Friday, October 28, 2011

Happy Halloween

BOO! Happy Halloween! Yes, I know it's on Monday, but since most people will be 'celebrating' this weekend, I'm posting about it today.

To get in the mood, here's a video from last week's Asbury Park Zombie Crawl. Pretty cool stuff.

Also, I've been re-organizing my office files for the first time since, well, forever. I came across the proofs from my very first headshot photo shoot, which were taken in March of 2005. Here's a creepy outtake:

Which is funny when you consider that the headshot I ended up using was this:

In the first photo, I look like a ghost. In the second? Model in a toothpaste ad. Shows you what a difference lighting makes.

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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

News from Around the South Jersey Shore

Quick note: I'm working on getting my ebook ready to publish in November, so excuse the less frequent posting. But here's the news:

The Borgata is saying it lost $10 million because of Hurricane Irene.

At the same time, this is being considered for Atlantic City. Casinos and the actual city different much? Ugh.

So now Sea Isle is using those dumb parking kiosks, too? Boo.

Almost time for Ocean City's Quiet Festival.

Just combine! Stop being four towns and be one instead! That's the best way to save money, not stop gap measures like this.

Not the first place I'd pick for a shore wedding, but, hey, looks like it worked.

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Thursday, October 20, 2011


Two Halloween-related notes for the upcoming weekend:

Friday kicks off the Asbury Park Zombie Walk. Now in its third year, this thing is HUGE. I wish I could go and be the one person not dressed like a zombie who the zombies can chase (My ex boyfriend did this. I'm not that original).

Last weekend, Moreys Piers opened its new Terror on the Boardwalk attraction. GOOD IDEA! Seems a great way to continue their season, so if you like to be scared, check it out.

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Monday, October 17, 2011

Greetings from the Asbury Park Relay Marathon

Good morning from Asbury Park. Well, good Sunday morning. I snapped this at about 6:20am before the start of the Asbury Park Relay Marathon. I drove in that morning to run with my team, the Tramps Like Us.

It wasn't supposed to be. I'd formed the team before I realized I'd be going to a wedding with my boyfriend. But when the race time was bumped up to 7am, I figured I could run the first of eight laps, even though I'd run 19 miles the day before.

We did quite well! Tramps Like Us finished 18th relay team overall, second in the Open Female relay category with a team time of 3:38:59.

Yes, those are our team shirts. Better shot here:

We each took the name of a woman Bruce Springsteen has sung about. I, of course, was Rosalita.

Happy Monday everyone.

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Friday, October 14, 2011

Canadian Running

A note before I get into my Vancouver race: The Asbury Park Relay Marathon start time has been moved up to 7am. Because of the earlier start, I *will* be able to run with my relay team, Tramps Like Us. I'll be doing the first loop in a red shirt that says ROSALITA on the back. Say hello if you're there!


Monday was Thanksgiving in Canada, hence the North Shore Credit Union Half Marathon being held on a Monday morning. I moved out of the conference hotel on Sunday and into the Metropolitan, which offers a Runner's High Package. This deal includes overnight stay, guaranteed late checkout, complimentary valet parking, three course CARB dinner at the hotel's restaurant, and a welcome kit that includes a copy of Runner's World, a running map, and a coupon for 10% off at the nearby New Balance Store).

They even went and picked up my race packet for me. This was what I saw when I checked into my room:

The concierge also drove me to the start of the race. Yes, it's that kind of full service hotel. Thank you, Metropolitan, for making this racing experience that much easier.

Though "racing" is not the best way to describe what I did. My goal was to run slow. I'm training for the Philadelphia Marathon, and my schedule called for me to run 18 miles. So I planned to run the 13.1 of the race, then another 5 back to my hotel. To slow me down, I brought my iPhone to listen to podcasts, which I never ever ever ever ever do. I don't believe in running with music outdoors, and the phone is just too bulky to carry. I don't get it when people taken 7,000 pictures of themselves while running, either, to post on their blogs (we don't care - really). But I wanted to have Google Maps in case I got lost returning from the hotel, and the phone in case I got hurt and needed to call a cab back to the hotel.

It was an OK race. Small at less than 300 people. My big beef is that on Friday, the organizers sent around an email that they were going to shift the course to include more trails. Given that it POURED during the race, this made for some treacherous running. Most people had to walk part of the trail because it was so slippery and steep.

Because I brought my phone, and the course was mostly beautiful, I did get to snap a few pictures:

I still think I'm the only American to ever run this race. When I crossed the finish line, the announcer called "And that's Jen Miller from Collingswood...New Jersey?!" Awesome.

It's hard to run slow when you're in a race. It's so tempting to start picking people off and actually competing. I ran the 13.1 of the half much faster than I planned, even with the walking through trails part. If you can get past the controversy over banditing that Peter Sagal has stirred up in this piece, he had the same experience this weekend.

So my legs were already depleted when I then turned myself around and ran back to the hotel over the Lions Gate Bridge, which was steep but had a nice pedestrian path on both sides of the bridge.

I was exhausted and looked like a drowned rat, but I'm glad I did it. I can now add "Canada" to list of places I've run.

The only real problem I had was with my iPhone. The screen stopped working. It could have been from the run, or it could have been the age of the phone. Whatever it was, thank you to the Apple Store in Vancouver for replacing the screen for free. I was glad to have that phone when my flight out Monday night was delayed by two hours. I used the phone to contact people about alternate arrangements and start looking up hotels in case I was stranded in San Fran. Fortunately, I made my connection with a whole five minutes to spare.

So those are my Canadian stories. I'm still battling a stupid head cold, and hopefully I'll be over it by the time the Asbury Park Relay Marathon rolls around on Sunday. Say hello if you're there, too!

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Thursday, October 13, 2011

An American in Canada

I had a wonderful - WONDERFUL - time in Vancouver. I did very little research before the trip, both because I have been traveling so much and because I was there for a conference and didn't know how much of the city I would get to see.

I flew in a day before the conference so I wouldn't be that jet lagged chick at the opening dinner. First order or business: run. I ran four times while in Vancouver, and each one of those runs included Stanley Park. It's perfect for this - one loop around the park's sea wall is 5.5 miles, and it was close to my hotel. The trail has separate biking and walking/running lanes, which is amazing. I can't tell you how tough it can be sometimes to run in Philadelphia's Fairmont Park with all the walking and biking traffic.

To keep myself awake and try to re-set my inner clock onto Pacific Standard Time, I took a walk from my hotel down Granville Avenue to Granville Island. It's about two miles, and takes you from waterfront/convention district to downtown to somewhat seedy/South Street-like Vancouver (I passed an arcade/shooting gallery/peep show place - yes, all in one location) to redeveloped Vancouver. Granville Island used to be an industrial area that's now shops, restaurants and artists studios. They have a really interesting collection of stores, including the Granville Island Broom Company.

I went back to Granville Island on Thursday morning, and had the best meal of this year at Experience Canada. Despite the somewhat cheesy name, they're serious about food - local food, and fresh. I'll never look at butter the same way after tasting their foie gras butter, and fries? Oh, they were fried in duck fat, and so tasty. I would have gone back if I didn't run out of time. (And yes it's the place that banned men from peeing standing up in their bathrooms)

I also checked out the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classic Chinese Garden, which was gorgeous and a very quiet spot in a busy part of the city:

The conference was held between three hotels: The Fairmont Waterfront (where I stayed), the Fairmont Pacific Rim (where the conference sessions were held) and the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver (which hosted the opening dinner). Each of these hotels was lovely and different. Waterfront is your standard nice hotel with an optional water view. Pacific Rim seemed more urban and New York like. Hotel Vancouver is a classic, historic place. Here's a photo from opening night dinner at Fairmont Vancouver:

Lovely, isn't it?

After that - much of my time was spent in a conference room. But here are other highlights:

Richmond: Richmond is about 30 minutes outside of Vancouver, and has grown in popularity since the 2010 Winter Olympics. It's population is 65% Asian. A tourism official told me a lot of people from Hong Kong moved over after China took back control of the city.

Thats a bubble tea from the Zephyr Tea House Cafe in Richmond. I ate lunch that day at Jade, which is known for its dim sum. Yum.

Cocktail Culture: Canada has some screwy liquor laws, but there's an interesting cocktail culture in Vancouver. We had drinks one night at Pourhouse, whose slogan is "serving plain and fancy drinks." I also took a cocktail making class at The Diamond.

That's me making a Moscow Moose, which involves vodka and ginger beer.

I'll do a separate post about the North Shore Credit Union Half Marathon. It's the first (and probably last) time I've run with my iPhone. You'll see why in that next post.

It was an interesting conference, too. I was there for Travel Classics, which is for travel writers. I'm not a traditional travel writer - I don't go all over the world to new places with the idea of writing about them. I have made myself an expert on one region and continue to write about it for many different publications (which is probably why you're reading this blog), while sometimes writing about different places I've visited or have come to know (i.e. Tampa). I'd like to be able to write about more cities and locations, which is one of the reasons I came to the conference - to learn how that works. This doesn't mean I'll stop writing about the Jersey Shore (why would I? I love it), but it could open new avenues of writing for me. I always take notes about cities we visit, even if I'm not assigned a story about it. Why not try to write about the fun things I see in other places?

I might not be making sense. I have a massive head cold right now (thanks, airplanes). But hopefully I'll be more lucid tomorrow.

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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Canada, Up Ahead

I promise that there are posts about my trip to Vancouver forthcoming, but I'm still jet lagged and have a full day ahead. So I'll post this picture, which is indicative of what I spent a lot of my Canada time doing: sitting in a conference (though a really good conference).

The ring was my grandfather's high school class ring. He had it sized down to fit my grandmother's finger after her high school class ring was stolen (he had taken it with him when he served in the war). And now it's mine. Nice, right? And I couldn't figure out where else I'd use that picture, so there you go.

And there's also this:


I'm bummed I missed a beauty of a weekend down the shore. My boyfriend ran the LBI 18 and said it was brutally hot for a race of that distance. My Canadian race? Well, I'll get to that in one of those upcoming posts.

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Thursday, October 6, 2011

"Let's Go to the Mall!"

This is a Canadian weather girl. I CANNOT MAKE THIS STUFF UP.

If you have no idea who I'm talking about, click here.


I did go to a Canadian mall last night. No robot.

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Wednesday, October 5, 2011


Aaaaaaand I'm off to Vancouver until the middle of next week. I know, right? When I return, I'm going to do nothing but stay home in a cocoon off blankets, magazines and my dog and never travel again (OK, that's not true, but I am a bit road weary).

See you when I return? That image, by the way, is a tshirt from Busted Tees.

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Tuesday, October 4, 2011

News from Around the South Jersey Shore

WHY?! (also - love the name of the media outlet I linked to)

More on the new guy running the CRDA.

New casino-to-be-this-spring Revel is bringing in a Vegas person to run entertainment.

Cape May might be creating a new park.

And: Cape May as seen through the eyes of a Pittsburgh newspaper.

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Monday, October 3, 2011


This weekend, I ran the Ocean City Half Marathon and was finally - FINALLY - able to bring Emily down the shore with me. This was a shot from Sunday morning as I took her on a walk before the race. Yes, I know I'm breaking the law. No dogs allowed on the boardwalk, ever, except for the Doo Dah Parade. But this is October down the shore when the tourists are mostly locals, and the rules are relaxed a bit. No one said a word about Emily, except that she was a cute dog (which she obviously is).

The race went much better than I expected. I gave my boyfriend the Garmin GPS watch and told him to go - he's becoming an excellent runner, and is faster than me, so I wanted him to give a new PR (person record, in runners terms) a shot.

I was surprised by the race, too. For a second year event, it was well organized. My only quibbles were small:

1. The race starts on the boardwalk by the Music Pier and goes south over the Longport Bridge and back. No one was really there to direct the runners on which side to run, so it was a little confusing as people started to turn around and go back over the bridge. Some volunteers directing runners could help.
2. Some aid stations had plastic, not paper cups. Paper cups are preferred because you can compress them and make them easier to drink out of of while running. Some aid stations also had people shouting that they had Gatorade when it was actually that tan knock off stuff that's gross. Don't say it's Gatorade if it's not.
3. The boardwalk wasn't shut down, which I understand, but a few volunteers to keep bikers from knocking into runners could have helped. I saw a few bikers on the north end of the boardwalk who cut off runners and didn't care. Not good.
4. Some of the mile posts were missing. For those of us who were running without GPS watches, this would have helped.

Like, I said, very small quibbles, and I'm sure the race will get better - and more popular - each year.

For me, it was a fantastic race because I beat my PR by over three minutes. This is a HUGE deal because that PR came before I got hurt, and I never though I'd be able to beat it again. My official time was 1:49:55, so I also broke the 1:50 mark - another milestone I never though I'd achieve. I think not having the Garmin helped with this, and even though some runners might not have liked this, having no time clocks on the course helped too. I had NO IDEA how fast I was running, and might have been tempted to slow myself down if I did now. Awesome, awesome day.

Another reason to like this race: it felt like a town effort. Lots of local volunteers and businesses pitched in. Where else are going to see this in the finisher's area?

And this, too.

Any race that ends with free Mack & Mancos gets two thumbs up. And yes I know that my boyfriend is photobombing the picture. I should have expected that.

After we'd showered, we took Emily onto the beach. The water was exceptionally warm, and the sun came out just in time.

She ran herself ragged - literally. She snoozed the entire way home. And maybe I did, too (wasn't driving!)

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