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  • Writer's pictureJessica Stough

Washington, D.C., Market to Market, & The Buzz Run

"Stay strong and determined to be all that you were intended to become." – Billy Cox

These past few weeks have been nothing short of absolute madness – good, bad, and everything in between. I have let my blog fall to the side like a sack of potatoes, but absolutely have no plans of making that a habit. The past few weeks have been filled with a short trip, a few races, and other things too. Specifically, but without going into excruciating details, these past few weeks have taught us a lot about foster care – and have really tested our strengths and weaknesses in the parenting realm.

Washington, D.C.

Mid-May, I had the incredible opportunity of visiting Washington, D.C. for the first time in my life. I was allowed the opportunity through a program with the Greater Des Moines Partnership, their annual DMDC trip (peep a picture of me with the rest of the group at the United States Capitol building!). We left early Wednesday, May 11th, and returned by the evening of Friday, May 13th. With just three short days there, we had an absolutely jam-packed trip – filled with presentations on our Federal Policy Agenda, lots of good food, fun sight-seeing, and a ton of learning and networking opportunities.

When we first got to Washington, D.C., the main agenda was a bus ride from the airport to our hotel for the stay, the Hilton Washington DC Capitol Hill Hotel. The hotel was not only a great place to stay for its location (within walking distance of a ton of amazing things in the area!), but was also a wonderful place for the Partnership to house the majority of their agenda items for the trip. Once we reached the hotel, our first order of business was a welcome luncheon.

We had some time off, then had a U.S. Chamber Briefing, followed by some incredible other discussions around civility. Finally, we ended that evening with a networking reception on the Hall of States rooftop, directly overlooking the capitol building. It was there that I got the chance to connect with someone from the Des Moines area, which then led to plans for a Thursday morning run together.

Thursday morning, bright and early, I woke up and met another runner for a run around the National Mall. I was blown away by the incredible views of the Lincoln Memorial and Washington Monument as the sun started to rise – and also found that a 5 AM morning run is the absolute best time to check out the National Mall because we were the only two people there at all aside from just a few other runners here and there.

After that, I got freshened up for a Delegation Briefing Breakfast before we all walked to the Capitol for a picture together. Once the pictures were taken, our smaller group within the group branched off and took a short walking tour around the Supreme Court, the Library of Congress, and the Capitol Building. We headed back to the hotel for lunch, then were off for a trip to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

Everything about the trip was absolutely amazing, but the Holocaust museum was on another level entirely. The presentation at the start made me know right away we were going to get a lot out of the museum – the museum starts with grabbing an identification card for someone who actually lived through the Holocaust. The identification card talks about the person’s life, what happened to them during the Holocaust, then eventually, whether they were able to make it through or not. The idea is that each person takes on the persona of that identification card while walking through the museum.

Once we grabbed some identification cards, then we were put into an old elevator. As the huge metal doors shut on us, it almost felt as though we were being whisked away back in time. As the doors opened once again, we were on the top floor of the museum and staring directly at a life-sized mural of actual death and destruction from the Holocaust.

The museum then had us walk around in circles, floor by floor, back down to the main floor until we had completed the tour. I feel like I learned so much about the Holocaust that I didn’t know while in that museum, and the only way I’ve been able to describe that visit since then has been “sobering.” It was eye-opening, sad, educational, but most of all, great to see and better understand that history.

For more pictures of the Holocaust Museum, I've put together another Google Photos album, as some of the pictures are gruesome. Just like with my eel bite, please know that some of the photos may be considered graphic.

After that incredible experience, we walked by the Washington Monument, the World War II Memorial, and explored more of the National Mall.

The weather was gorgeous save for a bit of rain. After some exploration, we eventually made our way back to the hotel to get ready for a delicious dinner at Eastern Market. Once dinner was complete, we were off for another adventure for a Nighttime Monument Tour.

I honestly couldn’t even say which tour we went on, exactly, but know there are a ton of different options to choose from (shoutout to Tripadvisor for their nice and tidy list!). For the nighttime tour, I absolutely soaked up all of the stops we visited. My phone may or may not have been on its absolute last leg so I was not able to capture a lot of video or pictures, but was able to get a few pictures at the The Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial. I, of course, wanted a picture with Fala (learn more about Fala’s story here) because I felt like he looked a lot like Buzz.

Friday morning, there were more meetings and workshops to attend before a delicious brunch, complete with discussions from the Congressional staff. (Do you see the trend here? They fed us extremely well on this trip). After that, it was time to head back onto some buses to make our way to the airport, and ultimately, back to Des Moines.

Market to Market

There is no rest for the wicked, they say, right? The day I returned from D.C., I had just one evening to rest and relax, but then had to immediately switch gears to get ready for a full day of running on Saturday. I, along with a few other crazy running friends, experienced my first Market to Market relay adventure. The day was one of the first really hot days of the season, and all of the runners struggled through – but we had an absolutely amazing time.

The Second Annual Buzz Run

After the relay, I had to temporarily hang up my running shoes to throw on my race director hat for the The Second Annual Buzz Run + Stylin Paws Downtown Dog Walk. I had a week to work with Animal Lifeline and Stylin Paws to finalize all of our race plans. Then, Friday evening, I rode bikes with a good friend to chalk and put signage up for the routes (who knew it would take over three hours?). Finally, Saturday was the day!

We had over 80 people show up to run (or walk) in either the 1.75 mile, 3.8 mile (6K), 10K, or half marathon distance, even though the weather had drastically changed once again and was only around 50°. Although I put on my race director hat, that didn’t stop me from running the “race” too – after all, someone had to run with Buzz, the star of the show!

The Half Marathoner Group that ran with Buzz and me!

Jars of dog treats to show how many people ran (or walked) each distance!

Buzz finished about 30 seconds slower than last year’s race ( we also had a MUCH bigger hill on the route this time around), but still absolutely killed his half marathon. I have heard nothing but great feedback about the event from anyone and everyone, and am pretty certain that the event will be back again for 2023. One of the runners that ran the half marathon with Buzz and me told me that they reached a new personal record for time by over three minutes thanks to Buzz (I won’t name names, but I am ecstatic for this runner)!

What’s Next?

I have another race tomorrow, and still honestly have not decided whether I’m going to run it or not. Then, next week, I will be back out on the rural roads of Iowa for yet another relay race, Relay Iowa. I will be happy to take a bit of a break from lengthy races after that before starting in on fall race planning. I imagine I will also have to start preparing for The Buzz Run 2023 at some point too.

We are only about one month now from our annual trip to Colorado, so we will be looking to switch gears and start planning for that here soon. I cannot wait to throw all of our camping gear in the truck, hit the road, and then disconnect for a while out there in the mountains once again. As per usual for me, the mountains are calling, and I must go.

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