Thursday, November 16, 2017

26.2 in Richmond

Last weekend I ran the Richmond Marathon. I realize I haven't talked about running on the ol' blog for a long while, but I've been doing it. I joined a training group and followed a training program, spending the last many Saturday mornings getting up early to go out to beautiful places around the county and run. My training went pretty well, too. Two weeks before the race I started to worry about some tightness in one of my calves, but other than that I didn't have any injury problems. And with a lot of deep tissue massage the knot in my calf seemed to be almost 100% gone in time for the race.

The morning of the race was freezing. Below freezing in the 20s, to be exact. Patrick went with me to the start, which meant I could keep wearing extra layers to stay warm until the very last minute. Then I shed the sweat pants and fleece vest and sweatshirt and ear warmers just in time to hand them off to him and hop into my wave group.

Trying to stay warm.

Ready to go after shedding a few layers.

The first mile of the race I kept it slow, just like I was supposed to. I heard my coach call out from the sidewalk somewhere in there, which was a nice surprise. The second mile I also kept it relatively slow, per the plan. Gotta start slow and warm up. I also made a quick pit stop at mile two. After that I was supposed to ease into my marathon pace, which was supposed to be 9:25. I wasn't terribly far off from that (i.e., faster than I was supposed to be), but my coach had warned me not to go even 9:23. And I didn't follow that as closely as I should have. I tried to slow down, but it's hard. And I was feeling good, and I think the cold helped me move faster. We ran down Broad and Monument Avenue and Westmoreland and Grove and River Road and across the Huguenot Bridge and along the river on the South Side. It was chilly but the sun was shining and it was a beautiful fall day. I remember enjoying the party stop at mile 13, and there was lots of crowd support as we headed across Lee Bridge and back downtown. Patrick was stationed at the turn onto Main Street at mile 16.5, which was something to look forward to and nice to check in with him briefly as I headed into the last 10 miles. I'd been worried that my calf might act up and I might not even get to finish the race, but this was a chance to let him know things seemed to be going okay. And since he was tracking me he knew I was coming in ahead of schedule. Which didn't last long after that.

At about mile 20 as we headed into the North Side, I started to slow down. My calf was feeling okay but my old IT band problem started to worry me a little. And my hip flexors started to hurt, probably from picking up my speed on all the downhills. I took another pit stop at mile 22. I started to slow down and use the water stops. I think I stopped twice for short walk breaks during the last three miles or so. Everything was feeling pretty painful. I definitely had to use my head more than my body to make myself keep running those last few miles. I was so ready to be done.

I forced myself to push it a little more during that last mile. The race ends with a big downhill toward Brown's Island, but by that point downhills hurt a lot, too. I fought back tears of pain as I made it through the last stretch lined with cheering spectators. I spotted Patrick on the other side of the barrier straight ahead at the end of the street, and looked forward to seeing him again at the end of the finishers' chute (where I was given my medal and a fleece blanket and a finisher's cup) so I could finally hide my face in his chest and cry. I was exhausted and in pain and so glad it was over, and crying felt good.
At the finish line! Finally!
Aunt Judy and Mary found us at that point, and it was really good to see them, too. Apparently they'd been cheering loudly for me at the finish line, but I didn't see them. They were fun spectators and came decked out.

With my silly race fans.

After a short bit I was ready for my finisher's beer. It was still pretty cold out and Aunt Judy pointed out that they had free beer back at the house, but that wasn't the point. Patrick and I each enjoyed a beer while we all listened to live music and I did a little stretching on the grass. Then I was ready to head home and get warm.
Happy finisher.
My goal for the race had been 4:10, and I ended up finishing in 4:16:07. Not too bad, and definitely still a PR after my two Blue Ridge Marathons. Yes, the end really hurt, but it was still a fun race overall and I left a happy marathoner.

Sunday, October 01, 2017

A Low Country Labor Day Weekend

A few weeks ago I headed to South Carolina to hang out with Ryan and Lauren and take advantage of the family discount at the resort where they both work. It was a fun long weekend.

I flew down Saturday afternoon and Lauren picked me up from the airport. We drove straight into Savannah, where we walked around with a beer by the river and checked out some craft booths, then ate a good noodle dinner before heading home to Bluffton, SC.

The next day I checked into the resort. They upgraded me to a cottage (instead of a hotel room), which was awesome. I had my own screened in porch, and all the cottages have bikes outside to ride around the property. 
My cottage and bike!

Me on the bike!
View of the river from my screened-in porch.
Overlooking part of the lagoon at the resort. That dark speck in the water was an alligator!
 Since Ryan wasn't working that day we got to hang out. We ate lunch at one of the resort's restaurants, then went kayaking on the river. We saw dolphins!

Afterwards we got cleaned up and joined Lauren (after she got off work) for a holiday oyster roast at the resort. They had steamed oysters plus tons of other food.

Oysters steaming over a fire with a five-story tree house in the background.


Say cheese!
The roast was next to the river, so while eating and drinking we also got to take in really pretty views.

Sunset moon over the river.

When I actually ate my cotton candy a stranger lady took a picture of me. Awkward.
Monday I slept in and enjoyed my cottage, then biked over to lunch and explored some more of the resort. I went kayaking again, only this time on the lagoon side so I could see alligators. Sure enough, I saw two: one on the bank of the lagoon, and another in the water not too far from me. I stopped paddling for a while just to hang out with him. There were also a ton of neat birds to see. Afterwards I biked over to the pool and read.

Ruins of the mansion that once stood on what is now the "village green."

One of the three pools.

That night after Ryan was off work he and I went into downtown Bluffton to walk around and eat dinner. When he dropped me back off at the resort I stopped by the s'mores cart and roasted a marshmallow before hopping back on my bike and heading to my cottage for the night.

Tuesday I went for a run, then got in a little more pool time before meeting up with Ryan and Lauren for lunch in Bluffton. After lunch I hung out with Ryan a bit and said goodbye to his dog Tess at their house before going back to the resort to pack up and check out.

One of the "canine ambassadors" in the lobby of the resort when I checked out.
On the way to the airport Ryan and I drove through the Savannah National Wildlife Refuge and looked for alligators. We saw two. We got out to look at one, but when Ryan made "mating noises" at it and he clearly turned toward us, we booked it back to the car.

Hard to see, but the dark spot in the middle of the murk was an alligator.
It was a quick trip but good to see Ryan and Lauren, and fun to hang out at the resort!

(P.S. They ended up evacuating out of South Carolina the next weekend due to Irma, so I saw them again in Virginia. Two weekends in a row with them is unheard of!)

Monday, September 04, 2017

history in Philadelphia

In July I went to Philadelphia for a whopping ten nights to do dissertation research and attend a history conference. I took the train up on Monday, and after scoping out my Airbnb and eating an early dinner I spent the rest of the evening walking to a bunch of stores looking for a cheap and easy way to make my morning coffee (what kind of rented apartment doesn't have a way to make coffee?!?), eventually settling unhappily for a French press. (I wanted one of those cheap pour-over cones, but couldn't find one.)

Tuesday through Thursday I spent my days at the Pennsylvania Historical Society, which was just under a mile from my apartment. I also spent each of those mornings running along the Schuylkill River, which was close by and had a great paved trail. Thursday evening the conference started, so I attended the plenary session and reception. Friday I attended a couple sessions with a break in between to do more research at the historical society. I attended another reception that night at the Masonic hall, then treated myself to a really good Italian meal. (My pasta came with a little scoop of savory gelato on top!)
Pennsylvania Historical Society
Schuylkill River Trail

Saturday morning I ran nine miles before attending a couple of conference sessions. Then when I was done with that for the day I met up with my friend Celia, who'd come down from New York to hang out with me for the weekend. We ate dinner, then walked to Spruce Street Harbor Park to check out the lights and hammocks and floating island garden. It was a fun place to grab a beer and do some people watching.

It had rained and the hammocks were wet, but that didn't stop us.

Neat moving island thingies at Spruce Street Harbor Park.

Sunday I attended two final conference panels, then spent the rest of the day doing touristy stuff with Celia. After a good lunch we walked to the Barnes Foundation, which I hadn't known about but was a really great art museum. It was also neat because almost every room had New Mexican retablos, which Celia was really good at identifying. From there we walked to the historic district, where we toured Independence Hall and visited the Liberty Bell. Then we took a break at a beer garden, and when it started to pour down rain we booked it for the closest restaurant we could find for dinner.

Obligatory Independence Hall photo.

Monday was full of more history. We visited the new Museum of American Independence, the Christ Church Burial Ground (where Benjamin Franklin and a few other Declaration signers are buried), the Portrait Gallery in the Second Bank of the United States (which I loved because it was full of Charles Willson Peale portraits, and I love Charles Willson Peale), Franklin Court, and the Betsy Ross House. After all that we grabbed an early dinner before Celia had to catch her bus back to New York.

A replica of the rising sun armchair (what Washington sat in when he presided over the Constitutional Convention) at the Museum of the American Revolution
Peale portraits! (And so many of the men I read letters to and from every day at work.)
Tuesday and Wednesday I was back in the historical society doing research all day. And finally on Thursday after I checked out of my apartment I had a little bit of time to visit the Philadelphia Museum of Art before my train ride home.

Another Peale painting, this time at the Philadelphia Museum of Art
That was my final big research trip (following Boston and New York). I really loved all three of them, living in apartments in the city and walking to work in different repositories all day for my dissertation. Now I just have to come up with intelligent things to say about what I found...

Thursday, August 31, 2017


Way back in June I went camping with friends. I've wanted to go camping with friends for years and it finally happened. It was super fun.

Five of us spent two nights at Crabtree Falls Campground (about an hour from Charlottesville). Since I've taken so long to blog about it I don't remember all the details, but Friday evening when we showed up we set up our tents, then set to making dinner (spaghetti). After that we may have played a game? Then there was a campfire of course.

The green one was mine.
 The next day we had bagels for breakfast, then walked half a mile down the road to the base of Crabtree Falls. It was a gorgeous day for a hike.

Excited to start hiking.

Tree hugger.

At the top! (In awkward shade!)

After the hike we went back to the campground and ate lunch. Then there was reading (or crosswording, in my case) and naps. Eventually my tent heated up too much though and nap time was over. So I headed down the hill right next to our site to the river, where others were busy skipping rocks. I skipped a few, too.

Nice to hear this river all night.

We played some more games (Sushi Go! and Hanabi) and then made dinner (veggie burgers). Of course after that we had another campfire and s'mores.

The kitchen.
Sunday we had blueberry pancakes for breakfast, then packed up our site. On our way back home we stopped and toured Swannanoa, this big old (run down) mansion on Afton Mountain. We also stopped for ice cream in Crozet.


Tiffany window atop the main staircase in the house.

It was a great early summer weekend in Virginia with friends.

Monday, June 19, 2017

New York!

A few weeks ago I spent nine days in New York City. I went to do dissertation research, but tacked on some fun weekends, too.

I took the train up on a Saturday, and made my way to the apartment I rented on the Upper West Side. After the travel and struggling with my ginormous suitcase on the subway and stairs, I was happy to finally be safe and sound in the apartment, but there were some brief tears when I couldn't find access to wifi. Everything worked out though, don't worry, and that night I met up with my good friend Celia for dinner.

The next day she and I met up again for fun times. We had brunch at Bubby's and then walked the High Line, which was a little crowded but pretty neat. Then we made our way to the Guggenheim Museum for some modern art.

Inside the Guggenheim

After all that walking and standing we were ready for a break, so we got some ice cream and sat in Central Park. It was fun seeing all the cyclists and runners and dog walkers. When we felt rested enough we walked over to the Metropolitan Art Museum, where we just visited some of the short-term exhibits, including some crazy fashion by Rei Kawakubo.

People watching in Central Park

Impractical fashion art.
After the museum we met up with Celia's sister for dinner. While we waited to get into the delicious ramen restaurant we had a drink at a bar around the corner, where we also FaceTimed with my brother Ryan (Celia and I were friends in high school, and Ryan and her sister were in the same grade together in high school). After dinner I headed back toward my place, with a stop for groceries on the way.

Monday and Tuesday I walked up to Columbia University to do research. I always love visiting places where I can walk to "work," and it was fun to see so many children on their way to school right there in the big city. After the library closed Monday I tried to find a coffee shop where I could continue working, but didn't find a good place and settled for buying a muffin at a bakery and taking it home to make my own tea and work. Unfortunately the bakery I entered only served gluten free stuff, but luckily it gave me the chance to see a minor celebrity, who was also buying a gluten free treat.

Tuesday while doing research I made sure to enter a few lotteries for show tickets, and I hit the mega jackpot when I won two tickets ($10 each) to Hamilton. I love Hamilton and have listened to the soundtrack countless times, so this was super exciting. Celia said she's tried to win tickets a hundred times without luck, but I won on my first try! So after work she and I met up for dinner, and then went to the show. 

I needed to pick up the tickets at will call, and they let us jump the line of people waiting to get in so we could get up to the window. When I opened the envelope to get the tickets out a small slip of paper was inside that warned us no drinks were allowed in the front row. Front Row?!?! I couldn't really understand the seats listed on the tickets, but each time we showed them to an usher they said "Congratulations!" and pointed us toward the front row of the center orchestra. So crazy.

Standing up at our seats for a photo during intermission!
The show was amazing. I know it's a big hit and all, which in some ways turns me off, but it's a hit for a reason. I laughed, I cried (literally), and of course I sang along inside my head. The actors were so close! I saw so much spit and sweat! (Oh, and I also happened to have spent the day looking in a collection of papers that included items from many of the main characters, so it was fun to see and touch historic documents and then see their authors portrayed on stage that night!)

Wednesday and Thursday I walked to the New-York Historical Society to do research. The first day I ate my lunch across the street in Central Park (peanut butter and jelly for the third day in a row). After work Wednesday I did manage to find a coffee shop, where I continued working for a couple more hours. Then I decided to go for a walk in Riverside Park. I ended up walking fifty blocks north, then another 1.6 miles east to Red Rooster, a hip restaurant in Harlem. The wait took forever (I was definitely overlooked as a party of one, and then when they seated me in a corner at an empty communal table I couldn't manage to get a server's attention for a really long time), but the food was good and I didn't really have anything better to be doing.

New-York Historical Society

Central Park

Riverside Park and the Hudson River
Friday morning I took the subway down to Times Square (ugh) to do a little research at the New York Public Library. It was kind of weird to have to check my bag and be wandering all over carrying my laptop and microfilm while a slew of tourists with backpacks and cameras were just visiting. I didn't happen to find anything at all useful in the collection I examined, and while that was a little disappointing I wasn't too upset because it meant I could get out of there and go back to the historical society where I hadn't been able to finish a much more useful collection the day before.

New York Public Library
When the library closed at 4:30 I headed out for an ice cream cone and another walk through Central Park. Then at 6pm I went back to the historical society to visit the museum galleries (including a small exhibit of TJ documents that are owned by the Massachusetts Historical Society, and happened to be on display in Richmond at the Virginia Historical Society while I was in Boston doing research at the MHS; so I finally got to see them). When I was done there I met up with Celia for a nice Italian dinner, where we got to sit outside on the sidewalk.

I originally thought I'd be doing more research on Saturday, but turns out everything I needed was closed since it was Memorial Day weekend. I wasn't too sad to have another free day in the city though. That Saturday was also the day I checked out of my apartment to spend my last two nights at Celia's place, and luckily her boyfriend was able to pick me up and let me avoid the subway (or a cab) with my giant suitcase. Unluckily, however, Celia's dad was actually really sick and she had to take him to the hospital, so he and I hung out in the car outside the NYU hospital while she got her dad settled. Eventually we had lunch near their place in Brooklyn, and then Celia and I visited the Brooklyn Brewery. Turns out the long line and crowded noisy place wasn't really worth the wait, since we could have gone to just about any local bar and still enjoyed a Brooklyn Brewery beer. Oh well. Afterwards we walked around Brooklyn, and that night we drove to Queens to one of their favorite sushi restaurants.

View of the city from Brooklyn
Sunday I got to go with Celia on a walk with her dog to the dog park, which was exciting. I'd never been to a dog park before. Then we went to visit her dad in the hospital. He was looking and feeling much better than the day before. (He was released a few days later, and is happily back at home.) After that we grabbed a slice of pizza and then went to the Lower East Side Tenement Museum, where our particular tour learned about Irish immigrants. After the museum we walked back to Brooklyn across the Williamsburg Bridge, where her boyfriend picked us up and we all went to a little barbecue at their friend's house. He had a great view of the city from his balcony, which was a nice treat on my last night in New York.

Monday morning I helped Celia do some packing (in addition to hosting me and taking care of her dad in the hospital, they were also all moving!), then we walked to a quick lunch before I had to head to the station for my train home. Overall it was a really great trip. I accomplished dissertation research, saw Hamilton (!), and got to visit with a good friend and her family.