Tag Archives: Saratoga

NY 2016 – Eats, Deets & Workouts

Oh New York.  I’m not talking about the city.  I’m talking about the state.  When I say we are going on our annual family trip to New York, I mean we are going to visit my husband’s hometown.  The small “village” is actually situated approximately 30 minutes Northwest of Albany and about 45 minutes southwest of Saratoga Springs.  We choose to go up every year in August so that my husband can catch the summer meet at Saratoga Race Track (we are talking horse racing).  Before I met him, I had no clue there was actually enough people watching the sport that a venue could sustain an event like this for over a month (holding approximately 10 races a day, 6 days a week). Don’t these people work?

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Neither here nor there, we try to fly out such that we have two full weekends at the track (when the most anticipated horse races are competed).  This is the third time that the girls have flown on an airplane together, so we are starting to get our hands around how best to book flights that revolve around nap times and meals.  We typically pack a lunch for us all to eat on the plane, as I have found that trying to buy food at the airport can be completely inconvenient and expensive.  The way there was smooth sailing.  We opted to fly out on a lunchtime flight, in which both kids (surprisingly) fell asleep.

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My husband’s mom picked us up from the airport, and we were on our way.  Am I the only one that thinks it’s odd that so many people in New York have pools when they only get a few months of warm weather?  The girls sure were excited to get in Mimi and Papa’s (that’s what they call their grandparents) pool.  Our youngest didn’t even have time to get her bathing suit on.  They swam long enough to work up an appetite before we headed to one of our favorite Italian restaurants in town.

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Pretty mom and pop.  I wish I would have taken a picture of the “buttered bread” that they bring to every table.  If you can picture an entire homemade loaf of bread sliced thickly before each slice is covered in smooth butter, that would be what they serve.  My children typically do not shy away from butter, but I have to say they even wanted me to scrape some of it off.  One glass of wine down, our pizza arrived!  See picture above.  Two slices was all I needed.  They serve the sauce on top of the cheese (almost like a deep dish).  Feels (and tastes) like home.

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We went to bed as early as the kids would let us.  Why is it so hard to get the kids adjusted to a bed time on vacation?  We started with one room for the girls and one room for us.  We played musical beds all week (depending on who was more tired).  I’m not going to lie, sleeping was pretty rough out of town, which is why it was good we had time to rest if we needed to.

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Maybe it was vacation or maybe it was lack or activity, but I just don’t get hungry as early when we are in New York.  On Saturday, my husband and I slept in (ultimately meaning we didn’t get up early to exercise).  We dilly dallied around the house before we headed to the local golf course clubhouse for brunch.  Anticipating that my next meal may not be until later in the day, I ordered two pancakes and bacon.  You have to have protein right?  The girls took a ride around in the golf cart before we headed home and my husband and I got ready to go to the track.

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The girls are finally getting to an age where they recognize their grandparents and feel comfortable with us leaving them over night.  A day at the track is literally a day at the track.  We drive 45 minutes before parking, walking a half mile to the entry gate and getting settled.

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I am an accountant.  I understand odds.  I bet a little here and there, but I don’t bet with much intention.  Sometimes I try to pick a winner.  Other times I pick a name or a number.  For the most part I just enjoy walking around, people watching and having a few adult beverages.  I couldn’t tell you how many thousands of steps we take at the track.  There is a lot of time between the races. There are a lot of things to look at.

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We got caught in a complete downpour at the track the first day we went.  We huddled inside a long bar and munched on kettle corn popcorn while we waited out the storm. They ended up calling the remaining races.  My husband can’t remember the last time this happened.  To say he was disappointed is an understatement.  Once the rain slowed up, we stopped for dinner at a local Saratoga restaurant.  I feel like this is another one of our “regular” spots when we head up north.

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On Sunday, my husband opted to hit the track while the girls and I stayed at the house.  One of the neighborhood kids was having her birthday party.  A pool party.  With an obstacle race bouncy house and magician (who actually made balloon animals).

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Since both of the girls are now preoccupied with pools, my mother-in-law and I both suited up to watch them as they swam.  My oldest daughter is dabbling with jumping off the little diving board.  As such, I had to demonstrate a “cannonball” to entice her jump herself.  It was kind of fun.

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I mention the obstacle race bouncy house because I was obsessed with it.  Maybe I will have one at my 32nd birthday party later this year?  I was surprised how good my girls were at climbing through, up and down the massive structure.  It really was fun. In fact, it was so fun, I challenged my husband (who showed up after the last horse race) to a competition.  I narrowly missed beating him (we attempted to take a video, but it didn’t work out).

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All in all, we had a great time at the party.  We actually ended up eating there.  They had an incredible spread of grilled chicken skewers, chips, fruit, macaroni and cheese and cake (of course).

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Let me clarify.  We had cake at the party.  We then headed to the local diner to get ice cream.  Another thing I am still trying to figure out is why there are so many ice cream places in an area that isn’t that warm a better part of the year.  I’m not complaining.  Just saying.  Let me note, I did go for a slow 5 mile run that morning.

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My husband used to scoop ice cream at the local diner, so the owner asked to grab a quick picture of the family on our way out.

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Monday is family day at the track.  Quite literally.  I guess Mondays are considered a slower day, so they put together a variety of activities to entice families to check things out.  We grabbed bagels, donuts and coffee at Dunkin Donuts before making the 45 minute drive to the track.  We left early so the girls could watch the horses do their workouts.  The track is open early every morning for the horses to workout, prior to racing later on in the day/week.

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I guess our two year old wasn’t feeling the early wake up call because she refused to participate in family pictures.  Maybe it’s her age.  She preferred to walk around with her potty seat on top of her head.  I let her do it.  I even took a picture of it.  I’m sure she won’t believe she acted that way when I tell her the story years from now.  My youngest on the other hand, loved watching the animals and was more than willing to spend some quality time with her grandma.

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We hit the “step and repeat” wall before heading to the playground.  They have all of this at the track.  The environment is quite welcoming to children.  The remaining family activities were not set to start until closer to lunch, so we walked to downtown Saratoga to do some shopping and ride the Carrousel.

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This umbrella.  My oldest got a horse umbrella.  The youngest got a matching horse lunchbox.  Needless to say, the umbrella was out the rest of the day.  It didn’t matter if we were inside, outside or trying to ride home in the car.  I don’t know how it didn’t break.  By the end of the day, she had successfully mastered opening and closing it.

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The Carrousel.  The main attraction for children in downtown Saratoga – Congress Park.  Merry go round.  I literally made it one time around before I felt like I was going to throw up. Good thing the girls were able to enjoy the ride and spend some quality time with everyone else.  We grabbed sandwiches at a local deli before making the walk back to the track to watch the first race and head home. Between our early morning run and the walk to downtown and back, we accumulated over 13 miles.

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I figured both kids would be exhausted from the morning and fall asleep in the car but nothing ever goes as planned in mom world.  My oldest was itching to do something Monday afternoon, so I took a gamble and opted to take her with me to get a pedicure and a manicure.  Wow.  Let me just say this.  Wow.  She did better than I ever could have guessed.  She sat amazingly still as she watched them massage her feet, paint her toenails and wait for them to dry.

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Monday night dinner at home.  Our oldest became quite the sous chef while in New York.  She was more than willing to help Mimi in the kitchen.  While we are talking about the kitchen and food, I should bring up Stewart’s ice cream.  Stewart’s is actually a type of 7-11/gas station in the north that carries its own line of ice cream.  You can actually walk in and get sundaes and milkshakes as well.  My favorite – Crumbs Along the Mohawk.  Just read the description.  It’s a shame they don’t deliver.

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The track is closed on Tuesday.  We had all day with my husband to do something as a family.  My mother-in-law had mentioned going to “Animal Land” one of the days that we were visiting since our youngest loves animals so much.

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Animal Land is about 20 minutes from where my husband grew up.  It actually reminds me of a zoo.  There are a ridiculous amount of animals there – giraffes, zebras, bears, gosh the list goes on.  They even have a safari ride where you ride an open air bus around an uncaged area.  Animals are free to walk up to the vehicle as the guide explains the various creatures.

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The girls really did have a good time.  My youngest more than the oldest (as we expected).  She really had no fear when it came to reaching out to some very large animals to feed them.  They also had several (Chuck E Cheese type) rides at the exit for them to enjoy.  We enjoyed yet another meal at home that evening before having some Crumbs Along the Mohawk.

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Wednesday was another low key day.  We drove to a nearby lake where we grabbed lunch and let the girls run around on a man made beach.  The water was actually warmer than we thought it would be.  Since I had never been to the area before, we spent some time driving around and sight seeing while the girls took naps in the back.

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Since I was still gambling back and forth as to whether I wanted to compete in the Spartan World Championships, I figured I should try to get a strength workout in one of the days we were out of town.  In an effort to spend time with my husband, I asked him if he wanted to go to a local playground with me.  This picture is actually from last year.  He was in such a bad mood about “Spartan training” that he did his own thing when we arrived at the park and gave me 40 minutes to get my stuff done.  Mouth shut.  I was off, and I wasn’t  asking him to take videos or pictures.  I wasn’t too thrilled about exercise myself, but I got in a solid workout.

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We spent the rest of the day at the house playing with the girls, before I actually took a nap.  It was incredible.  I hope you notice the Dora bib my oldest is wearing in several pictures.  She loves Dora.  She found this in a drawer at the house.  She literally slept in it.  That lasted about three days.  I was on vacation.  I didn’t argue.

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I had a few “bucket list” foods that I wanted to eat before I left New York.  The pizza on day one was one of them.  The second was a pizza roll from Brooklyn Pizza.  Look at those beautiful rolls basking in the sunlight.  If I am going to go all in, I am going to go all in.  They stuff each roll with whatever you want and then give you a side of marinara to dip it in.

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I opted for the veggie roll.  Cheese. Mushroom.  Spinach. Red peppers.  Bread.  Lots of it.  I ate every bite, and I didn’t feel bad about it.  I work too hard to deprive myself.

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Nights are the absolute best!  Little to no humidity.  It’s quiet.  It’s cool.  We spent a lot of time just sitting out in the front yard.  I used to do the same thing when I visited my grandpa up in Floyd, VA.  There is something so humbling about sitting out in the country without the phone, music or television.

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This is a long post.  Stay with me.  The rest of the week went by pretty fast.  My husband and I booked a room in Saratoga for Thursday night and left the girls with my in-laws.  Prior to hitting the road for the day, we hit the road for hill and speed workouts.  I typically work out with a running group outside of my house on Thursday morning.  I knew they would be working hard, so I was motivated to as well.  I hit the pavement and completed the following speed work out.

  • Warm Up
  • 2 x mile
  • 2 x 800 m
  • 4 x 400 m
  • Cool Down

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My husband finished the 400 meter repeats with me.  Well, he actually smoked me, but he started at the same time as I did. It was actually fun this time. I love how much he ball busts me and jokingly eggs my athletic endeavors on.

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We held off on eating anything before we got to Saratoga.  By the time we had showered, said goodbye to the girls and arrived at our breakfast destination it was close to 11 AM.  Hangry.  There was a reason behind this.  Our favorite spot is called Mimi’s. They serve breakfast until they close.  I had to share this picture.  We each ordered an appetizer for breakfast.  Who does that.  I had a biscuit and he had a grilled muffin.  My “entree” was not as large, but my husband went on to order the Georgia Southern French Toast with a side of sausage.  Um, look at those sausages.  Are we at a tailgate?  He almost finished the whole thing before the waitress said, “Wow, nobody finishes the french toast”.  I think she forgot he had an appetizer as well.

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We walked to the track from the breakfast restaurant (we needed it).  We spent the afternoon there before grabbing a few drinks and checking into our bed and breakfast.

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I stopped taking pictures at that point.  It’s okay.  Maybe things got a little blurry.  It was like pre-kids days.  We didn’t eat dinner until 9:00 PM and we stayed up past 10:00 PM.  We woke up the next day without an alarm, and we both decided not to do a workout.

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This is the second year that we have stayed at the Circular Manor Bed and Breakfast and it was just as good round two.  My husband’s mom and aunt drove up to Saratoga with the girls and met us at the track before I drove the girls back and hung out with his dad that afternoon.  He had knee surgery in July.  While he is usually more mobile, he was limited this year.  The girls were great about finding ways to be around him as much as possible.

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Saturday.  Our last full day of vacation. We did run in the morning.  We spent the rest of the afternoon at the track.  We saw the horse “Songbird” win the Alabama Stakes.  If you don’t know horse racing, know this:  she is the top three year old filly and is in contention for horse of the year.  She is undefeated. I don’t go to many big races, but this race was really cool to see.  We grabbed one last Italian meal on our way home before we had to start packing things up for our flight back home.

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Sunday was a long day.  We got delayed on our way out on Sunday.  After a 45 minute drive the airport, we got through security and waited another hour before boarding.  Once we got on the plane, the girls fell asleep for a little bit, before getting anxious.  Storms over Charlotte delayed our landing.  By the time we got our luggage and made it home, we had been traveling for 7 hours.  I hate to complain, but we are getting close to just packing the car up and driving.

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The time is worth it though.  I needed a vacation. My husband did too.  One in which we didn’t feel obligated to do much.  One in which we didn’t have anywhere we had to be.  Even when we go to the beach, we feel like we have to be out there as long as possible.  It’s getting easier every year.

 

 

 

 

 

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.

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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.

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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.

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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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Part 2: New York Trip – Horse Racing

Part two of our New York trip update will revolve entirely on the third main objective of our trip:  horse racing (if you missed yesterday’s post, I blogged about the first two:  food and family).  Since my husband was a child, he has spent days upon days researching jockeys, horses, and owners. It was through small bets growing up, that he says he actually learned how to do math.  I don’t doubt that his ability to analyze odds didn’t attribute to him eventually earning a degree in computer science.  Oddly enough, until I met my husband, the sport of horse racing was just an annoying sporting event that replaced shows that I wanted to watch on random Saturday afternoons.

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It didn’t take much for me to be convinced that I was missing out.  I went to my first race at Saratoga during the summer of 2010 (see picture above).  It was the first time that I actually visited my husband’s home.  At the time, the track was only open during a few weeks in August (which is ultimately why we make plans to visit during track season).  Since then, the track has added some additional days to the schedule in July.  Even on a dreary day, the excitement and anticipation of every race is incredible.  Not to mention the people watching.

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photo 2-112It was around the time that I started going to races that my sister-in-law Lindsay also started becoming a fan.  Having her in town to go to some of the races while we were there made it a completely different experience.  The girl has style, and she wins!

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My first day at the track, myself, my husband, my father-in-law, and sister-in-law got to spend a beautiful afternoon betting horses, having drinks, and people/horse watching.  Over the years, I have started to figure out how to “handicap”, but let’s just say I have more fun checking out what horses look good in the paddock and who has the best name. If I miss betting on a race, no big deal.  Overall, the first day most of us came out as winners (I won’t name the loser)!

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Days at the track can be long, as well as the drive home.  We stopped for dinner at a unique pub in Ballston Spa called The Factory.  Everyone was hungry, so we ordered the smothered nachos appetizer.  I had to take a picture and share because it really hit the spot after a long day.

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My second day at the track involved less betting and more tourist activities.  After leaving my daughter the entire first day, we figured that we should probably take her with us the next visit.  With that said, we also wanted to go at a time that was less crowded, so that we could take pictures of her first visit.  The facility offers a trackside breakfast during morning workouts for the horses.

IMG_1337IMG_1340IMG_1361IMG_1364Instead of getting the fancy sit down breakfast, we grabbed Dunkin Donuts (also open in the facility) and took a seat in the boxes by the finish.  Not only did we have a great view of all of the activity, but we also snuck around into some of the restricted areas during race time.  Check out these views.

photo 1-111 My daughter was smitten by the horses.  The beautiful weather gave us the perfect opportunity to take several great family photos.  The photos didn’t stop at the track.  From there, we walked to Congress Park and took my daughter on her first Carousel Ride (we also took a family selfie).   What a trooper she was.

IMG_1369photo 3-90photo 2-105 At this point, my daughter, my husband, and I split from the rest of the group to head back to the track.  Would you believe that she was still tolerant of us?  We took her into the track just in time for her to check out the paddock and horses up close.  We even bet on a horse for her (based on the excitement she gave us when they walked by).  She ultimately was a loser, but she did witness her first race!

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Although my husband made it to the track several other days, I only went back one more day.  Between the drive up and back and the time it takes to run all of the races, a day at the track, is a long day.  If you are there with someone who knows anything about handicapping, buying a full size program is worth the money.

photo 1-113 It is also worth taking time to walk over to the paddock.  There is nothing like a close up look at both the horse and jockey.  You also get to check out the owners that congregate in the middle.  Over time, I have learned that there are two important things to observe when watching a horse in the paddock.  One, is the horse “washy”.? Look it up.  TMI.  Two, is the horse “on its toes”?  Think prancing (like the way I run).  photo 2-115Spending quality time at the track with my husband (and now my daughter) is very special.  Not only do we get to enjoy exciting entertainment, but there is enough time between races to really enjoy each others company without using technology.  Pull up a chair, grab a cold drink and some snacks, and you are all set for a day at one of the most beautiful tracks in the world.photo 3-98

Part 1: New York Trip – Family & Food

As promised, I wanted to post an update on our trip to New York. Let me first make it clear that when I say we visited New York, I don’t mean the city. My husband is from a small rural town about thirty minutes west of Albany (you can visualize the surroundings from the picture of the road that I used to work out on).

photo 5-34 There are three main objectives to our August trip to New York: family, food and horse racing (I will talk about the first two in this post and save the horse racing for tomorrow). Since visiting my husband’s parent’s house requires us to drive 15 hours in the car OR take a two hour plane ride (including an additional thirty minutes in the car from the airport), it is difficult for us to make regular visits (especially with an infant). With that said, we don’t get to see my husband’s family as much as we would like to, so we try to spend a big chunk of time up there (i.e. first objective family).

photo 1-106This year we planned a ten day trip that coincided with a visit from my sister-in-law that currently lives in Miami, FL (again family). We also only get to see her a few times a year, so it was great to catch up with her in person.

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Pre-flight fun at the airport!

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In flight selfie!

Madison did surprisingly well on the flight. Unfortunately, she did not adjust well to being in a new place with new people once she got to New York. Why was it that I was more worried about the flight than when we actually got there? I couldn’t have imagined how clingy should we be almost the entire trip. People say that their children experience separation anxiety around ten months, but this is the first time that I had seen her cry anytime my husband and I left the room. With that said, we did adjust our plans slightly to try to make her more comfortable during our time there.

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That meant taking her out and about (especially to meals) A LOT! That brings me to our second objective: food. Since my husband is from a small town, there are very few chain restaurants and a lot of really delicious local, authentic restaurants. We frequented family owned Italian restaurants. Let me go ahead and forewarn you that most of the food I ate on this trip was almost entirely unhealthy. I guess that’s what vacation is for.

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Spaghetti and Meatballs and Russo’s.

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Deep dish Sicilian Pizza at Russo’s.

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Pizza Roll from Brooklyn Pizza.

Thankfully, my husband and I were able to get away for several hours during two of the days that we were there. Of course we went out to eat. Once you have a child (or if you already do), you will start to really appreciate private meals with your spouse more and more. We took a drive to downtown Saratoga and grabbed breakfast at a new, local restaurant called Sweet Mimi’s.

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The “Power Sandwich”.

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Um, do I dare say that this was the best breakfast that I have had in my entire life? I do. The presentation was so good, that my husband, who despises eggs, actually said it looked so delicious that he would dive right in if it didn’t have eggs. Y’all if you know him he doesn’t even like to crack an egg. This says a lot. So what is it? A “Power Sandwich”. Egg whites, on a hearty multi-grain roll, cooked spinach and tomatoes, topped with American cheese. I couldn’t stop thinking about this sandwich the rest of the time that I was in New York. In fact, I’m still thinking about it.

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We grabbed coffees at local coffee hot spot, Uncommon Grounds, before cruising around downtown for hours. With little to no convincing, my husband took me for a drive up Route 9 from Saratoga through Lake George before we finally arrived at the Sagamore. This place is incredible in early August.

photo 4-73photo 3-95 Something about old time, exclusive hotels captivates me (think Greenbrier or Charleston Place if you are from the South). I am in love. The vibe at these old hotels almost takes you back in time such that you can feel the character of all of the incredible people that have stayed in its walls over the years. I have no doubt in my mind that we will be back as actual paying guests one day.

photo 5-35photo 2-108 We topped off one of our only days solo with another great meal in Saratoga at the Olde Bryan Inn. We didn’t have a chance to eat much after our big breakfast, so this place was just what we needed to refuel. I’m talking good, old home cooked food.   What do you say oven roasted turkey, mashed potatoes, green beans and a biscuit? I’m still thinking about my “Power Sandwich”.

photo 4-72photo 3-94As I finish this post about family and food on our big trip, I have to mention dessert.  For a place that’s average temperature is under 80 degrees almost the entire year, excluding the summer, I have never seen more fresh ice cream brands and shoppes in such a small area.  If we weren’t going out for ice cream, we were making mini sundaes with the local favorite,  Stewart’s ice cream.

photo 2-110I have to say that as much as I love the carefree eating, it feels good to be back on a regular healthy eating routine.  I can’t tell you how much better I feel when I am eating cleaner foods.  We did get to enjoy some great family dinners at the house thanks to my husband’s mom.  She was a trooper dealing with my whiny daughter, yet still taking care of us like we were kids home from college.  Check out tomorrow’s post where I will catch you up on the horse racing part of our trip!