We’ve been aiming for the DC area since leaving Rochester, NY, as DC hosts a large event called the Marine Corps Marathon once a year and 2018 was our year to join in on the fun of this event. Originally, we had been lured down to run the race by Jake’s co-worker Claudia, and when our friend Chris R found out, he decided that Marine Corps would be a good place to run his first road marathon.
So, we pulled into a a campsite at Lake Fairfax Park in Reston, VA – about 45 minutes by car or 2.5 hours by legs running along the W&OD trail from downtown DC – and set up shop for 17 days. Lake Fairfax Park is pretty awesome. There are dirt trails that are frequented by mountain bikers, and for my purposes, lead to the W&OD trail. The W&OD is a paved path that runs along what used to be the tracks of the Western & Old Dominion train line from Nauck to Alexandria – and right past Lake Fairfax Park. I love me some paved trail. I do my best running on road surfaces. And I also do my least falling there. And while I’m a card carrying member of the frequent fallers club, it’s not a pastime I enjoy. And while I did fall twice on the dirt trail leading from our campsite to the W&OD trail, I managed to not fall at all once I was on the W&OD. W&OD for the win.
Lake Fairfax Park was also hosting a Pumpkin Festival, which we never ended up formally attending, but which we did get to enjoy on the evenings we entered or exited the park and on several of our morning runs when we ran in the park. It was a pretty epic pumpkin extravaganza. As in, there were a shit ton of pumpkins!
Jake and I have both spent some time in the DC area before. And we both enjoy the area.
The company Jake telecommutes for is stationed outside of DC, and some of his co-workers live in the area. So, instead of telecommuting everyday, he only telecommuted most days. Two days he regular commuted to a real life ‘office day’. And to celebrate, he hit up happy hour with the real life co-workers. It’s hard to drink happy hour beers with your coworkers via telecommute.
Jake hit the jackpot when he ended up working for Intelliworx. His co-workers are cool. Their spouses and families are cool. And his bosses, Rob & Leanne, are out of this world good to us and those who work in the company. And don’t try and tell me Leanne isn’t a ‘boss’. Because we all know Rob would be lost without Leanne’s guidance and her reminding him that he can’t host yearly office trips to tropical places. Yet.
Rob & Leanne also hosted us and co-workers at their home for barbecue one evening. And joined us for dinner at a delightful little place called Mokomandy, where the food was almost as good as the company. Also, Rob & Leanne guided us to trying our first squid legs at a restaurant they recommended called Our Mom Eugenia’s. The name was a bit confusing for us, but the legs of squid were not confusing. They were delicious. And so was the flaming fried cheese we ordered. Because when there is fire cheese on a menu, you should probably order it. Thanks Rob & Leanne!
Another cool thing happened in DC called Jake’s cousin lives in the area – a cousin he had never met. After she reached out to him upon re-connecting via 23&Me, we met for coffee one afternoon. We enjoyed good convo – and learning about Jake’s family. And I enjoyed seeing Jake’s features in another human who isn’t his sister. Manal and Jake are very clearly related – 23&Me or not!
One of my very favorite friends also happens to live in the DC area. She has gradually moved inward towards the city – always within proximity to the W&OD (runner priorities my friends), and now lives with her Kebon (Kevin to the rest of you) in Alexandria. Abby, aka, ACrain is one of the greatest gifts given to me by Nazareth College, the college formerly known as The Heart of Excellence.
We spent some time enjoying ACrain and her Kebon – including an afternoon where she treated us to a Candy and Beer pairing. See why I keep her around? ACrain is pretty epic.
Also, since my preffered mode of travel to ACrain tended to be via my two legs on the W&OD trail, I usually smelled pretty rank once I showed up to her house or place of work (for Barrett runners! The best group of 3rd/4th grade runners in all of Arlington!) – and she still loved me. That ACrain is something special.
ACrain and Kebon invited us to attend a Saturday afternoon brunch, which we happily accepted, and were not disappointed by. Said brunch involved bottomless mimosas and all-you-can-eat Greek snack-a-tizers. Luckily, this brunch took place the day before the Marine Corps Marathon, and provided a great fueling and hydrating opportunity for us. Cheese and champagne is proven pre-race fuel.
Which brings me to our friend Chris R joining us in Dyna, and for Marine Corps for the weekend.
Chris R really *loves* to train properly, hydrate properly, and generally prepare for distance races. <<Sarcasm>> And in classic Chris fashion, he came ready to run.
We got a hotel room in Crystal City, and Jake and I headed over their after our brunch with ACrain and crew. Chris chose to go drinking with some of his local friends – because you gotta fuel! Anyways, Sunday morning (race day) rolled around we all got up at the ass crack of dawn ready to run. We arrived to the nearest shuttle station two hours before start time, and waited. And waited. And watched as a group of young Marines attempted to contain a herd of runners as they fought for access to a line of buses. In the early minutes, there were occasional mutinies , and a small group of smelly people would break off from the herd and enter a bus before it was their turn. But, as the cattle mulled around and the time left until the starting gun grew shorter, coups grew more frequent. By the time our wait in line landed us at the foot of a shuttle, the roads to the starting line had closed. So, we rode the shuttle a 1/4mile up the road, got dropped off, and had to run 2miles to the starting line.
We didn’t make it in time. We missed the fanfare and instead crossed the starting line with the trickle of stragglers who, like us, didn’t make it on time. Like the bunch of shmucks we were who didn’t get to see the air force fly their jets overhead as we listened to someone sing the national anthem. Anyways, longer story short: if you ever run Marine Corps 26.2 plan to get to the shuttles by 5am – not 6 am.
Regardless – I enjoyed my morning out on the course, touring the DC area while occasionally being elbowed or tripped by the 30,000 other runners also enjoying the city. The spectators supporting Marine Corps were pretty epic in terms of marathon supporters. I’ve run a lot of marathons (I don’t even know how many anymore – but a lot), and I would put the crowd support of this one way up at the top of my ‘wow, that’s some nice crowd support’ list. Good signage. Good cheering. Good choices of candy being handed out to interested runners. While I don’t typically eat before or during a run, I do strap on a fuel belt for occasions such as this – where I can stash candy for post race.
Jake wasn’t super enamored with Marine Corps 26.2. Between the waiting around for a shuttle that was useless by the time we got on it, to the crowding of runners during he race – which never did cease, to him adding 2 miles onto the run before the 26.2 part even started – he was just happy to finish.
Chris didn’t report too many complaints – he was happy to finish and only desired to sit down somewhere warm when he was finished. And also to eat a steak.
After Chris left us to return to his homeland (Rochester, NY), we spent the week breakfasting and working and swinging in the hammock and spending time with our Queen, Lucy.
On our final weekend in the DC area we spent an evening with ACrain and Kebon in their Alexandria house. Kebon made us popcorn on his stove and that made me very happy. The morning after our evening of popcorn at Abby and Kebon’s, we visited the Holocaust Museum, and then headed over to the National Portrait Gallery to visit artistic representations of Barack and Michelle, and Ruth (#tRuth). I really love the National Portrait Gallery. Always something new. This time we really enjoyed spending time reading all of the brief bios of the presidents in the Presidential Gallery – and of course, seeing the latest installation of Barack Obama.
It was a chilly day – East Coast chilly. That wet, nasty cold that sinks into your bones. I did not dress warmly enough. Walking between museums brought on the kind of shakes that make your muscles sore. So, we finished our day in downtown DC with bowls of Pho at a Pho restaurant called Reren, and then we picked up CrackPie at MilkBar and headed back to Dyna to eat it in bed. Sometimes the only thing that can warm your bones when they are frigid to their marrow is a of portrait of Sandra, Ruth, Sonia, and Elena, a bowl of pho, and CrackPie under your down blanket.
And then on Sunday morning we rolled out of the DC area and moved South. This time towards Williamsburg, VA – where Jake spent some of his youth.