Swamp Soiree ~ D.C. Summer Weekend

There were a few reasons I wanted to visit D.C. this past weekend but the #1 reason was to visit my good friend Maura – the one who ran the Paris Marathon with me.  She recently moved and BOUGHT A HOUSE!  My other friend Emma has been living there for the good part of last year and it was about time I went to visit them both.  Four of us from NYC picked out a weekend and scheduled our various forms of transportation.  Jackie and Jess were smart and snagged trains when they were around a decent price range, probably $100 each way if I remember correctly.  I was in procrastination mode and waited until they got to $200 and refused to pay that much.

My friend Amanda and I are on the younger side of things and still in the mindset that saving money rather than convenience is a worth it.  I’m sure we both have different feelings about this after Sunday’s extensive return trip.  Anyways, the beauty of living on the East Coast is that many top destinations can be visited by a quick plane, train, or automobile.  We both picked up buses for less than $40 each way and while we did encounter some delays (hello getting out of NYC on a Friday afternoon), it was good to be able to spend more while we were in D.C.

I initially had purchased a 4:45 bus only to be told this bus was cancelled.  Luckily OurBus was nice enough to offer free rebooking and I was able to hop on a 3pm bus from Port Authority and arrive at a much more reasonable hour.   Once I arrived to Mo’s NEW HOUSE, we had the chance to unpack the groceries that were delivered and catch up.  I really only got to know Maura last year during our NYC marathon training and wish I had known her for much longer!!  Luckily we have this plan to pick races and travel and visit one another.  She’s the perfect example of a running friend versus a regular friend (as described on Women’s Running).

Once the other girls arrived around 10/11, we welcomed them, gave them a quick tour of the house, planned our morning departure, and then hit the beds.  Most of the group is training for a half marathon, marathon, or 50K, so what better way to start the weekend than with a long run?  After all, that’s how we all got to know one another in the first place.

Wakeup was around 5:30 and after a quick snack for some, we were out the door by 6:20 or so.  People’s mileage ranged from 10-16 and we set off together towards the capitol for some long slow distance.  I really don’t need to start training for my October half just yet and that’s good because my body does not like running in humidity.  Would you like to know a fun fact about D.C.?  IT IS SO DARN HUMID.  There’s definitely more than one reason it has been called a swamp and for the next two or so hours, we would be gallivanting through that.

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^^ All smiles, unsure of what we were getting ourselves into.

^^ I’m not much of a stop and go runner but loved having the mini breaks to snap pictures of monuments, say hi to all my duck friends, storm the Supreme Court, and of course fill up on water.  The fact that we started so early in the morning allowed us to almost beat the heat and definitely beat a majority of the tourists.  Something we couldn’t avoid was the humidity.  IT WAS SO DARN HUMID.  I honestly don’t recall what it felt like the last few summers running in NYC but this was a whole different game.  We even dropped by the Washington Monument and took a self timer of us and our legs lifted right on the monument; that’s certainly something I never thought I would do.

In the end, Maura and I completed 13 miles and finished at the Big Bear Cafe for breakfast.  The plan was for everyone to pick up sandwiches and meet back at her house to eat and relax.  I’m not sure the cafe knew what they were in for when we waltzed in dripping sweat all over the floor.  I guess it would be the same as if a dog walked in drooling (sort of the same but ok not really).   We were a real sight and I’m sure people tried to stay an extra few inches back.  That folks, is what running in a humid swamp looks like.

^^ Pro tip for ordering breakfast – ask for the bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich on a biscuit and you will not regret it.  Add a little chocolate milk and it’s post long-run perfection on a plate.  We then spent the remainder of the day in the kiddie pool (see lovely shot above) snacking and swapping stories.  I know that my usual weekend routine is to run, brunch, and chill, but adding the element of pool is just a notch above and I wouldn’t be apposed to recreating that.  This picture was taken by Emma’s boyfriend, Dani, who was nice enough to bring us ice for the pool, make enchiladas in the afternoon, hang with the gal crew, and felt it was necessary to “ice” us with Smirnoff Ice.  This was something I never experienced in college (or I guess high school for some) so eternally grateful.

In the early afternoon we started to see the sky darken and had a feeling it was about to storm.  After a quick weather app confirmation, we closed down the roof, cleaning and covering the furniture in rapid time – probably less than 10 minutes.  As soon as we closed the door, rain started to pound down on the house and surrounding area.  This lead us to more snack time and then nap time (or TV for yours truly who can’t nap).

Looking back, a nap attempt might have been good since my back was starting to hurt and spoiler – it sort of ruined my ability to enjoy dinner and the rest of the night.

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^^ See, we know how to dress up and wear clothes other than running outfits…sometimes. Anyways, we had a 9pm dinner reservation at Tiger Fork, one of D.C.’s newest top restaurants, and couldn’t really waltz in wearing Lululemon (well we could, but we really shouldn’t…).  All of the dishes are Hong Kong based and it’s a perfect place to order up and share family style.  I give 100% credit to Emma for picking this out – she is always on top of the foodie spots and I love having friends that are down to try about everything.  We ordered practically everything on the menu and dishes would arrive as they were finished being prepared.  While this was a good sampling strategy, we went a little too hard on the early rounds and didn’t have enough room for the sugar snap peas or BBQ platter.  I was also having trouble with my back and chest (issues caused by long runs and probably way too much seltzer water) and couldn’t eat as much as I would have liked.

This was one meal we did not photograph as the lighting wasn’t ideal and it would have just delayed the eating process that much further.  Sometimes you really just don’t want to be that person.   My personal favorites were the Kowloon Bun and Cold Dan Dan Noodles.

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Since I arrived home before everyone and fell asleep at 11, I was up and at ’em by 7 am.  I went downstairs to watch morning TV including the golf Open and have a snack.  Everyone else was up by 9 and at 10 we walked down the road to take a morning yoga class.  I have started to really love yoga and my attendance has grown from occasional monthly classes to almost 1-2 times per week.  Not only am I feeling more zen but I’ve been able to attempt crow pose AND handstand/forearm stand.  Soon I’ll be drinking matcha, green juice, and not shaving.  Just kidding, all of that sounds terrible personally.

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Once we were cleaned up it was time to refuel yet again.  Emma, the DC foodie guru had us brunching at Hazel, a “sophisticated but not stuffy” restaurant in the Shaw neighborhood.

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Due to the size of our group and desire to sample it all, we opted for the “Whole Shebang!” and added in a few other items to supplement.  We ordered an extra zucchini bread, which did in fact have foie gras as well as two more duck muffins (aka glorified McMuffin) so that everyone would be able to sample some.  Similarly to Saturday night’s dinner, items arrived as they were prepared rather than all at once.  With 6 current/former New Yorkers who have opinions on everything, we did have some notes for service but refrained from being those people.

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^^ We then wandered down to meet some of the NP_DC crew who were socializing at an outdoor beer garden.  We noticed a storm was a brewing throughout the morning but fortunately didn’t have any rain come down while we were walking.  A bit later on we stopped by Emma’s apartment and I took a few pictures because let’s just say that place was pure decorating goals, and did a little bit of retail therapy in Georgetown.  I also want to say that those homes up there are probably extremely expensive but the most adorable places around.  If I had any desire to 1) live in DC/Georgetown and 2) had enough money to make that work, I would totally pick one to live in.  Alas, that’s not going to happen to I’ll dream on.

My return bus wasn’t until 7 so we dropped by Maura’s to pick up our stuff, pack a little snack for the road and call an Uber.  Wouldn’t you know that Mother Nature was NOT on our side that afternoon and just as our car drove up, the heavens opened up and downpoured like I’ve never seen before.  I regretted my white shirt and JCrew skirt but what was I going to do at that point?  Thankfully the Uber driver didn’t give me a low rating because of the wet cargo he picked up (and thank you to whomever taught me about the rating!).  A little over 5.5 hours later and I was back in the city and ready for bed.

Looking back, this was my 4th overall trip to Washington D.C. and 3rd within the last 4 years.  The 1st was with family in elementary school and the 2nd trip was over Veteran’s Day in 2013.  There are so many fascinating contrasts or evolutions between that 2nd trip and this last one.  It’s almost neat to look back on and see how far I have come in the last four years while living out here.  Back in 2013, I had moved out to New York where I knew absolutely no one.  I had recently finished my internship and accepted a full time job at Turner, where I would work for the next 3+ years.

I didn’t know a soul in the city and had taken a long weekend to travel down the coast for fun.  This was my first big solo trip and while it wasn’t Bali or Europe, it was still a pretty big move.  Let’s go back to the fact that I had uprooted my life from California and moved to an unknown city – I’ll give myself some slack on this solo trip 😉 .

I recall going through so many emotions on that trip.  I was excited to do something different, unique, and adventurous.   I was on a high from accepting a full time job.  I was sad that I didn’t know many people and wondered when I would have good friends to travel with.  I vividly remember walking through the zoo while calling my dad and crying that I wouldn’t have a good friend group.  I was still trying to figure out this plan of mine and what had pushed me to move somewhere so different (note: I never have regretted this decision – it was just tough in the moment as all things are).

Then there was this weekend.  I navigated most of the hurdles that came my way with ease and some grace (or maybe I’m just giving myself too much credit) and I was traveling to hang out with some amazing women I met over the last few years.  They were the friends I wasn’t sure that I would ever make.  Sure, we all had some stress about work or life but it never really got in our way.  I’m not even sure I can adequately describe it but it was just comfortable and that’s when you know you have true friends – when you can just be yourself and have a good time.

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So, to these amazing group of women, which is only a portion of the folks I’ve gotten to know here in New York City, this was one helluva weekend and we must recreate it one day soon.

“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.”
― Eleanor Roosevelt

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