.  My feet also prefer a lot of cushion.  Right off the bat, this eliminates minimalist shoes or low profile and lightweight shoes for me.

And you know what?  That’s fine because it works for me!

The brand Mizuno works for a lot of people. It’s lightweight, firm, and narrow. The Mizuno Wave Rider is a neutral shoe, and it looks like it would be great on paper for me, however, when I put it on it doesn’t feel right.  It doesn’t mean they are bad, just not the right fit for me. Mizuno clearly has a large following that it does work well. This can be said about every single brand from Nike to Asics to Saucony…the list is endless.

So how do you find these so-called right shoes for you?

I’m biased because I work in a running specialty store.  One route of finding a good for you shoe is going to your local running store and being fit by a professional. Most running store employees have seen every foot type imaginable.  They aren’t going to put you in a shoe that isn’t correct for your feet.

Getting properly fit also saves time, energy, and possibly going through multiple pairs of shoes.  I can’t tell you how many people come in, get fit, and say: wow that didn’t take long at all.  That’s because running store employees know what they are looking for.  Many running stores (such as mine), have a two-week exchange policy that you can run in the shoe and make sure it does work for you. You never know until you hit the pavement, trails, treadmill or track.

So yes while reading reviews of various running shoes can be helpful, it will never replace trying a pair of shoes on your feet and seeing what works for you.  You should never base an opinion of a shoe on what I or anyone says about it.  (The Brooks Levitate 2 is one of the most over-promoted shoes in the industry right now.  Online you’d think it’s the best…but it’s far from it).

Remember in cliché fashion, every person is different. Every foot’s needs are different, and that is why there are so many different makes and models of running shoes.  My point is this running shoe reviews can be helpful in learning other people’s opinions of a shoe, but they are just tool to find your perfect shoe.  No two feet are the same and what works for me might not work for you.

Questions for you:

What kind of running shoes do you wear?

How seriously do you take running shoe reviews? Would you buy a shoe because LOLZ told you too?

November Recap

November Recap

Can you believe it’s December? Have I posted “can you believe it’s X month,” every month?

November brought a big race, lots of downtime, and then a smaller race. I’m still getting back into fitness, while not trying to push the envelope too much.

Miles Run: Around 130
Shortest Run: 2 miles
Longest Run: New York City Marathon 
Workouts: 0
Rest Days: 16
Races:
New York City Marathon (3:07.15)
Medford Lakes Turkey Trot (20:24)

Thoughts:

Most of the running month revolved around the New York City Marathon. I have had a tough time typing this out, but I recovered rather rapidly from the marathon. I’ve had many 13.1s that it’s taken me longer to feel better.

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I knew taking 2 weeks off was the right call.  The other component is I never felt like I got into peak shape for the marathon.  When I ran, it almost felt like a tough workout versus a tough race. My legs fatigued towards the end, but there was never a time that I felt “in the hole or twilight zone.”  That’s very different from my previous marathon experiences when I haven’t wanted or felt up to running for at least a month.

Now that I’m a month out, I feel like I’m getting “back into shape again.”  I’m starting around where I started over the summer.  A 20:24 5k, and 1:30 range half. Over the winter and Spring, I want to build more speed and hopefully get back into sub 19 shape as well as at least 1:25 half marathon shape.

If the weather holds up, I plan to race most weekends in December. It will be a fun way to build fitness and keep me going strong.

Posts from the Month:

Running Related: 
Why Use Compression Socks
Marathon Recovery
Brooks Ghost 11 Shoe Review

Hiking:
Exploring Sandy Hook

Questions for you:
How was your month of December?
Do you have any goals for the rest of the year?

Base Building Week 2 and a Half Marathon

Base Building Week 2 and a Half Marathon

Last week was about putting one foot in front of the other, being smart about it, and getting miles in.  My husband and I ended up going to Baltimore and racing (I ran the 13.1, he did the 5k).  I didn’t have expectations for the race, which ended up being a good thing due to a messy morning.

Training though, last week was good.

Monday: Easy 45 minutes
Tuesday: Easy 45 minutes
Wednesday: Easy 60 minutes
Thursday: Off
Friday: Easy 45 minutes
Saturday: Race 13.1 (1:30.58)/1 mile cool down
Sunday: Easy 45 minutes

Thoughts:

It was a lot of easy and boring running. Most people know, but I don’t use a GPS watch for most of my runs. I normally just run 45 minutes and guestimate I run about 9-10 min miles for my pace. Over the last few years, I’ve found that it works for me.  I’ve never been to one really push an easy run, but by not using a GPS watch I’m not married to any pace and just going by effort.

On Wednesday, I planned to do a workout. Around that time, my husband and I had also contemplated going down to Baltimore to run the races.  When thinking about it, I realized while I could probably do a speed workout, it wasn’t smart to go from no speed to a speed workout and a long race. It would be the time I would get injured. So I ran easy.

Race 13.1 (1:30.58)

The race 13.1 race was a good speed workout in Baltimore. I’m thankful, it was just that and nothing. From start to finish, it was one of the most disorganized races I’ve ever done (and I don’t use that lightly). Would I choose this race for a goal race? No.

During the race, the half marathoners crossed paths with the 5 and 10kers early into the race. This meant, people such as myself were running and weaving around walkers.  It was impossible to run any tangents, and I found myself weaving, trying not to hit anyone, and missing water stops because there were so many people.  Another danger, factor was the race also runs around the harbor.  Due to race the night before, the boards were slick. Plus running around that many turns on a crowded course,  it was very easy to just fall into the harbor and you never got any rhythm or momentum. I watched someone slip and fall (they were ok), as well as 2 runners collide when the 10k/half were together. The race was dangerous.  Anyway, I don’t regret doing it and my husband and I had an enjoyable time in Baltimore.

Regarding my effort, I ran the first 11 miles well below 7 min miles (around 6:50).  Then, my body seemed to lock up around mile 11, and I ran the last 2 miles in 7:22 (over 30 seconds slower than every other mile).  I’m happy with my overall effort for where I am running wise. I seem to be hovering at a 1:28-1:31 half marathon block right now and I hope the next one will be faster.

Posts from the Week:

Why Use Compression?

Medford Lakes Turkey Trot (20:24)

Questions for you:

What is the most dangerous race you’ve done?

Are you training for anything? 

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