Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Army Ten Miler 2014

I ran the Army Ten Miler last weekend!  Despite being super unprepared, I really enjoyed it!  I ran this race in 2011-- it was my first race longer than a 5k, so I had good memories of this one.  It's a hard race to get into-- one of those that you sit in front of your computer pushing refresh for an hour until you either get in, or crash the system.

Anyway, it's a great DC race that takes you through both Arlington and Washington and hits most of the major sites along the way.  I snapped a few pictures along the way, in lieu of a real recap.  Enjoy!

Saturday night prep...I spent the afternoon eating football food that consisted of corn, cheese, and buffalo sauce.  Tyler gently suggested I perhaps should maybe consider eating some pasta for dinner.  Smart man.
Sunday morning came early.  Whenever I'm up at dark to run a race I PAID someone to let me run, I seriously question my sanity.  I'm going to organize a lazy man's race that is all downhill and starts at 10am.
0167b41bb867b04c15faecc8e1d640691b487732edMorning sun over the Pentagon.
The corrals were really smooth this year.  We arrived in plenty of time for bathroom breaks and stretching but they efficiently moved the corrals through once the race kicked off at 8am.
Running with my friend and co-worker, Amy, and her friend Jamie, who flew in from California.  She thought we were crazy for loving the cool, 50 degree morning temps-- she was freezing!
We started running around 8:40 and were immediately enjoying the sites and scenes on a gorgeous fall morning... Crossing the start at the Pentagon, we ran toward Arlington National Cemetery…
From, there we ran across the Memorial Bridge, toward the Lincoln Memorial…
Then past the Watergate…
Under the Kennedy Center, with the Potomac to our right…
Past the Washington Memorial…
The Smithsonian…
…and the Holocaust Museum…
And the Jefferson Memorial.
Miles 7-9 are all uphill suck as the course crosses the interstate back into Virginia.  Seriously...everything about it just sucks. I hate hills and I'm pretty sure we walked most of them, which really just prolonged the misery.
And you finally cross the finish back at the Pentagon!
There is no shortage of inspiration on this race.  If running through the streets of history weren't enough, this race is run by soldiers, veterans, and their families who have bravely served and sacrificed for our country.
Active duty soldiers run the water stations...
{I ghosted this man early on the read his sign. He, probably on his 60s or 70s, survived a heart attack and bypass surgery last November and was running a ten mile race a year later.  AND he was from I stopped to say hi.}
So many people run in memory of fallen soldiers.
No words, all tears as I approached this group surrounding a wounded warrior after mile nine.  Something about a double amputee walking toward the finish line suddenly put my knee pain in perspective.  Not an uncommon site in this race- everyone hoops and hollars and cheers and "Hoorahs" as they pass.
A "Marry Me...or at least think about it sign" spotted early in the race.  The poor girl that had to run another nine miles after seeing that!
And these sweet faces were waiting for me at the finish!
I'm a bit of a reluctant runner-- I really enjoy it but I'm not super talented or all that competitive, and I don't have a lot of fancy garb.  But there is just something about finishing a race, and pushing your body, that is so rewarding and emotional and euphoric.  There is camaraderie with the other runners-- you feel as much pride for them as you do yourself-- and appreciation for those lining the streets.  It's fun!  Especially for a girl like me that didn't grow up playing sports.  This was the first race I'd done in awhile and I've got the bug again...  Time to sign up for some more.  Hoorah!
I'd be remiss if I didn't throw out a big "Go Dawgs!!"  What a great weekend!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Fall, Fall, Fall…Fally Fall Fall

Last Saturday was one of my favorite days of Fall—Art on the Avenue, a huge art festival that shuts down the main street of our neighborhood.  The weather is always perfect, the food is great, and the vendors are plentiful.  From baby clothes to five hundred dollar paintings to weird trinkets appealing to very specific tastes…you can find it at Art on the Avenue.

So I eagerly made pumpkin pancakes and packed Charlotte away in our Kelty carrier.  I wanted to avoid a stroller and the festival is only a short walk from our house, but it was a little risky taking her in this by myself.  I feared Suzy-Miss-I-have-a-lot-of-ever-changing-opinions over here would freak out and refuse to be carried in the sea of thousands of people, leaving to wrangle a screaming baby octopus…

image1{Who knew someone this cute could drive me so bananas?}


But she did great!  She lasted for two hours and allowed several trips up and down the Avenue.  We had a great morning—the weather was crisp and I came home with a few cool prints I have yet to frame.


And of course I got the pumpkin bug and had to come home and get everything decorated… Fall kind of threw up on our front steps and I’m very okay with that!






I couldn’t forget the inside either.  In our house, decorating for Fall pretty much means putting fake stuff everywhere.


Like fake gourds in the window sills…


…and fake pumpkins on tables…



Fake gourds and fake leaves on fake mantles.  {One day, I will have a fireplace…}


And more fake leav

image15image16Nothing says Fall like old books and pumpkins!

Mmmm…I’ve been burning my pumpkin candles all week, the fridge is stocked with pumpkin beer, and I’ve had chili twice this week.  I am fully embracing it…white girl loving Fall up here in the Mid-Atlantic!

Happy Fall Y'all_2014Happy Fall y’all!

Friday, October 3, 2014

Bucket List Palooza

As much as I want to say “How is September over already??,”  I know exactly how it’s over already—it has been a busy, crazy month, particularly since I’d previously proclaimed it a travel-free month.  I did take two glorious, slow weekends to sleep in, shop kids consignment sales {#love}, and watch every football games on television.  And then after that, things got all crazy…scratching off all these bucket list items.


So first, it was Amy Grant.  I’m guessing this isn’t one on every girl’s list.  Maybe a few of you who fell for her in her 90s “Baby Baby” glory.  But in my church-bred world, Amy Grant was like Whitney Houston.  She was my childhood idol weeeell before 1993… We’re talking 1980s El Shaddai, Thy Word, My Father’s Eyes, Lead Me On, Sing Your Praise to the Lord...Anybody still with me?  I owned her concert videos, piano music that was WAY too hard for me, and Bible Stories that she read on a cassette tape.  I even wrote to the Mickey Mouse Club asking to meet her {I received a brochure of cast member bios that surprisingly sufficed}… Now I know I lost you!


So yeah, I loved Amy Grant.  But I never saw her in concert and eventually moved on to loving DC Talk and Jars of Clay, as any good church kid did in 1998.  But when my mom learned she was coming to a small concert venue near our house last month, tickets showed up in the mail, and I would finally fulfill my childhood dream.


Tyler is still traveling so I took my friend Amanda with me for a wild night out on the town.  I wasn’t quite sure what to expect but based on the number of minivans in the parking lot, we were in good company.  The concert was relaxed, with an acoustic feel.  She covered a variety of songs from over the years, a lot of which I’d forgotten about {gasp!}; she took requests and shared sweet stories.  She even sang Tennessee Christmas and Breath of Heaven {I died a little}.  I didn’t get weird or emotional {I honestly think Amanda was worried I might!}, but I thoroughly enjoyed a night out, sipping wine with a friend, and finally hearing the music in person that meant so much to me over the years.


So two days after seeing my childhood idol, my friend Christie called me asking if I wanted two tickets to the Garth Brooks concert in Atlanta?

Wait a minute.  Did I hear you correctly?  Do I want to come?  Did you really just ask me that??  Do I want to come listen to the music of my childhood and see the best country music entertainer EVER who has been in retirement for the last ten years, and has been on my bucket list of must-do before I die?? If you could make a soundtrack of my childhood, it would be all Amy Grant and Garth Brooks.

So, uh yeah…I’d like to go to see Garth Brooks next week.  {Play it cool.}

I quickly threw a plan into action {with the help of my brother-in-law} to drive down to Atlanta and surprise my dear, kind, hard-working, mom of three, sister with the tickets.  It’s a good thing I only had to keep it a secret five or six days because I was about to die with excitement all week…  It was so, so, so fun to randomly walk into her house at 10:30 on a Thursday night and tell her we were going to see Garth Brooks.  We share the same emotional DNA so I didn’t expect any screaming or jumping up and down—just a lot of “What? No, we’re not. Really?”  And crying.  A little bit of that too.



Friday afternoon we had fun getting ready in the bathroom and trying fifty outfits and trading hair products {hands down one of the biggest parts I miss of college—getting ready with girlfriends}.  We rode with the greatest friend ever, Christie, and her husband, battled Atlanta rush hour traffic {on a Friday no less}, and were in our seats by 6:15.



And the rest is history… It was amazing—everything I ever thought this much anticipated life event would be like.  Fun, loud, crazy energy.  He sang every song you could think of {save “Standing Outside the Fire” and “Will She Ever Know?”}, Trisha Yearwood sang “She’s In Love With a Boy,” Kelly Clarkson made a surprise appearance…we even called The Dawgs.


I know Garth Brooks has done a bajillion concerts over the years and does a great job at them all, but he is such an excellent entertainer and really does a great job making you feel like it’s the best concert he’s ever done—he shows a lot of gratitude, he has a TON of energy {he was doing two shows a night which I will never ever understand how is possible}, he played all of his old stuff and wasn’t out to promote new material… It was just a great, great night.  The River, Friends in Low Places, Thunder Rolls, The Dance… Man, it was a great night.  I have been re-watching the video I took all week.


{Side note—there was also a UGA game to be enjoyed the next day. Greatest weekend ever.}

Aaaaand finally.  My friend Amy and I had tickets to see Idina Menzel in her new musical If/Then in New York City.  Idina Menzel, who I’ve been listening to for the last ten years on Rent and Wicked soundtracks… The voice of Elsa.  That Idina Menzel.


So last Saturday, we hopped on a 6:30 train to New York and spent the day shopping, eating fried chicken at my fave Hill Country Chicken, wholesale jewelry hunting, and topped the day off at the Richard Roger’s theater for If/Then.  The show was great—a modern storyline with a small cast and relatively simple set.  The show tells two stories—each a “what if” scenario based on a single, simple decision at the opening of the play.  There is so much Idina face time and voice time and I just soaked up every note.  It was funny, moving, sad, intense.  It was just great.  {Clearly I’m no theater critic…} I just loved it. 


{We stage door-ed it for awhile but started losing our post-theater euphoria with all the standing around, so we left to eat cheesecake instead.}


The next morning, we covered ten miles in Central Park on a gorgeous fall morning, brunched, “shopped” on Fifth Avenue, and walked across the Brooklyn Bridge—how’s that for a 36 hour trip??  I was exhausted by the time our train pulled in to Union Station.

And THAT concludes my last three weekends of bucket list scratch-offs—back to my regularly scheduled life!  I haven’t taken that many selfies in my life!  I am so lucky and grateful to have had these experiences and shared them with great friends, especially at this stage in our life where Charlotte is so busy and Tyler is still on the road—it can get a little lonely and overwhelming.  I can’t say any of these adventures are relaxing, but it is a very welcome escape for a few days.  This single mom thing is for the birds—one year down, one month to go!



October is sure to be tamer…and I welcome that.