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Modern Malt (Syracuse, NY)

While visiting Syracuse last month, I had the opportunity to try the Modern Malt. It’s one of Heather’s favorite restaurants in Syracuse. It’s not quite a standard New Jersey diner but more of an upscale, foodie diner.   It’s hard to believe this was just about a month ago now!

Heather and I

Heather and I

Atmosphere: A

It’s an upscale, modern diner. There are plenty of booths, tables, and even a few high tables. The color theme of the restaurant is bright orange (to match my jacket), so everything pops. When we walked in, there was plenty of seating.  I liked the theme and modern touch.  I liked the overall atmosphere of upscale, bright and modern.  About 15 minutes after we were seated a local show was let out so it became much more crowded.

Service: F

The Modern Malt had the most awkward and worst service I’ve had in a while.  If a restaurant is busy or all around slow, it doesn’t reduce the rating or bother me. Obviously if it’s crowded, the food isn’t given as quickly.  However, two larger parties seated much later than us received their orders before we did.

It also took 40 minutes (yes 40) for a milkshake. The waiter said at least 4-5 times the milkshake was next and 4-5 times we saw batches of other milkshakes brought out first.  If he had said “there is a long milkshake line,” I wouldn’t have cared…but don’t lie or continue to forget.

Coffee: B

The coffee was good. The server did bring me 5-10 Splenda and sugar packets per 8 ounces of coffee.  At the end of the meal, I had at least 30 extra Splenda packets and 20 sugar packets. Who doesn’t need that many Splenda packets per coffee?

The coffee was refilled a few times. It was a local brew from the coffee shop down the road. I liked the slightly bitter taste.  It wasn’t remarkably good or bad, and I still drank it.

modern malt coffee

**So sorry, I forgot to take a photo of the 10,000 sugar and Splenda packets I accumulated.  😉

Food: C

The menu is much smaller than most restaurants, but they do have a lot of local and fresh foods. It reminds me more of a café versus a diner.

I ordered their house special of the day: grilled eggplant salad with chicken.   The house special had mixed greens, goat cheese, grilled eggplant, grapes and I added chicken. It was good, but it was small. I was hungry afterward, but it was enough food for the time being.  One thing that bothers me is restaurants don’t include bread with their salads.  I don’t know why it’s not an ordinary thing!  I think I recently mentioned this at the Brooklawn diner too!  For me, I need bread, meat, and cheese in a salad.

The food took over 70 minutes to receive which was disappointing since several tables were served and left before we received the food.

modern malt salad

Cost:$$

For my salad and coffee, the cost was 18. It was expensive for the amount of food you received. The quality was good, but I would have preferred more food.

Overall thoughts/Would I come back?

Food wise, it was good food but very small portions. The service was slow, so I probably won’t be back.  It could have been one unusual experience, but there are restaurants in the Syracuse area I prefer much more.

Summary:
Atmosphere: A
Service: F
Coffee: B
Food: B
Cost: $10-20
Overall: D

Question for you: What is the slowest service you have received?

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Festival of Races 5k (19:13)

The Festival of Races in Syracuse, NY is a race I’ve always wanted to do.  I’ve been signed up for the race a couple of times, but I’ve been injured both times.  I’ve mentioned before, but I get injured in August and am forced to sit out August, September and October.  This year since I backed off of training I enjoyed running in the early fall.

Anyways, my husband I drove up to the race on Saturday.  Surprisingly Syracuse is only about 4.5 hours away from our house in New Jersey.  We both went to college in NYS, and it was a fun mini race-cation.  The bonus, of course, was getting to hang out and see Heather. We arrived the night before the race, so we didn’t leave NJ at 3 am the next morning.

We arrived at the race around 8.  The men ran at 8:50 and the women raced at 9:50. To be honest, 9:50 is later than I normally like.  I warmed up with Heather, and we watched the men’s race.  Something I miss from cross country is all male or all female runs.

After warming up, I lined up at the starting line.  I somehow forgot to put my racing flats on so I had to do go back and do that too.  I positioned myself further back at the start because I knew the race was very competitive.  The race went off at exactly 9:50.

Festival of Races

Image from Bob Brock

During the first mile, I felt decent.  I didn’t feel good or bad.  It was interesting because the race was the US Masters Championship, the Master runners wore a second bib on the back of their singlets.  The second bib meant if the racer was over 40 and in front of me, I knew!  Anyone who was not a master did not wear a second bib.  During the first mile I knew there were several women over 40, 50 and even a women who was over 60.  It was both awesome and motivating to run with so how many fast women!  I hit the first mile in 6:01.

I knew the second mile would make or break me.  It normally does in the 5k.  I began to focus on the women in front of me.  I passed a few women, including the US women’s 5k 60-64-year-old record holder.  I hit the halfway point in 9:20.

During the second half of the race, I found myself in an awkward limbo zone and running by myself.  There weren’t too many people near me.  There were plenty of people in front and many people behind me but no one in my 10-second bubble.  I hit the second mile in 6:16.

The third mile I just focused on finishing.  The Festival had both the mile and kilometers marked, so you knew exactly where you were on the course at all times. There were a lot of spectators throughout the third mile as well as one small hill.

We climbed the hill and immediately saw “400 meters to go.” I thought to myself that 400s are my go to workout so I can power through and do this. I sprinted to the end and passed both Heather and Tim, who were cheering on the side.

The US women’s 60-64 5k Record Holder was closing space and nearly passed me again at the finish. I felt like a celebrity was approaching. I saw the clock tick 18:59…19:00…19:01…I was close to breaking 19 but not that is still a decent amount of time. I crossed the finish in 19:13 with a closing mile at 6:23. I finished 16th women overall and 6th in my age group.

Image from Bob Brock

Image from Bob Brock

Thoughts:

Looking back, the Festival of Races is my fastest race in two years.  My closest race since was the Firecracker 5k in July.  I am happy because I am slowly progressing towards my goals of Pring.  However, in a world where everyone wants everything done faster, it’s still not quick enough (kidding).  It’s motivating to see speed work coming together.

I felt strong, but I don’t feel as if I worked 45 seconds harder than other races. I’m hoping that I will be able to continue to run closer to this pace versus up around a 20 minute 5k. I broke through Plateau number 1, and hopefully plateau number 2 brings me back below 19 minutes.  

Festival of Races 5k

Questions for you:

Have you ever raced a Women’s only or Men’s only race?

I enjoy doing them and would do them again!

What goal are you currently chasing? (running, life, fitness, whatever!)

 

Raining and Training: 64 miles

I’m finally back on track with my training (Track pun intended). I’m slowly getting back to where I was (training wise) before September. September was a weird month for me because I took more rest days and also had a couple of weeks with no speed workouts. I’m glad to go back to my “normal” routine.

The only thing is I wish I could find a track that was open. A lot of the local schools have gym classes that utilize the track, so they aren’t open during school.

Training:

Monday and Tuesday were easy runs around my new neighborhood. I figured out that I could run to one of the turnpike rest area stops It makes sense that employees had a specialized area to park versus having to take the pike to work every day. It was neat, but it’s not somewhere I’ll frequent.

Workout Wednesday:
16X400s with 1-minute rest
I did this on the road and in the pouring rain.

It was my first workout in a few weeks as well as my first road 400 workout. I averaged 6:23 pace, but I think I’ll be able to run much quicker once I get back into the rhythm. Due to the rain, I had to change my clothing three times for that run (one after warm up, after the 400s and after the run itself). My whole neighborhood was flooded.

rainy run meme

Thursday I ran easy and Friday I took off.

On Saturday Tim and I ran together before leaving for Syracuse. The weather was awful due to the Hurricane but nothing unbearable. I have no issues running inside or not just not running if I’m uncomfortable with the weather. I catch up on my trashy TV with the treadmill.

On Sunday, I raced the Festival of Races 5k in Syracuse, NY. I made a quick trip up north to race and see Heather. I ran a 19:13 which is one of my better time right now.  It’s an extremely competitive race and one I’ve always wanted to do. I’ll have a race recap next week.

In summary, it was a good week for me. I recovered well from both the Rotary 5k and Maple Shade Soccer Club 5k last weekend. I haven’t done a long run in about a month now so hopefully I’ll get back on that next week. I don’t think it’s necessary, though, and the quality miles for me come from speed work.

Festival of Races 5k

Total Miles: 64
Workout miles: 7.1

Questions for you:
What was your best workout this week?
How do you do your track workouts when school is in session?

Lake Half Marathon (1:25.32)

I need to break up the Lake Effect Half Marathon into three posts.  That is because I can truly say it was one of the best experiences from the very beginning to crossing the finish line at the very end.  I’ll start with the race recap, then life outside of running recap and then finally the entire race as a whole with Ophelia’s Place.  This race recap in itself will be long!

I never went to this race with the intention of having a fast and close to PRing race (not quite my PR is 1:24.49).  Though the race course was slightly long, it gave me great confidence in a Spring PR.  I went in with the intention of fundraising for Ophelia’s Place and having a lot of fun with some of my best friends in upstate NY.  My “A” goal was to break 1:30 and anything under 1:30 would be golden.  (I am still hoping for a faster half in late Spring).  After last week’s 14k, I thought a sub 90 minute half was attainable.

I’ve had all my best half marathon races with no warm up.   After driving from Rochester to Syracuse to the race (roughly 75 minutes) I thought it might be best to run a mile around the course.  My legs felt like led the previous day so I knew a warm up mile might be in my best interest. So Laura and I warmed up a mile and just chatted away.

After using the bathroom and stashing my stuff as I normally do, I headed to the start line.  After the National Anthem the race went off and I immediately found myself around 4-5th female.  I made it my executive goal to finish under 90 minutes.  I chatted with a couple of people for the first mile and it felt as though the first mile took forever.  In reality it took 6 minutes and 36 seconds.  I figured it would be my fastest mile and I was actually a bit worried that maybe 1:30 was too aggressive.  My first mile is normally my fastest followed by my last mile.  I didn’t feel great during the first mile and I honestly was certain I would probably get slower.

lakeeffect1

Then I ran mile 2 in 6:43.  I passed a couple of females even though my second mile was not exactly where I wanted to be (it was my slowest).  I questioned myself after the second mile because a 6:43 second mile would mean I had a more narrow window for a sub 90 minute half.

The first 3 miles headed out of the parkway.  Around mile 2.5, I could see the leaders had already made the turn and were heading back towards us.  I was little bit jealous that the lead male got two cyclists. Obviously I could see the person in front of me so knew the direction of the course but I always get jealous when the top male gets a cyclist and the top female does not (even when I’m not the top female).  I ended up passing the first place female around mile 3 and decided more than anything wanted to win this race.  I was going to give it everything I had.  So that is what I did.

When I made the turn around I began to see the other runners coming in the opposite direction.  I really like out and back courses because I can see (and high five) everyone on course.  It is so motivating to me.  Mile 4 and 5 went by extremely quick because I was focused on high fiving and chatting with people.  Mile was actually my fastest mile (6:18) followed by mile 5 (6:20).

I attempted to grab water from the famous Suzie and ended up getting her soaken wet.  I vowed on lap two  (it was an out and back, out and back course)  that I would be better.  I mentally practiced until around mile 11 when I would see her again.

I realized that going towards the finish line was going with the wind so my miles were about 10 seconds faster (6:20 range).  I hadn’t noticed the slight wind going away from the start until I realized it wasn’t there going towards the start.

We hit the halfway point and I saw the race director it was back into the wind.  Luckily I could see more people along the course which kept me occupied.

lakeeffecthalfmarathon

Mile 7 was uneventful.  At this point I began to dig deeper and just focus on the end…which was still over 6 miles away.  Since we had a slight wind it was slightly harder.  (6:28).

I began less chatting after mile 8 because I was tired and wanted to focus on finishing the race.  It’s really hard for me to not smile and say thank you to everyone who says good job.

During mile 8 something really exciting happened; I got my own lead cyclist!  Unlike the Run for the Dream half marathon, he remained about 50 feet in front of me (not side by side).  Therefore I couldn’t chat with him. (but you aren’t supposed to chat with the cyclists anyways…apparently).  This race though I was pushing my limits so I’m not sure I would be able to chat if I tried.

By mile 9, I had started counting down the miles.  I was tired and was ready to finish the race.  When we did the final 180 back towards the start I dug deep and just focused on the end.  I was really tired and desperately trying to hold on to the lead.

lakeeffectcute

Just for some good measure of staying cute.

Around mile 11, I passed one male and also saw Suzie.  For the .1 before her I prepared myself to grasp the water without spilling it on her.  It worked and she even snapped this photo of me.  It was the highlight of my race.  HA!  (6:29)

lakeeffectrunningsuzie

The final mile6:29 was just about finishing.  This year I was more prepared for going by the finish line and doing the final loop near a playground.  I was tired and I was staring longingly at the finish line the entire last half mile.  I focused on the end and then all of sudden I was almost there.

Since I was so focused and looking down at my feet, I looked up and saw a ribbon to run through and “break the tape”.  Though I’ve won several races, I’ve only “broken the tape” at two.  Nothing can take away the feeling of running through a ribbon.  It honestly felt like all my hard work from fundraising, from training and from racing was all rewarded.  I quickly threw up my hands for facebook and then nearly burst into tears (of joy).

lakeffectwin

Long story short: I can truly say this is my favorite race as far as the process to get there, the actual race and the joy I had with friends.  My splits ranged from 6:18 (mile 4) to 6:44 (mile 2).  I am pleasantly surprised and I am hoping to pick a PR at the Shamrock half marathon next month in my home town!  Despite it being a little long of a course (from tangents or from just being long) it’s my third fastest half marathon.  It was a shock to open up my distance running at this pace.

The race director and I

The race director and I

Questions for you:

What is your favorite race?

Are you a chatty/talkative racer? 

Empire Brewery Review

There are a few highest honors you can have in my life.  A very important one is meeting my dad.  My dad isn’t scary and I don’t really know why people are intimidated by him…actually he downright hilarious.  Last week I begged Laura to come to dinner with dad and I before she left for the Cleveland marathon and I left for VA(which she rocked…you can read about it here).

empire

We settled on a local brewery at Empire Brewery in downtown Syracuse.   They make their own beer and have some of the best and most delicious bar type of food I’ve had to date.  I’ve been a few times (as to why I can write a proper LOLZ review) and gotten the Mediterranean platter, Greek salad, and feta chicken flatbread…

The reason I like their salads so much as not only do they add a ton of actual food (I’m actually not still hungry after eating), there is pita bread (+1 point), I can get multiple dressings (+1 point) and they have couscous in the salad (+1)…Not sure what these points are adding up too but it’s my review and I’ll add points if I want.

empiregrilledchickensalad

The main thing is the food filled me up and tasted good.  Oh and wasn’t expensive.  It might be a little bit of a lie if Laura and I hadn’t discussed the dessert options beforehand so that is that.  We settled upon each getting a sundae made from a special dark beer (similar to Guinness).  Wow, this was probably one of my favorite ice creams to date.  It wasn’t like beer overload but it had all the deliciousness of beer and ice cream combined.

laurandidessert

Then dad shocked the world and ordered a cheesecake.  He said it was “for the blog” (my dad routinely makes fun of my blog) and he also has absolutely not sweet tooth at all.  The cheesecake was also deliscous but left to my own I would (and next time I come to Syracuse) will get the sundae again.

dad

So would I recommend Empire Brewery?  Well if you can’t tell I don’t generally write restaurant reviews unless they have become a LOLZ staple.  (Though I know eventually I’ll write a snarky one) I think I should make a review tab at this point.  Oh and yes I would recommend Empire and I would say go big and get the sundae too.

Questions for you: Favorite flavor of ice cream?  Favorite beer? 

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