Run, Pussykat, Run! Experience … wait for it … 50! Fiddy! 50!

This year’s Smithsonian Folklife Festival – an annual cultural celebration during the weeks leading up to July 4th – featured China and Kenya. Along with the traditional food, music, arts, and crafts, the Kenyan exhibit offered daily fun runs with Kenyan runners.

How often do you get to run with a Kenyan Olympian? Exactly.

The festival and runs took place on the National Mall, which is conveniently located just steps from my office. Which also meant that, for a mid-morning work-day run I needed to recruit a partner-in-crime from outside my usual pool of suspects. I enthusiastically recruited co-worker and sometime running buddy, Peter. Who in turn recruited another co-worker, Greg (who runs so fast that he seems like a Kenyan to me). The three of us met on a fine sunny and hot Tuesday morning at the designated festival corner. And waited. And commented on how the festival was suspiciously empty.

Guess who, in her unbridled enthusiasm, missed the minor detail that the festival was closed that Tuesday? Awkward.

So we took a Kenyan-less picture, went for a short Kenyan-less run (speedster Greg is working his way back from an injury so he was willing to plod along at Pussykat pace), then returned, sweaty and dejected to work.

Kenyans.not

After my pretty awesome managers cleared me to skip a routine weekly meeting, I made attempt number two on Thursday, minus my co-worker PICs. However, I ran (SEE WHAT I DID THERE? Okay that was actually totally unintentional) into Coach Sharlene from my running group, introduced myself (she coaches a different pace group) and roped her (unwittingly) into some typical Pussykat shenanigans.

We ran with the incredibly nice and gracious Henry Wanyoike and Joseph Kibunja. Nearly twenty years ago, Henry lost 95 percent of his eyesight following a mild stroke, nearly derailing a promising running career. He returned to running though and has since won gold medals in a number of Paralympics and world championships, including in the marathon, 5,000m and 10,000m. Joseph is Henry’s track guide and childhood friend.  Their story is pretty amazing.

Fortunately, they slowed way down in order to run with random and sundry groups of people each day. (Except Tuesday. When the festival was closed.) Otherwise, I would never have been able to ask how the DC hundred degree heat compared to Kenya (more humid) or how many miles they run a week (about 100. Kenyans! They’re just like us! I run 100 miles in a … month). I know, I know. I’m nothing if not a brilliant international running conversationalist.

Importantly, had they not slowed their pace for plodders like me, I would have been unable to take this gold medal selfie:

Kenyans.selfie
After which, a very nice man who was doing the run offered to take a picture of Coach Sharlene and I running with the Kenyans. Which was such a nice thing to offer.

Then he proceeded to take a bunch of pictures like this:

Kenyans.bums

“Take a picture of my butt while I’m running!” Said no woman ever.

To be fair, I once took a disposable camera on a mud run, which I strategically removed from a zip lock bag for various photo ops.  I demonstrated a remarkable ability to take action shots consisting almost entirely (and unintentionally) of my friends’ butts.

In any event, with just the slightest bit of nudging (and not a bit of stink eye!) (full disclosure: there may, possibly, have been some side eye), the very nice man shifted his position and managed to get the money shot:

 

Kenyans.run2

After that, the run proceeded without incident.

Okay, there may have been one minor incident.

Which occurred just after I noticed that a man running just ahead of me needed to tie one of his shoes. Ever helpful, I called out, “Hey! Your shoe’s untied!”

Note: That’s something that you probably don’t want to say when you are running next to a 95% sightless runner who is not the one whose shoe is untied. Awkward.

Thankfully, I managed to quickly stammer, “oh! Not you! Another guy! Who’s … over … there! Not you!” before causing an international incident resulting in injury to a Kenyan Olympian.

After that we finished the run without incident. Really.

Well, maybe just one more. Yes, that’s right, friends. This experience marked the half way point. Woot! Woot!

Kenyans.yay

How I refinished my childhood dresser: a story just 7 years in the making. Experience 48.

Once upon a time a little girl had a dresser. That dresser was green, but the little girl wanted it to be a bright garish shade of yellow, the better to match her bright floral wallpaper (hey, it was the seventies). So a bright garish yellow dresser she had. Only, sadly, the yellow was a shade too far (in more ways than one) and the drawers got stuck in the dresser. A lot. So when the girl grew a little older and went off into the world she left the garish yellow sticky-drawered dresser behind. Who wants sticky drawers out in the world, after all?

But that wasn’t the end of the dresser. No, after a number of years the girl and her mother hatched a plan to refinish the dresser. To strip it down and make it pretty again! They would be green! They would be sustainable! This before it became a trend. The girl and her mother were ahead of their time. Continue reading

The Happy Place. Experience 47.

For the second Friday in a row, I rose at o-dark-hundred. This time instead of running for two hours before work, I volunteered at the Central United Methodist Church’s A-SPAN Ministry to the Homeless. A-SPAN, Arlington Street People’s Assistance Network, provides a variety of services to the homeless in Arlington, VA. CUMC helps out by, among other things, providing a hot meal one morning a week. The breakfast offers a brief refuge as well as a place for A-SPAN to connect with Arlington’s homeless and get them much-needed services.

My partner-in-crime was Amanda, co-worker, friend, birthday girl, and volunteer
extraordinaire. Continue reading

Dragons on the Chesapeake – Experiences 43-46

My latest adventures took me to Chesapeake Beach and North Beach, MD, two lovely little towns on the western side of the Chesapeake Bay, just an hour from the DC area, give-or-take (more if you essentially make a U-turn when you’re 10 miles from the beach then drive almost half way back to DC before you realize what you’ve done. I’ll let you guess how I came by that fine morsel of knowledge). Illustrious partners-in-crime Charlie and Anne bought a house there a few years ago and my promises to visit (read: self-invites) had yet to pan out when the prospect of a weekend full of new experiences finally tipped the
scales. Continue reading

My Sweet New (Free!) Bike Bell – Experience 42.

What?! Two blog posts in one day?!

Just a quick one, to share my delight in my recent acquisition of a free! bell for my bicycle.

I was nearing the end of a nice long run on a local running and biking trail on Saturday when I passed group manning a table offering up free bicycle bells. Only if you had a bike, mind you.

I’ve never had a bike bell. I know! I can’t believe it either.

You know I like free.

Continue reading

Linguine with Cashew Cream, Greens, and Beans – Fact or Fiction, Part 2 – Experience 40

Yes, that’s right, 40! I’m doing pretty well with the experiencing side of things, not so well with the blogging (hence the sizable gap between 27 and 39). I hope to catch up soon, but have another busy week ahead (alas, that pesky having to work for a living thing).

On the heels of testing one recipe from Barbara O’Neal‘s The All You Can Dream Buffet, I thought I’d try another. The prior recipe that I made was Super Easy Streusel Cake (which my co-workers liked! success!). Another recipe that caught my interest was for a non-dairy variation on Fettuccine Alfredo. Note my distinct avoidance of the term vegan. Which this recipe is. I think sometimes people get scared off by the label, even though lots of delicious things that many people enjoy eating all the time are vegan (see, e.g., salsa and guacamole and hummus). I don’t eat a lot of meat but am neither vegan nor vegetarian. But I love veggies and enjoy making and eating dishes of both varieties. Continue reading

Super Easy Streusel Cake – Fact or Fiction? — Experience 39.

Oh dear. I’ve fallen well behind in my new experience chronicles and will soon resort to desperate measures to catch up. (At which point I will determine what number experience this is.  Update: I figured out it is 39.  woo hoo!)

You might think that a week-long staycation would afford ample opportunity for me to catch up. You would be wrong.

Case in point, it’s over an hour past my usual bedtime the night before I return to a very busy, meeting-packed week and I’m up waiting for a homemade treat for my co-workers to finish baking.

Continue reading