Sometimes, I can be a bit of a space cadet. About eight months ago, I signed up for the Navy Air Force Half Marathon on 9/20 and then promptly forgot about it since fall seemed like a whole other world away. A few months later, I decided fall would be a great time for a half marathon and signed up for the Parks Half Marathon for 9/13. After telling my mother about this, she seemed a little confused and asked me, “So are you not doing the other half marathon a week later?” Well shit. Looks like I just will just be running two half marathons in the span of a week.
Unfortunately, my running prep went a little awry when I fell during a long run in August and skinned a large part of my left knee. I could not even sleep for the first week after my tumble because my entire leg hurt, and running was definitely a little tough for the next couple of weeks. So by the time the first half marathon rolled around mid-September, I knew it was going to be a painful 13.1 miles. I definitely did not make things easier for myself by heading out the Friday before the race for a birthday party of the boy I’ve been crushing on for the past two months. After telling myself I would be “taking it easy” that night, I found myself making out on the dance floor of Local 16 like some 23 year old, followed by several drinks at Bar Pilar, and then before I knew it, it was 2:30am and I was still not in bed yet. The next morning (the day before the race), I woke up with a pounding headache that lasted the entire day. Since the race started in Rockville, I headed home to my parents’ house in Gaithersburg that afternoon and had some Vietnamese food for dinner before passing out at 8:45pm, hoping that nine hours of sleep would leave me hangover-free and well-rested before the long run. Instead, I woke up at 10:30pm and was completely unable to fall back asleep until 1:30am. Half marathon prep complete fail.
The next morning, I woke up exhausted, and very apprehensive about how the next couple of hours would go. My wonderful father dropped me off by the start, and I started in the third wave. The run ended being very painful after 9 miles due to my completely inadequate training, and my legs felt like heavy lead by the end but I was happy to have finished around 8:30min/mile pace. My adorable mother met up with me at the finisher’s tent, and we grabbed some watermelon and snacks before walking over to the Mama Lucia’s breakfast tent where they were providing eggs, sausages and pizzas to everyone. I was too exhausted to enjoy the food, and headed back to my parents’ house for a long, hot shower and laid down for a half hour. I started to feel a little bit more of a human being after closing my eyes for a few minutes, and so my father suggested we grab pho for lunch before I made my way back to DC. I knew at some point I would have to eat, and a nice light bowl of noodles sounded like the perfect way to tide me over until the real hunger hit.
Our family’s go-to spot in the suburbs is Pho 81 in Germantown, a small little restaurant located in a strip mall next to Honey Pig. As usual, there were plenty of open tables, we immediately put in our orders (this is after my mom asked if I wanted to split a small bowl and I asked if she was a crazy lady). I got my own small bowl with chin (well done beef) and bo vien (vietnamese meatballs), topped with blanched bean sprouts and thai basil. As usual, the fragrant broth and delicate noodles hit the spot, and I dipped each piece of meat into a generous scoop of sriracha and hoisin sauce to make each bite a perfect mix of salty, sweet and spicy. I had no problem finishing off the bowl, and we were out of the restaurant in less than thirty minutes. Talk about efficient!
After packing my stuff back up, I swung by SM’s parents’ house to pick her up, which made me feel like a 17 year old again, picking up my high school friend for a day in the suburbs. Instead of hanging around MoCo, we went back to DC for an afternoon of day drinking. I thought that a bowl of pho would be the perfect recovery meal, but I realized after parking the car that I was ravenously hungry again. I needed food stat, and I need carbs to be a heavy player in this meal.
Even though we had just brunched at Etto a few weeks, that light, sweet crust and their high quality toppings were exactly what I was craving. Luckily SM and N were totally down for pizza, and we got seated on the beautiful and surprisingly empty outside patio immediately. Although ordering their mind-blowingly good breakfast pizza again was definitely a tempting option, I decided wanted to try something different today. Their cotechino pizza with fontina and egg seemed like the perfect way to pad my stomach before some afternoon brews. I also added anchovies to the pizza.
The pizza arrived shortly, and our attentive waitress sliced up our pies for us. The egg was perfectly runny, so I popped it open and spread the creamy yolk all over the surface. As I bit into my first slice, I could feel my body start to (slowly) forget about the pain inflicted on it earlier than morning. The thin crust was, as always, remarkably soft and chewy. The thick slices of pork sausage were incredibly satisfying while the white cheese kept the pizza relatively light. I polished off the entire pizza with no problem, while SM and N both enjoyed their breakfast pizzas. It was another incredibly satisfying meal at Etto, and I felt like I was slowly coming back to life.
Next, we headed a few blocks down to the Standard beer garden, which I will continue to refer to as “Standard” despite their name change to “Garden District.” It was a beautiful day, and we managed to snag a picnic table outside. I ordered a hefe-weissbier, which was light, wheaty, and perfect fuel for basking in the sunlight.
I got a text Tinder Will, who after watching the Redskins lose, wanted to meet up. I told him that we had no immediate plans to move from our sweet spot in the sun, and he came from Virginia to join us (major points for crossing the river). It’s always interesting to see how a new guy vibes with your friends, and in this case, it went well! We spent the next couple of hours telling ridiculous stories about Dewey and sitting in the warm sunlight. My legs appreciated the rest, and my body appreciated the afternoon of delicious eats and great company.