Monday, April 26, 2010

Rainy Run

Sunday turned into long run day since the rest of the week would be too busy. Also doubted I should run 18 miles before going to work.

I set my alarm for 6am and had my gear laid out hoping the forecast for rain and wind wouldn't materialize. I woke up and crawled right back in bed, wind and rain could be heard in the bedroom. Worried I would not go later had me out and on the road 40 minutes later.

The rain had turned to mist but the wind was strong. I headed to the valley north of town that I figured would shelter me from the worst of the wind. After 3 miles the rain came back and I chose to push on instead of turning back towards town. I figured there would be no cutting short if I was not near home. I was to pick Jen up at mile 12 so she could get 6 or 7 miles and had made my way back to the rail trail heading into town before texting her that I'd be a bit later than planned. Eventually she responded that radar showed more rain on the way soon so she would go later. I made my way to town against the wind but no rain so far. A quick stop at the fire station and I headed east out of town on the rail trail. Three miles east all downhill then a u-turn and back up the same way. About a mile from home the rain started again. I had been trying to speed up and the rain provided motivation turning the last mile into my fastest of the day.

One sore heel and lots of tight muscles but overall not a bad 3 hours. Now for a easy week before my 20k race this Saturday.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Bring on the pains

With 15 and 16 mile long runs the past two Mondays I've found my new weak point that will need to be addressed before the marathon, my butt hurts. I've been stretching a bunch or at least a bunch compared to the none I had been doing. I've figured out how to loosen up my hips/glutes, but I'm not sure the cause of the problem. I'm hoping it is related to bad form after I had blistered a toe on vacation and will pass. If it isn't that then I suspect I shorten my stride too much when holding my pace down so I can get the miles in. On the up side even with the pain I finished the 16 miles confident I'll be ready for 26.2 next month. I estimated my finish time at 4:15 on the registration form and am on target for that. I'd like to finish in under 4 hours but will need everything to go right for it to happen.

Looking beyond the marathon Jen and I have the Urban Assault Ride to prep for but before then I'm eyeballing a 75 mile mountain bike race. Could be a long day, could need a new bike, could forget about it in a month.

Last fall I wrote about the Vibram Five Finger shoe like things I had purchased. The running in them was brief due to my poor judgment of the time to toughen up my feet. So now that it is warm again I dug them out just to wear around. I'll run I'm them again but not until after the marathon. We did hike out at Blue Mounds Sunday and they worked well at least taking the edge off the sharp rocks, trail running on anything but dirt would hurt. If you want footwear that gets everyone's attention the Five Fingers will do it. I've never owned anything that got that many question or comments. Could be the blue camouflage in size 45 wasn't the stealth choice.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Wednesday in D.C.

Last day for touring in D.C. The boys had decided that they had seen enough airplanes so we skipped the second, larger Air and Space Museum. Chad wanted to run, but was hesitant to run in the area where the hotel was. I suggested he run down on the Mall and among the cherry trees while I took the boys to another museum on the Mall. I wanted to go to either the Museum of American History or the National Archives. The boys said they weren't waiting in any line to get into the Archives so that was pretty much out. We headed down on the Metro and were one of the first into the Museum of American History. It was evident that the boys were still tired of museums because what they would normally be excited to see they walked right past to the next section. We saw the Star Spangled Banner flag, and it was huge. I was excited to see the First Lady gowns, but then we pretty much skipped through the other areas on the second floor. A quick trip to the gift store and we were done. There was a line outside the door when we left. It was sunny, but still windy. It was nicest in the sun, so the boys and I waited for Chad on the Mall.

He showed up after his run and told us he was held up by the Presidential motorcade. He had quite a story to tell about being told to stay on the curb, and others who did not follow directions getting stopped and questioned by police. He took this movie with his phone. The van in the back had a guy sticking out and at first Chad thought it was a gun he had, but after it came closer Chad discovered it was a camera recording the travel route.

We boarded the Metro to Arlington. We had seen the stop along the route to the hotel, but I didn't realize until reading the night before that it pretty much dropped off for the cemetery that was just across the street. A short walk from the Metro was easier than taking the car and paying for parking. We walked a short distance into the cemetery, to just past the Kennedy graves. The kids were not very excited about walking further, and I just wanted them to experience the enormity of the cemetery and appreciate those who served our country to protect us.
After getting back to the hotel we looked over our lists of things we wanted to do. The one that stood out was that Chad and I wanted to go to a cupcake shop. There was one in Georgetown, where we hadn't visited. But it was also quite a distance from the hotel. Instead we found one closer in Alexandria. There was also an ice cream place that was owned by a Wisconsinite, The Dairy Godmother. Chad mapped out the route and we headed to both. The ice cream shop was nice. I had a lemon and lavender sorbet, very unusual, but good. Kevin had a special seat at the table we sat at.
We then headed to the Old Towne area of Alexandria. Looked like a good area to explore, but the kids were done in, so Chad and I grabbed cupcakes at Lavender Moon Cupcakery quickly. Mine was an Irish Cream, and Chad had a carrot cake with cardamom. The cake parts were very moist and the frosting rich and thick, a special treat. With just a drive through to take a look at the area, we headed back to the hotel to wait for dinner.

Tuesday in D.C.

This was the day for museums. Our first start for the morning was the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. We arrived via Metro just before they opened at 10 a.m. There was a small line waiting at the door. I had purchased IMax tickets before we left home to avoid waiting in lines for that. We grabbed our tickets from the will call and then looked through some exhibits until the movie start time. There were lots of things to look at, and to read each exhibit would take at least an entire day, so Chad and I just followed the kids around to what seemed to interest them. We saw most of the second floor exhibits before the movie, and by the time we were back out the crowds had increased two-fold. The kids had pretty much seen enough except for the gift shop of course. There was a Star Trek ship used in filming of the TV show hanging in the gift shop. The gift shop was three floors and Chad had to text my phone so we could find each other again.

The next museum stop was the Museum of Natural History. Here we saw dinosaurs, ocean animals, rocks, gems including the Hope Diamond, and walked through items from ancient ruins as we walked forever to a bathroom. Here is a picture of a dinosaur attacking Zack. Hungry by now and smelling the food from the cafe, we headed downstairs only to find a huge line. We left the museum and found a restaurant in the nearby Sculpture Garden. It was nice out, so we ate our meal at an outside table in the garden sharing the entire terrace space with one other group. I think the kids were done with museums for the day, so we headed on a hike to have another look at some other monuments. It was a very windy day but at least it wasn't raining. We walked to the Washington Monument and found a bunch of stamps for the boy's passports in the nearby Park bookstore. We then headed to the World War II Monument for a closer look since we missed the up close visit on Sunday night. It was a very moving and beautiful area. We saw more Wisconsinites at the Wisconsin tower and we took group pictures for one another. We also took pictures of some areas where Chad's grandfather was during the war.
The kids were done walking and so we headed to the nearest Metro station then back to the hotel. Since it was not raining we tried to go back out in the evening to revisit some monuments in the dark. The first one was the Teddy Roosevelt Memorial, on an island. After finding the park entrance we discovered that the foot bridge across to the island was unlit even though the area was open until 10 p.m. There was also no sight of the memorial on the other side, and we gave up on this one since we had no flashlights with us. This was on the George Washington Parkway, which I guess means no exits. We were headed the wrong direction for our next stop, Iwa Jima Memorial. After getting turned around there was no posted exit to get off going the other direction. After much turning around, we approached from a different direction. By that time, though, it was not only extremely windy but also raining now. We grabbed umbrellas and tried to take some pictures before scurrying back to the car. That was enough for the night and we gave up and headed back to the hotel.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Monday in D.C.

Monday morning started with a sleep in to catch up from traveling. Some of the clothes and jackets from the night before were dry, and we dressed for more rain on this day. We had only one commitment and that was our Capitol tour at 2 pm. Breakfast was still on the table downstairs. One nice thing about the hotel we stayed at was the food. We had full breakfasts provided with many varied choices and featured items each morning. We also had three evenings of Manager Dinners. These were full meals provided Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday evening, the days we happened to be there. It was nice to not have to worry about meals except for lunch and snacks. There was still discussion of the fresh baked chocolate chip cookies from the Wyoming Inn last summer, but we can't have everything.

After breakfast we decided to go shopping before heading to conquer the Metro. We needed umbrellas, and we looked up the location of the nearest REI and headed there. I had one umbrella in the car but we each needed one to avoid a soaking similar to the previous night. I also discovered that I ended up carrying lots of stuff in a shoulder bag the night before. Extra coats, hats, maps, snacks, park passports, souvenirs, and more. But my bag was too big for the dimension requirements to go inside the Capitol, so I picked up a smaller, waterproof bag at REI as well. With all of our needed items we headed for the Metro.

Chad had directions to the parking ramp and had no trouble finding it. We parked and walked across the sky walk to stare again at the machine before us. We had also looked at the Metro website for the best form to purchase fare for the week. With a quick instruction from a Metro worker milling around, we each had a fare card and were ready to go. The train routing was easy to understand and we had a downtown detail map that showed the station locations as well so it was easy to pick our stopping point. The Metro was handy through our entire trip, but especially on this day to avoid walking long distances in the rain.
We went to the White House Visitors Center, which was not real exciting. Then we walked towards the White House and peered at it through the fence in the rain. The most interesting thing was watching the guards inspect vehicles going into the area with mirrors and dogs, then flipping down a huge reinforced metal gate to let them through. We jumped on train to Union Station for lunch before our scheduled tour of the Capitol.

I have to say the most impressive thing of the trip was the Capitol tour, and we have Senator Feingold and his office to thank for it. The Capitol was an impressive, history filled building. Our tour was a private tour for the four of us led by one of Senator Feingold's interns, Jihan. We requested the tour months before along with a tour of the White House which was not approved.(Not by any poor history in our background checks, the White House tour is just very limited.) We met in the office in the Hart Senate Building then after getting our hands and bags checked for explosives, we headed to the Capitol via an underground tram. We went past all the visitors waiting in line at the Capitol Visitors Center to the side door of the theater for the next introductory movie. First dibs on seats, along with another guided tour from a different Senator's office. After the movie we headed to the public area of the Capitol for a tour. Jihan was very informative and we learned a lot about the construction and artwork in the Capitol as well as tales of past government figures. Here is the center of designed Washington D.C. where for luck we all rubbed with our foot. Here is the rotunda dome design.
After this tour we hiked to the U.S. Botanic Garden.
Then down the mall to walk past the National Archives after we saw the huge line wrapped around the building. We headed to a nearby Metro station to head back to the hotel.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

D.C. Tour of Monuments

The tour we took on Sunday evening was Tourmobile Sightseeing's Twilight Tour. It had four planned stops for the evening but took us past many more Washington landmarks. Melvin, our tour guide was amazing. We learned a lot of interesting information about the D.C. area. It was dusk when we headed out of Union Station, itself an amazing building. We passed by the Capitol, which Melvin pointed out does stand out with an "o" in the name instead of all the other capitals.We passed by some more landmarks and museums and then headed for our first stop at the Jefferson Memorial. It was just starting to rain when we were walking around the area. The gift shop was still open so we bought Kevin and Zack a National Parks Passport book. Kevin had one from the trip to Wyoming last year, but we forgot it at home. So they were also able to get their first stamp at the Jefferson Memorial. It was sometimes hard to figure out which D.C. landmarks were National Parks and which were not. The kids did get a lot of stamps while we were there.

We boarded the bus for a quick trip to the Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial. It was a steady shower by the time we got to the beginning of the Memorial. Melvin came with the group on this stop to give us lots of information about FDR and the Memorial. The kids really liked Melvin's light up umbrella. This was an amazing place in the dark with the accent lighting. There is a lot of symbolism in the different areas of the monument symbolizing different landmarks of FDR's presidency. The monuments were all still packed with groups and tours despite the rain. The cherry blossoms were blooming and were pretty within the FDR Memorial but raindrops clouded my camera lens and I wasn't able to get any good shots.

Next stop was the Lincoln Memorial. This was bright and impressive in the night. The kids were reluctant to get off the bus for this one, but Chad and I encouraged them to run to the stairs. I stopped to take a picture on the way in the downpour.The building and statue were impressive. Also on this stop was the Korean War Memorial and the Vietnam War Memorial. Melvin suggested that if we were considering not walking in the rain to one to leave the Vietnam War Memorial for another day. He suggested the Korean War Memorial statues would be even more impressive in the night and rain, as rain drips off the faces of the statues. He was right, it was very powerful and impressive. Couldn't take any pictures with the rain and darkness. The kids stayed in the bus for this walk, but Chad and I were glad we went.

Our last stop was to be the WWII Memorial, but this was skipped because of the rain. They drove us past this and many more Memorials and attractions before dropping us again at Union Station. This tour helped us form an idea of the layout of D.C. and the Mall area so we could find our way easier the rest of the week. We did revisit some of the areas during the daytime and made an attempt to revisit the area at night again during the week but were hampered by weather again. More on that later.

Spring Break Vacation Recap, Intro & Day 1

It's Thursday, and we are headed back home from Washington DC after spending spring break vacation there for five days. We are on Interstate 68 in Maryland, which is marked the National Freeway. I figured it couldn't be any worse than our drive out on Interstate 70 which was quite boring So far it is nice, lots of mountains, and the road is good. That still leaves plain, dull Ohio to drive through. So I will begin my recap of the week. I had hoped to post along the way, but we have been busy running around, seeing things, and by the time night rolled around we were exhausted. I feel like I need a vacation from the vacation.

It all started out on Saturday, when we were supposed to leave at 10 to 10:30 pm. Chad was supposed to nap most of the day so he could start out driving. Well a structure fire consumed the entire day, and I don't think we got home until 3 or 4 in the afternoon. Chad had no extra sleep and I still hadn't packed anything. The kids were antsy to go, and Chad couldn't sleep so everyone was waiting around for me to pack. Talk about pressure. By the time we were leaving the Madison area after stopping to eat, we were just ahead of time. We stopped at the Illinois line to get an Ipass module for the car, and discovered that setting it up sucked. The phone line was closed and the internet set up made you wait 30 minutes before proceeding to the next steps. Needless to say we went through the manual lanes. Chad had to call the phone line later after it opened and we still couldn't get the thing to work. Might have been positional on the dash, but we'll see if it works on the way home.

We drove through the night, stopping only for gas and breakfast. We came into Pittsburgh just before lunch. I planned a stop at the Oliver Miller Homestead, which was closed for the season but I just wanted some pictures. Doing family genealogy research a few years ago I discovered Chad's family traces back to Oliver Miller, who's family was involved in the Whiskey Rebellion. So we stopped to get pictures of Chad in front of his house. Then on for some more boring road, and a new problem. Exits off the highway do not necessarily have on ramps, and they don't bother to tell you. It became quite frustrating while trying to look for lunch when we wanted something quick and some restaurants were off the highway miles.

We got to DC, with more crazy roads and got our stuff up to the room. It was a very nice room at the Residence Inn in Springfield. There were two separate bedrooms since we wanted space to relax and we were staying for 4 nights.
After experiencing DC it would have been nicer to have been a little closer in to the city. Unfortunately we needed to get to downtown for an evening tour of the monuments. Since I was rushed when we left, I had no time to print instructions on how to get anywhere by driving or train. We headed to the Metro, but had trouble finding the station, then when we got there we had no idea how to use the pass system. With no time before the train we needed left, we headed back to the car. Chad was angry and said he would just drive there, so he stopped and got a map and that's what we did. The traffic was good so we made it down there with plenty of time. Luckily it was Sunday night so there was no workday traffic to contend with and free parking at the meters.

We cruised around at Union Station while we waited for our tour with Tourmobile to begin. It started raining of course after our tour began. We had a great tour guide, Melvin, who was funny and informative. It was dusk when we started and the monuments we toured were best seen at night. The rain kept coming heavier and heavier, but we still had a great time.
The tour lasted about 3 and a half hours, and was well worth it. We were soaked by the time the tour was done, and we quickly made it back to the hotel and got ready for bed. Next post I'll share some pictures of the tour and more of D.C.