Archives For Queens

Almost a week separated from crossing the finish line and I’m still wrapping my head around the fact that I ran 26.2 miles through my favorite city in the world only to learn that it’s an even better place than I originally thought.

And trust me; I was already head-over-heels in love.

Back in August my friend Kerry presented me with an opportunity I couldn’t refuse: a chance to run in the TCS New York City Marathon without having to qualify, win a lottery or raise any money. I joined #TeamULTRA and represented Michelob Ultra amongst 50,000 other marathoners scampering across the five boroughs.

Despite my love of running and my consistent schedule of hitting the trails, I knew this wouldn’t be easy; when I started training, I never ran more than 7 miles at a time. Furthermore, I have an erratic work/life schedule and I knew that eventually I’d be moving – a task that in itself is a full-time job here.

But running the marathon here was something I’ve always wanted to do. This was too good to pass up and short of a severe injury or traumatic life event, there was nothing that could stop me from pursuing this.

I could go on to document the training schedule I created for myself, the run itself and the aftermath but instead, here are a few frequently asked questions that I’ve fielded since crossing the finish line on Sunday.


“So, how was it?”
Physically and emotionally overwhelming in the best way possible. The experience far exceeded my expectations and is something I’d recommend to anyone.

“What was your favorite part?”
As far as overall, having my family there to cheer me on was special but I sobbed like a child after I finished as a result of the love I felt throughout the five boroughs. People cheering, making noise, offering food and drinks, holding signs… it was incredible. And Sunday wasn’t the nicest day weather-wise; it was colder than expected and the rain really never let-up. You wouldn’t have known that based on the crowd’s spirit.

I have to mention as well that multiple people told me I’d hate the Bronx. If you look at my mile-by-mile breakdown, I ran some of my fastest miles up there. My playlist synced to my run perfectly so that just as I was crossing the Willis Ave. Bridge I heard The Tramps’ “Disco Inferno.” Of course, it was on my playlist because I’m a diehard Yankees fan and those overtures of “Bern, baby bern!” brought back a lot of great memories from Yankee legend Bernie Williams.


“What was the most difficult part?”
Overall the mental game you play as you attempt to overcome physical shortcomings. I cramped and tightened up quite a bit during the run; while it slowed me down once I never stopped and I escaped injury-free.

“How are you feeling?”
Great, thanks! I bought a new pair of running shoes and should be back on a treadmill this weekend. I think not over-training and eating clean helped me to recover quickly.


“Will you do it again?”
Never say never but probably not. It’d be tough to top this experience, one which despite still attempting to fully process I am extremely grateful for.

To say I struggled with this article would be a bit of an understatement, but perhaps after I write this I’ll simply “let it go.”

Last Wednesday I found myself blinded by the lights of Times Square to cover a red carpet with “Frozen” star Idina Menzel. The songstress made a name for herself under those lights, rising to stardom thanks to her roles in the Broadway productions of “Rent” and “Wicked.” She took home a Tony Award for the latter.

Menzel returned to Gotham to promote the movie “Beaches,” a remake of the 1988 classic, which aired last Saturday night on Lifetime. The network held a screening for the film at the AMC Empire 25 Theater on 42nd Street. The reboot also starred Nia Long, who reprised the role of Hillary while Menzel took on Bette Midler’s character C.C.

When Menzel stepped on to the red carpet inside the building, she first spoke with E! News about the film and her fiancé. Lifetime’s social media crew followed up by recording a “tune-in” message from the actress. My spot on the carpet was next to theirs, but Menzel’s publicists herded the remaining members of the media in to a half-circle, where none of us would get one-on-ones and instead we’d be asking the singer questions press conference-style.

This isn’t my first rodeo so at this point I’m not the slightest bit annoyed, even after said-publicists tells us that we can only ask questions about the movie.

But we’re in New York. Menzel was born in Queens. So what was it like for her to be back in the city?

“I’m a New York girl, so it’s nice,” she responded. “I got my apartment here and there’s no food in the refrigerator. So I’m hungry but I’m happy.”

I followed up by inquiring what the first thing that came to her mind was when she returned to Broadway.

“OK, questions about the movie right here!” shouted Menzel’s publicist, who then gently scooted the singer away from me and towards the other members of the media, most of whom were probably awaiting with baited breath to ask the same, tired questions that Menzel has already answered a million times.

Here’s the ironic portion of the ordeal: Menzel is a Tony Award-winning performer who rose to prominence in part due to “Rent” and “Wicked.” In the movie that her publicist required we ask questions about, she plays Midler’s role.

Yes, Bette Midler: a Tony Award-winning actress who began her own rise to prominence thanks to roles in “Fiddler on the Roof” and “Salvation.”

Maybe the publicist missed the connection? Maybe she didn’t care? Maybe she’s never going back, because the past is in the past?

Regardless, the cold shoulder never bothered me anyways.

The weekend was such a whirlwind that it spilled in to Monday.

It started Friday when I decided to celebrate the birthday of the Pumpkin Spice Latte. Yes, everyone’s favorite seasonal beverage turned 13 according to Starbucks, who I envision still counting up the sales from that day as I type this. Was it basic? Of course it was! Why else would so many people double-tap it?


To be fair, it’s also an excellent photo that my super-patient colleague Mia took for me on our way back from the Starbucks a block over from the studio.

After Friday night’s show, I headed right home to sleep because I had an early and long Saturday afternoon ahead. The fine folks at the John Lennon Songwriting Contest and John Lennon Educational Bus were holding a block party in Jackson Heights, Queens. Sunday would have been Lennon’s 76th birthday and so the non-profit decided to throw the party on Saturday in what has been dubbed, “the most diverse neighborhood in the world.”


That isn’t just a tagline, either. It was beautiful to see all ages, all ethnicities, all colors come out on a gloomy Saturday to tour the bus, listen to live music and enjoy each other’s company.


I showed up to Queens a little after 11 am and left just before 6. I had enough time to get back to my apartment, change and meet a colleague who was in town and staying near Times Square. I thought we were going to dinner.

Well, we were. But first, we were sitting fifth row at Blake Shelton’s show inside Brooklyn’s Barclays Center.


Dinner did follow at my favorite restaurant, the West Village’s Monument Lane, before drinks and obligatory late-night pizza ensued.

On Sunday I brunched and watched the 1 o’clock game with a friend, went back home to change and then met another friend for drinks at his hotel before heading to Kettle of Fish – the NYC Packers Backers bar – for the Sunday night game.


Look, the colleague is a Packers fan and while I don’t mind the Giants, my Bills won earlier so I was rather indifferent.

Green Bay cruised to victory and shortly thereafter, I cruised back uptown so I could grab some shuteye before interviewing Rachel Platten and Joe Jonas at “Good Morning America.”


Trust me, whirlwinds become much less fun on Monday mornings with short sleep.

All I remember reading in the email I received from Amy Freeze was that we were running through Citi Field and it was for charity. I’m a huge baseball fan (diehard member of Yankees Universe) and so I was in. The event – a Spartan Sprint – was a week before the Billboard Music Awards. As with most award shows, I usually switch up both my workout regime and my diet a few weeks prior to the event, so that I’m in good shape come time to be in front of the camera for a few days straight. So this was perfect – a combination of working out, raising money and awareness for a charity and doing so in Citi Field, all while wearing Yankees gear from head-to-toe.

If you’re familiar with what a Spartan Sprint is, then you know that those two words should have immediately caught my attention. They didn’t. Freeze asked me to bring gloves, and also told me we were doing the 3 mile route. I run 4 miles on the regular. I got this! Gloves? Well that’s a little strange but sure, I’ll pack them before I take the 7 out to Flushing.

I did not fully realize what I signed up for until we were approaching the starting line. Before the start, we had to scale over a wall erected in one of the corridors that leads up an upper level of the stadium. And this wasn’t even a part of the course that was timed!

Thankfully, I was surrounded by a great team. Freeze is a meteorologist for Channel 7, and she recruited fellow forecasters Audrey Puente from Fox 5 and Stephanie Abrams of The Weather Channel. Rounding out the group was Gabe Boyar, Amanda Marasco and fitness guru Tom Holland. We had a fun group and when we needed help climbing a wall, thankfully Tom was there to lend a hand.
MMRF1
The course was equally excruciating and exhilarating. Bear climbs up ramps and stairs, carrying jugs of water and sand bags around sections of Citi Field’s upper level, push-ups in the visiting team’s clubhouse, climbing up a net that extended from one side of the center field wall to the other… when I wasn’t praying that I wouldn’t be too sore the next day, I was taking in the views and counting my blessings. Thank goodness I’m in good health, and I get to experience something like this.

Sore the next day? I was sore for the next week.

But it was all worth it. I made some new friends, had a great time and most importantly, helped out The Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation. After we completed the course and I partook in a celebratory beverage, Freeze told us about the great things that The MMRF does. The research and efforts of the foundation have led to the FDA approval of seven drugs for multiple myeloma in the time it would normally take for just one drug to pass.

Another great attribute of The MMRF, especially as the son of a two-time breast cancer survivor: They use their research to help other cancer studies as well.

Corporate donors cover overhead costs, so every dollar I donated to The MMRF went right to the cause. And the volunteers couldn’t have been more helpful, especially in encouraging the members of “Team Freeze” to keep fighting.

I’m sure glad we did, but I’m more thankful for the work they do… and the fact that for once, I “blindly” walking in to something was actually a positive.