Events

10 Things I Learned at the NY International Car Show

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This past weekend, I visited my family in New Jersey during Zombie Jesus Weekend. (That’s what you might call Easter.) While there, I went to the International Car Show at the Javits Center in New York City with my Dad and my sister, Amanda. Here is what I learned:

1. I don’t handle crowds well (ok, maybe I already knew this)

2. I really don’t like children (ok, I definitely already knew that)

3. Some people are way too fertile (please see item# 2)

4. Apparently consumers like comic book themed Kias.

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5. Apparently my Dad gets very excited about Corvettes hanging on the wall! (Sorry Dad. I couldn’t resist)

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6. The all new Mazdas might be something like the Starship Enterprise? Regardless, my dad was very bummed that they wouldn’t let him sit in the chair and say something like, “Take us to warp speed!”

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7. A ticket to the Mercedes-Benz VIP Lounge scores you a cup of soda and a miniature bag of M&M’s.

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8. There is a new trend to paint cars in a matte finish…and I like it!

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9. Buying any one of these cars would mean I would never ever be able to travel again. $$$ Hence, why I will never buy any one of these cars.

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10. And most important…it was a really fun way to spend the day with my Dad and Amanda!

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I Survived My First (Last?) Half Marathon

Item# 2 has officially been struck from my list of goals for 2013! I completed the Rock ‘N’ Roll Half Marathon this past Saturday in Washington, DC. The race began in downtown DC and ended at RFK Stadium. The picture below shows the course as it was recorded by my RunKeeper app. You will notice that according to the app, I ran 13.45 miles. It’s amazing that weaving in and out around people while racing (a.k.a. passing them with my lightning speed!) added an extra .35 miles to my distance. In the future, I think race organizers should shorten race courses to account for such weaving. Please and thank you!

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I was most grateful that the weather held out for this event. The weather reports leading up to the race were extremely disheartening as they were calling for rain. Running 13.1 miles was challenging enough; running 13.1 miles in the rain is just plain cruel. But luckily, the weatherman was wrong again!! (Note to self: Remember this day and don’t ever complain about the weatherman being wrong again.)

I was grateful that it didn’t rain, however, I did not appreciate the hills on the course. I hadn’t done much training running up hills because getting me to run on a flat surface is a feat in and of itself. Throughout the course I ended up climbing over 1,000 miserable feet. Despite these inclines, I was managing to keep my pace at about 11:30 min/mile which was considerably faster than my training runs (about 12 min/mile). At that pace, I thought it might be possible for me to finish in 2 hours 30 minutes when my initial goal was just to a. complete the race, and b. hopefully under 3 hours. Finishing 30 minutes faster than expected would have been quite incredible for my first half marathon. Unfortunately, somewhere around mile 11 I started to have trouble with my left ankle. I tried to “run it off” but the pain kept getting substantially worse until eventually I had to walk. However, I was determined to finish the race running, not walking. I stopped to take a moment to stretch my ankle really well and thankfully that seemed to do the trick. Unfortunately, my ankle incident really slowed me down and my pace dropped back down to my normal 12 min/mile. I still finished in well under 3 hours; 2 hours 42 minutes and 59 seconds to be exact. But let’s just say 2:43 to keep things simple, shall we. I doubt I will lose any sleep over that extra second.

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If my old Drill Sergeants could see me now! There was nobody in basic training that hated to run as much as I did. If there was a basic training yearbook, I definitely would have locked in the “Least Likely To Run a Half Marathon” slot.

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Rob met me at the finish line and gave me an insulated plastic liner to keep me warm. Feeling pretty proud of myself, I decided the liner was more like my Superwoman cape rather than it’s intended purpose as a plastic blanket. I made Rob take my Superwoman picture. Good thing this picture doesn’t reveal how badly Superwoman was hobbling post-race!

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Help Me Build My Half-Marathon Playlist!

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Today I completed my last long training run for the DC Rock ‘N’ Roll Half-Marathon next Saturday.  I ran 11 miles this morning and I am extremely happy with my pace.  Hopefully this is a good indication that I will be ready to run 13.1 miles one week from today!  But I could still use a little bit of help…from you.  Up until this point, I have been doing all of my long training runs with my friend Brie, but next week I will be running the race solo.  Brie has kept me motivated during our long weekend runs, however, next week I will need to rely on my tunes to keep me going.  Do you have any suggestions for good running songs that I can add to my playlist that will help me make it across that finish line?  If so, please share.

As a side note, many people have asked me if I have been losing weight as a result of all of my training runs.  Short answer: No.

Here is my explanation:

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My current running app (RunKeeper) tells me that I burned over 1,400 calories this morning.  Since I actually don’t have an app that tells me how many glasses of wine I have earned…I basically assume that I can have as many damn glasses as I want!

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Don’t Take a Train to the Ball

In addition to attending the inauguration, I was also able to get my hands on tickets to the Inaugural Ball. (Another event worthy of a mental check mark on my imaginary bucket list!)

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Luckily for Rob, he already had a tuxedo. I, on the other hand, had to find something to wear. I wasn’t looking to break the bank just to attend this event, so I was very happy that I found a gown online that looked like it would fit the bill. And for only $45 to boot!!

Rob donned his tuxedo and I wore my new thrifty gown. As we were getting ready to leave, my dog, Ginger, was following me around the house, as she usually does, and she kept stepping on the very small train of the gown. That should have been my first clue that buying a gown with a train (even a very small one) was a mistake. But Ginger is a dog. She can’t be expected to understand this concept. Surely the humans at the ball would watch where they were stepping?

Rob and I headed to the DC Convention Center and the line to get through security wrapped around several blocks! My initial thought….screw this, lets go home! But once the initial shock of it all passed, I was ready to stick it out. I almost didn’t bring a coat with me so that I wouldn’t have to deal with a coat check (and thousands of other people also checking coats), but after seeing the line I was grateful not to have made that mistake. Without the coat, I’m certain I would have bailed. But everything worked out and we finally made our way into the Convention Center.

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Once inside, we quickly headed to the bar. The place was a madhouse and Rob must have waited in line for at least 20 minutes to get us drinks. While Rob was in line at the bar, Alicia Keys took the stage…on the other side of the ballroom. She sounded great and at least I got to see her on the jumbotron.

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I’m pretty sure Rob was still on line at the bar when the Bidens came on stage, once again, at the opposite end of the ballroom. Jamie Foxx was singing and playing the piano while the VP and Dr. Biden danced.

Once we finally had our drinks in hand, we tried to make our way through the crowd to get to the other side of the ballroom. All the while, anyone that got behind me stepped on the train of my gown as I was trying to walk. I don’t always do well dealing with crowds and this was wearing on my nerves rather quickly. I would have just picked up the train to walk unscathed, but with a glass of wine in each hand that was virtually impossible (don’t judge….who would want to stand in line for another 20 minutes to get a 2nd drink?)

We made it to the other end of the ballroom in time for President Obama and the First Lady to take the stage. Jennifer Hudson sang (and looked fantastic!) while they danced. The crowd was basically a sea of cell phones raised up hoping to catch a decent picture. I didn’t bring my good camera with me, but Rob did a pretty good job with the raised cell phone method of the masses.

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After the Obamas left and all the hype was over, I desperately needed to sit down and/or take off my shoes. There wasn’t a single chair in the entire place, so to the floor I went! I couldn’t understand why my feet hurt so bad. I had worn these shoes to weddings before and danced the night away without any problems. But, at those weddings there was always a seat available whenever I was ready to sit down. At the Inaugural Ball…not so much.

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We came, we saw… although not so sure we conquered. Neither one of us wanted to get in line at the bar for additional drinks and my feet were really not on board with this whole no-chair situation. So we decided to call it a night. I think that makes us officially old, but I’m okay with that.

The following day, so many people asked me if it was fun. No. Fun is definitely not the word I would use here. Don’t get me wrong, it was an awesome experience and I am definitely glad that we went. But if it were fun, I would take that to mean that I would look forward to doing it again. I guess a lot could happen in four years and I might change my mind, but I seriously doubt I would want to attend again.

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So Close…Yet So Far Away

While I do love to travel to distant places, sometimes the coolest stuff takes place right in my back yard! Living and working in the DC metro area leads to some amazing opportunities and experiences. I have never actually sat down to physically write out a bucket list, but when I do something that I think might have made the list, I definitely give it a mental check mark. Attending a presidential inauguration – check!

I was fortunate enough to score 3 tickets to the 57th Presidential Inauguration. The tickets were in the Red Southwest standing section and according to the section map, it looked as though we were going to be pretty darn close to all the action!

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My friends Brie and Bonnie joined me for the festivities and all 3 of us were uber excited. It took a while for us to get through the security checkpoint, but we finally arrived at our assigned section. It was a bit chilly, but considering it was January it really wasn’t that bad at all.

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Soon after we arrived, the reality set in that even though we were SO close, we weren’t actually going to be able to see anything live and in person. There was scaffolding set up for the press on either side of the platform that completely blocked our view of where all the action was going to take place.

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This was a huge disappointment, but the 3 of us agreed it was still a pretty awesome experience. Even though we couldn’t see the platform, being there in person will always be more memorable than watching it on TV. (Plus, I was not about to mentally uncheck this from my nonexistent bucket list!)

The good news was we were incredibly close to one of the jumbo-trons set up on Capitol grounds. The bad news was they decided to set it up directly behind a tree! By no means am I suggesting that I would be a master event planner for the masses, but seriously? Is this really the best they could do?

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Oh well. At least it was winter time and there weren’t any leaves on the tree. And we weren’t the only ones that had to rely on the jumbo-tron in order to see anything. Even the people in the red seated section (that was closer to center) couldn’t see the platform due to the scaffolding. Rather than looking toward the Capitol, those attendees were looking towards the screen too.

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We enjoyed the musical entertainment as well. I’m a James Taylor fan, but to be honest, his performance was a bit underwhelming. However, I thought Kelly Clarkson and Beyonce did a great job. I can be a harsh critic when it comes to the Star Spangled Banner and I absolutely hate it when singers take too many liberties with it. But I thought Beyonce did a fabulous job! I realize there is rumor about the possibility of her lip syncing, but I will take that over someone butchering our national anthem any day.

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Regardless of political affiliation, I think it is an amazing opportunity to witness our democratic system in action.

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Just The Office Christmas Tree

I think it is safe to say that my office has the most amazing Christmas Tree in all the land!

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Every year, the employees gather for the annual Tree Trimming Party. There are tasty refreshments and everyone helps to decorate the tree.

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Since a ladder just wouldn’t cut it, employees can climb aboard the cherry picker to hang ornaments at the tippity top! My friend Chris was up for the challenge. Next year I need to remember to wear pants on the day of the Tree Trimming Party. I was not about to go up there wearing a dress. It’s not that kind of party people! ; )

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And because this is the season for giving, generous employees place gifts under the tree that will be donated to Toys for Tots.

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Christmas in Washington

This past Sunday, we had tickets for the dress rehearsal of the 31st annual “Christmas in Washington” at the National Building Museum. This annual Christmas concert benefits the Children’s National Medical Center and is attended each year by the President, as well as many other Washington VIPs. We aren’t important enough to attend the actual concert alongside the President, but the dress rehearsal is usually just like seeing the real deal (more on this later). The National Building Museum is absolutely beautiful and seems to be the perfect location for this show. Unfortunately, I wasn’t allowed to take any pictures, but here is a picture from a previous year so you can get the idea.

Conan O’Brien hosted the show for the second year in a row. This year, the performers included Megan Hilty (Smash), Demi Lovato (The X Factor), Chirs Mann (The Voice), Scotty McCreery (American Idol), PSY (“Gangnam Style” internet sensation), and Diana Ross (you know who she is).

I was most excited to see Diana Ross perform. Although her music is before my time, she is a legend, and I thought it would be an amazing experience to see her live. However, she did not grace us with her presence during the dress rehearsal. Instead, a cheerful, elderly man filled in as her stand-in and quietly mouthed the lyrics to the songs Diana would sing later that night. You could see that he was feeling uncomfortable knowing the crowd was disappointed to see him instead of Diana Ross. But he made the most of it and even gave us a few laughs. As endearing as this old man was, I was still thoroughly annoyed that Diana Ross didn’t come on stage. Talk about a DIVA! Ok, so what if you’re a legend. Does that mean you are too good to rehearse? Are you too important to perform for the minions that could only get tickets for the dress rehearsal?

After the rehearsal was over, we heard that Diana Ross didn’t participate in the rehearsal due to a broken ankle because it was too difficult to get on and off the stage. According to this article, the claim is true. However, I have decided to reserve my judgment until I watch the show when it airs. You better have a gimp Diana!

With Diana MIA, the highlight of the show for me was PSY. He came out on the stage and started singing “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire.” It was not going well and I didn’t think he was going to be able to pull off this classic Christmas carol. But a few notes in, he stopped singing and revealed that was not the reason he was there. Then he broke out into his Christmas remix of “Gangnam Style” and it was AWESOME! “Hey Santa Baby…Oppan Christmas Style!”

“Christmas in Washington” will air on Friday, December 21st on TNT. In the meantime, check out this sneak peak video:

If the video doesn’t load, you can also view it here.

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Jingle Update

Here are a few photos of some of my favorite costumes mentioned in yesterday’s Jingle All The Way post.

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Nativity scene with not-so-Biblical stroller

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Guy with a tuba (and Team Slutty Reindeer)

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Part of the 12 days of Christmas (and guy with a tuba)

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Jingle All The Way

I am pretty sure that I may have mentioned that I do NOT enjoy running. Yet, once again, here I am writing about a race I just completed. Why do I keep participating in these events, you ask? Well, I guess watching people run dressed up like Santa, elves, and reindeer makes running just a tad less miserable.

Yesterday, I participated in the 8th annual Jingle All The Way 8K with a couple of friends in Washington, DC. The race began and ended at Freedom Plaza and benefited the Habitat for Humanity of Washington, DC. The course was almost entirely flat (for which I am grateful) and wound past a variety of DC landmarks. But this race isn’t about the landmarks…it’s about the costumes! While costumes are not a requirement, most people do dress up with some kind of holiday flare. I wish I had pictures of my favorite costumes to share with you, but unfortunately I don’t. However, some of my favorites were (please use your imagination to conjure up your own image):

1. The 12 Days of Christmas (most creative!)
2. Santa in his sleigh tethered to 8 reindeer (bonus points for running the whole race tied together like that!)
3. Toy Soldiers (complete with wind-up keys on their backs)
4. Full Nativity Scene (complete with Baby Jesus in a not-so-Biblical stroller)
5. The guy with the tuba (not a holiday theme, but props for running 5 miles carrying a tuba!)

Below is a picture of our crew, which has been affectionately dubbed Team Slutty Reindeer. Don’t ask…

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Andrea (Christmas tree), Mark (Christmas present), Heather (reindeer), & me (less committed reindeer)

Oh, in case you were wondering…that IS Justin Bieber wrapping paper! Mark’s costume definitely drew the most attention (rightfully so) and he even scored a radio interview before the race. Andrea is still trying to forgive him for missing what could possibly have been his one and only chance to use the phrase Bieber Fever on the radio!

Editor’s note – one of the reindeer pictured above is a cheater! #reindeershaming

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The 10K Question

It’s never been much of a secret that I do not enjoy running. When I was in the army, I used to dread having to run 2 miles for the army physical fitness test. So, how is it that I have ended up running a 6.2 mile race, two years in a row… for “fun?” I’ve been asking myself that same question!

The Marine Corps Marathon is held every October in DC & VA. The race begins in Virginia and then winds its way through our nation’s capital, passing a plethora of monuments, before going back into Virginia and then ending at the Marine Corps War Memorial. People travel from all over the world to participate in this event. Even with Hurricane Sandy looming, this year’s Marine Corps Marathon was the largest yet!

In addition to the marathon, the Marine Corps hosts a 10K that begins along the National Mall and also ends at the famous Marine Corps War Memorial in Arlington, VA. Without any prior planning and/or proper training, I have managed to run this race two years in a row. Last year, my friend Heather asked if I would like to run with her because the person she was supposed to run with could no longer participate. The thought of running 6 miles was terrifying, but I didn’t want her to have to run it alone, so I decided I would give it a shot. It actually ended up being a lot of fun…despite all the pain from the actual running part of it. I rarely run further than 2 miles, so at about mile 4, my body started to let me know it was very unhappy with me. But, the course was lined with people cheering you on. In addition to regular citizens, there were also marines lined up in uniform ready to give you high-fives. Now that is what I call motivation! Even though I am sure we both wanted to walk the rest of the way, we stuck it out and we finished the race together.

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About six months later, the registration for this year’s race opened up and Heather asked if I would like to run with her again. Ummm….no thanks. I tend to have a bucket list-type mentality. Meaning, if I have already checked that box, there is no real need to do it again. However, fast forward to 4 days before the race and I am somehow volunteering to run 6.2 miles again. This time, I am not feeling compelled to run out of friendly duty. Heather was running with her friend Andrea, so I was under no obligation to help a friend in need. But, after realizing that there was a bib up for grabs, I basically jumped at the opportunity to run again this year. Why? The truth…I have no idea!

It was pretty much the same as last year (although the weather was much nicer this year). The course was lined with people eager to cheer on the runners, the marines were lined up to offer high-fives, and my body started to curse me out right around mile 4. But, I was determined to finish the race without walking and I did just that. It wasn’t fast and I am sure it wasn’t pretty. Slow and steady is how I win (a.k.a. finish) the race.

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So now I am wondering if I might actually register for the 10K next year? Or maybe my calling is just to adopt orphan race bibs?

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