Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Fourth of July weekend in Atlanta!

Hey everyone, we're in the middle of July already, can you freaking believe it?  It's crazy to me that we're coming up on a year of me moving here because that doesn't hardly seem possible.  How much longer can I say that I "just" moved to Atlanta, please?

So, this past weekend was filled with some very cool stuff, one of which was the Peachtree Road Race 10K - the largest road race in the world!!  It was an awesome experience to be a part of it and I will do a full recap of the race in another post since that's what I do.  As a short summary, the run was incredibly rainy, I managed to get a personal best time by more than 3 minutes, AND I had a great cheering squad in the form of my two twin half brothers, my dad and my dad's wife at the finish!

Yep, that's right, on Friday evening after spending I think approximately a billion hours in the car, my dad arrived for a weekend visit in Atlanta!  They had a wedding to go to in the South this week as well so decided to build a road trip out of it with a few different destinations along the route, including a weekend in Atlanta!  It was great to have them come to visit and make the effort to come all the way down here, since it is a long drive, especially with two 6.5 year old boys in the backseat!  It make me really thankful that I decided to get a two bedroom apartment as well because otherwise visits like this would probably not be possible or be a lot more complicated if hotels were involved.  So far I have only had single individuals visit at a time so to have 4 people come was a big adjustment!  I'm lucky that I have more than enough space and resources to accommodate them all.

One of the things that I love about having visitors, in addition to getting to see the people I love (duh) is getting to be a tourist in my own city!  I was a bit nervous planning the agenda for this visit since I knew that 4th of July would be a pretty busy time of year in general and also planning a weekend for 6.5 year olds is a bit different than what I have been doing with the past two visitors I had, my brother Jeff, and then my friend Kristen, both of which included a lot of heavy drinking more adult things.

After hanging out for a bit after the race and having some lovely couch snuggle sessions watching Harry Potter, we head out to do a few touristy things.  I like bringing everyone who comes to visit to see something having to do with the history of Atlanta and civil rights in the south, so we went to the Martin Luther King Jr. memorial and center.  Unfortunately we got there right as it was closing, but it was still nice to be able to walk around a bit and see his grave and start some conversations about non-violence with the boys (6.5 year old boys like to hit and kick each other a lot.)

From there, we grabbed dinner at a new-to-me restaurant called the Steam House, which was actually very good and family friendly as well, and then bounced over to Turner Field for a Braves game!  I feel like I sound like a broken record with all the Braves games I have been going to lately.  I know so many friends who have lived in Atlanta for years and have never gone to a game or whose first game was the one a few weeks ago that we went to after the 5K race.  However, I love sports and I love viewing sports in person.  It's such a fun atmosphere and I still haven't gotten over the thrill of the fact that you can get $16 tickets a couple days before a Major League Baseball game!

It was the boys' first MLB game as living in Massachusetts, Fenway is the local (legendary) stadium, and also extremely pricey.  It was fun to cheer, dance, and enjoy the stadium with the kids, my dad and his wife.  Every time I go to a game it is a different experience and I very much have fun all the time!  I also never was able to enjoy a post-run beer due to all that rain and being freezing cold, so of course a baseball stadium is a perfect place to do that!  I always forget that within the stadium you can only buy beer with cash so I had to scrounge through my purse and pay partly with quarters since I NEVER have cash on me.

Following the game there were 4th of July fireworks, which we luckily were able to squeeze in before the rain started... AGAIN.

Sunday morning I started early, before the rest of my family even woke up, actually, with a 9-mile run.  Yes, I am crazy, I know, but I had 9 miles planned per my marathon training schedule and really wanted to get them all in this weekend despite having just done a race the day before.  I did them nice and easy, on a hilly route that I took exploring the way to get from my house over to the Silver Comet Trail on foot.  It is going to be a great place to run when I have even longer runs to do and I now know that it is 4 miles from my house to the trail so if I need to get longer bike rides or runs in, that's a great route.  A hilly out and back, with some flat on the trail.

When I got back we had a morning lounging at home before heading over to a brand new to me tourist attraction, the Georgia Aquarium!!!!  The dang Aquarium is one of the most talked about and well known tourist destinations in the city and so many people ask me if I have been when I tell them that I live in Atlanta, or was moving to Atlanta, or when I just even mention Atlanta.  Apparently its one of the best in the country or something.

We showed up around lunchtime and were able to get into the Aquarium without much hassle -- fun fact to know for anyone local or interested in going: you book tickets based on the time that you want to enter.  If you get there and it's a long line, you might be buying tickets to enter in 2 or so hours.  Weird process, but whatever.  If you order tickets for first thing in the morning, you can then get in at any time in the day, so that's clearly the winning way to go.

It was a lot of fun to explore the different exhibits and there were a few incredibly viewing rooms where you can walk through a tunnel with sea life all around you.  Then another when there is just a HUGE wall of the tank that the sea life swims by.  It was absolutely stunning and totally worthwhile to just park your butt down and sit and stare for a while at the beauty of some of these creatures.

One of the coolest things, because I am a nerd, was also looking at a little video that talks about how two of the main attractions - whale sharks (which are actually fish, not sharks, FYI) - were transported from Taiwan to Atlanta.  It's a totally crazy and cool feat of logistics!

We also were able to check out the Dolphin Tales dolphin show.

This isn't your normal sea world dolphin trick show.  Oh no, this is a fully choreographed, song and dance number featuring a storyline, plot, flashing lights, and dolphins jumping in the air doing flips and tricks and totally splashing the front rows as well.  And we were in the SECOND ROW.  We were told it was the "Soak Zone" or something like that, and they totally did not lie.  Tristan and I got the worst of it.

After a change of clothes, we head out for some pizza with some of my friends and then to the Movers + Pacers Sunday evening flagship run!  This was something I was really looking forward to taking my family to.  I wasn't able to have anyone come out to the Mother's Day or Father's Day runs so I guess I sort of made my own bring-your-family-to-run day on Sunday and it was a blast.  Every visitor that I have must come out on Sunday nights!  It was great to have Jeff join previously and Kristen when she visited. I was so happy because my dad and his wife, who aren't runners, still were awesome sports about it and walked the 2-mile route.  While I, with the help of a couple friends, took the boys on their first ever attempt to run 2 miles.  I was nervous about how they would do since whenever we'd be walking around throughout the weekend they'd complain about being tired and wanting to be carried, but I was SO PROUD of how everyone did!

We ran/walked the 2-mile route, and I continually pushed them to run a little further than they thought they could do, as I did with the Girls on the Run team I coached earlier this year.  They asked to walk a number of times, but always pushed harder when I asked them to as well and kept moving when I told them walking time was over.  Our pace really wasn't bad, averaging a 13 or 14 minute mile throughout the thing.  I should mention that one of the challenges was just getting them to pace because when we would run, their run would be a SPRINT!

When the whole group first took off, Nicholas and Tristan beasted out the gate and were in the front of the pack with me trying to keep up!  I told them that this wasn't a sprint or a race (they continually were looking back to see if they were in "last place") and we just needed to pace against ourselves and do the best we could.  I was so impressed with how well they did and can't wait to do more runs and races with them in the future.  We're already scheming on how we can ALL do the Gobble Wobble Thanksgiving 5K this coming November!

My family left on Monday morning bright and early and in conclusion, it was a really great and fun weekend!  I know it's not easy for people to get down to Atlanta from the Northeast but it means so much to me that everyone has been making the effort to come.  I felt exceedingly grateful to have such wonderful family this weekend and also really happy with the life I've made in Atlanta.  It was really cool to have my friends I've made here meet more of my family and everyone has been so welcoming and open every single time.  It's amazes me how seamlessly some of the transitions to having acquaintances I run with, to having friends who are joining my family for dinners has been.

Having your worlds mix and collide can sometimes be a weird thing, but this weekend it was great!  I loved having everyone over and staying with me and really enjoyed all of the quality time with family.  I haven't spent that much time with everyone in a while and had it include so many fun things, so I am really thankful for the fourth of July weekend!  Everyone should come visit me on your vacation so we can fill it with fun things, please!

Hope you all had a fun holiday weekend and are adjusting back to the grind.  Happy Independence Day everyone!

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