Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Anne Hathaway Should Get Married in Cape May

Congrats to Anne Hathaway, who got engaged over the weekend!

May I recommend Cape May was a wedding spot for the happy couple? A few reasons why:

1. Hathaway's a Cape May girl, and says she's gone there "every summer of my life.". Her mother has appeared on stage at Cape May Stage. When she dropped out of the limelight after this incident, she came to - of course - Cape May. Even did a little karaoke while she was in town, and a little birdie told me she's a regular at Carneys. Bottom line: she likes it there.

2. Weddings are big business in Cape May. I'm writing a feature on the town right now, and one prong of the story is how many weddings happen every year. So there's plenty of vendors who can handle a celebrity to do.

3. Cape May is one tank of gas from New York City, Philadelphia and Washington, DC. Her family's form North Jersey, and she lives in Brooklyn. Close but not too close - an easy to access spot for her guests. Plus, there's a private airport nearby if she or her guests should need it.

4. Cape May has venues that can hold big, classy affairs - and small ones too. C'mon Anne. Why not have the wedding I'd have if I wanted to invite 150 people (which I do NOT - I PROMISE)? My I suggest here or here? From what I'm told, both require at least 150 guest minimum. You could do that in a jiffy. And I'd be more than happy to help. Just drop me a line.

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Thursday, November 24, 2011

Black Friday Book Deals!

Looking for that perfect give for you shore lover?

From now until 11:59pm on November 27, you can get a signed copy of The Jersey Shore: Atlantic City to Cape May for $10 - and, yes, that includes shipping. That's about half off (even more so if you count the price to send it your way)!

If you'd like to partake, just send me an email at jenmiller27 [at] gmail [dot] com, and I'll get your information on who to sign the book to, and where to ship copies. I can take credit cards, so no worries about mailing anything.

And if you're like some non-shore reading while you're lounging around this weekend, I've knocked the price of my ebook, Book a Week with Jen, to $.99 if you use the coupon CK84T when buying it from here (if you don't have an ereader, you can download a PDF).

See? That's a Black Friday deal that does not require any sitting out in line at midnight while you digest your turkey. So gobble gobble!

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Monday, November 21, 2011

Philadelphia Marathon - 4:34:01


Yesterday, I ran the Philadelphia Marathon - my first marathon ever. I was feeling OK going into the race. A slight bit nervous, but generally curious to see what it would be like. I was not happy with the weather. It was pretty warm (for a race day in November) when I walked my dog at 5am. This could be a problem, I thought.

I split the race up mentally into three parts:

1. Miles 0 through 13
2. Miles 13 to 21
3. Miles 21 to 26.2

This helped me break up the distance instead of thinking "I need to run 26.2 miles today."

The first seven miles were frantic. Since the half and full marathons start together (which I HATE and wish they would stop doing), there were a lot of people on the course. Those first seven miles are also generally through narrow Philadelphia streets. Police failed to remove some cars that were still parked on those streets, even though they weren't supposed to be there. At one point, I was engulfed in a pace group at the same time the road narrowed down to one lane due to one of those cars. Not fun.

This narrowness stopped me from doing my run/walk/run as planned for this portion of the race. I walked the water stops instead. At the first water stop, I drank one glass of water and dumped a second over my head. I did this at every stop for the entire marathon. It was refreshing, and also soaked my braid, which then acted as a cooling agent on my neck. Good move, Jen.

I didn't stop at all on Chestnut Street, which is packed spectators on either side of the road. They were a great pick me up, but mentally, I was bouncing all over the place.

Plus, I also had to...go. I think I'd had too much Gatorade in the 48 hours before the race, and my stomach was a mess. I didn't want to stop, but I knew I had to. I'd rather lose a few minutes than crap my pants (which someone did - I feel for you, lady). I finally found a port-a-potty at Mile 7, and felt much better. At this point, there was enough space for me to run/walk/run, which I think really helped me get through the race.

I cruised through Fairmount Park - and thank you to the guy who opened my Shot Bloks for me when my fingers didn't want to function. I didn't give too much mental space to losing the half marathoners at Mile 13. I thought this would mess with my head (oh man, they're done and I have to do this distance again?!) Instead, I was glad that the number of people on the road would drop dramatically.

And then it was up Kelly Drive to Manayunk. This is an out and back portion of the race. Because of where I was time wise, I got to see the finishers come in, which was cool.

I had to stop AGAIN to go to the bathroom around Mile 15, but I felt much better after I did.

My hips had started to ache around Mile 9, which I noticed but keep pushing through. Things stated to get hilly at Mile 17 - where you cross Falls Bridge and do a sort of dog leg over to Martin Luther King Drive. Then it's undulating hills through Manayunk. Ow, ow, ow.

I stopped at Mile 21 - the beer stop. A friend working the beer stop had been holding peanut M&Ms for me, which tasted great. But nothing - NOTHING - tasted better during the race than that beer. I can't even describe it. Perfect batch of cool, refreshing carbs. I didn't feel any effects of the alcohol. Just great.

Then it was back to Kelly Drive.

I finished most of my long runs on Kelly Drive while training for the marathon, but everything looked different. I didn't even feel the heat so much anymore. I was focused so much on the pain in my hips. Maybe pain isn't the right word. Weakness. The were hurting. I wasn't worried that I'd collapse, but I had to bear down mentally. I didn't hit the wall, but I did feel pretty fatigued. Between Miles 23 and 24, I also saw two people leaving the race on stretchers (these were not the two people who tragically died at the finish. More on that later).

For Miles 22 to 25, I walked a little more, sometimes switching to run 8/walk 2. Miles 25 and 26 were BRUTAL. I just kept my head down and pushed ahead. I decided to stop to walk when I crossed the Mile 26 marker because I wanted to finish strong. This may sound silly, but I wanted to have my head up and strong when going through the last .2 of the race.

And that's what I did. My friend Katie found me and started screaming her head off as I passed. My boyfriend had finished way ahead of me (sub 4 hour marathon for his first - good job, babe), so he, his mom and sister were there cheering for me too.

And then, suddenly, I crossed the finish line and had a medal around my neck.

As bad as my legs felt in the last 2 miles, they felt even worse when I finished. I limped over to where my boyfriend was waiting for me and gingerly put on that "baked potato wrap" they give you at the end. We then walked to The Bards for food and beers. I was not hungry at all, and barely got a plate of nachos down. The bloody mary was good, though.

Yeah, I look about how I feel in that photo. Very tired.

Took it easy the rest of the day, and made sure to get in walks. I'm doing OK today - much better than I thought I'd be doing.

Horribly, though, yesterday's race ended in tragedy. Two people died - one at the finish line, and one right before it. In reading about it this, morning, I learned that some doctors think caffeine has a role in this. I had no idea.

So if you're going to run, please have a complete physical every year, and read this. It could save your life.

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Saturday, November 19, 2011


18 weeks. 420 miles. 67 hours and 19 minutes of training. I got this.

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Friday, November 18, 2011

Philadelphia Marathon is Sunday

The Philadelphia Marathon is on Sunday. I'm running it - and yes this will be my first marathon.

I have this weird feeling of blankness about the whole thing. I'm not really nervous, and I'm not really excited either. Eighteen weeks is a long time to prepare for a race, and I'm ready for it to be over. Maybe the right description is impatience tinged with annoyance. Impatience because I'm ready to go, and annoyance over having to wait, and over the weather. I wanted a rock bottom cold day and we're going to get a high in the 60s. In November. Blarg.

I ran the 2009 Philadelphia Half Marathon and hated it. The start was a muddled mess, and there weren't nearly enough bathrooms. Some of the port a potties were even LOCKED to prevent us from using them. I wound up peeing by a bush with three other women in front of a cop before the race. What was he going to do to us? Chase us?

And it was a less than stellar time for me, too. I had been training hard for that race, which was my first half. Then I got sick. Then I got sick again. I wasn't able to train for the last three weeks leading up to the race, and I was sick at the starting line. I was very fast then, and figured I might as well try to hit my goal, which was to qualify for the New York City Marathon (which you can do with a half time). I figured if I ran a perfect race and had the wind at my back, I could have done it. I held that pace for the first eight miles, then crashed. I sobbed as I crossed the finish line because I felt like I'd wasted all of that training because I couldn't stay healthy.

I tried to turn that around into fire to train for the 2010 New Jersey Marathon where my goal was to qualify for the Boston Marathon. That backfired, too. I haven't trained the same way since.

That's not to say I'm horrible. My attitude about running has changed, as have my goals.

I only have two for Sunday: to finish, and to not require immediate medical attention. That means I will be running a very conservative race. VERY conservative. My goal is to run 10 minute miles for the first half, which means I will most likely be doing a modified Galloway approach: run nine minutes, walk one, run nine minutes, walk one.

Surprised? You might be if you read my Ocean City Half report, where I PRed in the half marathon at a 1:49:55. But the half is a familiar distance to me. I have a good feel for that length of a race, and what my body can and cannot take (though I still shocked myself that day).

I haven't done the marathon before, and my longest training run was 19 miles, so it's new territory for me. Plus, I used this method to get through my first 10 miler, and it worked. The next year, I dropped 16 minutes off that time in the same race. That's why I'll do it here. I want to marathon for a long time. This is just the first shot. If it goes well, I can bump up the training for the Ocean Drive Marathon, which I plan to run in March - yes, the whole thing this time, not the 10 miler portion.

So the conservative approach to the first half of the race. If that means I have plenty of gas left in the tank for the last half of the race - especially that last 6.2 miles - then so be it. That's fine by me. I'm not sure if I'll Galloway the whole way, but if I do, that's a-okay. I might even hit the beer stop at mile 21.

Could I try to really race this thing? Probably. But that's not the mission here. I just want to complete this distance and enjoy the experience of finally running a marathon, and one in a setting where I'll have lots of friends cheering for me along the way (seriously - there's a lot of you coming out to watch).

I signed up for a service that will send my five mile splits to my Facebook page and to my twitter account. Best bet is to probably follow on twitter, which you can do here. If you're at the race, I plan on wearing black below-the-knee tights and a royal blue tank. My hair will be in a low-slung braid (no headband), and I will most likely be wearing brightly colored socks - lime green or purple, I think.

Not that you'd see me, but if you're following on twitter, you might have a better idea of when I'm coming through. Say hi! Yell support! And not just for me - but for everyone running on Sunday. And we thank you for it.

Also! I have a commentary about the cost of running on this weekend's Marketplace Money show. You can find that online here (it should go up on Friday night). If you're in the Philadelphia area, you can hear the show on 90.9 WHYY at 3pm on Saturday. And then, if you want, stick around for Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me, which was recorded in Tampa this weekend - not only because I love that show but also because I'm curious to see what Florida jokes they come up with. UPDATE: Here's the commentary!

P.S. I wish I could say I have some real bad ass mantra that I'll repeat in my head over and over again to keep me going if the going gets rough (I don't run with my iPod). But most likely? It'll be this.

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Thursday, November 17, 2011

News from Around the South Jersey Shore

Let's do the news, shall we?

The casino formerly known as the Atlantic City Hilton is becoming a 'locals casino.' Whatever that means.

The Atlantic City Expressway tolls might be privatized.

This is...bizarre.

Watch those Sea Isle beach tag prices.

No smoking ban for Cape May beaches. BOO. According to tweets from the meetings, locals opposed it. Really?! That strikes me as very odd and backwards.

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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Chat with the CEO of Caesars

Got some listening time? Check out this fascinating podcast with Gary Loveman CEO of Caesars (as in ALL of Caesars, not just the Atlantic City location). Pre-casino life, he was an economics professor at the Harvard Business School. Really interesting stuff.

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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

And the winner is...

With a guess of $78.82, Raelynn is the winner! Congrats Raelynn. I'll send you the info on how to get your free copy of Book a Week with Jen.

And since you all were good sports (and made some GREAT comments while guessing), I have a treat for you too: a coupon for 44% off the regular price for the book (44 in honor of Raelynn's close guess).

So when you buy the book through this site, enter the coupon code BM27H for your discount (this works for Smashwords distributed books only - sorry, can't discount on the Kindle, but you can download the PDF for your Kindle this way.)

This sale is good TODAY ONLY until 5pm EST.

BTW I think a lot of people considered that the Cliff and Luna bars would be expensive at Wegmans. Not so - 99 cents each. I know it'd have been cheaper if I bought in bulk, but I wanted a little variety.

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Monday, November 14, 2011

Philadelphia Marathon Prep - and a Contest

On Sunday, I'm running the Philadelphia Marathon. Nervous? Not really. I'm not exactly excited either, but that may change by the end of the week.

But let's have a contest.

One of the books in the Book a Week with Jen series, which is now an ebook, is First Marathons. After reading it, I pledged to run a full marathon someday. I made the pledge in 2008, and I'm finally fulfilling it on Sunday.

Above is a photo of what I bought for me and my boyfriend to eat for this pre-marathon week. This is where the contest comes in.

Guess how much the food in that cart cost. Person who guesses closest to the total amount as printed on the receipt wins a free copy of Book a Week with Jen.

Hints/clarifications: It's food for two people. I shopped at Wegmans. Breads and bagels were purchased elsewhere. Also, this is not Price is Right rules. Whoever is closest - whether they guess higher or lower than the actual cost - wins.

Contest ends at 5pm EST TODAY (November 14, 2011). Make your guesses in the comments, at me on Twitter, or on my Facebook page if you're a friend of mine there.

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Friday, November 11, 2011

How do we feel about Revel?

So...a new casino is coming to Atlantic City this spring. My boyfriend asked me at lunch today what I knew about Revel, and I admitted the truth: not much.

This is bad on my part. I should know more about it. I should be trying to write about it.

But I have casino/Atlantic City/tourism district/falling casino revenue/bankruptcy/foreclosure fatigue. I don't agree with what the state of New Jersey is doing in Atlantic City. I think it will lead to a net sum zero, and it does absolutely nothing to better the living situation of the residents of Atlantic City. If you want to hear a beautiful song and dance of PR spin, listen to what new CRDA Executive Director John Palmieri has to say when asked about what he plans to do for the people who LIVE in Atlantic City in this radio report.

And now I'm supposed to believe that Revel is some kind of savior? They already axed one tower off the plans (though they say that the second tower will be added eventually). And the events leading up to the construction themselves are a tragedy (construction execs died in a plan crash in 2008).

So right now, I'm one big meh. The boyfriend, for the record, would like to know about the poker rooms. I don't gamble, so I don't know.

I have seen some excitement, though, mostly among young 20 and 30-something Philadelphians who go to Atlantic City often. I'm kind of interested to see what the amenities will be (spas, mostly, since the only place I seem to take the time for stuff like that is when I'm in AC). So maybe I'm looking in the wrong place.

What do you think?

Also, if you're looking for a job, they have plenty of openings.

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Thursday, November 10, 2011

Miss the Shore? This Won't Help

Justin Gaynor's annual shore video replaying his summer vacation (a little late this year because SOMEONE had to get married. Sheesh)

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Wednesday, November 9, 2011

November Beach Day

Yesterday, I was in Asbury Park for some meetings. Lucky gal - it ended up being a 70 degree November day.

Pretty, right? I snapped this in between answering work emails. Another view:

Weird, right? I saw this at the Asbury Park Relay Marathon, too. I didn't care much here. I sat on the bench, took off my shoes, and put my feet in that sand.

For lunch, I met up with a friend at a new restaurant called Cubana. Excellent. Outstanding. And I'm picky about my Cuban food (I went to college in Tampa, which has deep Cuban roots). Of COURSE we sat outside.

Yeah, that was good too (and, yes my meetings were done by then).

The sun was glorious. People WERE in the water. But as soon as you stepped into that shade, it felt like November all over again.

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Monday, November 7, 2011

Book a Week with Jen - now on sale!

"In 2007, freelance journalist Jen A. Miller got dumped, lost her grandfather, wrote a book and bought a house - all in a four month span. She couldn't run, she couldn't write, and spent most of her time lying on her office floor.

To break herself out of her depression, she decided to read 52 books in 52 weeks, and write about them all.

In Book a Week with Jen, Jen recovers from the worst year of her life by reading - everything from dating books written for men to foodie lit to running books to romance novels (and even an instruction guide to threesomes). Funny, inspiring, and full of essays about good books, Book a Week with Jen is how one writer used the power of reading to pull herself through to a brighter side."

It's finally here! The Book a Week with Jen eBook! Thanks to everyone who supported this project, both when I first started writing it in 2007 and those talented pros who helped the actual eBook happen.

I wrote the series just after I'd turned in the manuscript for my first Jersey Shore book. So if you're a long time reader, you might be familiar with some of the content. If not, well, I hope you like 27-year-old Jen as much as I do. She's a little young, and a little confused but...well. You'll have to read the book.

I hope you enjoy it - and for only $2.99, it's a cheap and easy reading experience :-)

Buy it for your Amazon Kindle
Buy it for your Nook
Buy it in any other eReader format, including those for iBook and Sony Reader.

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Friday, November 4, 2011

Book a Week with Jen: the ebook

Remember my post about working on getting out an ebook in November?

Well, here she is.

I'll post much more information when the book's on sale. Early readers of this blog probably know that the ebook is about. It's the first time I've tried doing an ebook, so it'll be interesting to see how this goes!

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