Race recap: We arrived at the race with plenty of time to warm up and stretch, but neither of us expected it to take 20 minutes to drop our bags off at gear check, so even though we arrived early we were still forced to run to the start...and into the race. We somehow managed to step into our corral right as our wave was released, but not before someone side stepped in front of me, causing me to pull up short and causing Kristin to twist her ankle on the curb seconds before the race. Thankfully the adrenalin was pumping and Kristin ran really well even if she was hobbling something fierce that night. The first 3 miles of the race are pretty cool, we got to see a few of the major monuments from a distance as we headed east towards Virginia. After crossing the Arlington Memorial Bridge and briefly stepping foot in Virginia we were enjoyed the next 3 miles as we ran on Rock Creek Parkway. Even though the race was pretty huge ~30,000 runners, there were several spots during miles 3-6 that our surroundings just overshadowed the sound of pounding footsteps around us. At times it was eerily quiet too, which seemed odd given the huge group of runners. The elevation chart was a total joke, as it showed an increase of ~75 feet between mile 6 and 7, but in reality it was much steeper than that and a good number of runners either slowed to what looked like a walk. The one huge plus was the massive crowd support on this hill - the race organizers may not have claimed it to be a tough climb, but the community obviously knew it was a doozy. Around mile 8 a spectator spotted our festive race gear and yelled "you need a beer" and actually ran on to the course and handed me a can of Budweiser. Nothing like a roadie to keep us going. We both enjoyed a few swings, but ultimately around mile 11 I had to ditch the last few sips as it had basically turned to foam from being jostled around and was nearly impossible to drink without choking. A few rolling rolls in the final miles, but nothing too crazy. Despite the ups and downs, all in all it was a good course and we enjoyed the race, even if we ended up running over 14 miles (including our run from gear check to the start).
Highlight: Several options here, but I think I have to go with enjoying a road beer while taking a running tour of DC!
Tip: Gear check was a disaster - drop your bag off before your pre-race stretch (it took ~20 minutes for us to just drop a bag off - pretty awful).
Day 1 (Friday):
Nothing beats catching up with a friend on a trip and we were fortunate enough to see our good friend Katie for lunch at Luke's Lobster shortly after we got in to DC. As always, it was really great to catch up with Katie and the fantastic lobster rolls were just icing on the cake.
Tip: The restaurant is pretty small and gets fairly crowded, but the lobster rolls are really good.
After grabbing our race packets we decided to rent a pair of bikes from the Capital Bikeshare and road back into the city. What an awesome and relaxing ride! Absolutely a highlight of our trip to DC - just cruising the streets of DC on our hogs. There are a lot of dedicated bike lanes and I think all the miles we've spent riding and training for triathlons really made us comfortable on these rented bikes. If the weather's nice this is a must to see the city in a unique and fun way.
After returning our bikes to a nearby drop-off location, we took a quick tour of the Smithsonian Museum of American History. Most people have heard the story of how I donated the prototype tin of Silly Putty to the Smithsonian a few years back (yes, seriously), so whenever we're in DC it's always a treat to visit the Smithsonian just in case it's back on display. After checking out a number of exhibits, including the revamped Star Spangled Banner and Dorothy's ruby red slippers from the Wizard of Oz, our stomachs were growling so we headed out for a snack.
Kristin had spotted Teaism in her sleuthing and we just had to stop in to sample the chocolate salty oat cookie and the salty oat cookie. YUM - the chocolate cookie had chunks of dark chocolate throughout and was really good, especially with just a sip of Kristin's natural ginger ale or my ginger limeade.
Next up was the Museum of Crime and Punishment. We had a great time going from exhibit to exhibit - it follows somewhat of a chronological time-frame from medieval to present-day and has a number of interactive exhibits. We spent about 90 minutes here, but could have easily spent another 30 minutes as we rushed through the back half of the museum and missed our chance to play Crime Scene Investigator. We both really enjoyed this museum and would highly recommend it!
Apparently sushi has become our new pre-race meal. Odd, I know, but it seems to work. We crashed the trendy SEI for a sampling of interesting sushi rolls, with some traditional favorites and new-age creations like the "fish and chips", which reminded me of the tuna casserole topped with crushed potato chips my mom used to make (in a good way). A bit trendy, but good sushi. The DC Brau beer we tried was easy drinking and smooth, but the back of the can really nailed the driving force for our trip to DC:
"New Columbia is the name of the proposed U.S. state that would be created by the admission of the District of Columbia into the United States as the 51st state according to legislation offered starting in congress in 1983."
Day 2 (Saturday - Race Day):
After biking back from the finish (yes, we once again avoided the Metro and decided to hop some rental bikes for our trip back to the hotel, which was especially awesome as most of the roads were still closed from the race, but all the runners were long gone) we cleaned up and headed to Coco Sala for a great chocolate themed brunch. The french press coffee was a huge plus and helped to keep us warm. We split the French Toast S'mores (decadent) and the breakfast flatbread of hash-browns, chicken sausage, eggs and bacon. The flatbread was huge and I'm glad we split to entrees so we could get a broader sampling of their interesting menu choices. Nice brunch stop, especially if you are in the mood for chocolate.
Decatur House was...ummm...closed. Whoops! No worries, we were close to all the action near the Whitehouse so we headed to close museum to kill a few minutes.
We had a few minutes to kill, so we headed to the Renwick Gallery for a free self-guided tour of some interesting art. Everything from traditional 1600's oil paintings to a giant swordfish made from baby doll parts and other plastic toys, we both enjoyed this brief stop.
We joined up with Matt and took the free (tip based) American Scandal tour around DC. Even though our bodies were pretty sore from running earlier in the day - even more so for Kristin who was starting to hobble a bit by this point - the tour was very well thought out and talked about scandals from hundreds of years ago to present day. Really a worthwhile walking tour.
Tip: The tour begins just north of the White House and ends at the steps of the Capitol (the website didn't include that, but it would have been nice to know).
Dinner, drinks and some more drinks at the DC Chophouse. It was really great to kick back, relax and just chill. The lower level bar was full, but the upstairs bar was awesome and complete with super comfortable leather couches, which provided a perfect spot to camp out and enjoy a black IPA while we waited for a table. The beer was fresh and the food was plentiful. Ahhh...that was a good time.
After dinner Kristin was really struggling to walk on her ankle but refused a cab and we set off to meet the whole Bollenbacher family for a drink at Capitol City Brewing. Great chance to catch up and chat over a pint at the bar. Now that's what I call a night cap!
Day 3 (Sunday):
We had planned to do a 4-5 mile run around the Tidal Basin (near the Lincoln Memorial), but our bodies were really sore, so we decided to take it easy and headed for a tour of the Newseum. There were a lot of interesting exhibits in this museum devoted to news and new distribution, but the Berlin Wall, complete with the only Checkpoint Charlie in the US, and the 911 exhibits were the most powerful. If I had a class of middle-school students, I think I would take them here. It's very informative, but still somewhat interactive.
Before we headed to the airport, we made one final stop at Ford's Theater. I expected to just see an out-of-date stage and maybe a plaque showing the box where Lincoln was assassinated, but I was way off. The Theater has a pretty extensive museum in the basement, including the gun and bullet that John Wilkes Booth used to assassinate Lincoln. Also, the theater is fully functional and had a series of shows the week we were in town. It's pretty cool that such a historic place is still being used for its intended purpose, when gobs of tourists aren't taking photos of an empty stage that is. This turned out to be a really great final stop on our visit to DC.
Huge credit to Kristin for pulling together an awesome itinerary - you really outdid yourself!
Washington, D.C. Half Marathon Medals:
March 16, 2013: Rock n' Roll USA Half Marathon
What are the odds that Kristin's race bib would end in "50" and my bib would end in "51"? Seems fitting in case DC ever does become the 51st state!