It’s Saratoga Season! + Training For A Race On Vacation

Since my husband was a child, he has anticipated the summer horse racing circuit at Saratoga Race Track.  He grew up approximately a half hour away from the track.  Some things never change.  His parents still reside in the house that he grew up in.  He still acts like a kid the night before Christmas as we board the airplane to make the trek.  I started going to the track with him in 2010.  Five years later, our days at the track have changed.  Our definition of fun has changed.  While our priorities may have shifted some, the base foundation that brought us together has not – we still appreciate quality time with family, good food and exercise to balance it all out.  Time away is good (for everyone).

IMG_6429Our trip this year was yet again different than any other.  One, we add another member to our growing family (little Morgan Riley); two, we were training for a race less than two weeks out from our return date; and three, we made plans for only our second over night stay away from the girls (since our second daughter was born).  Go figure, the four of us boarded the plane and found ourselves sitting in the back row – yep, beside the bathroom.  Suffice it to say, they made the most out of the airport and the airplane.  They actually behaved better than we could have planned.

FullSizeRender-41IMG_6436American Airlines (former US Airways) family travelers, I have a big tip for you.  Get the airline credit card.  Hide it if you have to, but understand a few things.  It is worth looking into.  For a $99 annual fee, you get two $99 companion passes, one free checked bag (for each person traveling with you as well) and Zone 2 boarding.  Not good at math?  Let me explain.

Cost of Flight With Credit Card

  • Annual fee of Credit Card                                                 $99
  • Cost of One Round Trip Ticket (hypothetically)           $500
  • Cost of One Companion Round Trip Ticket                   $99
  • Cost of One Companion Round Trip Ticket                   $99

Total Cost With Credit Card (excluding taxes)             $797

Cost of Flight Without Credit Card

  • Cost of 3 Checked Bags ($25/person for 1st Bag)        $75
  • Cost of One Round Trip Ticket (hypothetically)          $500
  • Cost of One Round Trip Ticket (hypothetically)          $500
  • Cost of One Round Trip Ticket (hypothetically)          $500

Total Cost Without Credit Card (excluding taxes)     $1,575

Even if you don’t use the credit card the rest of the year, in just one trip, we managed to save almost $800.  If you can control your spending, it seems like an easy decision to me.  Also, don’t forget to sign your children up for a frequent flyer card.  It is never too early to start earning miles.  You can transfer your child’s miles to yourself.

IMG_6438Blah, blah, blah, enough about the little details.  More about the trip!  I’m not going to lie, I was a little concerned about staying in the shape that I am in while being gone for almost ten days.   There is no Flywheel.  We don’t go to a gym.  There is a lot of good Italian food, drinks and (gasp) hard ice cream – homemade.  Every night.  It is easy to lose control.

IMG_6476photo 1-108photo 4-72photo 2-109IMG_6450To keep up with all of the food that we would be eating, we definitely had to keep up with the exercise.  In any form or fashion.  The pavement and a heavy set of dumbbells easily became my best friend.

photo 5-34My husband and I took turns some days.  Other days, we were able to push each other through some tough cardio strength workouts.  If it weren’t for each other, we would have had a hard time getting motivated.  How exactly did we manage?  We squeezed in a workout (even if it was short) at any point that we could get away.  IMG_6462I managed to put together a quick driveway circuit using my handy dumbbells the first full day that we were there.  Afraid you won’t be organized enough to get it done?  Write it down before you start.  See my scrap paper below.


The run was down the street to the stop sign and back.  Approximately a quarter mile.  The workout took just over forty five minutes.  Repeat four times.

IMG_6460Nothing beats the weather in New York in August.  I have been struggling to push through workouts in North Carolina where the high is close to 100 and humidity levels are soaring.  We were waking up some mornings with temperatures in the 50’s.  No humidity.  I’ll take it.  It actually kind of felt like fall!

IMG_6442Aside from this driveway workout, I was able to squeeze in three solid five mile runs.  One in Connecticut while visiting my sister in law.  Wow, was I in over my head.  There are no “flats” in western Connecticut.  It’s either straight up or down.  Needless to say, I went out to hard.  I felt this run.  Thank goodness she followed along beside me on her new road bike.  Not only did she prevent me from getting lost, but she encouraged me to keep going!

IMG_6530Self admittedly, I had to walk a few hundred feet at the end.  I just couldn’t get my legs to move up the final (never ending) hill.  That said, I was impressed that my pace still averaged out to be around 8:45 (even with my walk).  IMG_6529One driveway workout and three nice steady runs were topped off with one solid cardio bootcamp at a local park.  My husband and I were able to complete the bootcamp together by putting together an AMRAP (as many rounds as possible) circuit.  The gist – grab a pair of heavy dumbbells (I used the 20’s pictured above) and do as many rounds of the rotation as possible until you hit sixty minutes.  Finish the round that you started when you hit sixty minutes.

  • Steps Ups (on picnic table bench, holding a dumbbell in each hand) x 20 total (10 each leg)
  • Dips (off picnic table bench) x 20
  • Push Ups (any variation) x 20
  • Pull Ups (on playground monkey bars) x 10
  • Weighted Squats x 20
  • Bicep Curls x 20 total (10 each side)
  • Shoulder Press x 20
  • 400m Farmer Carry
  • 800m Hill Run Interval

IMG_6536I had started my fifth round when I hit sixty minutes.  As such, I completed the entire circuit through the fifth round in an hour and seven minutes.  3.4 miles.  Legit.  Those pull ups?  Hard.  Good thing I packed my band to help.  Y’all these are cheap, easy to travel with and light weight.

IMG_6539 IMG_6540When I needed help, it was there.  If you can’t quite do them on your own, these work so well.  Trust me.  After my second daughter was born, I could only do one pull up.  Grunting the entire way.  I can now do ten.  In a row.  You just have to build a foundation.

IMG_6506We were there a total of eight full days.  Five of those days, I got in a solid workout.  What about the other days?  I took one entire day off.  The other two days were easy thirty minute light runs and body weight workouts.  Like I said above, it is important to take some time off.

IMG_6465Only a small part of our day was about working out, the rest of the time was all about family and horses.  My sister in law that lives in Miami planned her trip around our visit.  I love seeing her almost as much as the girls do.  Her vibe is always so positive.  Plus, she makes my picture taking seem amateur.  I always know she will get the best shot!

FullSizeRender-44The entire family headed to the track for a morning of activities.  Races don’t go off until 1PM.  If you get to the track early enough (before 10 AM), you can watch the horses warm up while enjoying breakfast and sitting in some of the boxes that line the finish line.  These boxes are virtually impossible to get a spot in if you aren’t willing to pay a hefty price.

FullSizeRender-43IMG_6482IMG_6504They close the track around 10 AM before reopening the gates prior to the first race starting.  During the gap, we headed to downtown Saratoga to take the girls on the infamous carousel.

IMG_6507IMG_6516IMG_6515IMG_6514Last year was a complete disaster for my oldest.  This year was entirely different story.  She could not stop smiling (and neither could I).  Our youngest even got on the ride as well.  It truly was so much fun watching the two of them together.  One ride was enough for me.  I am the only one that gets dizzy going around so many times?

IMG_6517We walked back to the track to try to let the girls watch one race before we headed home.  They both fell asleep on the walk over.  They must have been exhausted from all of the hoopla after our oldest got her leg stuck in a chair at a local sandwich shop.  Kids do the most ridiculous things.  Somehow she managed to get her knee wedged in between the notches in the chair back.  The entire restaurant was offering suggestions on how to get it out as she screamed loudly.  It is the most scared that I have been for her in her life.  My adrenaline surged.  No wonder they were so tired, right?

IMG_6523Our youngest did happen to wake up for about ten minutes.  Just enough time to catch the race.  She checked that off her “to do” list for the week. My oldest just continued to sleep.  The entire way home.

IMG_6468This trip was so much fun.  So much better than last year.  In fact, so much better that my husband and I actually drove to the track one day and spent a night in downtown Saratoga.  You would never believe how hard it is to get reservations in this town during track season.  Lucky for me, we found a quaint bed and breakfast within walking distance to downtown and the track.  No need to drink and drive.

IMG_6558 IMG_6556I had never stayed in a bed and breakfast.  I also hadn’t ever been to Saratoga to stay for the night.  I was looking forward to a little one on one time with my husband.  The B&B was titled, “Circular Manor”.  The crowd was older, but we didn’t mind.  We checked in early on Thursday morning, before heading to the track.  Free parking and even better we could get into our room that early.

IMG_6543My first time to the track not pregnant in over two years was incredible.  We were losers.  We didn’t win much money, but we did have a good time.  The last race went off at 6 PM.  We strategically planned our walk to dinner such that we would hit all of the post race hot spots for a drink.

IMG_6544 IMG_6545

We needed this night.  We relived the glory days and reminded each other of how silly we can be (especially when we have a few too many drinks).  Luckily, we got a spot at the bar at 15 Church for one of the best meals that I have had in a LONG time.

IMG_6546Call ahead.  This place is small. It’s hard to get a table.  It’s new.  It’s SO good.  Cocktails are creative and the food is incredible.  I opted for the tuna.  Perfect for a hot day at the track.


We will definitely be back (if we can get in).  We also plan to stay at the bed and breakfast again. The service was incredible.  The owners actually live in the house.  They go out of their way to make sure that their guests are happy.  They even set up a breakfast table on the porch, so we could enjoy the beautiful morning.

IMG_6551 IMG_6555 IMG_6553It was like staying in someone else’s house.  No TV.  A friendly dog resting on the porch.  Cute furniture and accessories.  There is typically a three night minimum during track season.  They made an exception for us due to someone else wanting to do the same thing.  They will do their best to accommodate if you ask.

FullSizeRender-42I have to say, for a nine day trip, the time went by fast.  It seems like the days went by so quick.  Maybe it’s because we have kids now?  Or maybe it is because the kids are becoming so independent that we can get away some now.  Either way, we can’t wait to go back.  We are looking forward to building this family tradition every year.  We proved this year that with a little motivation, we can keep up with our workouts, have fun and eat well (without being on our usual routine).



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