Thursday, April 19, 2018

STL Day on the Runway 5K

Due to some schedule changes, I was able to sign up for this race at the last minute.  I thought the concept was unique, since I had never heard of a race course on an airport runway.  The 5k race and the plane pull benefit Special Olympics - Missouri, which is an amazing organization.  I also work for an agency that supports people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families, and many of our sports leagues feed into the Special Olympics system, so my registration would make an impact for some of our athletes.  The weather was cold and dreary (hence the dark pictures below), but the race was still great fun!

Why you should run this race:
  • Proceeds benefit the Special Olympics - Missouri.
  • You get to run on a runway at Lambert International Airport!!!
  • The course is a large loop, entirely on the runway.
Waiting to start
Runners behind me

  • The pavement is obviously in pristine condition, so no potholes!
  • Free off-site parking, and then you are shuttled to/from the airport. 
  • Tech t-shirts for both the 5k and the plane pull.
  • Medals for 5k finishers.

  • Post-race food included water, gatorade, granola bars, and bananas.
  • Food trucks on site.

  • Bounce houses and a bubble bus for kiddos.
  • The airport had many of their snow clearing and runway maintenance vehicles on display along the course, which were absolutely massive!

  • Various St. Louis Police and Fire Department entities also had their vehicles and equipment on display. 

I found this race through Fleet Feet's website and enewsletters but you can also find events benefiting the Special Olympics - Missouri on their Special Events website.  This was the first year for this event, so I hope it was successful enough to return in 2019.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

GO! St. Louis Half Marathon

This was my 4th time running the GO! St. Louis Half Marathon.  I keep returning because I enjoy the race course, the amenities, and the close proximity to my home.  The GO! St. Louis Half Marathon was my 19th half marathon in 2013, 28th half marathon in 2014, and 38th half marathon in 2015.  This year, it was my 49th half marathon!

The Expo:
Like all of the expos I have been to this year, I spent less than 15 minutes actually inside.  The GO! expo was on the campus of Harris Stowe University this year instead of at St. Louis University, which is just across the street and where the expo has been every other time I have run this race. 

Why you should run this race:
  • Several distances over two days: 5k, Children's Fun Run, and Mature Mile on Saturday with the 7k, Marathon Relay, Half Marathon, and Marathon on Sunday.
  • Saturday's races were at Forest Park  and Sunday's races started and finished along the riverfront and adjacent to the Gateway Arch.

  • Medals and shirts for all distances!

  • The 7k, Marathon Relay, Half Marathon, and Marathon courses all take you on bridges over the Mississippi River, into Illinois, and then back into Missouri.
Runners on the bridge crossing into Illinois

  • The Marathon course also takes you through Forest Park.
  • Park and Ride Shuttle available for those who decided to park downtown on race day (Sunday) OR MetroLink's Laclede's Landing Station is in between the start and the finish lines.  I would recommend MetroLink to avoid having to worry about road closures.  It was so simple!
  • Crown Candy Kitchen chocolate station at mile 6.
  • Great pre-race communication, which started three weeks prior to race day.
  • Post-race email with links to results, photos, list of upcoming GO! events and challenges, and a discount code for the Cardinals Care 6k
  • Several coupons in your race packet with more sent via email through the virtual goodie bag. 
  • Plenty of well-staffed water and Gatorade stops.
  • The finish line is between the Arch and the Mississippi River and then the new sidewalks lead you up the hill to the Arch as you exit.  
  • Vendor village near the Laclede's Landing Station. 
  • Finish line food included bottled water, fruit cups, bananas, toasted ravioli, peanut butter crackers, chips, and Ted Drewes ice cream sandwiches!

I recommend any of the distances during the Marathon and Family Fitness Weekend, and I am sure that I will run one of these races again in the future.  I always forget that downtown races tend to have hilly courses, so try to incorporate hills into your training if you decide to run this race in 2019.

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Sunday, April 1, 2018

Rock 'n' Roll DC Half Marathon - The Rest

No matter what time of year you visit, there is ALWAYS too much to do in Washington, DC.  Going into this trip, I had a Plan A and then a Plan B if weather did not allow for Plan A.  Plan B was any of the Smithsonian Museums on the National Mall, which is always a solid choice.  But Plan A was to visit some of the Boundary Stones of Washington, DC, which has been on my bucket list for years now!

Below is information directly from

Finding the Boundary Stones is a real life treasure hunt only high-tech, thanks to Google Maps!  I usually stay near the East Falls Church Metro Station when I visit DC so I used Uber to get to the closest Boundary Stone, which was Southwest 9.  The Uber driver could not get me right to the stone due to a road closure, but he got me as close as he could.  Luckily the Boundary Stones website has a very accurate description of the location of each stone, so the detour did not prevent me from finding the stone.  Of all of the stones I ended up visiting over race weekend, SW9 had the best signage identifying it's historical significance.  The stone itself is mostly sunken into the ground, but part of the inscription was still visible. 

Benjamin Banneker Park and the SW9 stone are easily walkable from the East Falls Church Metro Station, where I caught a train to the more stones in Alexandria, VA.

I got off the train at the King Street Station and walked just a few blocks before I found the Southwest 2 Boundary Stone.  This stone sat between the sidewalk and the street and only had a tiny plaque to identify it.  The inscriptions were long gone.

Some streets still follow the original boundary line of Washington, DC, which makes it easy to walk in a straight line from stone to stone.  That was not the case in Alexandria, so it was a decent hike to get to Southwest 1.  The Southwest 1 Boundary Stone also had a fence protecting it, but it was within a gated yard rather than adjacent to the street.  Luckily the Boundary Stone was easy to spot from the public sidewalks.  This stone also only had a small plaque and the inscriptions had mostly disappeared.

Next, I walked back to the King Street Metro Station and traveled to the Friendship Heights Metro Station to see stones on the Maryland side.  The Friendship Heights Metro Station pretty much falls right in between the Northwest 6 and Northwest 7 Boundary Stones. Northwest 6 sits in a small park with a protective fence that was recently damaged.  It also had a great plaque explaining it's significance.

Next stop was Northwest 7, which was in the front yard of a private residence.  I just snapped a photo from the sidewalk, even though the website indicates that a new plaque was added near the stone in the 1960's.

After visiting Northwest 6 and 7, I headed to the race expo and didn't continue my Boundary Stone quest again until the day after the race.  That time I started at the North Boundary Stone, which is just a short walk from the Silver Spring Metro Station.  This inscriptions on this stone were the best preserved of all of the stones I was able to see during this trip, but you would still have to know where to look to find it.  This stone was surrounded by a fence, but was basically in a ditch leading into the woods.


From the North Boundary Stone, I headed back towards the Metro and followed East-West Highway to the Northeast 1 Boundary Stone.  NE1 is the only Boundary Stone that has been totally lost.  Only a plaque in the sidewalk of strip mall marks it's place today.

I really wanted to fit in one more Boundary Stone during this trip, so I took an Uber to the Northeast 2 Boundary Stone.  This stone is easily walkable from the Takoma Metro Station (just not easily walkable from the NE1 Boundary Stone), and behind a great local restaurant and coffee house, Busboys and Poets.  It is surrounded by a protective fence and has a small plaque.

I managed to fit in eight of the 40 Boundary Stones during this trip, so it will obviously take me YEARS to see them all.  These stones aren't anywhere near the typical touristy-areas so if you are looking for something unique to do or an opportunity to avoid the crowds, I highly recommend visiting the Boundary Stones.  

Food and Drink:
Uptowner Cafe - Alexandria
I just stopped in here for a coffee and to charge my phone as I was visiting two of the Boundary Stones in Alexandria, but I just fell in love with this place.  The man who waited on me appeared to be the owner and greeted everyone with a smile.  This cafe is great for people watching and a local option if you are wanting a quick bite or a good beverage.

This isn't a "restaurant" but it is an event held world-wide, once a year.  I attended this event once when I lived in DC, but the race just happened to fall on the same weekend as World Thinking Day this year for several Girl Scout troops in Falls Church, VA.  The evening kicked off with a parade of nations followed by food sampling.  The various troops select a country to represent, and then they sell little trinkets and food samples from that country.  It was a very affordable and fun way to spend a Friday night!

Parade of Nations

My favorite - candy sushi!

Pastry Xpo is one of the original businesses in the new and trendy Mosaic District.  I came here several times when I worked in the area and their cupcakes are just amazing!  My post-race/celebratory desserts over the weekend included a lemon-strawberry and the cherry blossom cupcake.  Delicious!

I told my friend that I wanted good "ethnic" food while I was in town, and she chose Yayla Bistro in Arlington.  My friend's husband is a chef, so he also previewed the menu prior to selecting this restaurant.  I had a difficult time selecting just one entree because so many were appealing, but I finally settled on the mousakka which came with shepherd salad and it was worth every single calorie!  My friend's daughter ordered the spinach pie, which she said was delicious. I was too full for dessert, but my friend's husband ordered the tiramisu, which he enjoyed.

Mousakka with Shepherd Salad
Spinach Pie with Shepherd Salad
Turkish Tea