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I did it ~ after all these years, I finally ran my first official 5K!

GW Parkway Finish Line
At the finish line with my first ever “finisher” medal

For as long as I can remember, I’ve had a serious debilitating mental block against running. I could hike down cliffs in Guam, through the Grand Teton trails or play tennis for hours but within three minutes of running, I would think of every excuse to stop. I signed up for the George Washington Parkway Classic in 2012 but backed out when my allergies flared (yes, I know, another excuse).

In London, I met a woman who ran ultra-distance races. She typically ran 100-mile races. Yes, ONE. HUNDRED. MILES. When I first heard about her long runs (and didn’t know her), I thought surely she must be obsessive and compulsive. It seemed (and still does) superhuman to run that far.  After I got to know her, I couldn’t have been more wrong. She’s a bright, fun, and above all, BALANCED woman. She is a married to a wonderful, supportive husband (one of the nicest men I’ve ever met) and has two great sons who are so proud of her accomplishments. She isn’t obsessive at all.

She ran one of her ultra distance races last June and I was fascinated by all the details of what it takes to do a race such as that. It sounded incredibly painful and yet she persevered. I absolutely can’t get my head around the fact that she ran 100 miles. Not only did she run 100 miles but she beat the women’s and men’s record time. Within days of running the race, she went with me and several other women to the Royal Ascot Horse Race for Ladies Day. She had a little trouble getting up and down from the picnic blanket but other than that, she was the life of the party. No complaints about the after-effects even though her body had to be in serious recovery mode.

When I asked her why she endures these long, ass-kicking runs, she said because she wants to do it “while she still can.” Guess that’s as good of a reason as any. And the real kicker for me is that she didn’t start running until she was in her 40s.

How could I not be motivated and inspired by her?! So, last November, I signed up once again to run the GW Parkway classic 5K. The idea was to have a long “training” time. That plan didn’t work so well since we had the worst winter in 30+ years. Seeing as I’m not a runner in the best of weather, I certainly wasn’t getting out in the snow and cold. I went for TWO runs the entire winter ~ one for a mile and one for 2 miles. Needless to say I was sorely tempted to “excuse” myself from this race due to lack of training.

But then I thought of my ultra distant runner friend and carried on. And during the race, when I was at the half way point and was thinking how badly I wanted to walk the rest of the way, I thought of how Jean must have felt at mile 75. And yet she continued on.

Here’s what kept ME going today ~ the weather was perfect! My dear husband stayed with me earning his PW (personal worst) in a 5K and a piece of gum that a friend, Jayne suggested I chew while running.  Yeah!  Next time ~ yes, I do believe there will be another 5K in my future ~ I’m going to hydrate more and definitely do a few more training runs.

GW Parkway 5K
A mile done and I’m still smiling

GW Parkway April 2014
Those bathroom lines are ridiculous!

GW Parkway 5K
With husband, daughter and exchange student. A great run for all of us

My favorite quote of the day was the woman standing behind me at the start of the race. When asked by her friend what her “goal” of the race was, she said “Completion”

Continuing Day 1 with our visitors:

After our tour of Arlington Cemetery, we road the metro to Rosslyn then grabbed a free Georgetown Shuttle to M Street in Georgetown. First stop: lunch at Good Stuff Eatery. It’s become our go-to place. and we’ve been to both the Georgetown and Capitol Hill restaurants frequently. The staff always delivers consistently, delicious food and the service is quick and friendly.  How can you go wrong with the best burgers in DC (I get the ‘shroom veggie burger), rosemary french fries and yummy shakes. My favorite is the salted caramel.

Good Stuff Eatery Burger Fries, Shake

Good Stuff Eatery Lunch

Feeling stuffed and satisfied, we headed over to the second highest observation point in DC. The Washington Memorial is still under renovations so the Old Post Office tower is the next best view. It didn’t disappoint!

Old Post Office DC

View of the Capitol Building from the observation deck at 270 feet at the Old Post Office Tower

Old Post Office view of Washington Monument

View of the Washington Monument from the Old Post Office

Post Office IV

Old Post Office Building

Old Post Office deserted

The interior looks lonely right now but The Old Post Office will be soon be transformed into The Trump International Hotel due to open in 2016.

Old Post Office Congress bells

Congress Bells in the Old Post Office Tower

National Post Office Building

If you’re in DC during the next couple of weeks, be sure to visit the Old Post Office Tower before it undergoes renovations. And I highly recommend Good Stuff Eatery if you’re a fan of Burgers, Fries and a Shakes. Besides Georgetown and Capitol Hill, they are also located in Crystal City in Northern Virginia.

It was a gorgeous day for the Cherry Blossom Run! This was our second time volunteering for the race and, this year, we brought our exchange student from Bangladesh. It was a new experience for him and he really enjoyed himself. It’s hard not to get caught up in the excitement when the runners are coming through.

Lincoln Memorial at dawn

Lincoln Memorial at Dawn

Memorial Bridge early morning

Memorial Bridge as the sun comes up

We were assigned to the first Water/Gatorade station which is located just over the Memorial Bridge on the left side of the Lincoln Memorial. We woke at 4:15, took the metro to the Arlington Station, walked over the bridge and made it to our volunteer check-in spot at 6:00. Then it was time to fill the cups ~ all 1,000 of them.

CHerry Blossom Run Water/Gatorade station cups

Handing out gatorade

We had plenty of Gatorade for the runners!

At the end of the water/gatorade handout

This is what it looked like once 18,000 runners went through the water/Gatorade stop

Cherry Blossom Water/Gatorade station

Happy Volunteers

Next year, I hope to run the Cherry Blossom 10M/5K ~ most likely the 5K. It’s always inspiring to see the runners go by with smiles on their faces even if they’re a little behind the rest of the pack. The last group of runners/walkers to go by got the biggest cheer from all the volunteers at the stop. Good for them to keep on going…

Living so close to Washington DC attracts more visitors to our house ~ certainly a lot more than when we lived in Kansas. This past week, John’s uncle, cousin and her four children came for a short 3-night stay. With our nomadic lifestyle, we don’t get to see extended family as often as we’d like and we’re thrilled when we get the chance. Here’s what we did on Day One:

Arlington House and cemetery

Arlington House ~ The Robert E. Lee Memorial

Arlington House was built by George Washington Parke Custis and his slaves between 1802 and 1818. His daughter, Mary Custis, great-granddaughter of First Lady Martha Washington, married Robert E. Lee. The Lees inherited Arlington House when her father passed away. Arlington House has a long, interesting history ~ it’s been a home for the Lee Family and Custis Families, a plantation estate and home to 63 slaves, a monument honoring George Washington, a military headquarters, a community for emancipated slaves and is currently a National Cemetery.

Arlington Tomb sign

Alrington Single cross

Arlington Cemetery

Arlington Guard

Old Guard Soldier at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers.

We stayed for the changing of the guard ceremony which takes place on the hour (Oct-March) and every half hour (April -Sept). Note: the ceremony may seem “over” but don’t start talking until you leave the site of the “Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers.” We were “shusshed” for whispering after the ceremony. I cringe at that as I would never want to be disrespectful in such a place of honor.

Arlington Eternal Flame

Eternal Flame at the John F. Kennedy gravesite

Arlington Amphitheater

Arlington Amphitheater

Arlington Women's Memorial

Quote at the Women’s Memorial at Arlington Cemetery

Arlington House Sideview

Gravestone of George W. George ~ I tried to find more information about him but there wasn’t much on the internet. One of the fascinating things about Arlington Cemetery is all the famous people buried there. It reminded me of when I went through the National Portrait Gallery in London. I wanted to look up the stories of all the names I saw. I’m sure there’s an interesting life story behind all of those graves.

Arlington L'Enfant site

Burial site of Pierre L’Enfant, a French-born American civil engineer who designed the streets of Washington DC in the late 1700s. His grave has sweeping views of Washington DC ~ including the Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial and the Capitol.

Arlington Cemetery

The family photo at Arlington Cemetery

If you visit Arlington Cemetery, check out their site here. The cemetery is open 7 Days a week, 365 days a year. The hours are 8am – 7pm (April – September) and 8am – 5pm (October – March). The parking garage closes 1 hour after cemetery. From the Arlington, it’s an easy walk over the Memorial Bridge to the Mall and the monuments.

London: Last Day Plans

The weather in Northern Virginia has been foggy (yesterday) and rainy (today). It’s a great time to write about London and our last day in the UK.  With all I’m planning, we’ll have no time for sleeping! We can always sleep on the way home (well, at least John can ~ I’m a stay awake on the plane kind of person).

One thing I’d love to do but will have little no chance convincing John and Logan to join me: the Mad Hatter Tea at the Sanderlin. It’s a whimsical Alice in Wonderland inspired afternoon tea which sounds fabulous. This will stay on the to-do list for when I’m on a solo trip to London.

On to what we’ll do…

When we lived in London, I went on numerous London Walks tours which I thoroughly enjoyed. On a couple of the walks they would point out the Gentlemen’s Clubs of years past. Having been teased about those clubs, I’m very intrigued with Mark Rowland London Ramblings tour “The Gentlemen’s clubs of St James’s: Victorian London’s LinkedIn ” and I’ll definitely be booking the walk as soon as his July schedule comes out. Then we’ll head over to Regents Park for lunch with friends.

Regents Park Picnic

We had a picnic in the Regents Park on the day before we flew back to the states. We grabbed a couple of sandwiches from Pret a Manger and met up with friends in the park on what was one of the nicest weather days we’d had all year. We were witness to a proposal while we had our lunch ~ very romantic of them.

London Leaving Regents Park

Leaving Regents Park

Carina feeding the birds in Regents Park

Feeding Time in Regents Park

Close up of Water Fountain Regents Park

Regents Park Fountain Cover

Fountain in Regents Park

Spring in Regents Park

Flowers in Regents Park

002

People Watching in Regents Park

We still have the “last” evening in London ~ the vote from the rest of the family is to spend the rest of the day in Covent Gardens for dinner and a West End show.  Now to decide which show and which restaurant. Any recommendations for a vegetarian friendly but will still appeal to a meat-eater kind of restaurant?

 

Last summer, John and I attended The Taming of the Shrew  at Shakespeare’s Globe theater. It was an all-women cast and they did an excellent job, but the story line is NOT my favorite Shakespeare play. I would love to see Much Ado About Nothing but it’s playing in April 2014. In any case, I was thrilled to see a play with fantastic actors at the iconic Globe theater. My daughter was out of town when we went we’ll definitely be stopping by for a tour of the theater. Unfortunately, the plays scheduled while we’re in London aren’t appealing to me. One is Julius Caesar and the other is Holy Warriors. I have no doubt they’ll be wonderfully staged but they seem way too emotional to attend while on vacation. I like to keep things light and breezy. The description for Holy Warriors on the website is a bit of a downer: “Written by David Eldridge (Festen, In Basildon), Holy Warriors is a kaleidoscopic tale of holy war and revenge in the struggle for Jerusalem, taking in over two millennia of bloody conflict, as Richard the Lionheart marches east to face Saladin, the Romans take Jerusalem; and Hamas militants explode suicide bombs on buses.

Shakespeare’s Globe is a fabulous building with an interesting history. It’s located a few hundred yards from its original site. The building itself is as true to the original as they can surmise ~ there was next to nothing left of the original. The rebuilding of the Globe came about through the  efforts of  the American actor and director Sam Wanamaker. He founded the Shakespeare’s Globe Trust which reconstructed the theater. The foundation is also responsible for the education center and permanent exhibition.  Thanks to Sam Wanamaker, there’s a beautiful and historic theater in a fabulous location (Bankside) in London.

Globe Theater

Globe theater and Millenium bridge
Globe Theater and the Millennium bridge

Globe Theater II
Audience at the Globe Theater

Globe Theater

Even if you don’t get a chance to see a play there, go for a tour. 

Borough Market is about a 5-minute walk from the Globe Theater so we’ll meander over there and peruse the many food and gift vendors. Think we’ll have lunch at the historic George Inn and Pub ~ it’s close to Borough Market. More on that in the next post. Borough Market has become so popular and it gets a bit hectic at peak times (weekends/lunch). But if you go early, it’ll be less of a crush. It’s recommended in all the travel guidebooks and there’s a reason for that ~ it’s a fantastic market.

Smell Me Truffles London

Market Mushrooms

Variety of Mushrooms

Market Peppers

Bright colorful peppers for sale

Market Fish

Fish at the Market

Market Cheese

Cheesemonger

Flower Shop London

Gorgeous flowers for sale year-round

Blooming Flowers London

Flowers in the Market

Monmouth London

Coffee Lover’s Favorite place in the market

The Market Porter London

The Market Porter pub always looked so inviting when I went by it but then one day a group of us decided to go in and the stench of urine was overwhelming. We just looked at each other and walked out. I was so disappointed. I still love the look of it from the outside.

The Rake Bar

The Rake Pub is a pub I walked past many, many times and every time I would check out the beer selection on the sign outside with an extensive list of beers. I would say “next time”  but we ended up leaving London before I made good on “next time.”  Needless to say, when we’re there this summer, I’m stopping in for a pint no matter what (or what time). The Rake is known as the smallest pub in London and, because it’s in busy Borough Market, I won’t be going on a Friday or Saturday night when it will be crushed with people. Best to check it out in the afternoon while sitting outdoors watching the market-goers go by. They have 130 beers available ~ I might try the Flying Dog K9 Cruiser

The Rake London

One of my previous jobs required I prepare itineraries for visiting VIPs. One thing I learned is to always be flexible ~ it’s not a matter of IF things change, but WHEN things change. Only a week into planning our UK trip and the schedule has already been turned around. Due to John’s work constraints, we’ve decided to go to Scotland first then to London.

Day One in London will now be John’s graduation event so we’ve only got the morning to ourselves. Sounds like a good day to sleep-in, do laundry (from our week in Scotland) and then enjoy lunch at Maguro, our favorite Japanese restaurant. It’s located in Maida Vale.

Majuro Sushi London

My friend, Leslie introduced me to Maguro early on and we returned frequently throughout the year. I went once for dinner but I prefer their lunch. I always opted for the Tofu Teriyaki and it was consistently delicious. So yummy that my mouth is watering as I write this…

Bento Box, Maguros, London

Maguros, London Maida Vale

Tofu Teriyaki Bento Box

Maguro is located at 5 LANARK PLACE, LONDON W9 1BT, TEL 020 7289 4353 Take the Tube to Warwick Avenue Station (Bakerloo Line) then it’s a short five-minute walk to the restaurant.  The restaurant is tiny (!) and I would highly recommended making reservations. Great food, wonderful service and intimate atmosphere ~ you won’t be disappointed.

After lunch, we’ll head to John’s graduation ceremony and then the evening reception which hopefully will be followed with a last round with friends at a local pub. I better make day two a late start as well!!

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