Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Midweek updates

I've promised to keep everyone updated on the move and my (currently nonexistent) training. Lots of little things to report :)

I spent Friday and Saturday in Rochester, New York with my dad, and I found an apartment! I went to bed Friday mulling over what I thought would be a tough decision. Do I want to live 15 minutes away from work, renting out a room in a huge house with a pool and a fenced in yard? Or do I want to rent a (really big) studio apartment in a nice area of downtown in an awesome trendy building?

Drive-bys nixed all but one of our Saturday appointments, so that morning at 11 a.m. we rolled up to a lovely brick building in a neighborhood called Corn Hill, a half mile from my new office and a half mile from a bike path that goes along the Genessee River.

Corn Hill landing, just a half mile away from my new home.
It was an instant "a-ha" moment. It's a lovely, well-kept one bedroom place on the first floor. If you're friends with me on Facebook you can see a photo.

For some perspective, I have become a bit spoiled during my time in Newark. I live in a huge two-bedroom, all for me, with a dishwasher and my own washer and dryer. The new place is much smaller with no dishwasher and a shared washer and dryer.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Comparing moving companies

(Off-topic post for the day, since Google really likes it when I review things.)

I'm beginning the harrowing task of packing up all my worldly belongings to ship them across state lines yet again. Read on for my initial reviews of the moving companies I dealt with.

But first I can't figure out how to use the embed code so just click here for a lovely interactive map of everywhere I've lived.

I've lived a lot of places in 10 years. 
Here's the code. Yep, I've moved a lot.
(Keep reading for moving company reviews)

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Craigslist scammers Part Deux

Yea, buddy, I'm going to rent the house after doing just a drive-by and call you in Africa if I have any problems.

Again, the Craigslist posting looked normal and had photos. I think I'm going to stay away from postings without phone numbers from now on!

CL text read: "Two Bedroom back apartment. Rent is $450/mo. utilities are included. A cash security deposit of $300 is required. Nice backyard with driveway. appliances are included". The address given was 27 Bloomingdale St, Rochester, NY 14621.

The email contact was mankowski_david@yahoo.com. Here is the email I got from him. I emailed him back asking a few basic questions, and all he did was send me the rental application again.

UPDATE: I got a little curious, so I looked up the property owner in the county's property database. Looks like this David Mankowski did own the home (for about 20 days in 2009), then sold it to someone else. Very weird!

ANOTHER UPDATE: According to a Google search, the home was once rented by a seemingly legit property management company. It's not on their current list of vacant properties. I emailed them to see if they knew what the deal was.

Craigslist scammers get smarter

The joys of apartment hunting! I figured I'd post a PSA on my blog about the latest Craigslist scam I encountered.

I'm looking in Rochester, NY. I don't know if it's happening elsewhere, please respond in the comments if it has. Please also include the email address and name that you got in the email.

UPDATE 9/10: Yowzas, I can't believe this scam is still going on. I've gotten comments from all over the country. If you've found this post you've probably Googled the text or email in a Craigslist post. I've found that the email wording changes slightly and the name it comes from does to. I can't keep up with all of them in the main post but if you comment with the name, email and test of the Craigslist posting and/or the text of the text of the email you received. 

It seems in late August/September most people are getting a scam response from MARY VANG, maryvang8483@live.com. IF YOU GET AN EMAIL BACK FROM HER AFTER RESPONDING TO A CRAIGSLIST POST DO NOT RESPOND. IT IS A SCAM!!!!

PREVIOUS UPDATE: A colleague tells me she's also gotten similar emails for properties in the Jersey Shore area. 

PREVIOUS UPDATE: Thanks to everyone who has commented in the past few days! This scam has been reported in Charlotte, N.C.; Des Moines, Iowa; Utah; Atlanta, Georgia; Portland, Ore.; Boston, Mass.; and San Diego, Calif.

ORIGINAL POST: I've gotten this email back from at least 10 properties I've inquired about on Craigslist. It's the same email from a number of different email addresses, so I'm convinced it's a scam. The property owners will not give out the address, and the ones I emailed at least initially did not respond when I asked for a general location. The email directs you to a website that asks for a bunch of personal information.

It's a clever scam. The apartments are cheaper than the neighborhood advertised but not by so much that it's a red flag. They include a detailed description and sometimes photos. There is no phone number.

If you get one of the following emails back do not respond, it is a scam! They've had slightly different wording so I'll paste all in hopes that they'll come up if people Google the text. They have come from the following names and email addresses:

Monday, June 18, 2012


Looking for a race

If you missed my previous post, a little hatchet has been thrown into my marathon training for the year. For the next month I'm going to be focused on yet again packing up all my worldly belongings and yet again doing another out of state move. This time I'm headed to Rochester, NY.

I'd like to do the Nationwide Children's Hospital Columbus Marathon Oct. 21. If I can be ready for it despite the move it'll be my top choice. While the Rochester Marathon would be an awesome opportunity, there's no way I can be ready by Sept. 23!

I don't know if it's just a pipe dream or not, but if Columbus doesn't work out I'd love to pick an out-of-state one to do in November, December or January! A quick Google search revealed the following options:
Or maybe I'll just go for the Goofy Challenge in February!

Friday, June 15, 2012

It's time to move on

Life can change in a hurry. In one month I will be leaving Newark, Ohio and the Columbus area for Rochester, New York.

This all came about very suddenly. It started when my phone rang and I heard a voice I haven't heard in a couple months, my former editor, who had since moved on to the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, also a Gannett paper.

I ask him how he's doing. He gets right to the point. "Good... except... I need a good political reporter."

I've been looking for a new gig. Not seriously, "oh-my-gawd-get-me-outta-here" looking, but keeping my eyes open. My resume was posted and here and there I'd drop a resume. I kept my search to Columbus and Cleveland, with the exception of another job in my company I had no desire to make another out-of-state move.

I'm fortunate to have the job I have now. The hours are good. The people I work for and with are extremely talented. It's a professional atmosphere and there's no workplace drama and bickering like the horror stories I hear from my friends.

But I worked well with my former editor, and the Rochester paper has a great reputation, so I decided to go check it out. Last week, I spent a day at the paper. I was impressed. The Democrat and Chronicle is a very forward-thinking news organization. It immediately struck me as a place that I could fit into and do very well for myself.

The thing that kills me about my current job is the location. I don't want to bash Newark, it has been good to me, but it's not ideal for a single young professional, and the walls have been closing in lately. Through MIT I've made a ton of friends in Columbus, just a 45 minute drive, and became more than accustomed to waking up before 5 a.m. Saturdays for our runs. I looked at moving then commuting in from every angle, but never could justify it.

And that's what, in the end, sold me on Rochester. The city has a very active young professionals community and a lot of character to go with it. I like places with character. There's an active running community, many places to bike and I'm sure no shortage of gyms that have a Spinning program, and I'm sure at least one will need an instructor!!

I start my new job July 16. I've been a little overwhelmed with all the packing and moving I need to do in the next few weeks.

So since this is my training blog, I must address the question: What happens next with my training?

I'll come to MIT this Saturday, won't be there the following week, then I'll be there for two more weeks. I've already let the other coaches know that they'll need to replace me. I'd like to still be able to run the Columbus Marathon, but my top priority has to be getting moved and settled into the new city and job! I'll keep up my training as best I can, hopefully hooking up with a group there. Once the month is over, I'll reassess and decide whether to do one full or several halves. Some of my wonderful running friends have already starting looking at races they can do in wine country with me!

I promise I will leave Team 12:00 in good hands! I've already emailed a couple of suggestions for new coaches :) Even though I've only been a coach for a couple weeks, I love it, and I hope the opportunity to do it will present itself again.

I told the Y I could still teach through the first week of July. After that, I'll be done with Spinning for awhile. My hope is to get back into it in Rochester, but I need to first take a couple months to get a feel for the new job and what kind of schedule I will be working.

There's lots more to write, so there will be many posts to come. All day I've been truly touched by the number of people RSVPing to the going away party some MIT friends are throwing for me. These are people who really have changed my life for the better in the past year, and I'm going to miss them terribly. In my adult life, this is the first time I've ever had good friends, or a life outside of work.

Yet I'm sitting in my huge, two bedroom apartment in small town USA, looking at small studio apartments in the arts district of Rochester, New York, and I won't deny it -- I'm really excited!

Foodie Friday: Restaurant tip!

One of the biggest challenges of being gluten free is that you can't eat bread (unless it's GF bread!)

Most restaurants have salads, which are almost always safe, but sometimes I'm just not in a salad mood. One trick I've used in a few places is to ask the restaurant to turn the sandwich into a salad by replacing the bread with spinach or other greens. I just got back from the Chop House in Newark with Brandie D. I wanted something meaty, so I ordered the chicken salad wrap, but with spinach instead of the wrap. It was delicious! I wish I had taken a photo.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Spin playlist: Endurance training

As I mentioned in my previous post, I've been alternating between endurance classes and interval classes.

I explained it to my class this morning as follows: Endurance classes you try to keep a steady heart rate, around 60 percent (though very few people have monitors). The intervals are longer but less intense, and the rest periods are shorter.

Interval classes have short bursts of really high-intensity followed by longer rest periods.

For today's endurance class I took them up three big (5-6 minute) climbs. After each one there's a recovery then either jumps or sprints to keep things interesting. Each climb was over two songs, so I intentionally made the second song a little faster so the last two minutes or so of the climb would be more challenging. All climbs are a combination of sitting and standing. Here's the playlist:

Rolling Stones: Start Me Up -- warmup

Yael Naim - New Soul: Start climb #1 out easy. About a 3 or 4 on a scale of 1-10. Increase the last minute of the song.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Music Monday! Wilco -Summer Teeth

I need to discover some new music, everything I have is getting kind of old. Anyway this is a great summertime song! Wilco -- Summer Teeth.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Four new recipes for a Sunday

I've been a little sick of eating the same things over and over again so I've been keeping my eyes open for new recipes that are easy, affordable, Gluten Free and yummy! I've gotten in the habit of batch cooking my food on Sundays so I don't have to cook for myself every night.

I ended up trying four new recipes today! Three came out yummy. One is still cooking.

Creamy watermelon salad

Really good, and very sweet! I used a little extra feta cheese, omitted the onions and used just parsley, no cilantro. Link to the recipe. 

Baked tofu

I've only tried making tofu a few times and it's never come out well, but this did! I stuck to the recipe, except instead of pouring the soy sauce directly on the tofu I dipped it in instead. I used gluten free soy sauce. Link to the recipe. 

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Marathon training: Season 4!

The new season of Fleet Feet's Marathoner in Training program kicked off today and I am officially excited to train for my fourth marathon!

Instead of trying to work my way back up to the 10:30s, I've ended up sticking with the 12:00 pace group as a coach. Last week I just ran two miles with the halves but this week I did six miles with the fulls. Right now I'm planning on running the Columbus Marathon.

I really think it's going to be a great season! The group is big, but not too big! Everyone in it is really friendly and talkative.

I do need to focus on my pacing, so I'm going to practice that during the week. Today I had Mandy and Laurie there to help with the pacing, thank you ladies!! After the run I went out on the bike, I did 24 miles with Bill B. The hills were a bit rough but overall it felt really good.

And another note, thanks to all of those who read my blog!! Last month was the highest-traffic month yet -- 2,288 hits -- mostly due to Google searches for the Flying Pig Marathon.

I'm going to cut this short since I'm a tad bit sleepy. I'm going to do a redesign this week, so stay tuned!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Hello potential employer!

I'm kind-of sort-of poking my nose around for a new day job.

By "kind-of sort-of" I mean that I'm happy with the job I have now. Really happy with it, actually. But I'm thinking that it may be time to take that next step up.

If my resume is in your hands, you've probably found your way to my blog through a Google search, trying to figure out a little bit more about the woman with the obnoxious Italian last name. Welcome, you've found my personal blog! While you're here poke around a bit. It won't take you long to figure out the following:
  • I like to write
  • I play with data for fun
  • I like to bargain shop
  • I'm a textbook Type A personality
  • I'm ambitious
  • I'm an awesome writer
  • I like my smartphone
  • I'm a team player
  • I like shoes (preferably the kind that lace up, but I'm not afraid of a clunky heel, either)
  • Most of the music I like was recorded before I was born
  • Did I mention that I'm a really awesome writer?
In case you're wondering about the blog, I started blogging on a private weight loss forum when I got the silly idea to train for a 5K in 2010. When I advanced to the 10K I transitioned to a public blog. I kept it going as I trained for a 10-miler. Then a marathon. Then through getting certified as a Spinning instructor. Then another marathon. Then another. Do your knees hurt yet?

Mostly I write this blog so friends and family can keep up with my training, but I do a few things to boost traffic, just so I can experiment with what works.

The blog gets about 2,000 hits a month. I do consider search engine optimization when I write. I do this by trying to think what Google search terms will drive people to the posts, and I also try to mention as many brand names as possible. Most of my blog traffic comes at around 8 to 10 a.m., with 8 to 10 p.m. also seeing traffic boosts, and Saturday afternoons. I like to set things to auto-post during these times so they're fresh in RSS and Facebook feeds.

Most of my traffic is driven by searches for events such as the Warrior Dash, the Flying Pig Marathon and the Tough Mudder, and also searches for specific brands of shoes. Strangely, "oolong tea" is the top search term of all time.

Thanks for reading! It's very much a work in progress, but feel free to check out my professional blog here for links to all my stories.