Running around D.C.

Running around D.C.

Running is one of my favorite activities while traveling. (But, who am I kidding — running is my favorite activity in life). When you’re traveling, you get to see so much more when you run compared to walking! This is a big bonus for me, because I’m not that quick of a walker.

The highlight of my Washington D.C. trip was running to the National Mall from our friend Andy’s house and then running by a lot of the monuments. Andy was our tour guide and a few miles in, my friend Leah also joined in and helped map our run. I didn’t have time to take photos of everything but I tried my best. Despite the cold temperatures, it was fun. (Yes, it was only in the low-30s but Seattle never got a real winter this year, remember?)

Waiting for darn stoplights.

Waiting for darn stoplights.

A few notables that I was able to snap photos of:

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Lincoln Memorial: There was something just kind of fun about seeing this one from afar and then getting closer and closer to it. From a distance, it looks “just like the backside of a penny.” It really does! It was a little after 9 a.m. when we got to Lincoln and there were already a ton of tour buses unloading tourists. As others stood around admiring the monument or took selfies, we ran up the steps past them —I didn’t think I’d be doing a stair workout in this run, but we did! Once inside, it was a pretty neat experience to “see Lincoln” sitting there and looking ahead.

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Iwo Jima Memorial: The Iwo Jima Memorial, or Marine Corps War Memorial, was so much larger than I had expected it to be. We ran through the Arlington National Cemetery to see it. As we ran up a hill to get closer to the memorial, Andy said that the hill is at the 26th mile of the Marine Corps Marathon. I was glad that we were going up it in maybe the 8th or 9th mile of my run. There was more than enough wind for the flag of the memorial to majestically wave above that morning.

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Einstein Memorial: I didn’t even know there was an Einstein Memorial prior to going to D.C.  — I’m not sure if many people do — but it’s one of Leah’s favorite memorials so we took a stop to see it. He’s located not too far from the Mall on the grounds of the National Academy of Sciences. If you look closely, you’ll notice that he is in fact wearing sandals and not shoes!

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Washington Monument: Before the Eiffel Tower, the Washington Monument was the tallest structure in the world. Here I am looking at it from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. The Reflecting Pool is in front but obviously there is not much physical reflecting going on since there was no water in it.

I’m so lucky to have friends who will run D.C. with me.

There was just so much to see!

But, even if you’re on a run where you don’t necessarily have monuments or specific landmarks to see, it’s always exciting to run in a new environment — especially while traveling — because you just get to take in new sights and sounds. No two cities are alike. No run is ever the same.

Marathon training while traveling seems like a bummer but really it’s great! (As long as you don’t have to do your 20-miler while on vacation. That may be a little extreme for me …)

Where will your next run take you?

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Road to Eugene: 5.5 weeks ’til race day

I’ve missed the 6-weeks-away post due to vacation travel and now catching up on life. Here’s the rundown on what’s been going on:

Monday: Rest day

Tuesday: Easy 3-ish miles before the Sounders’ friendly vs. Club Tijuana.

Wednesday: Morning flight out of Seattle to D.C. Arrived into Dulles Airport around 5:00 p.m. local time and then to our friend’s place an hour-and-a-half later. We grabbed dinner and then I went to sleep. No time for a run.

Thursday: I set my alarm for 7 a.m. to get a run in before the full day of activities. But, you see, this would mean it was really 4 a.m. Seattle time. I woke up and went back to sleep. By the time I woke up an hour later, there was no time to run. We hit the Air and Space Museum and the Natural History Museum and did a lot of walking around the Mall. My friend joked that Washington D.C. should be called Walkington D.C.

Recognize anything down there? One starts with "Spirit of -"

Recognize anything down there? One starts with “Spirit of -“

Friday: The only reason I got up to do my pre-tourist-activities-run was because Bryce tagged along with me. We did about 3 miles in the rain. It was cold. I was not in the best of spirits. Shorts was a poor decision. But, hey, we were running in D.C.! We did a semi-private U.S. Capitol tour in the morning — I had arranged it with my state senator (Patty Murray)’s office. Much better going this route than through the public tours! We spent the afternoon with my cousin and her friend checking out all the Impressionism art at the National Gallery of Art. Then we checked out the National Archives and walked by the Obamas’ residence.

There's a picture with my eyes open, but this one is funnier.

There’s a picture with my eyes open, but this one is funnier.

Saturday: 14-mile tour of Washington D.C. including lots of monuments, Georgetown waterfront and other parts of the city! Along with Bryce, our friends Andy and Leah came along — they were our running tour guides 🙂 It was super windy along the water and at times very chilly (um, hello 30-degree temps!) but I was thankful that it was sunny and not rainy out. Plus, running in a pack around D.C. was quite fun. The miles flew by.

Marine Corps War Memorial (Iwo Jima Memorial)

Marine Corps War Memorial (Iwo Jima Memorial)

Sunday: No running happened. We went to the National Zoo and visited Bao Bao. At night, Bryce and I did a walk along the Mall around midnight. Saw one runner and two tourists on bikes.

Bao Bao, the baby panda, being a baby panda.

Bao Bao, the baby panda, being a baby panda.

Monday: Went to the American History Museum and the Holocaust Museum before saying good-bye to our nation’s capitol. It was a sunny, and finally warmer, day. Arrived back in Seattle around 9:15 p.m. local time. No running was done.

Our vacation is over!

Our vacation is over!

Tuesday: Tried to catch up on work and life. No running was done. No blogging was done.

Wednesday: Finally ran! Did a fast 3 miles — would have liked to go longer but had an evening class to attend.

Thursday (today): Plan on doing 5-6 miles in a few hours!

People kept asking me “why” I was going to D.C. or if I was going for work. I had never been to D.C. so I figured it was time that I go and remind myself of our nation’s history — and you know, try to find the lion statue from the credits of “House of Cards,” see baby zoo animals and visit with old friends. Plus, Bryce and I really like museums!

It was a good trip. And, now that I’m back home, I will focus on my running again!

Fun things are about to happen

I’m bursting with fun things that are about to happen.

(And, the hole in my wallet will soon feel it … but, money buys happiness, right?? Err, I mean …)

 

Fun things that are on the horizon:

1. Hood to Coast is tomorrow! I’m runner #10 for team #767 so, be on the look out if you happen to find yourself somewhere between Mt. Hood and Seaside, Ore. Friday and Saturday.

2. I am visiting my dear friend, Hannah, in New Orleans in September. I just booked my tickets last night and will be in the good ‘ol South in three weeks!

This is Hannah and I in San Fran, not New Orleans (because the trip hasn't happened yet).

This is Hannah and I in San Fran, not New Orleans (because the trip hasn’t happened yet). [Photo: Stranger using Hannah’s camera]

3. Chicago Marathon is in October! Training has been going, uh, not as smoothly as I would like with the knee thing BUT I will get to see my dear Leah. She moved to DC for school but we will reunite for 26.2 miles in Chi-town!

 

Leah and I before the start of Vancouver Marathon 2012

Leah and I before the start of Vancouver Marathon 2012

 

4. Disneyland in November! As you may or may not recall, the last time I visited this magical place was on Leap Day last year when the park was open for 24 hours straight. I can’t wait to go back for one whole weekend!

The happiest place on earth

The happiest place on earth

 

One NOT fun thing that is about to happen:

1. Taking the GRE.

But, with all the above-mentioned fun things, I guess I can suck it up and take a standardized test that will suck the soul out of me.

People have asked me throughout the summer if I am going on any trips this summer. My answer has always been ‘no.’ I don’t get summer break, people! I’m not in school anymore! But, the positive aspect of being a working person with vacation time is that you can take your vacation during any time of the year!

So, fall break, I’m ready for you (and all the fun things you have in store!)

Dreams do come true: 24 hours straight at Disneyland

If you ever want to visit Disneyland and not have to worry about waiting in long lines for rides, food or using the restroom, go during February. However, do not go on Leap Day when the park is open for 24 hours straight.

Crowds don’t scare me. Mob mentality kind of does. Apparently loud music at 2 a.m. annoys the heck out of me when all I can hear is the booming sound of the bass. But, folks, I am not a quitter. (That’s probably the reason I am still stuck working at a job I am not a huge fan of). Because, I spent 24 hours straight at Disneyland. Yes, that is 1,440 minutes of non-stop fun at the Anaheim theme park. It was the first time in Disney history that the park was kept open for an entire full 24 hours, and I wanted to be part of it, of course.

Just as the days and even weeks before a marathon, I get nervous, so it was with my Disneyland adventure.

But there was nothing to be nervous about.

Being at Disneyland is like being back home. It’s like visiting an old friend. There’s no awkward small talk. You go straight to the chase. So, Phyllis and I started out the morning with my favorite rides. It was her first ever visit, so I showed her the ropes. We hit Indiana Jones, Thunder Mountain and Star Tours all at the beginning. I couldn’t stop being excited. I couldn’t stop taking pictures. I couldn’t stop smiling.

Phyllis' first stroll down Main Street

Excitement at the entrance

Rollin' down on Thunder Mountain Railroad

Cue: "Awww"

And, it just continued to get better. Modern Family, one of my favorite TV shows just happened to be filming a scene of an upcoming episode at the park. While they had the area just outside of Pirates of the Caribbean roped off and we were asked to not stand atop a nearby wall, I still managed to get a few good stalker photos of the cast. “OMG, it’s Manny! In Mickey ears!” I kept repeating. This was better than seeing Mickey Mouse on Main Street, even if I couldn’t talk to any of the actors or accidentally bump shoulders with them. I was at Disneyland of all places at the same time as them. That would be enough.

 

Look at him!

 

During the day-time, there was hardly any lines for the rides. People walked around pleasantly in their T-shirts or Disney-inspired outfits as the sun beamed down on all of us. Annie, who goes to school at UCLA, met up with Phyllis and I at 1:30 p.m. The three of us hit more of our favorite rides and took some fantastic photos in front of Sleeping Beauty’s castle.

Annie insisting on jumping photos

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Not ready, "good" version posted in older post

Then, there was the mishap at one of the rides — at the Mad Tea Party. We made the tea cup ride stop for everyone because of doing something stupid. Besides the “greatest hits” of rides at the park like Space Mountain and the Matterhorn (the latter which was sadly closed that day for refurbishing,) the tea cup ride is one of my favorites. Maybe it’s the challenge of trying to get your tea cup to spin as fast as possible without throwing up. Maybe it’s because it’s one of my first Disneyland memories as I rode it with my mom when I was little at Tokyo Disneyland and there’s a video my dad took of her hanging with her head down as my little self had the time of my life. But now, it will be one of my favorites because of what happened in the mid-afternoon Feb. 29.

The three of us were spinning our tea cup pretty fast. Then suddenly, the ride started to slow down. I thought that they were really cutting the ride time short but a cast member said over the intercom, “Your ride is not over, please remain seated. Your ride is not over, please remain seated.” We wondered what the problem was, unknowing that the problem was us. The ride operator walked onto the tea cup platform in our direction but I figured she was going to talk to the elementary school-aged boy who was riding alone in a cup next to us. He looks suspect, I thought. But then she walked past him and was coming toward us. “Are we getting in trouble?? Why is she coming to us?” I frantically thought. She came to our tea cup, closed the door of it, and walked back to her booth.

We forgot to close the door to the tea cup!

The ride proceeded and we couldn’t stop laughing. It was a pretty embarrassing mistake for seasoned park-goers on a “kiddie-ride.”

This is before the ride started the first time

During the ride after we made it stop

As afternoon turned into evening, we started to discuss which rides we would do over and over again once the park would be dead from midnight on. We were true believers that hardly anyone would be around during the late hours and we would have the park to ourselves.

Nope, think again. Thousands of annual passholders descended to the park and it became a night-time party. The song that repeats “shots! shots! shots! shots! shots! shots!” blasted in Tommorrowland. It was about 3 a.m. and I muttered something like, “Let’s get out of here! This song is inappropriate for Disneyland!” We had just waited in an hour and 40 minute-line to ride Star Tours for a second time. I was hoping the atmosphere would be different in another part of the theme park.

It wasn’t, really.

When darkness falls, things can turn ugly — even at Disneyland. (I mean, look at that guy's face!)

 

Phyllis and I said farewell to Annie around 3:30 a.m., she went to take a nap at the hotel since she had class later that day. The park remained in its chaotic state.

I bought that sweatshirt because it got so cold out!

I somehow still have hops this late in the day/early in the morning

 

People carelessly smoked cigarettes wherever they pleased. (Disneyland has a designated, marked smoking area). The college boys in line in front of us for Indiana Jones admitted to bringing in Jager mixed in with their energy drinks. “Excuse my friends, they’re drunk,” said one of the boys.

I felt like I didn’t belong at the place that was supposed to be my place. Phyllis and I ditched waiting for Indiana Jones after we were told the wait would be more than two hours. No, it wasn’t because of the drunk hooligans, they were actually kind of entertaining.

We ended our magical adventure with the carousel ride a second time — a very Disney ride because it plays Disney songs throughout the ride. Lights twinkled and people were still having fun. Afterward, we stepped into the little theater on Main Street that plays old Disney clips like “Steamboat Willie.” Phyllis immediately laid down to take a 15-min power nap. I sat nearby on the floor, watching the movies. Soon restlessness hit and I went back outside.

I found Goofy and Pluto, dressed in pajamas, in a corner spot getting photos with tired-eyed park visitors. The line wasn’t long so I decided to get my picture taken too. I couldn’t spend 24 hours at Disneyland and not get at least one character picture, even if I am 24 years old!

I tried to think of some funny pose I could do with the two characters, perhaps yawning? Perhaps something else? In the end though, I opted for the “normal,” smile-and-say-cheese photo. Nothing can beat a classic, put-your-arms-around-strangers-in-costumes-and-be-happy photo!

I'm really ready for sleep at this point, but still happy!

 

The sky started to turn into a light shade of blue from its pitch black state. A new day was beginning and the Disney adventure would be over in mere minutes. The atmosphere on Main Street began to liven up again. Cast members were out with their “Mickey hands” giving high-fives to people as they made their way to exit the park. “Congratulations!” and “Yeah, you did it!” could be heard being exchanged between strangers. Finally, 6 a.m. arrived and Phyllis and I exited the park. I was tired, but I couldn’t stop smiling. I couldn’t stop thinking about the next time I’d be able to visit again.

Did it!

We did it!

In the days and weeks after this accomplishment — one person has called me her “hero” — I have been asked numerous times if I would ever do 24 hours of Disneyland again. My response is this: After every full marathon I have done, I always say I’m never doing it again, but then I register for another. I’m signed up to do my third full marathon in May.

I guess we’ll have to wait and see if Disney decides to do its “One More Leap Day” celebration in four years — after all, it did get overcrowded and the local Anaheim/Los Angeles news sources stated that the park stopped selling entry tickets between around 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. I have never been to Disney World, though … I’m sure you’d need an entire week there!

Well, we took the leap and didn’t sleep. We pulled an all-nighter at Disneyland in celebration of Leap Day. With an extra day in the year, I wouldn’t have wanted to be anywhere else. But, best of all, I had the best of friends with me on the adventure.

Did I tell you I’m going to Disneyland?

[My cousin at Disneyland a few summers ago]

Doesn't that just look like she's experiencing the happiest place on earth?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am bursting with excitement. If you have had the honor to be around me the last few days weeks, I am sure you heard me “tactfully” slip in the phrase “and I’m going to Disneyland at the end of the month!”

Well, “the end of the month” is now three days away. I am sure Monday and Tuesday of work will feel like forever (especially with all the work I have to get done before I take my mini-vacation) but it will all be well worth it. I’ll be at the happiest place on earth. What more could a person ask for?

And besides Disneyland being the greatest place ever, because it is a leap year, on February 29th (the “extra” day in the year,) the theme park will be open for 24 hours straight. This has never been done in park history, so they say. You can be sure I will be there walking in at 6 a.m. when the gates open with wide (tired) eyes and stumbling out 24 hours later at 6 a.m. with very tired eyes and a content heart.

I do have a confession. I am slightly fearful that spending 24 hours at Disneyland will “ruin it” for me. Will I get tired of riding Space Mountain more than three times? Will “It’s a Small World” finally annoy the heck out of me (even though before I could happily ride it more than once without being so)? Will I not like being around happy characters? Will I run out of things to do? Will I get bored? Will I want to leave after 12 hours and never again want to return?

Highly doubtful, I try to push those thoughts away. And think back to the great times I have spent there in the past (cue cute photo of my cousin above. I rode the Dumbo ride with her and took that picture. It was the first time she had been to Disneyland when she was of-age to remember it).

Disneyland, Phyllis, Annie and I are on our way soon, will you be ready for us? I hope so.

Also, it is Phyllis’ first time at Disneyland so I will do my darn best at making sure we hit every single ride, parade, character visits and signature foods/snacks.

“When you wish upon a star” will be my life theme song playing in the back of my head while I’m at work tomorrow. Or, I’ll just secretly play the Pandora Disney station all the time.

Oh, by the way, did I tell you I’m going to Disneyland at the end of the month??

good things are coming

Sometimes you know when good things will happen, because you plan for them.

Other times you are “seeing” the potential for the good things to happen.

I’m going to Disneyland in a month, and this is a very good thing. My last vacation was in July, and sure that was only six months ago but as a student when you’re used to vacations every quarter, now working day after day at a “real person” job can get tiresome. Especially since as a reporter you do not have the luxury of taking your vacation in two-week (or heavens, a month!) increments.

Reporter: Can I take a week of vacation next month?

Editor: Sure (as long as you stock pile four stories before you leave, write while you’re away, and work a ton when you come back).

That above was not a real conversation I had with my boss. He told me that our employee handbook encourages us to take a week to two weeks of vacation (should we have enough hours). I didn’t push the two weeks. I’ll be taking THREE whole days off at the end of February. Right about now would be a good time to invest in a ghost writer. And by that, I mean someone who will work for free while I take vacation. Anyone?

One of my three vacation days will be spent entirely at the most magical place on earth. Yes, that would be 24 whole hours straight at Disneyland. If we’re going to have a leap year that allows us to have one extra day, why wouldn’t I spend it at Disneyland?

A true (I-didn’t-even-think-about-work) vacation

I dislike my job a lot for several reasons that I won’t get into right now. But, despite that fact, I think about it — a lot.

I think about my work at work. When I am not at work, I think about work because I am usually still working since I have too much work that needs to get done. When I talk to my friends, I talk about how I wish someone would hire me for different work because I do not like my current work. When I go running, I try to clear my head but thoughts of whether a story will be done by deadline or whether so-and-so will call me back will infiltrate my mind. I dream about work and wake up stressed out — nice wake up call, huh?

On weekends when people generally are able to spend time relaxing or hanging out with friends, I typically am still thinking about work amidst doing those things. Or, sometimes — though thankfully not often — I am working because apparently the news doesn’t sleep. I can’t stop thinking about work. I tend to think a lot about things that stress me out.

In July I was able to take a one-week vacation. I was in Hawaii for four of those days and you know what? Still thought about work. In fact, I hadn’t fully completed a story so I emailed it to my editor from my island vacation. Even after it was submitted, I still thought about work and how behind I would be when I returned to the office the next week.

The same goes for paid holidays. I just feel like it is one less day I am able to get work done and am therefore thinking about it the entire “day off.”

When I was in San Francisco for a weekend last month, I surprisingly didn’t think about work at all. Sure, I may have mentioned it on the plane-ride there, and I know I definitely had thoughts of work on the flight home. But, while I was in the Bay Area, nothing. I just enjoyed being in the lovely city with Joanna and feeling excited to run our second marathon together. And during the actual race I was in so much pain, there was no opportunity to think of anything but the pain. It was a good trip.

“So, you actually had a real vacation then?” a friend asked on my return.

“Yeah, I guess I did,” I replied, not really realizing it until a week later.