Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Cherry Blossoms!

Thanks to an unseasonably warm winter on the East Coast, the Cherry Blossoms bloomed early.  Last week, these DC treasures were in peak bloom and I took a run down to the tidal basin to check 'em out.  Yet another thing crossed off my 'never-done-in-dc' list.  It turns out, what I thought were Cherry Blossoms all over DC for the last three Springs, are actually Japanese Magnolias - And I'd never been to the National Mall during bloom-time to see the actual CBs!  Oops!  Now I know...

It was well worth the run, as while they're blooming, the whole basin is bordered in pink.  And who doesn't love pink?  Iphone grade pictures below!

Monday, March 26, 2012

For all of you taking bets...

I told my parents jokingly, after they dropped off my bike two weeks ago, that they should bet the over/under on how long it would take for it to be stolen.  Me, world's worst luck, big city, bad decisions, (I had my first cell phone for about 20 hours before it was swiped) - I attract thievery and creeps.  2 weeks to the day, in case you did place bets.  My bike was stolen last Friday from in front of my office building - amidst 12 other bikes that went untouched.  

The Adventurer was not lost in vain - I have learned over the past three days things that um, let's just say I wish I had known 2 weeks ago - or at least by last Friday.  So for bike owners, who knows, maybe this will help you.

1.  You can register your bike with the City of D.C.   The link and info is here.  I realize that bike theft is not exactly number one on the MPD's priority list - but it brings at least a bit of piece of mind - and if your bike is found and recovered, you can prove ownership.  Check with your city's DMV and know your options.  I didn't register, so there's no hope for me.  **Correction 4/19/12 - Register your bike with the National Bike Registry.  Link above is still accurate.

2.  In order to register, you give a serial number to the bike that is only on the bike.  Apparently this information will not be on any paperwork that came with your bike - so find your serial number, and write it down - especially if you choose not to register.  I didn't flip my bike over to find the serial number.  Again, little hope for me.

3.  Check with your apartment or office building about whether they have a storage room for bikes and vespas.  Much to my chagrin, the security guard at my office told me this morning that in the parking garage below our building, there is a free, well-secured room for tenants.  There's a bike rack there that you can lock your bike to for double security.  I wish I had known that last Friday morning.  Despite the fact that I told Antonio (our security guard) two weeks ago that I didn't want to lock my bike up outside, he failed to mention that there was a free, very secure room downstairs.  What the Heck, Antonio?  I thought we were friends.  

In short, the love affair between my bike and myself was short lived - a 2 week period of bliss where I could exercise, cut my work commute down to just 10 minutes, and feel like a real, pretentious DC person cutting off traffic and ruling the road on two wheels.

But your story can end differently!  Maybe all of this is public knowledge, and is only news to me, but when I get some intel, I have to share it.  And I hope you and your bike fare better than me and mine. With that, I leave you this sad photo, of a love cut off quicker than Meg Ryan and Nicholas Cage's in City of Angels.  And a bike was their undoing, as well.

Le sigh.  Le tear.  Le cry.

Friday, March 23, 2012

More Water Station Fun

Uncle Sonny sent me this pic.

7 AM and Lookin' Alive!

See.This.Movie: The Hunger Games

Move over Bella Swan, there's a new heroine in town and she will kick.your.face.

Katniss Everdeen, star of The Hunger Games is a Young Adult character I can get behind, and let me tell you why.  I always took issue with Twilight's "Bella" as a role model for young women.  Um - sinking into a deep depression when your high school boyfriend abandons you?  Thinking it's normal that Edward is a glorified stalker who creeps into your room and watches you sleep?  Feeling like you have to die to be with some dude you fell in love with at 16?  Cutting off your family because they can't see what you've become with the man you love?  Earth to Stephanie Meyer: that's been made into a Lifetime movie called, "Reviving Ophelia" - and it's unhealthy.  In the middle of New Moon, there are literally just blank pages with the month written on them to show Bella's pathetic emptiness while time passes without Edward.  Barf.

Where have gone the kick ass days of Hermione using her wits to pull Harry and Ron out of every bad situation in which they found themselves?  When Ron was a jerk, Hermione got a famous Quidditch player to take her to the school dance to make Ron jealous.  And Muggle blood be damned, she was the best little witch at Hogwart's.  Smart, savvy, cool under pressure Hermione Granger.

But somewhere along the way, we got depressed, co-dependent mumbler, Kristen Stewart.  Ugh.

Enter Katniss - a 21st century, no-nonsense young woman who supports her family, takes her sister's place in the Hunger Games and uses her survival instincts and sense of loyalty to stick it to The Man.  I also like her because she never takes hand-outs - little Republican in the making.  I dig it.  And she's a female character that I wouldn't feel the need to let my (hypothetical) daughter read about without a serious heart to heart - "Ok honey, if a boy ever tells you he has to be with you at all times, don't listen to him because that's abuse - and you know Vampires aren't real, right?"

Date night, Girl's night, Family night, Go see this movie.  It's all action, very little romance and anyone will appreciate it.  And the next time Stephanie Meyer writes a book, can we please just ignore it?  I promise, I will too.  Because while Bella's dad is picking up her Abilify prescription at the Forks Pharmacy - women like Katniss Everdeen are ruling the world.

Seriously, see it.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Cosca Regional Park - Clinton, MD

Last Sunday morning, Daryl and April so graciously gathered me from my St. Patty's Day Hangover Cocoon (aka, my bed) and helped me knock out my first Maryland hike!  We ventured to Cosca Regional Park in Clinton, Maryland.  60 Hikes describes the park as a 5.5 mile loop.  But my guess is it was significantly less because of the short amount of time it took - which was perfect because April had requested a shorter distance, and waves of nausea induced by one too many Irish Car Bombs had me glad that the park was petite as well.  Though short and sweet, we had a blast - totally worth leaving the cocoon!

Cosca Park features some really great amenities.  For you family folk, there are more playgrounds than the population of children in Maryland.  Everywhere we turned was a playground - not a single child present, but tons of bright shiny play areas.  There is also a small lake where you can fish and a Nature Center with a butterfly garden.  The fact that there was an abundance of things to do, yet the park was curiously empty, led to what April called the, "Blair Witch Element" of this particular nature reserve.  

For example, 

1.  There is a Nature Center which is beautifully designed on an elevated area so that as you wind up the ramp, there are coy ponds and flowers to gaze at on your way.  But once you get to said Nature Center, it was completely silent, and completely empty except for one employee and creepy science things like a poor lone bunny in a cage.  Daryl and April said the facilities were clean - always a plus - but as we left, a shiver ran up my spine for the poor bunny.

2.  As we began the hike, there was a really cool tree (pictured below) on which the trunk had all kinds of initials and hearts carved into.  It was something I'd never seen before.  But then, much deeper into the hike, in the middle of nowhere, was a very similar tree - and that's when April said, "I think we're getting into some Blair Witch territory here."  

3.  The trails are not well maintained.  Had it not been for Daryl's amazing orienteering skills and ability to spot the smallest or most faded speck of green paint on a tree trunk (signifying the next turn for the Green trail), I would have given up on the trail being a loop and turned back the way I came more than once.  However, the park is so small that occasionally you hit a fence and a road.  It was very reminiscent of The Happening or The Hunger Games or any other film or book where they put you in a fake environment and you have to claw your way out.  

But Hark!  Before we knew it, we came out on the other side of the lake and the trail really is a loop!  I was incredibly disoriented when we first came out of the brush, but also relieved that we had made it to the other side.  And honestly, the scary movie element of the trail had us giggling about finding a dead body the whole way through - we're sick like that.  

The park will be a great place to visit in the spring and summer.  There is a small lake where you can rent paddle boats, and I'm sure for children, the nature center would be quite a great experience.

Daryl and April

There's always time to learn - even when you're in the bathroom.

Blair Witch Tree Number One

Lone Owl at the Nature Center

Green Party Trail

April took this - very arty!

I'm so happy that I could hike with Daryl and April - they came super prepared with water and yummy snacks and are great company (and navigators) when I'm not at my best!  I hope they'll join me again for exploring!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Oh that guy who ran to Marathon? He delivered the message and died.

I think I've covered this, but why anyone would want to run a marathon, or a half marathon, is utterly beyond me.  As my dad likes to say, "The first guy that ran a marathon - died."  I don't know the details of that story, but I believe it - and being that my dad is my life coach and fitness advisor (just kidding on the latter), I've steered clear of running long distances.  Once, I strayed and did run a halfy, and you know what?  My knees swelled up and I wanted to die.  Serves me right.

But my aversion to running like half the entire square mileage of the District of Columbia, does not mean I can't support others who choose to do so.  Libertarians rock in that way...just saying.  So at 6:30 am last Saturday I found myself on H Street NE, prepping and manning the Mile 11 water station for DC's Rock 'N Roll Marathon and Half Marathon.  I was volunteering with my Godfather's organization, Not Alone, and we had a seriously rocking time.

Layer One of Water Cups - It's still dark outside!

Beautiful Sunrise.  The picture doesn't do it justice, the sun was bright red.

The Cool Crew - Godfather Sonny, Colin, Amy, Alexis and her Hubby Rob

In the end there were at least 30 tables with 3 layers of cups each!

Can you see the resemblance between Colin and the blow up guitarist below?  
I can.

The very first runner to hit Mile 11.  In 53 MINUTES!

My Clean-Up Crew.
Some might argue Colin was the leader...but Alexis and I know the truth!

Cups as far as the eye can see.

Then the street cleaners came...
And someone (I swear it wasn't me, Uncle Sonny) asked:
Why did we just scrape flattened cups off the ground if the street cleaners were coming?

I don't know.

It was so exciting to encourage these runners as they went past.  And handing out water is not as easy as it looks.  Leave it to me to make standing still really difficult.  But the first 50 runners or so that went through are going at a serious pace - and sometimes, the water handoff misses and the water goes everywhere.  Once the herds of average runners come through, they all slow down and stop to drink, which is so much easier...

So: Third place guy - you know who you are - I'm sorry I dropped the water, I hope you got some down the line.  

Once my water table ran out, I grabbed a shovel.  Our side of the street, (Colin, Alexis and I) decided it would be best to adopt the "Clean-As-You-Go" method, so while the rest of the volunteers were cheering and handing out beverages we got to work a-rakin' and a-shovelin'.  I thought it was weirdly fun - in a seven dwarf, whistle while you work, kind of way.  I had great company and as a result, once the last runner went through, we were pretty much donzo!  Teamwork! WOO!

I think Uncle Sonny even got a letter from race organizers saying something about how totes awesome the entire station was.  And, well, we were, duh.  I really hope we do it again next year because in the great words of Voltaire, or Evelyn Beatrice Hall paraphrasing Voltaire, "I may not agree with how far you run, but I will defend with my shovel your right to run it."  Or something like that. 

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Ed Brought A Knife to the Air Museum

**Correction 3/16/12:  Dad brought to my attention that it wasn't the Multi-Tool he couldn't lose - it was a bosun's knife.  So - I think that actually enhances the hilarity of this story - Ed Brought 2 Knives to the Air Museum.  

My parents came to visit me last weekend and on the beautiful day that was Saturday, we went to the Air and Space Museum.  I had never been, and I don't think my parents had been since the early 80s, so it was a treat for all of us.

But there was one little hiccup... The museums in DC are like an airport: security, metal detectors, no outside water, and I'm sure if you happened to bring shampoo with you, it would have to be in a 3.4 oz bottle.  But a well-known fact about Ed DeMartini is that he brings a knife with him everywhere he goes - a lesser known fact is that he is usually packing heat as well, but I digress...  Technically the knife is a 'multi-tool' with a screwdriver and a wrench and a nail file, etc.  But poor Dad has had about 20 of them in the last 10 years because he always, always, always forgets to leave the knife at home when he's going to a secured environment.  Many an airport security guard has made him throw the tool away.  And Saturday was no different - We walked into the museum and seeing the metal detector, we all said "Oh Sh*t."  My mom was quick to say, "Oh Ed, I'll buy you a new one, let's just go in."  But, scorned one too many times by oppressive security, Ed dug in his heels and said, "No."

The solution was to hop in a cab, throw the knife in my office and head back to the National Mall - a 40 minute detour that saved the Multi-Tool from the fate of so many others.  And the rest is history.

The Air and Space Museum, by the way, is incredible.  But don't see "Rescue 3D" in the Imax - it's boring.  Pick a different movie.  And below are some pictures of the incredible day!

Oops - I guess my "Hold up the Monument" directions were no good.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

I Think Your Clock Is Broken

I think I've mentioned before that I'm "training" for the Crescent City Classic which is April 7.  I started training in the middle of January with a program on  This is all old news to you loyal readers - but below is a groundbreaking update.

Over the past 10 weeks, I've been following my Nike program as closely as possible (running their assigned mileage on assigned days).  But let's face it, I've missed a few workouts because who has time to run 8 miles on a Tuesday?  The gist of it is - weather and schedule permitting - I've been trying my darndest to train to run farther, while still walking when I feel tired and such.  A girl can only do so much.

Fast forward to last Sunday: Amanda and I did the St. Patty's Day 8k here in DC - which is the sister of the Jingle All the Way 8k we did last December.  And I surprised even myself!  Because little did I know that I can not only run farther now - I can run faster!  Check it: In December I ran the 5 mile race in 57:12 - Nothing to brag about.  Well you know what IS something to brag about?


You want to focus on the two columns all the way to the right.
Net Time - 49:47
Avg Mile - 10:01

Excuse me Race Organizers, is your clock broken?  Or am I just whipping myself into that good of shape?  I'm going with the latter - because it's right there in writing on the Race Results website.  

That's over 7 minutes off my 8K time in just 2 months of training.  Watch out world.  Yours truly is now running a 10 minute mile.  I don't think I've ever run a 10 minute mile - especially for a prolonged distance.  In elementary school I could run 1 mile in 7 minutes - but then I'd start to walk.  What can I say? Old habits die hard.

So, New Orleans better get ready for this speed demon.  Who knows - I may even be leading the pack with the people trying to qualify for the Olympics or whatever.  I just hope their clock isn't broken either - because if I happen to go back to running a 12 or 13 minute mile, I'm filing a complaint.  

*Stay tuned for an upcoming post about race goals for Classic Weekend.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Where do I live again?

In this week's installment of "Things I didn't know existed in DC" is this structure:

On a few recent beautiful days, I've been taking an afternoon run around the National Mall.  
However, today, instead of taking the interior path (along what used to be the Reflecting Pool), I ran up Independence Ave.  
What the hell are these two walls leading to?  The Basin?

I thought of The Odyssey.  Scylla and Charybdis, anyone?

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Welcome to Mel

Not since Theodore Chipmunk and Marcel the Shell have I wanted to hug something so badly.

The nachos are really good here.

Does anyone else feel really strongly that instead of a dog, they'd prefer a cartoon chipmunk, a shell with shoes or a milkbite as a pet?  Just me?  Ok.