Day 41.

Day 41 - Decatur, GA, to Brentwood, TN

Run - Stone Mountain Cherokee Trail, GA

From the eyes of Sadie

Another day, another run. Same routine. We roll out of bed to leave our host’s place to head to Stone Mountain. This running location wasn’t what we had planned on but was suggested by our host the night before. Stone Mountain is literally a massive 1,600 ft mountain of rock in the city of Atlanta. It has carvings on one side of it of Confederate Civil War generals and includes a couple trail options. One trail goes straight to the top by climbing up its steep face. I decided to hike up there while the rest of the group did some trail around the mountain. I got to the top, which was absorbed in a cloud. Apparently you would usually be able to see downtown Atlanta in the distance but I couldn’t so well today. It was so bizarre sitting on this giant rock in a cloud in a Southern city at 1,600 feet. Strange, but very, very cool. And peaceful. I sat there for a while seeing what I could through the wispy cloud until I received a text from Bailee saying they were finished with their run on the trail.

On another note, my body straight up hurts. I feel like an old lady. My hips, particularly my right one, is incredibly sore and tight despite several minutes of stretching and rolling. Since the drives are getting longer, my body is starting to tighten up again from the long periods of sitting after running. Both my feet hurt; my left foot still aches from when I rolled it badly on the Massachusetts “Hell” run (check out my sick Strava detailing my survival out of the woods) and my right foot pinky toe is raging at me after picking off a nasty hangnail yesterday. Oh, and the bug bites. In South Carolina, I randomly got stung by a bee on my neck half way into my 8 mile run. In Florida I got bit by some red ants and mosquitos. Today on my hike down the mountain I also randomly got stung on the back of my arm by a bee. I had to ask a stranger to pull out its long-ass stinger still stuck in my skin since I couldn’t reach it. I also discovered some bug bite is now infected on my leg. All this with my glorious scrapes and bruises on my legs from my tumbles, and we have an irritable mess.  Alas, 11 more states to go.

I drove us out of Atlanta close to 12:45 and crossed into Tennessee and also into the Central Time Zone (weee!!!). We camped out for an hour at Fido, a tasty town café, and wait until we could head over to the 6:00pm, 3-5 mile fun run at Green Hills Fleet Feet. It was 90 degrees and 60% humidity at this time, so we were struggling. But it ended up being successful; we met a lot of interesting people, sold some swag, and raised some money for Alzheimer's disease research! Tired from two runs and a 4.5 hour drive, we decided to scarf down dinner at a Greek restaurant up the street from Fleet Feet at 8:15 instead of dealing with making a meal at our host’s house this late. Tomorrow we have two runs as well; we drive 2.5 hours up to Mammoth Caves in Kentucky tomorrow morning and then have another community event in the evening… a speed workout! Time to channel my high school 800m running mentality...

Facts/stats of the day:

Miles driven: 283

Miles run: 37.3

Elevation gained (feet): 3825

Slipperiness of wet granite: 10/10

Tennessee Alzheimer's deaths ranking: 6th

http://curealz.org/heroes/running-road-trip

Day 40.

Day 40 - Jacksonville, FL, to Decatur, GA

Run - Florida Link Trail, White Springs, FL

From the eyes of Charlie

I woke up today feeling much more refreshed than usual, which considering that I woke up at 6:10 am, is weird for me! Way back when… when I was a Sagehen, the only thing getting me up for morning practice at 6 am every Tuesday and Thursday was knowing that 17 of my friends were also getting up at the same time to go do the exact same thing and they were gonna give me endless crap if I didn’t show up, on time, at 6:30 am (plus 59 seconds Corey!!). Well, now those days are over, and there are only three other runners who depend on me getting up. You can see the dilemma I encounter now on this trip when it comes to waking up on time!

From the website, and even from the map at the trailhead, it seemed like a pretty standard trail running endeavor. I mean, it was called the Florida National Scenic Trail (which stretches over 1000 miles of Floridian terrain) so I assumed that it would be pretty well marked and well-kept. I was quite mistaken! Only ten minutes in, I ran face-first into a very large spider web that went right down the middle of the trail, with Nico running close behind me. Immediately we stopped. We had sent the girls down the trail ahead of us, hoping to catch up to them after about a mile or so, but instead I had just run straight into a spider web while running on what we thought was the assigned trail. This made no sense! We promptly flipped around and retraced our steps until we came to this big hay field where I let off a nice echo-y “SKEEEEEWWWW!!!!” into woods in the direction of the trailhead. Sure enough, I heard a Bailee “Skeeeew!!!” me back! Reunited once again, we decided to do the rest of the trail as a group this time, knowing that the undergrowth would only get thicker, and the trail more windy and less marked. Plus, it would be much much easier for all of us to make it back in a decent amount of time if we all stuck together. What made this trail trickier than most, was that both it and the private property roads that crisscrossed it were the same level of overgrown, so it was hard to tell which was the public path and which was private. This led to a lot of wrong turns that eventually led us past multiple hunting blinds, and in front of multiple people's toolsheds/garages! After about 20 minutes of ducking under spiderwebs every 50 feet which featured palm-sized yellow garden spiders (not that poisonous as I learned later) smack dab in the middle of them, not to mention taking quite a few more wrong turns, I was quite done swinging the wooden stick in front of me as I led the group through this thickening thicket. Even though we knew how to retrace our steps to the car the entire time, we still didn't know whether or not we were on the Florida National Scenic Trail we had set out to follow. Given all of these facts, we turned around and ran right back to the purple RAV4 and stormed off in search of breakfast! Until next time, Florida National Scenic Trail.

With our muggy adventure over, and after a half hour of driving, we arrived at the homiest little country restaurant and store. In unrelated news, today I rekindled my love for diner coffee. Everybody was practically starving by the time the food arrived so we all cleaned our plates in less than 8 minutes. Everybody except for Nico. As we dutifully sat there, waiting for our bearded compatriot to cut his country-fried steak into smaller and smaller (less than) bite-size morsels, Florida started pouring down on us in sheets and sheets of warm rain. We ran to the car, and sped off to Decatur, GA where we're now spending the night.

Belly full of pasta with homemade sauce, bread, salad, and soooo much hummus I am definitely ready to hit the sack. Next stop tomorrow morning is the famous Stone Mountain, GA which is just a 15-20 minute drive away from our place. See you tomorrow!!!

Peace,

Charlie

 

Stats/facts of the day:

Miles driven: 363

Miles run: 12.9

Elevation gained (feet): 330

Huge, scary spiders encountered: 7

Predicted increase in those with Alzheimer's in Georgia, 2016-2025: 46.2%

Contribute to research to slow that rate here: http://curealz.org/heroes/running-road-trip

 

Day 39.

Day 39 - Charleston, SC, to Jacksonville, FL

Run - West Ashley Greenway, Charleston, SC

From the eyes of Bailee

Close your eyes and begin to draw your attention to your breath. Inhale, fill your lungs with air, feel them expand. Exhale, release your breath, and let go of anything that doesn’t serve you.

Let go of anything that doesn’t serve you. I’ve heard this cue in yoga classes constantly, and given it when I’m teaching, but I think it’s easy to let only surface things go and forget to let go of deeper insecurities, questions, and thoughts.

This morning I woke up on time to run, but I didn’t run. The drives have been increasing in length again as we start to head South (and soon West) and while my legs feel fine from the running miles, my hips ache from the sitting. I took an off day today, and it was hard. It’s not that I haven’t taken off days on the trip so far, but this is the first state I have actually skipped. In the past, I’ve timed my off days perfectly so that they line up with the days we all take off because of long drives or like in Brooklyn, where we had a community event. So I technically ran in New York even though I didn’t complete our planned run around Prospect Park. I thought about it a lot before I took the day off. I could skip today, or skip a day later this week (maybe Georgia?). But, I’ve had a pretty heavy mileage week and am already over the usual six day on, one day off cycle. I also woke up with my left hip aching (I think just the effects of driving and sitting).

I set up my mat in the driveway of the Airbnb and queued up a yoga podcast. Although it was only 6:45AM, it was already hot outside. The air was thick and humid, and I had to pause the class to grab a towel partway through. As I flowed, I felt my hips loosen and the tension melt out of my body. I started with a 75 minute class. Sadie got back near the end, sweaty from the humidity and her run and worried about Nico. He hadn’t taken any water and was going longer than either had expected him to. She ran into the house to grab water and headed out in the car to find him. I queued up a second, half-hour-long flow.

Sadie, and then Nico got back while I was doing the opening poses for my second flow session. Nico, sweaty and red-faced informed me he was now “winning” in the number of miles ran for the week. (I had previously been ahead by nine miles). This struck a chord, as I’ve been a little competitive throughout the trip, trying to run more miles than the boys every week. I ignored his comments, and went back to my practice. Part of it is the fact that we have a pledge for miles. Each extra mile I run, means more money donated to Alzheimer’s. But it’s more than that. We’re hosting events and connecting with communities and curating donations other ways. So...what?

Exhale, let go of anything that doesn’t serve you anymore. As I flowed, I wondered why Nico’s comments bothered me so much. I felt strong and after yoga, my hips felt loose. If I wanted, I could run now and regain my mileage lead. But today was supposed to be an off day from running. I had to remind myself that taking an off day is healthy physically and psychologically. I felt the burn in my legs as I took utkatasana, chair pose, and wondered why it mattered so much for me to run farther than the boys. I released into uttanasana, forward fold, and realized it didn’t matter. Or, it had, but only because of my own insecurities. I know I’m not fast; I couldn’t run in college, even though it was something I loved. The only competitive edge I really had was in mileage and the fact that I would push relentlessly forward. I might not run fast, but I could grind it out and outlast those who were faster than me. But that isn’t really why I run. I’m not really overly competitive. I run because I love it. I love the exploration of the outdoors, the way it feels to get into the rhythm of the trail and feel it flow beneath my feet. I love running because I feel strong and confident. And I love running because it’s helped me forge friendships and find community. I run for personal growth, not to compare myself with others.

I relaxed in finally savasana and let go of the urge to run today. I let go of the need to log miles and let myself enjoy the rest day. I closed my eyes and breathed in the warm South Carolina air and reconfirmed that my actions are enough and that my efforts are sufficient. Thank you for coming on this journey of rediscovery, and for helping me to re-find the core of why I run. Namaste.

Facts/stats of the day:

Miles driven: 284

Miles run: 25.4

Elevation gained (feet): 61

Pizza places accommodating all of our dietary needs discovered: 1

Deaths in Florida from Alzheimer's (2013): 5093

http://curealz.org/heroes/running-road-trip

Day 38.

Day 38 - Greensboro, NC, to Charleston, SC

Run - Wild Turkey Trail, Greensboro, NC

From the eyes of Nico

Today, I learned an important lesson: you cannot penguin on dirt.

Now, many of you may not have seen the word “penguin” used as a verb before. In this context, it essentially means to slide on one’s belly with both one’s hand and feet in the air, similar to a penguin sliding around on the ice in Antarctica.

Now, the rest of you are probably wondering how I learned this wonderful fact. I, of course, learned through direct experience.

This morning we were running on a shaded mountain bike trail just north of Greensboro, North Carolina. My legs were still a bit heavy from our West Virginia run, so I was not picking my feet up quite as high as I should’ve been. On a trail full of exposed roots, this was not a successful strategy. About a mile and a half into the run my right foot caught on a root, sending me flying. My hands hit the ground first, but knowing that I had a GoPro in one hand and not wanting to scrape up the other, I quickly threw them up into the air. As a result, my torso took the brunt of the impact with the ground, giving me a lovely set of scrapes and cuts as I skidded down the slight slope. Luckily, very few of the cuts drew blood, meaning I was able to complete the rest of the run without any real difficulty. Unless you count the three other times I tripped and almost hit the ground. But, ignoring those, the rest of the run was smooth, and I figured my day could only get better from there.

Twenty minutes later, we stopped at a grocery store, and my theory was proved correct, as I happily walked out carrying a gallon jug of Arizona Green Tea that I bought for just $3. My grand plan was to keep it in the driver’s seat with me as a sipping drink, allowing me to skip getting expensive chai tea lattes at coffee shops on our route. And, for the first couple of hours, my plan was working great. But then we stopped for gas, and everything came crashing back down.

As we were switching drivers, I placed my Arizona jug on top of the cold foods bag in the trunk of our car before walking around to pull Sadie’s backpack from the passenger side and place it in the trunk. As I came back around the corner of the car, I ran smack into what looked like a murder scene: both the food bag and my jug were on the ground, a puddle slowly spreading around my jug after it was so mercilessly tossed from the trunk. Or, in other words, I stupidly chose to balance my jug in an unstable position, so it fell and cracked upon impact. To make matters worse, the crack wasn’t one of those where you could just drink some of the contents away until the volume line reached below the crack. Instead, this crack ran vertically from the midpoint of the jug down to the base.

However, MacGyver that I am, I pulled out some handy-dandy off-brand duct tape, dried off the crack and jug, and taped the thing up. Satisfied after giving it a few shakes, I put the jug in the wheel well on the passenger’s side, and dipped into the convenience store to use the lavatory. Right as I reached the door to the bathroom, it swung open and a man started stepping out. Startling each other (as people do when they try to open a door at the same time), we exchanged pleasantries before heading our separate directions. By the time I come back outside, the other three are already in the car and ready to go. I circle the car, but as I reach for my door I hear a holler from behind me. Confused and curious, I turn around. The older man (from the bathroom) and his wife are sitting about 10 feet off the ground, furiously waving and gesturing from the window of their massive RV. I stroll over.

“What are you doing? What exactly is this running thing?” asks the man, subtly nodding his head in the direction of our vehicle. While I begin to explain, I notice the woman encroaching on her husband’s space more and more, to the point where she is essentially crawling across his lap as she leans out the window. A palm-sized, black case occupies her left hand, and it takes me a moment to realize it is a coin purse.

“I’m really sorry. We don’t carry cash, but we want to support the cause. We really appreciate what you’re doing.” She reaches out further, beginning to tilt the coin purse my direction. I cup my hands, extending them to meet her as she dumps the contents of the purse into my hands. The donation amounts to seven dollars and twelve cents, primarily in quarters, but with a Canadian penny thrown in for good measure. I thank them, then turn back to the car as the couple drives off, and we are soon passing them as we speed down the highway. Content with the donation, I begin to relax back into my seat as I munch on my sandwich. That relaxation is short-lived, however, as I feel a wetness creeping its way across the floor below my foot. Turns out I am not quite as handy of a duct tape doctor as I thought.

A second attempt at patching up my Arizona jug is as unsuccessful as the first, so the remainder of the ride I am stuck finding ways to position and tilt the jug in order to prevent spillage. But, we arrive without further incidence and the day, as it always seems to do when we arrive in a new place, rollercoasters back up to a peak. We spend our evening with Ozey (one of my mother’s old work colleagues), touring his beautiful restored home in historic Charleston before going out to a little restaurant on the marina. And, after a brief tour of the battery and the historic downtown, the day ends. And that’s that.

Facts/stats of the day:

Miles driven: 320

Miles run: 27.7

Elevation gained (feet): 1416

Number of pretzels successfully placed in Nico's beard: 33

South Carolina Alzheimer's deaths rank: 8

Support the cause: http://curealz.org/heroes/running-road-trip

 

Day 37.

Day 37 - Palmyra, VA, to Greensboro, NC

Run - Saunders-Monticello Trail, Charlottesville, VA

From the eyes of Sadie.

My alarm goes off at 6 this morning and I slowly roll out of bed with a groan. Although our drives haven’t been very long lately, we still need to start the day early in order to beat the intense heat and humidity. I always remember I’ll thank myself later. I sleepily stumble downstairs to meet the rest of the team but learn that Nico’s legs had fallen off on yesterday’s hilly long run in the Appalachians and Charlie wasn’t going to crawl out of bed. Down to the two of us, I drive Bailee and I 30 minutes away through the winding small roads of rural Virginia to Monticello during sunrise. And yes, it was very beautiful. This was a very untraditional start of the day in that: one, I was driving us to the run (Nico always does this in the morning); two, it was just two of us running today; three, there was only two of us in the car (of which the four of us live in together); and four, there were no stinky boyz!! (just two stinky girlz).

We ran at the Saunders-Monticello Trail by Thomas Jefferson’s estate. It was about 4 miles on a gravel path through the woods. We get to the top by the visitor’s center and explore, hoping to find a way to see the estate. Unfortunately, they weren’t open yet to visitors and we would have to pay, according to some lady that came to bark at us. We ran back down the hill completing an easy 4 miler. Bailee drove us back to our host’s house where the non-gluten-free people and non-vegans ate waffles. Meanwhile, I enjoyed some yogurt and GF Purely Elizabeth granola and Charlie ate a steaming bowl of leftover quinoa and veggies we made the other night.

We didn’t have too far of a drive today - about 3 hours to Greensboro, North Carolina. About two hours in we stop at Santana’s Mexican Restaurant in Danville, Virginia. When in doubt about where we can all eat as equals, Mexican food is the easy go-to. Enjoying our chips and salsa, a notification pops up on my phone saying that someone tagged the RRT in a photo on Instagram. It happens to be a photo of our car taken at the (practically empty) restaurant we were at. We were all wondering who it was and began getting all loud and excited in this quiet restaurant. Then we hear a guy enjoying lunch with his wife and kids a couple booths away saying, “hey, you liked my post?!” He’s a local runner who looked us up after seeing the website on our car and loved what we were doing so he posted about us on his account of 4k followers! He also reps goodr sunglasses regularly so got excited that they are one of our sponsors. Before we parted ways, he took a picture with us (posted that one as well) and bought one of our RRT BOCO Gear hats! If you had asked me what the likelihood had been that we would’ve run into someone this interested in our project at this extremely empty Mexican restaurant in Danville, Virginia, I would’ve responded with a number in the negatives. It’s always exciting to meet people who come to us expressing interest in the RRT.

We are staying at the Doodad Farm in Greensboro with Bailee’s neighbor’s cousin. Along with a goat, a cat, and some bunnies, they have a dog named Sadie (which is funny because two nights ago in Thomas, West Virginia, our Airbnb host had a dog named Niko). But wooooowwwww a dog named Sadie?!?!? Oh em gee, how surprising. And yes that is sarcasm. I have met way more dogs named Sadie than humans. I literally know one other human Sadie. Why is that?

Facts/stats of the day:

Miles driven: 229

Miles run: 8.5

Elevation gained (feet): 653

Length of goat's beard (inches): 7

Medicaid costs of Alzheimer's in NC: $1.094 billion

http://curealz.org/heroes/running-road-trip

 

Day 36.

Day 36 - Thomas, WV, to Palmyra, VA

Run - Blackwater Canyon, Thomas, WV

From the eyes of Charlie

Today started off nice and slow for me, as I pushed off from the airbnb about 45 mins after Bailee and Nico left. Sometimes in the midst of all of our very early mornings, it's nice to put some time between rolling out of bed and rolling onto the road/trail. After a leisurely start, I rolled out of the town of Thomas, WV, and hopped onto the trail about a mile into the run.

It began innocently enough, with a wide, slightly downhill gravel section. It was easy to imagine it as a repurposed rail-trail, like so many others in this country (just without the asphalt thankfully). But then, two miles later, a big gate pops up in the middle of the trail and the next seven miles to the next town are all beautiful, shady single track! That was the kind of running I got to experience for the rest of the time, and plus up until the turnaround point there was a generous downhill to boot. One by one, I ran into Nico and Bailee, who each were having a grand old time traipsing through the forest. Memorable Bailee quote of the day as she sips from her twin, chest-mounted water bottles: "Chuck, have you ever wondered what it's like to drink from your own breasts? Well, this is what it's like *sip*"

That was by far the most entertaining part of the rest of my run because shortly after I ran into Bailee, I turned around and starting pounding up the very gradual hill to do my 6 miles home. Initially I felt pretty good, my breathing was a little strained but I felt strong. Plus, I had just eaten an EvoHemp energy bar and drank maybe 6 oz from my waterbottle. Also I forgot to mention before, I stuck my phone in the waterbottle pouch and was blasting Kendrick's new album out loud (!!!) like a trail music traitor. Good thing I didn't see anybody on the trail besides Nico and Bailee so that I couldn't get judged for having terrible trail etiquette. The good thing was that the music pumped me up! 

The bad part was that maybe the music pumped me up a little bit too much because by the time I popped out onto the exposed, wide gravel rail-trail my body was about ready to throw in the towel (and I had 3 miles to go). Defeated, sweaty, and almost out of water, I put my head down and suffered for the final 3 miles of climbing and came out on the other side: alive, pooped, but satisfied. On the bright side, I didn't have to poop mid-run, the scenery in Appalachia was jaw-dropping and far exceeded my expectations, and afterwards we visited an excellent coffee shop called Tip Top and I drank a 9/10 americano there.

After a 3.5 hour drive out of the mountains and into the semi-rural plains of Palmyra, VA, I was absolutely pooped. I made myself a veggie sandwich for a late lunch, and then hibernated in the powerful A/C in my room for the night just reading my book and semi-napping for a few hours. Hopefully with this rest time I'll be more energized tomorrow. Thankfully I'm completing this blog post in time to get 7 hr 20 min of sleep. That's a record for me in the past week. Soon I'll be up to 8! Fingers crossed!

Facts/stats of the day:

Miles driven: 187

Miles run: 40.5

Elevation gained: 3390

Minutes spent in pool: 86

Proportion of those 65 or older who have Alzheimer's: 1 in 10

Help 'em out here: http://curealz.org/heroes/running-road-trip

 

 

Day 35.

Day 35 - Silver Spring, MD, to Thomas, WV

Run - Rock Creek Park, MD and DC

From the eyes of Nico

The past 36 hours or so have been defined by a set of minor hiccups. While all were slightly concerning and inconvenient at the time, they all proved to be inconsequential in the end. That is to say, everything worked itself out…

 

Hiccup #1:

We almost did not have housing tonight.

OK, writing that out makes it sound a lot worse than it was.

Yesterday morning, we received a message from our West Virginian Airbnb host. She expressed her excitement at hosting and meeting us, and gave us basic instructions for our arrival that day. As in July 17th. As in the night before we were scheduled to be in West Virginia.

That’s about when we realized we screwed up. Despite knowing we would be sleeping in West Virginia on July 18th, we accidentally requested and booked lodging on July 17th. Luckily for us, our Airbnb host is incredible, and after messaging her apologizing for our mistake she was happy to give us the night tonight instead. Crisis averted, due entirely to the kindness of a stranger.

 

Hiccup #2:

Where did Bailee go? Nobody really knows…

Or knew, really. Sadie, Charlie, and I had all finished our runs this morning and were stretching and drying off by the car. This is, by no means, an abnormal occurrence. However, when it got to be about 30 minutes into this period, we started to try to figure out when Bailee, at the latest, should be getting back. When we hit the 60-minute mark, we started to get legitimately concerned. And then, about 70 minutes in, we began the journey back along the trail in order to find Bailee. Once again, the situation got solved smoothly and easily, with a walking Charlie encountering a running Bailee and then waiting for a driving Nico and Sadie to arrive in the car. Crisis averted, due to a well-planned out “oh-no!-somebody-got-lost” course of action.

 

Hiccup #3:

Squalls are scary.

We got hit by blinding rain on our drive today, right as we were entering the hilly part of northern Virginia and trying to merge onto a different highway. Not being able to really see out of the front windshield makes that a lot more difficult. Charlie handled it well though, slowing down enough to pace the rest of the nervous drivers until the squall moved on. Crisis averted, due to skillful driving.

 

Hiccup #4:

Stumptown is closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

This, unfortunately, is the one area where the crisis was not averted, although to be fair it was only a crisis in my eyes. Nonetheless, I ended the day being ever so mildly disappointed, as Stumptown Ales is a relatively new brewery (it opened in 2015), yet is already fairly well-known for its stellar lineup of IPAs, one of my favorite styles. Instead, I had to settle for an ale from Lagunitas, which, while not bad, is something that I have been drinking for the past couple of weeks and that never blew me away in the first place. I guess this just means I’ll have to come back to West Virginia at some point…

 

Extra: The dog that lives at tonight’s Airbnb is incredibly soft, lovable, and cute. It is also named Nico, thus reinforcing its position as best pet of the trip.

 

Extra extra: While a couple of reports regarding positive steps in the understanding of Alzheimer’s have been published in the past few days (see here), there is still much to be done. Help support those efforts by donating at (or sharing) this link: http://curealz.org/heroes/running-road-trip

 

Stats/facts of the day:

Miles driven: 186

Miles run: 37.9

Elevation gained (feet): 3132

Dogs with great names: 1

Other major diseases with no known cure or method of prevention: 0

http://curealz.org/heroes/running-road-trip

 

Day 34.

Day 34 - Washington, DC

Run - National Mall, Washington, DC

From the eyes of Bailee

Today we woke up earlyish to get into D.C. at 7:00 so that we could run with the manager of Potomac River Running, Bronson. He greeted us at the store and we set off on a scenic jog around the city. It was great. We got to run past the White House and all of the other historic monuments. The only downside was I died a lot from the heat and humidity. At the end, I was sweating buckets, but I decided to try to picture cold weather. Running is 99% in your brain, so I figured picturing snow on the rooftops and the feeling of ice on my skin would help. And it did. I felt cooler and faster the last mile of running. If nothing else, focusing on snowy scenes and overlapping them with my reality gave me something else to focus on.

We returned back to the store after six miles and cooled down for a bit with icey cold water bottles and air conditioning. Our group then headed out for breakfast at A Baked Joint, a charming breakfast eatery where Charlie met up with a school friend. I indulged in a baguette smothered in cream cheese, topped with prosciutto and arugula, and drizzled with a balsamic reduction. After eating, the group dispersed. Charlie planned to spend the rest of the day with his friend and Nico and Sadie both had plans to meet up with other friends.

I have no friends in D.C., so I headed off on my own. I cut through the Asian section of the city (it’s always exciting to see signs in both Chinese and English) before heading back towards the museums. My first stop was the National Museum of Natural History. I geek out majorly for museums and learning things. The Smithsonian reminded me a lot of the Museum of Nature and Science in Denver, but on a much larger scale. I strolled through a section on the oceans and quizzed myself to see how many of the hominoid skulls I could identify. Upstairs, I walked through a photo gallery of some stunning nature shots and saw unusual pieces from their vast collection including a giant geode and various pieces of pottery. I even got to see the Hope diamond, a giant blue diamond set in a necklace with a tumultuous history of changing hands before finally ending up in the museum.

After spending a couple of hours there, I moseyed over to the Hirshhorn to view some modern art. I was really excited because there was an exhibit by Ai Weiwei there. Ai Weiwei is an interesting and controversial figure in contemporary China who came up in my readings for my Chinese history class last semester and then again in a 60 minute segment I watched with my Dad. His exhibition, Trace, consisted of lego images of individuals from around the world who have been exiled, detained, or forced to seek asylum because of their beliefs, actions or affiliations. You can read more about the exhibition here. There were of course other works in Hirshhorn that I enjoyed (I blame it on my upbringing) and I even had the chance to contribute to the one titled “My Mommy is Beautiful”.

It was pouring when I exited the building. I sat in the outdoor cafe for ten minutes and ate Hershey’s kisses while I contemplated what to do for lunch. As I scrolled through my options, I realized Momofoku, a must go to restaurant, was nearby. I panicked when I realized it closed at 3:00 until dinner. It was already 2:15 and I was a 15-20 minute speed walk from the place. I set off as soon as the rain died down, almost running to get to Momofoku on time. (Note: for those who find my food descriptions tedious, skip this next part).

I was seated at a table by myself at a small corner booth. I read the menu, salivating at the idea of bao (or steamed buns for you Westerners). I ended up ordering one shiitake bao and one pork belly bao (pork belly is very traditional, and a must have when eating bao). While I waited for my food, I read a little bit of Lovecraft to pass the time. My food arrived quickly. Two bao sat nestled together on a white plate and a small bottle of ssam sauce was brought to accompany them. I tried the shiitake bao first. The mushrooms were crispy; something I haven’t encountered before. They managed to walk the line between crisp, while still managing to be slightly tender and meaty. There was a slight crunch from the cucumber and a sweetness from the hoisin sauce. The pork belly was perfectly fatty without being overly greasy. The fat jiggled and looked gelatinous, but had a smooth mouthfeel and added a juiciness to the bun. When I added the ssam sauce, it gave the buns a slightly smoky flavor that perfectly complimented the sweetness. The bun itself was delicate, slightly airy with a hint of sweetness. Overall, I think Momofoku is definitely worth the cult-like following it has obtained in food blogs.

After eating my lunch, I met up with Sadie in a coffee shop. We headed back to her Aunt’s place in Silver Spring and managed to navigate the subway together. Back home, I did an hour of yoga while she meditated. My hips have felt extremely tight the last couple of days, and I think this afternoon finally helped to loosen everything back up. Nico and Charlie arrived a couple hours later. Her Aunt made salmon for dinner that was extremely juicy and flavorful. She even got ice cream for dessert (as I told my manager at Glacier when I interviewed - I’m passionate about ice cream). We’re now retiring for the night, more running and fun tomorrow. I will dream about sleeping on a cloud of baozi. Love to you all for allowing me to share my foodie fantasies with you. Bail Whale.

Stats/facts of the day:

Miles driven: 18

Miles run: 20.9

Elevation gained (feet): 724

Speed at which Bailee sprinted by Charlie in her quest for food: 14.2 mph

Alzheimer's disease cause of death rank (US): 6th

Help find a cure by donating here: http://curealz.org/heroes/running-road-trip

 

Day 33.

Day 33 - Pennsville, NJ, to Silver Springs, MD

Run - Swamp Forest Trail, Lums Pond State Park, DE

From the eyes of Charlie.

First of all, a huge thank you to Barbara and Ron for letting us stay the night at their wonderful house in Southern New Jersey. After almost a whole day of sitting on uncomfortable metal stools in coffee shops in Manhattan the other day, the cushy La-Z-Boys at their house lured me in like a starving bear to a fenceless bee farm (where the honey has not yet been harvested of course).

By about 7 am, we were back on the road, crossing the Delaware river by car and making George Washington very proud. Good thing there were no mini icebergs to dodge on the bridge! Side note, how bizarre would it appear to people from the 18th century to see four scantily clad runners sporting calf sleeves and baseball caps dashing through a thick forest for roughly an hour without stopping? Because that's essentially what we did once we got to Delaware. We stopped in to run at Lum's Pond to do the Swamp Forest trail, which was thankfully not too buggy despite its name. Although waking up before 7 am for me means constant sleep deprivation, getting to see the early morning light reflecting off the lake makes it all worth it somehow.

Speaking of sleep deprivation, I slept through almost the entire two hour drive to Silver Spring, MD which is just outside of D.C. We're staying the next two nights at Sadie's aunt and uncle's house, which is this charming little old house perched on a steep hill, with just enough overgrown trees obscuring it from view (and I'm sure helping out with the A/C bill a little bit too with all that shade, lucky for them). Once we got settled and lunched on some lunchmeat and lunchvegetables, Nico and I headed off to a fantastic cafe called Kaldi's Social House which head cheap drinks, fast wifi, and comfy enough seats to get us through four hours of work. There's just something so gratifying getting "caught up" on your electronic life after a day or two away from it. We drove home to meet the girls and Sadie's family where we were greeted with a gigantic meal full of flavor: burgers, portobello, greens, and avocado/corn/bean salad (dressing was not too sweet like so many others I've eaten... I NEEEED THAT RECIPE). 

Right now it's super super late by road trip standards (11 pm!) because we're all getting up around 5:30 am tomorrow, with Nicho rising even earlier, to meet an employee from the Potomac River Running Store. So it's about time that I join the others, and let my face hit the pillow. Goodnight!

Stats/facts of the day:

Miles driven: 139

Miles run: 25.2

Elevation gained (feet): 618

Length of Bay Bridge: 4.3 mi

Average additional healthcare costs for dementia caregivers in Washington D.C. (per year): $976

http://curealz.org/heroes/running-road-trip

Day 32.

Day 32 - Brooklyn, NY, to Pennsville, NJ

Run - Garret Mountain Reservation, Woodland Park, NJ

From the eyes of Sadie.

Last night Nico’s parents and the team went out to a nice event in Manhattan. We did a little networking and got a couple of donations! Afterwards, as Bailee wrote about in the last blog post, she went to get dessert and return to our host’s place in Brooklyn with Nico’s parents while Nico, Charlie, and I went out for a couple drinks in the city. I’ve never been to NYC, so it was particularly exciting to be out on a Friday night. I ended up liking the city far more than I expected. We took the subway back close to 1 with Nico dozing off along the way. Luckily, Charlie and I were awake enough to get us off at 7th avenue (if we all fell asleep, it’s possible we could’ve ended up all the way in Coney Island!). What a story that would be.

Nico’s parents and the four of us had tasty pastries, scrambled eggs, and coffee for breakfast before we said our goodbyes and hit the road for New Jersey. It was a great couple of nights in the city so all of us were pretty sad to leave. Upon entering NJ, we got super confused where we were going on the highways (they were actually pretty weird), which gave Nico more of a reason to dislike the state. We finally arrived at our short run at Garret Mountain to find it was just a two mile loop around a mixture of fields and wooded areas heavily used by others runners and walkers. I was happy about our short run because I had rolled my ankle in Massachusetts and had to sit out our Rhode Island, Connecticut, and New York runs… and in NYC I was hobbling around on a fat cankle. It felt a little stiff during the run but I could still manage. In fact it was probably a good thing I got moving again.

On our way to our Airbnb, we popped into Philly to have a late lunch with one of Nico’s old study abroad friends, Karli. She took us to the Independence Beer Garden across the street from the Liberty Bell in the Historic District. We then felt the need to finish off our tasty lunch with dessert at the popular ice cream shop, Franklin’s Fountain. It was definitely a hotspot because the line was very long to get into the shop, but it was worth it! It was really cool walking around Philly - I hadn’t been there either so I would’ve loved to spend more time there and experience its history. We saw lots of horse-drawn carriages and people dressed up in 18th century attire, which was fun to see.

Facts/stats of the day:

Miles driven: 166

Miles run: 11.4

Elevation gained (feet): 1183

Minutes waiting in line for ice cream: 26

Percentage of dementia caregivers that are "sandwich generation" caregivers (also care for child under 18): 25%

http://curealz.org/heroes/running-road-trip

 

Day 31.

Day 31 - Brooklyn, NY

Run - Prospect Park, Brooklyn, NY

From the eyes of Bailee

I have found the promised land and it might be New York. I knew this city was foodie heaven before I got here (hello, birthplace of the cronut?). But seeing the countless Instagram posts and articles linking the best restaurants, dishes, and snacks to NYC is nothing like actually being here. I don’t think reading a hundred articles on the culinary wonders New York contains could have prepared me for the bombardment of smells and tastes that I got to partake in today. Our journey through the city was really just the means to eat something else.

This morning I had a bit of a late start. I got up around 7, no run for me today! Nico got back from his run right around the time that our host (Allison), his mother (Karen), and I were ready to head out to pick up coffee and baked goods to eat. First stop of the day was a bagel shop (Bagel Delight). We got two sesame bagels and cream cheese. After, we headed down the street to Du Jour. The inside of the store was reminiscent of a traditional upscale coffee shop, but the displays of pastries on the counter were stunning. They had doughnuts and croissants and pastries and cakes. There were scones and banana bread and coffee and quiche. They even had an assortment of gluten free treats perfect for Sadie! We loaded up on treats before heading back to the house. Once back home, we dug in. I had a blackberry ginger scone that was perfectly tender. The berries were juicy and slightly sour. The scone was interspersed with small pieces of candied ginger for spice. The bagel was so much better than the grocery store bagels back home. It was much larger than the grocery store variety and had sesame seeds on both sides (not just one -which is great because the traditional one sided sesame variety means that you are forced to choose between sesame seeds or the crustier bottom, with this one you get both). The bagel was the perfect mix of crusty chewiness intermingled with a soft, bready inside. After breakfast, we hung around for a little while so that Nico could move the car around and play the shenanigans of the New Yorkers with street cleaning.

Then, Nico, Karen, and I headed into the city. We took the subway in and got out right around Chelsea Market. Inside, it seemed like I needed to grow a million more eyes to help me take in everything that was happening. There were restaurants and smaller stores each specializing in a very specific type of food or product. One stall sold spices and tea. We walked around, but on our way out, got distracted by Doughnuttery. It was a little corner store with the catchy slogan “little nuts, big flavor”. Karen, Nico and I shared six doughnut holes. We chose the house of cardamom (cardamom and orange zest) and flower power (hibiscus, honey, and rose petals). The doughnuts were still warm when we bit into them, the crusty outside breaking for the soft, fluffy interior. The cardamom one was mildly flavored and sweet. The flower power blew me away. It was warm and sweet like the house of cardamom, but it had sour notes that lingered on your tongue for awhile after you had swallowed your last bite. Doughnuttery definitely proved that size doesn’t matter.

After we left Chelsea Market (with the promise to return for lunch) we wandered up to the High Line, a re-purposed elevated rail line turned city park bordered by a stunning variety of plants and interspersed with art. We couldn’t help but split our second treat of the day when we passed Melt, an ice cream sandwich cart, for the second time on the walk. We got the special for the day, a white chocolate macadamia nut and raspberry ice cream sandwich. The tanginess of the raspberry perfectly complimented the sweetness of the cookie even as the cold complimented the warmth of the doughnuts from earlier.

For lunch, we headed back to Chelsea Market where Nico and Karen got meat pies and I got 牛肉面 (described in the menu as Taiwanese hand pulled beef noodles) from Very Fresh Noodles. I’ve been craving Chinese food FOREVER and I watched as they pulled the dough for the noodles and plopped it into the pot to cook. My noodles were thick and slightly chewy, the beef in the soup was tender and slightly fatty. The spice level (mild) was just enough to make my nose run slightly, but not so much that I felt like I was going to die because my mouth was on fire.

Post-lunch, Karen and I split from Nico. He went to go meet a friend for coffee, while we went to stroll through Eataly, an Italian themed food area. It was everything I had been promised and more (with a name like Eataly, it has to be good...that could be the wrong jingle but it still rings true *smuckers*). There were stacks of cheese and rows of pasta. Even the bathroom sign figures were made out of little pasta people.

We headed back home, our feet exhausted. It was hard to leave, when I know there was so much that we hadn’t seen. It was a catch 22 situation where you’re too full to eat anything else and too tired to continue, yet you want to continue eating and walking your way through New York.

We had a few hours once we got back to Brooklyn before we had to go back to the city for George's (Nico’s Dad) former mentee’s 10 year company anniversary. We ran down the street to get nice shoes for me. I settled on a low pair of heels. There we enjoyed cheese, grapes, bread and other hors d’evours. There was a beatboxer who performed who was fantastic. George, Karen, and I left the party early to go home. Nico, Sadie, and Charlie stayed longer with plans to go out on the city after (the wild and crazy 21 plus life). As we were leaving the party, we were given little boxes of chocolate. This probably raised the party to a solid eight out of ten in my book (the food was also excellent).

Once we got home, Karen and I enjoyed some ice cream and we are now all heading to bed. It’s been an exhausting and full day. I know now I have to return to New York so that I can experience more of the food life and see more of the sights. Even though we did so much today, I feel like we barely scraped the top of the Big Apple. Well, better go sleep, I’m exhausted. But I will dream about all of the food I enjoyed and all the food I missed out on today.

Facts/stats of the day:

Miles driven: 0

Miles run: 16.5

Elevation gained (feet): 645

Amount of food Bailee wished she could eat: Infinite

Individuals in New York State with Alzheimer's: 390,000

Donate to research here: http://curealz.org/heroes/running-road-trip

Day 30.

Day 30 - New Haven, CT, to Brooklyn, NY

Run - East Rock, New Haven, CT (with New Haven Road Runners); Brooklyn Mile Training with the Brooklyn Running Company

From the eyes of Charlie.

Today we got an early start once again, running out the door at 6:20 am to meet a group of local New Haven runners just down the street from the house we slept in last night. We followed their pounding feet up an asphalt road to the top of East Rock in New Haven. East Rock… very descriptive name I know. Would you believe that there’s a park on the other side of town called West Rock? Mind blown! All kidding aside though, the view was quite spectacular, especially for a city this close to the coast. You have impressed me Connecticut! A young (now old) stag named Dan McCabe tagged along for this run as well and we tried to play the old Claremont classic “smog or fog” game, which turned out to be pretty obviously “fog not smog.” Gonna add that game to the list of reasons why I’m glad not to be running in the LA basin anymore. Still miss the city though, and have to find a way to visit soon!

The drive into NYC went surprisingly fast (thanks Nico!), considering that I slept through all the boring parts. Though once we were in the city proper, the landmarks just kept passing by and by and I couldn’t take my eyes off what was flashing by the window. This wasn’t my first time visiting New York - I had been there once before at age 10 for fall break - but last time we only had time to see the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, the Empire State Building, and a few other big tourist attractions. This time we’re staying in the Park Slope neighborhood in the borough of Brooklyn, getting a taste of the city hopefully from the point of view of a somewhat real New Yorker. To the New Yorkers who are reading this, I hope I’m describing the name/type of neighborhood correctly! If it’s wrong feel free to DM us on Instagram (@therunningroadtrip) and let us know what part(s) of that phrase we should change! Is it city of Brooklyn and borough of Park Slope? Let us know!

I left the group once we arrived in Park Slope and gulped down a quick lunch at a spot called “Pita Pan” which had tasty and reasonably priced Mediterranean/Egyptian food. Next, I headed off to another part of Brooklyn just a mile away to visit my buddy Evan, who I hadn’t seen in almost an entire year! A few hours later, with my thumbs aching after playing so much Super Smash Bros. Melee for the Nintendo GameCube, and my veins pumping with cold brew-supplied caffeine, I took the F train back to our NY host’s place. Nico, Bailee, and I then promptly took off in the RRT-mobile to drive to a store called Brooklyn Running Company. They were putting on a track workout event in preparation for the Brooklyn Mile, and had also agreed to let us speak afterwards and promote our project. After crushing the track workout together (4x200 + 4x400 + 4x200 at 92% pace, equal rest for all) and meeting a bunch of runners from all around Williamsburg, Brooklyn, the Bronx, and Manhattan, we got a chance to hand out little business cards and get people pumped about donating to the Cure Alzheimer’s Fund. Time will tell if the donations will roll in once they get back to their laptops/phones and are able to type in the URL, but for now, I know for sure that we got some new Instagram followers. Fingers crossed!

Takeaways from today:

  1. Burritos with vegan cheese, crumbled seitan, and vegan sour cream are actually really damn good.

  2. Brooklyn Running Co. branded apparel has EXCELLENT graphic design, two thumbs way up for that one.

  3. NYC subway is so excellent and convenient (and nobody was surprised)

  4. After today’s workout, I got so excited to race on the track again. Oxy D-Car here I come??

- Charlie

 

Facts/stats of the day:

Miles driven: 106

Miles run: 32.8

Elevation gained (feet): 1545

Other Awesome Runners Met: 37

Medicaid costs of dealing with Alzheimer's in NY in 2017: $4.178 billion

http://curealz.org/heroes/running-road-trip