Sunday, May 20, 2012


I cannot adequately express how incredible it is to have weekends again, weekends where I am not constantly nagged by stress and the need for studying and school work. This is my first real, lengthy break since 2010. And it feels awesome.

This past weekend was full to the brim. Monday night I ventured to Brown's Island for the Dominion RiverRock Mud Run. Despite being a Richmonder I had never experience RiverRock before. And I'm so sorry for this, because it is a good time, good people, just good everything.

The run itself was more fun than a race has a right to be. I'm starting to get more interested in "fun" runs-runs with a twist or gimmick, especially shorter runs, because well, at a certain point you get tired of running in a circle like a hamster.

This run was definitely different than any other I had done. There were tons of kids for one, and I'm happy to say I managed not to knock down any of them (the paths were very narrow!). We started at the Tredegar Civil War Center and ran across the car part of the Lee Bridge. After that I literally cannot say where we went. I am not super familiar with the off-road paths along the river, so thank God I was following other people the whole time. If not I may have ended up in North Carolina. Or floating down the river.

Speaking of the river the race promised that we would go "through" it. I was initially alarmed because the river that goes through downtown is full of death rapids and rocks. But then I saw all the eight year olds at the start line, and realized that we would not be forging the river ala Oregon Trail (I always drowned all of my people! Damn my pride for not waiting for the ferry!) Also because Dominion already has one lawsuit on their hands, I don't think they want anymore. So what we did was hop into the river off of a muddy bank, walk in a teeny, tiny semi-circle bordered by a rope with the river up to our chests, and then climb back up. Silly, sure. But also fun, and more importantly, refreshing.

Near the end we crossed the pedestrian suspension bridge underneath the Lee Bridge.

I have never been on this bridge, so when I first got on it, I thought, OH DEAR GOD I AM ABOUT TO DIE. If you haven't been on this bridge, here's what you should know before you walk on it, and which I did not know before I ran on it. It sways. Like major, hard to move in a straight line, swaying. I managed not to start screaming like a maniac when I was reassured this was a normal phenomenon. But I also picked up my pace to get the hell off of it. Because I do not like the bridge beneath me to move.

Despite being a 3-miler this was actually a pretty challenging run. Lots of hills. Lots of narrow, rocky trails (my lower legs and ankles are sore-which has never happened, not even after the half-marathon-definitely used my stabilizing muscles on this run). We got to the end on Brown's Island (this part is kind of funny-because the race goes through the festival and isn't completely blocked off, so you run past lots of bemused people in nice clothing, with their beer and food, wondering what all these wet, sweaty, muddy freaks are doing running past them). And then we got  to the MUD PIT OF DOOOOOOOOM.

Okay not really. I was picturing a mud pit of doom that would represent an epic battle of wills between me and fate, or something. Instead I got to this:

So instead of shaking my fist at the gods and roaring in defiance, I stopped, giggled, and internally went "awww." I mean is this not the most adorable, little mud pit you've ever seen. Don't you want to wrap it up in a blanket, stick a knit cap on it, and rock it to sleep.

Needless to say I mad it through it. I also reminded my boyfriend halfway through that if he splashed me with mud in my face I would drown him in my righteous anger.

I don't look very muddy but my lower half is caked in it. We hosed off and changed (um, Dominion RiverRock, next year you might want to rethink having the ladies' changing tent in full view of all of the people using the hoses-because every time a new woman entered that tent and opened up the flap to get in-all of those people got a nice show of some naked, very muddy flesh).

And then we collected our free stuff (isn't that one of the best part of races-the free swag?) and our drink ticket (how every run should end) and headed back to Brown's Island to enjoy the festivities. It was such a gorgeous night. I had that post workout endorphin high. I had a Blue Moon in my hand. Dogs were flying through the air.

No literally.

And as if life needed to get better, just as I uttered the words, "I'm hungry," I saw this beautiful sight.

I got my usual chicken gauntlet (American, Mexican, and Asian style), and we sat down in the grass, listened to the great live band, and people watched (so many adorable dogs and babies my heart almost exploded).

Eventually we tore ourselves away from the food, beer, music, scenery, and flying dogs, and headed back to shower and get ready to go out for my friend, Ellen's, birthday. We went to Balliceux, where I've been to eat dinner before, but never as a bar. And let's just say I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

I never have cocktails but I felt in a celebratory mood so I ordered the Hemingway's Revenge (largely because of the name). It had rum, grapefruit juice, and Tahitian vanilla syrup and it was absurdly delicious. I honestly hate grapefruits and grapefruit juice but for some reason I love grapefruit juice in cocktails. I think it's because I don't like sweet cocktails so grapefruit juice gives that nice sour, almost bitter flavor to balance out the sweetness of ingredients like vanilla.

We danced to a DJ who played 70s soul music. Apparently it was some guest DJ from NYC, and I know nothing about DJ'ing but I think this one was good because I can guarantee almost no one in there knew 80% of the songs. And yet everyone in there was dancing, because they were that good and that catchy.

Saturday we ate brunch at the front patio of the Continental (fast becoming one of my favorite Richmond spots-even though every time I go there I feel guilty about not going to the newly relocated Phil's). After that I lazed around (just a teensy bit hungover, there's a reason a drink is named after Hemingway-that man could drink enough alcohol to kill a moose) until the evening when we went to see Dessa Rose at Firehouse.

I thought there were some issues with the plot structure and tone (possibly because it is a musical about slavery, not exactly a subject that screams "JAZZ HANDS"), but I still thoroughly enjoyed myself because the music was absolutely killer and the vocals of the actors were jar dropping. Definitely worth the price of admission.

I really missed weekends like this-when I can sleep in and watch TV and do nothing productive and not feel even slightly guilty about it. And thank GOD, I have a summer break full of them.

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