Block Island & the meal that doesn’t come with a side of flies (yes, flies)

There has been a bearded guy appearing on my social network lately. I certainly have avoided it being overly cutesy—because I loathe that. However, that’s my beau. We just went on an official vacation together and I really wanted to blog about it.


Well, not about him (yet, don’t worry I will but it’ll be more about dating in NYC, than him. His name isn’t even mentioned here). The entry will be the race recap and more about Block Island, R. I. (where we went). Our vacations, are sort of “active” that’s the understating description. I LOVE ACTIVE VACATIONS I DON’T KNOW HOW PEOPLE CAN GO TO NEW PLACES AND NOT EXPLORE!

Block Island

Why there and where is it?

Block IslandHe’s been mentioning Block Island, also known as Manisses, for most of the duration of us seeing each other and it’s because his parents went there over 35 years ago for their honeymoon. The family has vacationed there yearly ever since. He’s absolutely in love with the island. Block Island is located 13 miles south of the coast of Rhode Island or 14 miles east of Montauk Point on Long Island. It is separated from the Rhode Island mainland by the Block Island Sound. Rhode Island is about a 3 hour drive from New York City. It seems to be pretty popular among people from Connecticut, since we ran into so many people who came from there and we learned that there’s a ferry that is 2 hours away (the fast ferry takes an hour) from their location. We boarded at Point Judith’s where the ferry took an hour.

What did we do?

The 40th Annual Run around the Block 15K… He texted me after a month of dating and asked if I wanted to run it. Initially, I didn’t realize it wasn’t in NYC. When I researched I read that there was a 15k that occurs on the island yearly and unfortunately in the middle of the day. It seems pretty popular for the small island and brings in over 200 people, even more to cheer. Many participants seem to take the ferry for the day, run and head back. It’s relatively scenic but isn’t themed. I really wished that the locals would do a better job at logistics because it could be so much more. After spending some more time on the island, I realized we had passed some pretty important historical sites. Nonetheless, you do get to appreciate NYC ran races when venturing out to other small areas to run.

The 40th Annual Run around the Block 15 race recap

40th Annual Run Around the Block

The starting line started south some meters past the Fresh Pond location. We followed a couple, Brian and Kristin, who were also running and happened to be staying at the Hygeia Inn where we were. We all biked together to the start. We picked up our bibs there and started warming up 20 minutes before the race (we had actually gotten there obscenely early). There’s no corral so we lined up with some folks who were afraid to be front and center, possibly fearing that they might be in the way of faster runners. I was amused because this is unlike races in NYC. I lined up staggered behind my boyfriend, because he’s faster, and slightly behind the others who were at the front. I also realized where I started would be crucial because there were no tags or chips that would time us accurately.

When the gun went off, I started my Garmin and began running behind the fast guys. I had been warned about the rolling hills earlier and previewed some of them when we warmed up on our bikes so I anticipated many of them. I wasn’t being trailed by many folks but I had no real strategy. His dad told me a week prior to just attack the hills when I encountered them so I did that. However, my run became more of a workout despite reminding myself to enjoy the view.

I had been prepared for just the airport hill, which was actually a challenge (I used this hill for my hill repeats a couple days later), where I really enjoyed speed walking pass runners who completely slowed down—hey, I know my weaknesses.

It wasn’t until mile 6/7 that I felt a little burnt out, literally, from the heat. My handheld bottle was almost empty and my legs heavy. People were actually impressed when I passed by initially (hehe I was the only “Kenyan,” cough sorry racial joke but I really did stand out). I was sweating profusely and I realized if I went into a walk I could actually sprint pass by lots of other runners.

I must’ve been quite annoying—passing folks, then walking… But, as usual, I run my own race.

After passing mile 8 I saw my boyfriend, not surprised that he was already done. He shouted words of encouragement which didn’t sound quite like that when I just wanted to race to end. I gave him the finger as usual (ha don’t worry I apologized when he told me what he was doing—run your own race!). He did encourage me for the downhills (which I’m much, much better at).

I’m actually happy that he mentioned the final hill after mile 9, which I was ready for, and I coasted to the finish after seeing the line in the distance.

I placed 32nd out of ~230, he placed 3rd. I’m so proud of him! I’m pretty happy for haven’t ever running that course and who knows, maybe will do it again.

Where did we stay?

As I mentioned earlier, we stayed at the Hygeia House.

Here it is:

The Hygeia House
The Hygeia House (our bags and bikes are on the side waiting for our taxi while my boyfriend makes funny faces to ruin my photos lol)

Where do I start? Well, the house is quite themed. The owners are very much into poetry and I can see it’s quite artsy. Actually, the story of how the house got restored is pretty interesting. For the first few days the owner wasn’t around so we were hosted by Jen who was very nice and let us in early enough to get settled. We didn’t meet Lisa, the owner, until the night before our last day. Maybe I’m being a bit picky but the very last day we were woken up by a smell of skunk (there are no skunks on the island)… Someone was most definitely smoking directly under our room. Nonetheless the accommodation was pretty! There are a few recommendations on where to stay here on the Chamber of Commerce website.

The house is located near the firehouse and was conveniently located for us to cycle to the beach or walk to town in both directions. The restaurants that we went to nightly were less than a mile away, and so was the beach.


Where to eat?

Whatever what you do—avoid the Old Island Pub. Before that story, let me talk about Mohegan Cafe & Brewery (213 Water St)—they need a better website! We ate there twice for dinner and loved it. Both times, I had fish meals and even got him to enjoy Mahi Mahi (he’s not a big fan of fish). He did have a bowl of clam chowder everyday (my wanderlust tip: have sea food when you are in an area near the coast. The best bet, you’ll have fresher ingredients). I was told that there seems to be a signature way to make clam chowder on Block Island.

We ate at a sports bar (Ballard’s Inn I believe) on the final night which was decent, I decided to have a burger there. It was delicious! Another wanderlust tip, if you’re unsure about how meat is prepared at a new location, get those burgers medium well to well done. I’m so thankful for the NYC restaurant rating system.

Ernie’s Old Harbor Restaurant—ideal for breakfast if you can make it! The breakfast was delicious.

Now back to Old Island Pub (2 Corn Neck Rd). Are you ready? I’m hoping that is only a once ever incident because the reviews were great on yelp, besides mine. This is where I’m so used to the restaurant grade systems that we have in NYC.

Old Island Pub

On Block Island, it seems habitual that the people will ignore you when you enter some of the establishments. Customer service simply isn’t their priority. In fact, being on Block Island might cause you to get a chip on your shoulder—you might assume that no one likes you there. However, just don’t give a f*. As soon as we walked in, we were ignored but we had time to observe how dirty the bartender looked despite our hunger. She looked greasy. Not greasy as in sweaty, but like she had just came from her second job as a mechanic. Maybe she had (sorry for sounding mean but this part is repulsive). We finally got her attention and we said we wanted to order food and drinks. She told us that we actually had to order from the kitchen, pay and return for our drinks. We went to the back. Immediately my boyfriend and I stared at each other. There were possibly 20 flies hovering over everything.

“Look at these flies.” I said in amusement.

“Oh the sandwiches don’t come with fries,” says the assumed cook/server/person there. I was puzzled because he probably misheard me in retrospect but it seems like he wasn’t even noticing what we were seeing. I don’t hold expressions well.

“I think we will order drinks first,” says my boyfriend, both of us had actually been thinking of ways to bail out of there, not sure if he noticed my reaction. Great call!

“Yea, let’s do that. We will be back…” Not.

This was actually the second place that we saw on the island where flies didn’t seem to matter. Luckily the restaurants near the ferry were much cleaner. We found a place (across from Ben and Jerry’s) that sold amazing wraps—and I had a root beer float (c’mon I have to when on the menu!).

Bring a Bike

Ready to ride!Or, rent one. There’s so many listed that seem reliable, but check their reviews. There’s a place a few meters across from the ferry where mopeds and bikes can be rented. The terrain is perfect for training however if recreationally cycling, be prepare to use some leg power while going up the hills. I got off my bike to walk the first time I encountered a hill but my bike is pretty decent with gears so I was prepared for the others, and when I came back to that one.

Where to go and what to do?

Possibilities seem endless. I love art but didn’t get to see the museum—meh, pricey. However, I was super content about seeing the landmarks around the island like Settler’s Rock and Fresh Pond. I’m also into cemetery landscapes (morbid I know) but only saw from the outskirts from my bike.

SAM_8511We also went to see The Bluffs which the island seemed known for. If you’re into pirates, you would learn that Paulsgrave once walked on that island. There were also two lighthouses that we ventured out to and sadly didn’t enter for a tour (doubt we missed anything).

North Lighthouse, New Shoreham, RI 02807
North Lighthouse, New Shoreham, RI 02807

Rhode Island Sound


We also sampled fudge and had ice cream, having it at the infamous Ice Cream Place (232 Water St) seems best (although Ben and Jerry’s is good, why venture to something that you could always access while on vacation?).

dorryIt’s also a good idea to watch the sun set.

We went to Dorry’s Cove—a black-sand beach, which isn’t quite a secret but not crowded.

We didn’t get to swim but we saw the sunset while drinking Dark and Stormy’s, Oreos and Doritos. We are so romantic. Hehe. (Don’t worry he actually wanted wine and cheese).


Best time?

My boyfriend kept acknowledging that the island looked empty. I can imagine how it would be really packed during the summer. However, I loved how few people were around to avoid the lines that probably would have been at the establishments where we were. The unfortunate thing was that many places were closed.

It’s rumored that there are only 900 people live there during the winter. It’s possible because there is one school on the island (maybe with a few students per grade). You can read more about the island on it’s Chamber of Commerce website.

Beau and I

In all, the island is incredible. I thoroughly enjoyed being there and it reminded me so much of the Caribbean that I should plan a trip home.

Behold! My Existence

This might undeniably be a first world problem post but, I’ll vent.
Dear New Yorkers,
While I might not be tallest female you may have ever seen, I do stand at almost 6 feet and tower most of you. Not only am I not vertically challenged, I’m an athletically built African-American (Caribbean American actually but I’ll generalize here) woman, whom you can’t possibly be missing while you sashay and bustle daily. Thus, I believe that you deliberately run into me during your commute and guess what: you won’t win.
I’ll intentionally stand my ground each and every time you try. To make it even more challenging for you, I’ll continually carry my gym bag packed with my lunch, sneakers and drawing supplies that are durable and have it conveniently safe-guard the area that you target to contact on my person. Yes, I’ll use it as a shield.
I’m hoping that you’ll absent-mindedly be texting away on your iPhone and drop it.
Maybe one day I’ll gain courage and encourage that to occur!
Oh, did I run into you?”
Well, after you’ve conveniently ran into my bag, I’ll say, “Oh, my apologies,” or “I’m sorry.” Just to make you think that I care but in reality, I’m laughing at another sucker who wasn’t watching where he, or she, is walking. But wait, how do I know that you haven’t really seen me?
Ladies and gentlemen, I’m a tall, athletically built, black woman in NYC. I can’t be missed!
After weeks of this social experiment of actually observing interactions with people in the city. I had to write this. WHY, oh why, would you run into someone walking with two heavy bags?

A peaceful goodbye to Jolly “Sparrow” Phillip

solomonI don’t know much about the life of my late grandfather (mum’s dad, to me he was a man of mystery). However, I wanted to write an entry in his honour. I really thought he would live to be 100 since his mum lived almost 115.

I just have memories from when I was younger—I was born in his house.
He had a booming voice, I loved hearing it as a child. I loved how he pronounced my name (my sister’s). He made “lyn” sound so beautiful (“Leen” instead of lyn).

I remember drinking citrus juices that tasted funny, and when I was older, I was told it was because there was rum in it.

Since I lived with my father’s family for awhile, I remembered every time we visited he would give us all a dollar to get corn curls and Shirley biscuits (I still buy these). I always wondered why he didn’t know the cost of these wonderful treats. I would bring back the change and he would allow us to pocket it.

He owned a bar downstairs—it had been there since the 50s (he told me so in 2011 when I finally visited as an adult). I hadn’t seen him for 15 years at that point. He had just made 80.

He told me about his 18 kids and how much he loved all of them. He stressed the importance of having them when I explained my skepticism.

I showed a photo of my new niece to him, who had been born a night prior, he was fascinated by how quickly I had gotten it off WIFI and I was enlightened of our generation gaps.

How did you do that?” to “When did this happen?

I laughed because I knew the explanation would mean nothing. I was happy that he was entertained and he got to see his first great grand child from my mum’s side of the family.

The subsequent days passed on my vacation and he chose not to give me a curfew because I was an adult. I was amused of him being up at 4am to work in his garden when I thought waking up at 6am was an accomplishment to me.

My best memory of my trip was reuniting him with another grandchild that I was able to witness:

Alfonso and Jolly

Swim bike run: I’m now a triathlete

I met Michael Alcamo when I joined The Dashing Whippets Running Team and I quickly got the memo that he convinces lots of the runners to attempt a triathlon. It wasn’t long before I was one of those runners.


I entertained the idea slightly. However despite being a certified scuba diver, I didn’t feel comfortable competing with my swimming ability, or lack thereof. I quickly made the excuse that I didn’t have swimming techniques. He kept at it at almost every conversation. He was passionate about these. An Ironman triathlon was way beyond what I imagined for myself personally, still is but you never know.


I had a bike. I loved cycling. My dad is a competitive cyclist. Maybe I have it in my DNA? Surely something Michael mentioned also. Again, worried about my swimming I decided to start adding pool time to my training schedule. I obsessively watched YouTube and Michael shared the video of the most graceful swimmer, it took my breath away:


I figured I’d try mimicking the strokes in the water myself. I mean, how difficult could this be!? I took to the pool with some past coworkers and realized my capabilities quickly. After all, all that’s required for scuba diving is treading in water and swimming the size of a football field… All requirements that didn’t scream efficiency.


One day a lifeguard on duty at the pool was bored so I convinced him to teach me techniques and he happened to also be a swimming instructor. I quickly hired him. When he gave me a demo of how he swam, it almost brought me to tears. It was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen in life. As the months progressed I realized how much swimming affected my recovery while running. It was amazing. Still unconvinced that I was an efficient swimmer, I met a woman well into her 70s at the pool who explained that the difference between a good swimmer and a bad swimmer. She said it’s really the amount of effort that they make in the water. I took that to heart. As the weeks went by, random people started complimenting my swims. Was I that great of a swimmer? I just enjoyed it as I became more and more comfortable in the water. I still compare myself as I watched others train at the pool. My swims were certainly more seamless, well, according to my GoPro when I recorded.


I still had hopes of swimming like the guy, Shinji Takeuchi, in the video.


My swimming got so much more effortless. Still ignoring Michael’s request to do an Olympic triathlon, I signed up for more marathons and ultras in fear of venturing into tris. I was convinced I wouldn’t be ready for open water, especially since the first time I went into a pool without lanes, I got so disoriented.


Finally, last year while on vacation, I received an email from Michael showing me the Central Park triathlon. It’s a 1/4 miles swim, 12 mile bike and a 5k. It’s in a pool and around the park. All logistics that should make me feel completely comfortable. Fine, fine fine… I couldn’t get out of it. Credit card was charged. It seemed as if I could get away with it since it was for August 2nd, months after my furthest ultramarathon.


However, being the ambitious person I am. I also decided to add a marathon two weeks prior. Plenty of time to recover right?


Ready, not readyAs the months progressed I slowly added swimming back into my routine. I ensure that I could swim at least 1/4 mile in 15 minutes and it seemed like I was surpassing that even with lots of breaks in between. I’ll be ok. As the date drew closer and closer, I fell for a guy who had done a couple half ironman triathlon. I was given the opportunity to see him race out-of-town and I felt more comfortable once I realized that there were athletes of varying levels. Some were competing for the very first time. Some were doggie paddling in the way. Some looked like they had never swam before. I can so do this! I also started commuting to work, being quite lazy about my cycling training but I figured 12 miles would be a piece of cake. After all, it was the first triathlon, anything I do would be a PR.


The day of the triathlon I made it to Lasker Pool where I set up my bike, got the mandatory prep announcement and lined up to start swimming. There would be 6 lanes and we would do a serpentine route until we got to the end, back and forth across the pool. One by one, we were each called to get into the first lane. I saw a guy blatantly walking across the length (he didn’t even try to swim). I saw others swimming with their heads above the water and a woman doing breast stroke. I’d be ok. When I was called, I tried to get into rhythm. It’s a race, I couldn’t help but move a bit fast but I quickly assessed myself and slowed my pace. I’d make it up on the bike I figured. 10 minutes and 50 seconds later, I guess I predicted well I did put 11 minutes down as my time, I made it across the pool and jogged to my bike.


Bike seatAfter I got all my gear on, I got on my bike and started pedaling. I immediately realized that something was wrong. My seat felt loosened. It wasn’t like that when I first cycled over to the pool. My boyfriend was cheering on the sidelines telling me that my swimming looked good. I thanked him but shouted that there was something wrong with my seat. I cycled most of Harlem hill and got off to check. It was definitely loose. I couldn’t fix it. I’d have to make do. I got back on. I started balancing the seat all the way around the park. It definitely felt uncomfortable. I assume I’d deal with the aftermath of the pain later, like tomorrow when my crutch gets all sore. I pedaled strong regardless cringing each time I went over a bump. The last thing I’d want is for the seat to fall off and be impaled by the bike frame (can you imagine?) As I climbed I tried to keep up 20 mph and climbed to 35 on the flats. As I rounded the corner going back to the pool to make the full lap, I saw a group of cyclist in front of me, unable to pass, I slowed down and as soon as there was a clearing, a cyclist cut in front of me barely a foot ahead. “Asshole!” I screamed out.


As we came around the corner, a police car was parked on the side and the slow down signs were on the path. I silently wished he had ran into the car. I know, I know.


I didn’t see my bf anywhere but as I came up Harlem hill for the second time, I heard his voice encouraging me on. I told him that there was something wrong with my bike. I pedaled on and did the last lap of the park once more. Climbing as best I could and when I made it back to transition 2, my bike seat fell off completely. People gasped and I was simply relieved. I parked the bike and started making my way out realizing that I had my helmet on. I quickly tossed it at the gate and continued on my strongest activity: the run. I’d never been so proud of wearing my teams’ singlet because immediately there were cheers and people who were familiar with me, called out my name.


Bricks. Well, that’s what they felt like. Every step was agony. I made it up almost midway Harlem hill and quickly settled into a speedwalk. I had to keep pushing. I attempted to jog once more and each step felt challenging. I can’t believe people enjoy this form of torture. I quickly chuckled to myself and imagined that they probably would think marathons and ultras are insane. After all, this triathlon should be over in an hour and a half (the goal that I gave myself). I came to the halfway point and noticed I could potentially do this in less than half an hour. I wasn’t really going at that slow of a pace after all. Besides the quick walks to ease the pain developing on my calves, the sprints weren’t that bad. I was still moving at sub 8s. It still felt like agony and I still reminded myself I didn’t quite train for this. I had ran a marathon two weeks prior for goodness sakes! I came back to Harlem hill and heard my friend Sharon call out, she was pacing one of her teammates. It was great to see her but I had to relieve my legs again and started speed walking for the last time. I couldn’t allow myself to walk down Harlem Hill could I? I’m a better downhill runner. Good thing I hadn’t continued walking. I ran as best as I could and I saw my bf again. He was cheering and I told him that he couldn’t pace me as much as he wanted to, it’s not allowed. I fought through the last meters because I knew the end was close. I made it back to the pool and circled coming in, according to my Garmin, at 1:25:37 unofficial.


TriathleteWow I had made my goal! I was slightly hoping it was a bit off (as in, I made it faster than that time) when they called the awards later. I jumped into the pool and waded around a bit before heading over to the bike where I saw my bf. He congratulated me and I joined him for another mile, he had a training run that day. He acknowledged that I just did a triathlon and didn’t need to join him but I insisted. After all, it would be an hour before they called the winners. When I got back, I hadn’t placed but I realized that my time was actually pretty close to 3rd in my age group.


A few hours later, Michael posted to my wall that I had been too modest in my announcement of completing. Despite my broken seat, I placed 5th out of 17 in my age group and I ran the fastest (25:32—I was a Dashing Whippet after all—well, I love running).


I hadn’t even noticed that I was that close. My official time was 1:25:39. 4th place had been 1:25:29 and 3rd 1:25:07. Of course the competitive part in me has kicked myself for the past few days about the time of the race where I hopped off my bike, or when I stopped to walk instead of run. However, I’m reminding myself that my projected time had been a 1:30:00 goal which I had surpassed and this is my first triathlon, I had no real transition experience and I felt strong!


I’m now a triathlete!


Whoops, IRONMAN 70.3 Syracuse (Rochester?)

Over the weekend I was honoured to spectate the IRONMAN 70.3 Syracuse and watch a medal get earned by months of hard work and dedication by an incredible athlete. When I posted the hard-earned medal to my instagram feed after he was done, I failed to realize that the skyline wasn’t Syracuse but Rochester. I lived in Rochester for a few years for school (I went to the Rochester Institute of Technology) but hadn’t noticed. In fact, this is the article where John O’Brien made it known. “The scene depicts an arched suspension bridge over the Genesee River, which runs through downtown Rochester,” stated John, “A spokesman for the Ironman did not have an immediate explanation for the error this morning.”

Ironman 70.3 Syracuse(Photo of the medal taken by me, actually picked up by the Wall Street Journal as well)

I was very curious how this mishap happened so of course, I googled “Syracuse skyline” and this came up:


Even more curious, I clicked and it led to this website which has a thread about the “Best Upstate Skyline.”

The photo led to this pic posted by “585WNY” with the caption: “Rochester: My personal favorite upstate. A Beautiful waterfront, a clean and modern looking downtown, nice architecture.”


The photo that proceeded had, “Syracuse: Pretty nice skyline. The only problem with Syracuse is that there is a difficulty in getting a nice photo of the city”.


Somehow I guess the research ended without anything being read. The designer probably assumed it was Syracuse, never having been there possibly, and the medal was created. It’s sort of understandable because The IRONMAN company is based in Florida.

John mentioned again, “The race started with a 1.2-mile swim in Jamesville Reservoir, then on to a 56-mile bike course that wound through Syracuse’s Highland Forest and parts of Onondaga, Madison and Cortland counties, and ended with 13.1-mile run in and out of Jamesville Beach County Park. It went nowhere near Rochester.”

There were a few things that was super peculiar about the race. However, we weren’t alerted ahead of time. Besides the weather being unpredictable, which does happen, the parking arrangement that seemingly went well that morning caused a 2+ hour delay upon exit. It poured so some cars got stuck on the field. Some athletes were also taken off the course when the storms started happening around 2pm and thankfully allowed to take their bikes 20 minutes earlier because of lightning.