Month: April 2013

Run for Parkinson’s: Take Two

Below is a guest post from my dear friend Amber about the process of organizing a race for a cause you’re passionate about and some of the logistical hurdles that come up along the way. You can read her first guest post here, which talks about everything that went into planning her first race! The race will take place next Saturday, April 13, at 8am. Details below!

This year marks the second annual Run for Parkinson’s. Over a decade ago, my mom was diagnosed with Parkinson ’s disease, an extremely debilitating neurodegenerative disorder. After going through the difficult journey that comes with such a scary diagnosis, my mom and I felt channeling our experience into something productive for the cause would be the best way to focus our energy.

The story really begins with a run Beth and I did a few years back on the Capital Crescent Trail Towpath. After the run, while we were engaging in all that post-run good stuff (photos and free bananas!) I struck up a conversation with the run’s organizer, John Brathwaite. John has a non-profit called DC Running Club which partners with organizations looking to host active events and helps them plan and execute their event from start to finish (pun intended).

m4m_6

His business model is to take half of the registration fee to cover the cost of the race and his personnel who handle all of the logistics. The other half is donated to the partner organization’s cause. It seemed like fate as I had been dying to plan a run but had absolutely no clue where to start.

We met a few months later to start planning the first Run for Parkinson’s, which was held last April on Hains Point. John took the reins organizing the event while I followed him around trying to absorb all of the details that go into the planning process. The first step was filing for the permit with National Park Service and learning how much police detail is required per number of runners anticipated at the event. We had to carefully choose the start and end times based on the distance of the run and requirements of NPS. Then we had to figure out all of the other nitty-gritty details – such as accessibility via public transportation and parking, placement of trash receptacles, and how many volunteers we’d need to set up on time and hand out bibs.

Marketing the event was up next. John has an account with Active.com, which is very helpful for registration. We had a really tiny budget for marketing, so we had to get creative! Many of last year’s participants were from our various networks, and I have to say it was a very powerful feeling to have that kind of support from so many people. Friends, family and colleagues were quick to sign up and get involved. So out went the mass email blasts, Facebook invites, blog articles, and any other free advertising opportunities we could get our hands on, such as a digital ad donated by Bisnow.com (thanks, guys!).

m4m_1

This is always the most stressful aspect for me because so much goes in to the organization of the event, to the point sometimes you forget you actually have to get people there! Our first event came and went with great success. We attracted close to 500 runners and raised almost $10,000!!

m4m_11

I anticipated the second time around would be easier after the know-how I had gained from the first event. However, it has proven to be full of new challenges on top of the same marketing dilemmas and logistical mishaps. Just when we thought we had things under control, we got a call from National Park Service last week saying that our location was double-booked with another run and we would have to change the location, even though our permit was filed almost a year ago.

Alas, having the backing of DC Running Club has saved us again. John scrambled to work his connections with the Capital Crescent Trail Towpath and we were confirmed two days later at the new location. Now the run is just a couple weeks away and we’re working hard to get everything ready for the big day. We hope that with some help from the race Gods all will go smoothly, and of course we would love to see you there! April 13th at 8am at the Capital Crescent Trail Towpath.

Register at RunForParkinsons.com.

Highlights from Easter Weekend in DC

I had such a great visit with my parents this weekend, which ended up being a culinary experience all over the city, wrapping up in my apartment with the first holiday I’ve ever hosted (though my mom helped a ton, obv).

photo 4 (4)

Major victory getting my mom to smile in a photo. Score!

Highlights of the weekend included:

1.) Union Market

On Saturday late morning, we ventured to the newly (ish) opened Union Market in DC. I thought it would be a fun activity to do since my parents are as into food as I am, and we also wanted to pick up ingredients for Easter brunch the next day.

photo 1

It was really cool to walk around and there were tons of different local vendors selling everything from tea to meat to wine to vegetables. We ended up getting the lamb there and I also got some chicken to make for this week, but the veggies were really expensive and nothing else really caught our eye from the vendors. There were several places selling food to eat, but I had my eye on something specific…

2.) Lambs and Clams from Rappanannock Oyster Bar

This dish made the list of 40 dishes every Washingtonian must try in 2013 according to the Washington Post, and it did not disappoint. The place itself was really cute, with communal seating in the middle of the market as well as up along the bar, and the kitchen right there for everyone to see.

photo 3 (2)

I couldn’t picture what it would be like from the description, and was pleasantly surprised when it came out.

photo 4 (3)

Totally genuine pre-food coma bliss.

The dish was basically a stew that had ground lamb and whole clams in the shell, and it came with two huge pieces of crusty bread that were doused in butter, which makes everything better. It was super flavorful, delicious, and complex. Highly recommend.

I also had a pineapple soda from Buffalo Bergen, which also made the top 40 list, but I was less impressed with that. It was good, but not worth the $5.50 it cost in my opinion.

photo 5 (2)

I clearly didn’t hate it though.

3.) Medium Rare

Saturday night, we headed to Medium Rare for dinner, which is a place I’d heard a lot about but didn’t have a chance to try until now. The concept is simple – it’s a price fixed menu with bread, salad, and steak frites with “secret sauce” (sketch) that is $19.50 a person. All you have to do is tell them how you want your steak cooked, and they bring it out in two portions so that it’s perfectly cooked the entire time you’re eating it. I like that the menu is pre decided because I always gush over big menus and have so much trouble figuring out what to get, and almost always end up with meal envy. Obviously you want to be in the mood for steak to go here, but if you are, I’d highly recommend it. The secret sauce was also really good, though no one, not even the waiters, know exactly what is in it, which makes me cringe a little.

4.) Easter Brunch

This was definitely one of the top parts of the weekend! My mom and I cooked everything and it all came together pretty quickly and without too much stress, which is a big win for my family. We even had a little time for a goofy photo shoot.

photo 3 (3)

I think we all got different messages about what face to make for that one.

First up, we set the table and made it a bit festive.

photo 1 (3)

It was fun getting it set up, which is something I have literally not done since living in my apartment for a year a half.

First course was a delicious salad.

photo 1 (4)

Mixed butter lettuce with toasted walnuts, dried cranberries, and goat cheese, tossed with a homemade honey balsamic vinaigrette (by yours truly).

The main event was rack of lamb, roasted purple potatoes, steamed asparagus, and creamed baby spinach.

photo 2 (5)

I tackled the potatoes, the asparagus, and the plating, while my mom handled the lamb and the creamed spinach. Everything turned out perfect and was delicious, but also not super heavy, which was nice since we had to save room.

Dessert was definitely in competition for my favorite part of the weekend.

photo 3 (6)

French macarons from Macaron Bee! These were incredible, melt-in-your-mouth, sweet-but-not-too-sweet macarons. The meringue was so light and slightly crunchy and the ratio of creamy filling made for a perfect balance. We ended up getting four flavors – salted caramel (OMG), green tea (eh), Pistachio (good), and Toasted Almond (amazing). In case you couldn’t gather from my commentary, the salted caramel was my favorite with the toasted almond a close second. I could have eaten the whole box but stopped at 4, so I’m going to consider that a win as well. What a fun weekend!

Do you ever host holidays, or mostly go to other family members/friends for them?

PS: My first DietBet game ended yesterday, but I’m hosting a second DietBet game that starts this Wednesday, April 3, and runs through the whole month! Last game ended up having 405 participants for a total of a $10,125 pot and 2065 POUNDS LOST (as of this morning)!!! Holy crap!! You can read about the way it works in this post.