Thursday, October 29, 2015

2 Days and counting down.......

Tomorrow I'll officially board that plane and be up, up and away.  The past couple of days have been nerve racking to say the least!  My husband has been having bad stomach issues since Tuesday.  He was awake most of the night on Monday in severe pain.  He called his doctor on Tuesday morning but they didn't have an appointment until Thursday (today).  So I've been worrying myself sick as to whether he would be able to travel or not.  I begged him to go on to another doctor on Tuesday but you know men.. STUBBORN!  
He has a history of Diverticulitis. Which is bulging pouches that can form in the lining of your digestive system and when one or more of the pouches become inflamed or infected the condition is known as diverticulitis.  Diverticulitis can cause severe abdominal pain, fever, nausea and a marked change in your bowel habits.  When it flares up it is bad.  He has not been able to eat anything for 3 days so he's been on a liquid diet.  So you can say I've been a little concerned about our travel this weekend!  It's like an act of congress to change a plane ticket into another name especially this late in the game.  

He called me after lunch today and said the doctor is treating him with some medicine and a very bland diet for 10 days.  He can have no sauces, fried food, nuts, seeds, pizza, rich desserts or alcohol.  So now there goes some of my pre-planned meals in New York. :(  

We fly out tomorrow morning and I was sure looking forward to stopping and getting me a big old slice of New York Pizza late Friday! He may have to watch me eat it!!  I had also pre-purchased pasta in the park tickets thru the marathon organization and was looking forward to that Saturday evening before the race on Sunday.  Guess that's out now.  Then I had made reservations at Carmines, which is a family style Italian place, for Sunday night after I finish the race and I guess that's out now also! BOOOO HOOOO (it really is halloween..ha)  I did check their menu a few minutes ago hoping they would have something he could eat, but I don't think there is anything he can have that wouldn't make him sick.  

However, as of right now, I really feel like a "can of busted biscuits".  While in taper mode, it makes me feel like I've gained 10 pounds.  I feel like I've done hardly any exercise in the last two weeks to burn calories and I've been eating non-stop! 

I have no idea what I'll be eating now in NY.  I just hope and pray that he feels better and we have a nice time.  I would hate for him to have to sit in the hotel room all weekend, which he reminded me that it's FOOTBALL season and he would be just fine sitting in the bed watching it.  He really hates the race scene anyway and was only going with me because I wasn't traveling with my run team as usual.  I guess he felt like he needed to protect me in New York. :>) 

I should be working to get all my work caught up because I'm off a couple of days, but my mind keeps drifting.  I'm about to run one of the top 5 largest marathons in the US! I've seriously been so pumped for about a month until the past few days.  I know there is a reason for everything and I must trust God that it will all be fine this weekend.  It's just so dang hard to do that.  Even my devotion this morning was about casting all your worries at God's feet.  I'm trying.. I promise! I'm a work in progress (RTE).

Three of my coworkers who are also on my run team brought me the sweetest gift this morning.  It really touched me.  They know how I've been worrying this week about my husband.  Since I'll be at the starting line from 7:15 am until 11 am when my wave starts, I plan to read each of these 26 cards that are filled with bible verses and inspirational quotes.  They will help me focus and take my worry away.  Thanks so much to my friends!  You are very special!

I really do have AWESOME friends!  Several have sent me sweet emails, text, and called with best wishes for this weekend.  I have one that has sent me an inspirational quote every morning! She may seem like a tough cookie when screaming at us in spin class, but she's really a sweetheart. :>)  Then I have another friend that HAND wrote me a 3 page letter.  Now who hand writes these days?? LOL  It brought tears to my eyes.  It takes special people to take the time out of their busy lives to do "little" things for others.  She reminded me to just be ME and enjoy the race and that's exactly what I plan to do.  My husband may be laying in the hotel not feeling well, but I can't let that distract me.  I may never get back to do this race so I plan to enjoy it to the fullest.  

When I did the Disney Marathon back in January I asked my family and friends to send me inspiration quotes.  This is the one my son sent me: 
I will be thinking this on Sunday! 

Let's do this thing! I'm ready! D

Monday, October 26, 2015

What's my plan? Do I have a plan?

Well it's 5 days till New York! I remember a few months ago it seemed like it was so very far away.  After months of training, it's time to let the hard work pay off.  I've had people ask me over the past couple of days things like... so what's ya plan?, what's ya pace goal?, what is your goal time to finish the marathon in? 

I've debated back and forth on this for probably 2 months.  I would love to beat my best marathon time of 4:30, but honestly I do not believe this is the race where I could aim for that goal mainly due to a couple of reasons.  First the race is going to be super crowded.  I read today that there are 52,800 runners! WOW!  Yes, we will start in 4 different waves and the waves are like 30 minutes apart, but still.... 52,000 people! I'm just amazed! The most runners I've ran with was like 22,000 in NOLA back in 2011.  However, I've read several marathon blogger post where they ran an excellent time in this race.  One lady claims she is just average, but yet she finished NY last year in 3:36! That's not average to me!  She's fast!  Second, my degenerate disk disease and my arthritis has progressed lately.  I'm currently having to wear a new pair of inserts in my shoes that cost $200 (insurance covered some cost thank goodness) due to my big toe joint.  It's starting to fall apart.  They call it osteonecrosis.  This is where the bone starts to die and may break down with the joint collapsing completely.  I was just thrilled to hear this info a couple weeks ago at my doctor's office.  See my grandfather had arthritis so bad he couldn't even straighten his fingers and now my dad is starting to show the same signs. So lately I've been doing more of Hal's run/walk programs when doing my long distance runs.  My body seems to like that much better. :>)  And I really want to run until I'm 100! I need to stay healthy.  And BTW exercise does help arthritis.  I may not be able to run fast for long, but I can always walk and still cross that finish line. 

Look at that CROWD!

So as for my plan...... I was first thinking I would do my run/walk program and not stress over time, but all the info they keep giving us to read talks about how crowded it will be and if you are running to please not stop abruptly and walk.  You must look behind you and weave all the way to the outside, raise your arm and then walk.  You don't want a runner behind you to run slam into you because you had to stop and walk all of a sudden. So I'm thinking of discarding that plan as of right now. 

I believe I will just listen to my body.  I will start slow and easy.  I will try to enjoy the experience.  If I do get so fatigued or hurting where I need to walk, I will weave over to the outside and walk.  There is no shame in walking in my book. To me it's more important to finish what you start then quitting.  Even your best marathoners may stop and walk 30-45 seconds here and there then start back running.  Some say that when you are running two marathons 4 weeks apart to treat the first marathon as a normal LSD run and not push it.  This is supposed to give your body time to recover and then you can push the 2nd marathon.  It says if you push too hard on the first marathon that your body won't recover in time for the 2nd marathon and you could end up injured.  You can read all kinds of advice on the running websites these days.  However, I am doing St. Jude marathon 4 weeks after NY so I do need to keep my body healthy so that I can finish my overall goal of running for the kids at St. Jude.  That race is very dear to my heart!  My run team, Run4TheKids, has collected over $33,000 in donations so far! I can't wait to see several of them run their first long distance race! It's going to be awesome sauce as my friend Jenn says! 

If you've never done a marathon, it will change you forever!  This will be my 5th marathon and each one has been so very different.  You never know what kind of day it will be on race day.  You may feel awesome or you may feel like crap.  The weather may be perfect or it can be crappy.  As for me, I know no matter how I feel on that day or what the weather is, my goal is to cross that finish line. No goal time, no pace time, ..just FINISH. 

A Runner's Prayer:

Run by my side, Lord 
Live in my heartbeat.  Give strength to my steps.  As the cold whirls around me, as the wind pushes me, I know you surround me.  As the sun warms me, as the rain cleanses me, I know you are touching me, Challenging me, loving me - And so I give you this run.  Thank you God, for matching my stride.  Amen 

Isaiah 41:10,13
~ Don't panic.  I'm with you.  There's no need to fear for I'm your God.  I'll give you strength.  I'll help you.  I, your God, have a firm grip on you & I'm not letting go. ~

Pray for me on November 1st as I run my 5th marathon! Pray for safety and for strength.  I'll pray and thank God for all of you as I run. :>) 
Love, D

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Who is Mo?

This post is in honor of my friend Maureen Higgins or “Mo” as her friends call her.  I meet Mo through a mutual running friend.  My friend had been running races with Mo for several years on the coast and kept telling me that she wanted me to meet her.  Finally in January of 2013 at the Gulf Coast Half Marathon at Lulus I got the opportunity to meet Mo.  Mo was so nice and asked all about my running.  I could tell right off that she had a passion for running.  I had just recently had neck surgery 2 months prior and my voice was still very weak from my damaged vocal cord at this time so I didn’t get to talk to her in depth like I would have loved to do because they had music playing, etc. in the background which made it very difficult to hear me (as it still does today! background noise makes it where no one can hear me good! so aggravating! but life so smile and accept it).    

Mo, Me and Robbie at Lulus after the Gulf Coast Half Marathon 2013

Right after I meet Mo she was diagnosed with stage four breast cancer.  I would get updates from my running buddy that had connections on the coast with people who checked in on Mo.  I had wondered if she was still running and every time I asked she was still running.  Even during her chemo she continued to run.  She said that running gave her hope.  I believe it also kept her sane while going through such a hard time but I honestly don’t know how she did it.  Chemo really zaps a person of all their energy.  I was amazed each time to hear that Mo was pushing through and running.  She was even doing races.  I begin to write her letters.  It took months before she finally wrote me back.  Mo isn’t big on letters. LOL  She told me how much my letters meant to her and she encouraged me to keep running.  Go figure…someone with CANCER who is struggling and still encouraging others.  That’s MO!   She is an early morning runner and her husband often follows her in his truck before daylight to make sure she’s safe.  

Mo & me at Double Bridge 15K 2014
I saw her again at the Double Bridge run.  She told me she had lost most of her hair and wouldn’t take off her cap.  I told her how amazing I thought she was going through cancer and still running races.   I could never tell how religious Mo was but I told her I had prayed and prayer for her.  She would smile and say “my Mississippi runner friend” to others as they would come up while we were talking.  I remember this race very vividly because I passed Mo as I was running and as I was passing her, she was steadily giving me pointers on running.  She’s known for being a mentor to other runners.  She says she enjoys it.  And let me just say she’s got a vast knowledge!  She has ran 148 marathons overall.  She will be returning to the Marine Corps Marathon this weekend for the 29th time at the age of 61! If you go to their website and click on their Hall of Fame she is listed in the class of 2014! 

Here’s the info: 

“Maureen Higgins, affectionately known as the ‘Leading Lady of the MCM,’ has crossed the finish line 27 times - the most of any woman - as of her Hall of Fame induction.  Higgins was diagnosed and treated for stage 4 breast cancer in 2013, and heroically completed the MCM while undergoing chemotherapy. Now in remission, Higgins plans to continue participating in the MCM.  She boasts a personal record at the MCM of 3:53:00.
Mo running the MCM

Her Plans this year is to maintain a 12-minute mile and her nephew will pace her in the race for the 3rd year in a row.  She plans to run the MCM as long as she is breathing.  She once told me that the older we get the slower we will run but we can keep moving forward and still cross that finish line.  She’s such an inspiration!  This year she will not only be a runner, but she will be helping out at packet pickup handing out bibs so if you see her tell her that her Mississippi friend said hello. :>)   I mailed her a letter this week wishing her the best and I’ll be tracking her on Sunday.  Go MO GO! Maybe I’ll get to run her 150 marathon with her sometime in the future. :>)  I hope to be still running when I’m 61!  All you got to do is BELIEVE in yourself! :>) 

Good luck MO! MUAH!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Stages of a marathon (or half marathon)

Disclaimer.... this is based on how I feel.... You may feel differently and in 11 days after I run New York, I may update how I feel. :>)  If you've notice there are tons of post on social media about races lately.. why? It's the season (cooler temps) to run! So I thought I'd share my feelings on a marathon. :>) 

  1.  Excitement / Eagerness (Marathon miles 1-7, half-marathon miles 1-3) – you’ve put in countless hours of training and given up so much during the months leading up to now.  You’re walking to the start line and you’re so ready to kick this marathon’s booty!  You are pumped.  The energy in the crowd is contagious!  You just can’t help but be EXCITED.   The gun goes off and you are so pumped you run out like a race horse jumping out when the gate springs open full force.  However, that race horse has a much shorter distance to go than what you are about to do!  So DO NOT let that excitement take over.  Remember that pace that you’ve trained to run and save your energy for the last miles of the race.  

Tks Nestor (One of my teammates)
2.   Nervousness / Apprehension (Marathon 8-14, Half-Marathon 4-7) – Now the miles are starting to hit you and you start wondering what the heck! You think why didn’t I just sign up for the half or the 10K… why am I doing this longer distance… can I do this??  Have I done enough training??? What have I done?  Am I really ready??? You’ll question everything… but as you do the miles will continue to tick down…. And soon you’ll enter the next stage.

3. Community  Determination / Willpower  (Marathon 15-20, Half Marathon 8-11) You are now bonding with other runners… everyone is looking for encouragement… you’ll start to really notice the people on the streets cheering you on and you’ll be thanking God for them.  and You’ll keep telling yourself that you are going to do this… that Determination of not being defeated will show up … You’ll begin to encourage other runners just so they’ll say something back to you also. :>)  You really will mean what you say..but you’ll also be begging for it yourself.

4.    Rocky Stage – (Marathon 21-26, half Marathon 10-13) Now you will question your sanity.  I must be insane to do this! Your whole body aches.  You want to quit so badly.  You begin to pray whether you are religious or not.  You beg to just cross that finish line and say you’ll never do it again.  Most people call this the WALL.  Many training programs only go up to 20 miles for a marathon and 10 miles for a half so you’ll begin to question whether you really are sane or not because you may not have ever do the full amount of miles depending on your training.  But guess what…. That’s when GRIT/TOUGHNESS will enter! That’s why I like to call this the Rocky Stage! No matter how much pain you are in, there’s nothing that can stop you from finishing.  You’ll dig deep within your soul to gather all the strength you have to finish.  Heck, you may even picture Rocky while doing this (I know I do!).   and if you listen.. you’ll hear God speak and say… YOU CAN DO THIS>>>TRUST ME>>>

And then of course I'm also hearing so many quotes from my Rocky Movies like these that I love:

"The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It is a very mean and nasty place and it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t how hard you hit; it’s about how hard you can get hit, and keep moving forward. How much you can take, and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done. "

“Until you start believing in yourself, you ain’t gonna have a life.”

“Going in one more round when you don’t think you can – that’s what makes all the difference in your life.”

And then of course I'm also chanting my fav bible verses in my head that I love:

Isaiah 40:31 - but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

Philippians 4:13 I can do everything through him who gives me strength.

You'll do almost anything to cross that finish line. :>)  And you'll never forget your first long distance race!

  5. ELATION – You cross that finish line and they put that medal around your neck! You’re so happy that you forget all the pain and you may even jump for joy.  All that self-doubt & all that negativity will no longer be in your mind.  You may even feel that you could run longer if you had to.  You are a MARATHONER (or Half marathoner)! You are a HERO! St. Jude HERO (for my team)! There is nothing like it! ENJOY!

Wishing all my peeps a great race! And to those that might read this and ask.. "why the heck do they do this?"... well all I can say is because we LOVE IT!  D


Sunday, October 11, 2015

What a weekend! BIKE-A-THON Plus 20 mile LSD RUN

I wish I could call this a true "brick" workout, but since I did the bike ride on Saturday and the run on Sunday I can't call it that.  I would have never dreamed that I could ride 65 miles on the bike one day and turn around and run 20 miles the next day!  And actually when I signed for the bike ride, I didn't check my run schedule.  Then about 2 weeks ago I was looking at my schedule because I had to alter it some due to going on vacation and that's when I realized that I had both to do in the same weekend!   

I will say I was kind of nervous all week leading up to this weekend wondering how it was going to go.  See my plan had been to ride 40-50 miles before the 60 miles at the bike-a-thon, but that didn't happen.  I had only ridden 30 miles as the most at one time so I was kind of nervous.  I knew it wasn't a race so we would not be riding as hard as we normally ride, but I still didn't want to be at the end of the pack either (call that the competitive side of me).  For the bike-a-thon you had the option of 30, 60 or 100 miles.  We picked 60.  We learned at the event that they only had 16 bike riders that were doing the 100 miles.  A few more than that doing the 60, but the majority were doing the 30 miler.

I was excited that several of my friends were also doing the 60 miles.  I had never done a bike ride like this so I wasn't sure what to expect.  I recently purchased a new GoPro camera to take to New York so I wanted to try it out on the bike ride.  I noticed some people were looking at me with my GoPro on, but I didn't care...... I just made me a nice face and Mel took a picture. LOL 
Me sporting my GoPro Camera and a orange tongue cause I had just drank a Gatorade. I think Sonya is saying ... "Oh my.. I've got to ride with this crazy girl."  hee hee

There were aid stations every 15 miles.  Mel would stop and get off her bike and lay on the ground.  I asked her what she was doing.  She told me she was hydrating her disk in her back.  I had never heard it put that way.  She has disk problems worse than me.  I had always been told to lay down and take the pressure off your disk when your back is hurting .... but I had never heard "hydrate" in the sentence.  Anyway, I joined her for a few minutes and it felt so good! 

We rode steady.  Sometimes we would peak around 20-21mph and then I'd remember that I had to run 20 the next day so I'd back off.  It was a lot of fun! Mel is our spin teacher and it's due to her that I'm strong enough to do most of the things I do these days.  She kicks our butts in spin but it's good for us.

They even had pickle juice at the aid stations.  It was awesome.  We all took a picture of us taking a shot of pickle juice at mile 30.  

Gina, Mel, me, Frank & Sonya getting our pickle juice fix.  

When we finished the 60 miles, Frank mentioned that the wanted to do a 65 miler this month since it's he's 65 birthday so I told him if we were doing it, we would do it right then cause I sure wasn't coming back to ride 65 before New York... so we hoped back on our bikes and rode another 5 miles to get a total of 65 miles in.  Happy Early birthday, Frank! For our 60 miles we averaged 15.2 mph which isn't that bad for a fun ride. It was a great day! I was shocked that my legs weren't really tired.  My shoulders and neck however was very tense and sore.  I went home and did basically nothing the rest of the day.  I was asleep on the couch at 7:15pm.  I needed my rest for my run. :>) 

Sunday I wake up ready to do my 20 miler and to my surprise, I felt great.  I'm not sue if it was all the pickle juice or the fact that I knew after today that I have only a 12 miler and then an 8 miler and then NEW YORK!  It's almost here!  Sunshine joined Frank and I today and I was so happy that she got to!  I plan to run with her at the St. Jude marathon but we haven't had much time to train together this year.  Both of us have had so much going on that we've had to alter our LSD on Saturdays to different days.  I was so thrilled she was going to do the 20 with me!  Frank probably gets tired of listening to just me lately anyway. ha!  This training season has been different that last season.  So many of the team members have had things going on during the weekends or been out of town that we've rarely ran together.  I sure miss those times too!  I loved last year when we usually had a big group running together each Saturday.  But life sometimes gets in the way and you have to change your plans.  Matter of fact today after our 20 miler I was talking to a guy that has ran many marathons.  He's even qualified for Boston and ran it several times.  He is what I call a true "marathoner".  Anyway, we were talking about New York and he said he's marathon days are over.  I asked him why wondering if he had an injury or something.  He's not that much older than me either.  He told me that training for a marathon constantly is like a second job and he decided he wanted more free time.  He said he loves half marathons and will continue to do them, but he doubts he will ever do another marathon.  He said when he was training full time he averaged 60-70 miles a week running! That's a lot of miles! I'm good to average 30.  However,  I do completely understand what he is talking about.  Taking on a marathon is very time consuming.  You have to almost put your family on hold on the weekends because that's when you need to get in your really long runs.  

Sunshine grabbed a couple pictures of us during our run today.  It was an absolute beautiful morning! 55 degrees and felt awesome!!! 

She's cray cray! this is around mile 13..she's still smiling

This is mile 17.... not smiling so much anymore... I told her she was getting ready for Halloween! 

We finished and laid down to "hydrate" our disk in our back and about feeling good! 

The threesome sporting our St. Jude Hero shirts today as we ran! 20 Miles down...Let the TAPER begin!

Have a bless day! D 

P.S. Still amazed I rode 65 miles and ran 20 miles in the same weekend.  There's only one person to thank.... GOD.  Philippians 4:13! Got to have faith and believe! 

Thursday, October 8, 2015


This weekend will be three weeks prior to my New York marathon! Time has flown by so fast! I remember the night I got the email saying I was selected in the lottery draft.  I woke my husband up to show him the email.  I thought it was a hoax or spam email.  But after checking into it, I found out it was real.  I was beyond excited.   For me this is probably a once in a lifetime thing.  There are limited ways to get into this marathon.  It's not like the local marathons here where you just click a button and pay to register.  You must either qualify by time, be selected in the lottery draft, or fund raise for one of their charities (and the minimum is something like $5,000 you have to raise!).  So YES, I was extremely excited to be selected in the lottery.  A runner has like a 20% chance of being picked in the draft.  I was lucky to be in that 20%!

A past year image.... look at all those runners! Normally 50,000 in the race...I just can't imagine!

So tonight after being extremely sore all day from a "NEW" tone class I went to on Tuesday, I decided to refresh myself on the proper taper.  What is taper? Well, it's kind of like a rest time prior to a marathon for a runner.  Normally a taper is around 3 weeks.  It usually starts after your last longest long run.  I have a 20 miler this weekend which is my last longest run on my training schedule therefore after Sunday, I will be in taper mode with three weeks until the marathon!  

My daughter and coworker made fun of me for being sore today from the tone class.  My daughter said that with all the miles I run, bike and swim that she did not understand why or how I was sore from a 30 minute tone class.  I told her it's cause I used muscles that I don't use when doing those things.  And let me just tell you I am SORE! All day getting up and down out of my office chair was a chore.  I felt like I had already ran my marathon!  (yes, you first time marathoners... you'll be sore after the race..unless you superhuman...ha)

So hence the refresher on the taper.  I had thought I might continue this tone class but after reading runners world tips on the proper taper, I believe I will just skip it until after the marathon.  LOL  

Runners World's tips on the marathon taper:

~ "It's best to cut out cross-training in the final two to three weeks before the marathon. Save your energy for the race. Drop leg or lower body weight training and spinning at the beginning of your taper period. 

Every good marathon-training plan should "taper" during those final 21 days. That means you run less and rest more. For some people, the idea of backing off on their training just before the big race seems counter intuitive. "So many runners train hard right up to the day of the marathon because they're desperately afraid of losing fitness if they don't.  What they don't realize is that in those last few weeks it's the rest more than the work that makes you strong. And you don't lose fitness in 3 weeks of tapering. In fact, studies show that your aerobic capacity, the best gauge of fitness, doesn't change at all."~

 Go taperless? "That is, going into the marathon without any reduction in mileage or intensity. It can be done, but more often than not you end up with a less-than optimal marathon performance and burnout or injuries to boot. There are some runners that can train like this, but for the vast majority, it leaves you performing at less than your best."

Not every runner needs 3 weeks of tapering.  Some can get by on 2 weeks.  It's important that each runner do what's best for them.  I know that I've ran my best marathon time in the past by doing a 3 week taper so as soon as I finish my 20 miler this weekend, the TAPER is on! I had planned to continue this new tone class, but I think I'll wait not until after the marathon. As sore as I was today when I woke up, I do not want to run 26.2 miles feeling like that. :>) I should know better than starting something new 23 days out from a marathon! Plus as a friend told me today... "You're not 17 anymore".... ha   I'm cray cray already and tape hasn't officially started.....

Some runners get very cranky during the taper because they feel lost when they aren't running a zillion miles a week.  So beware..... 

I will try to not be any of these at work or at  home if possible.  However, you've been warned. hee hee 

So to all my peeps........ help keep me sane over the next 3 weeks! 


Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Day 3 – Last day in Washington, DC

Well, it’s Monday.  Our last full day in Washington!  What a trip we’ve had so far!  Of course we are exhausted from our long day on Sunday.  Leaving the room at 8 am and not returning till 11 pm makes for a very long day. 
Today my schedule calls for a tour at the Capitol at 11 am.  So we decide we will head over to Union Station to grab us some breakfast and hop on our trolley.  I’m not sure I mentioned it yet, but this is also the day the Pope is going to land in Washington!  We noticed as we walked to Union Station that barriers and all kinds of stuff was going up everyone on the downtown streets.  They were even putting out porta potties.  As we climbed on the trolley the guy started announcing that he would not be able to make some of the normal stops (here we go again!) because they were shutting down the roads getting ready for the parade for the Pope!  You can just imagine the thoughts going on in my head at this point……. Another day with my schedule screwed up……now to find alternatives and still see the things we needed to see before our trip ended. 

The Capitol
The 1st stop on the trolley was the Capitol, but we had not planned on stopping there first because our tour was not till 11 am but due to all the changes with the Pope we decided to get off the trolley.  We were told we had to go pick up our tour passes ahead of time anyway, so I told Gary we would get off and walk around the Capitol and pick up our passes early where we would be ready to go on time.  If you’ve never been to the Capitol, let me just say it’s HUGE!  Everything in Washington is HUGE!  It’s beautiful!  I was disappointed that the dome had tons of scaffolds around it.  It seemed so many places we had been to see were having “summer repairs” that were still going on in September!  I grabbed a few pictures as we walked around as I followed my husband who I figured knew where he was going.  He had been to Washington before with his kids.  

Another view of the Capitol ... Check out all those steps!

Long view of the Capitol

However, I soon realized my husband had no clue as to where he was going.  He was just walking circles around the Capitol! Oh and there were tons of people running and walking around the Capitol.  There are tons of runners everywhere in downtown! 

 I finally got up enough nerve to ask Gary where he was going (you know men hate for you to question them..hee hee).  He said he was looking for where the booth was to pick up our passes.  I told him the map said we needed to go down the stairs that looked like they were going underground, which we had already passed.  He told me that couldn’t be right.  But you know me….. I’m a woman and I don’t mind stopping and asking someone! So I stopped and asked a security guy that just happen to be where we were at walking and you guessed it…. I was right… down the stairs we had passed would take us into the Capitol Visitor Center to get the passes.  So off we went.  

Me showing the Capitol

Inside the Visitor Center in Capitol ... and the statue of Freedom which is also on top of the dome of the Capitol.

The bronze Statue of Freedom by Thomas Crawford is the crowning feature of the Dome of the United States Capitol. The statue is a classical female figure with long, flowing hair wearing a helmet with a crest composed of an eagle's head and feathers. The helmet is encircled by nine stars.

The visitor center was a busy place.  People were in lines trying to get in and you had to wait until the security guard let you go in the doors, then you had to go wait in another line to get your passes.  I was standing in line thinking to myself that I sure was glad we came early because it looked like we would be in line for a while just to get our passes.  The line moved rather smoothly and we were soon at the desk.  The lady looked at our email confirmation and said, “Oh your tour isn’t till 11 am”.  I replied that I knew it wasn’t till 11 am but we were told we could pick up our passes early.  She looked at her computer and told us that if we wanted to go ahead in with the 10 am tour we could... so we immediately jumped on that.  I was thinking this is great! We can get our tour done early and still have plenty of time for museums this afternoon! 

Inside the Capitol...nice Scaffolds!
The tour was great! I was however disappointed that scaffolds were also all inside the dome of the capitol so you couldn’t get a good view of all the beautiful paintings on the wall and ceiling.  Someone in our group finally asked why there was so much construction going on.  Our tour guide told us they were scrapping all the lead paint off the building and repairing tons of cracks which had caused leaks in the dome.  She said Sherwin Williams had been awarded the bid on the paint that would be put on the dome once all the leaks were repaired.  I couldn’t wait to tell my brother that since he’s the store manager at our local Sherwin Williams store!  Anyway, she said the repairs were estimated to take 2 years and they had been working on them for over a year already and hoped all would be finished by the next President.  We were not allowed to take our phones or cameras inside the House of Representative or Senate Houses.  I really wanted pictures of those but it wasn’t allowed. Boo hoo  I will say the Capitol is simply beautiful! 

One of the rooms in the Capitol

As we left the Capitol, I noticed more and more barriers going up on streets! We sat and waited around 30 minutes and the trolley never came by (normally they came by the stops like every 15 minutes).  By now, Gary is not too happy.  He knows we have got to walk. LOL  I quickly scan the map and told him we are not far from the Air & Space Museum.  That got him excited because that was another museum he wanted to go to while in DC.  I wasn’t sure if I would like it or not.  One of our trolley guides had told us about a simulation ride in the museum where you would get to fly a fighter jet.  Gary had said he wanted to do just that so off we went walking again.  Now if you’ve ever been to the museums they are mostly around what they call the "National Mall" area.  It’s like a 2 mile loop full of all kinds of things to see.  We ended up walking this loop several times because of the trolley stops being blocked off. 

I was amazed from the moment I walked into the Air & Space Museum.  

It wasn’t at all like I had pictured!  I mean they had full size….. REAL… planes hanging from the ceiling! The place was HUGE! I quickly scanned the signs looking for the simulation ride and we headed in that direction.  I had not eaten lunch yet and if was to be flying in a fighter jet, I wanted to do it before I ate. :>O …. So we got to the booth and the guy asks us which one of us will be the captain and who will be the gunner.  Immediately Gary says he is the captain and I go along.  That’s a good wife, right? LOL  Anyway, the guy takes us to a station that has these controls on it like you'd see on an Xbox controller.  He tells Gary that as the captain he will be flying the plane.  He will need to control the plane with the joy stick.  I’m standing there thinking to myself this is going to be interesting because he can barely control his iPhone.  The guy says we have 2 minutes to practice before getting into the simulator.  Let’s just say that Gary was constantly crashing the plane! We were not even in the simulator yet so I was already getting nervous thinking about  how it was going to feel when we would be inside the thing which would be making it actually feel like you are in the air flying!  As the instructor opened the door and said for the captain to get in first, Gary turned to me and told me that he wasn’t going to be captain that I needed to just do it because he couldn't control the plane during practice.  LOL  Now I’m standing there thinking to myself…. Oh boy.. I didn’t even get to PRACTICE!

The picture take of us during our flight.

The ride was hilarious! I could actually roll the plane and it felt so real.  Talk about getting your stomach!  Gary was hanging on for dear life and I was laughing so hard! It was just hilarious and we survived.  Once we got out of the simulator they directed you to a photo booth where you could view your pictures they took while you were on your ride.  Yep, just like being at Disney!  It didn’t matter to me that the picture cost $20 bucks!  I had to have it!  Gary thought I was crazy buying that goofy picture but it’s a memory that every time I look back at that picture it cracks me up.   

We finished touring the Air & Space Museum.  I think we were there well over an hour.  It’s just so much to see.  I took a selfie of us in front of Amelia’s plane.  

When we left there, Gary told me he was ready to sit down.  Imagine that! ha!  In the center of the National Mall people were sitting, playing, running, and there were a couple of booths where you could purchase quick snacks and drinks so we headed to one of those.  We sat down and ate a light snack and rested our legs for a few minutes then we head to another Museum.  We went to the American History Museum.  It was also AMAZING!  But the Air & Space was by far my favorite.  

This Elephant is right in the lobby when you walk inside the Museum.

We quickly looked at the Indian Museum, but didn’t really take time to tour it.  
They believe corners or bad so the whole Museum is curved/rounded.. not corners. :>) 

Then we ventured to the castle at the end of the National Mall.  It’s absolutely gorgeous!  

After making our rounds at the National Mall to several museums we were pooped.  We head in for an early supper and bed.  I really wanted to get a good night sleep because I knew I’d probably be doing the 4 hour drive to PA to see Gary’s parents the next morning.  Which by the way, I did!  I could not work in Washington and drive in to the city! That 495 beltway is AWFUL.  Five lanes of traffic going full force and packed!  I was a nervous wreck until we got off of it.  I had the most wonderful time in Washington and would love to go back, but I was glad to be heading to PA for a couple of days to finish out the week where I hoped I’d get some afternoon naps.  Which didn’t happen by the way! We stayed busy the whole time we were in PA.  It was one of the most draining/wonderful trips I’ve been on recently (well, beside doing Disney in January!).  I told Gary that next year, we would go back to our old way of visiting his parents… We would just go to his parents for the week so I could nap on their couch in the afternoon and really have a VACATION with REST……. I think he LOVED that idea also. :>)  

I’ll have to write a post on his parents later.  They are amazing.  Late 80s and still going strong. :>)  Here we are at their house in Williamsport, PA.

~ For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light. Psalm 36:9 ~

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