RunningBrooke Grants $30,000 to Vital Alexandria Charities!

Dear Friends, Family and Neighbors,

with friends at Child and Family Network Centers

The last few weeks have been especially rewarding as I’ve granted, in total, $30,000.00 to five vital Alexandria-based charities serving our at-risk neighbors.  Drumroll please:

  • $7,500.00 to Child and Family Network Centers; sending impoverished kids to preschool and providing associated services for families.
  • $10,000.00 to Community Lodgings; reopening the Teen Center, providing guidance towards a successful future with High School Graduation and financial management planning.
  • $2,500.00 to The Reading Connection, fostering the love of books by supporting The Book Club, sending free, new books by mail to families on a monthly basis.
  • $5,000.00 to Girls on the Run, NoVA, giving 33 Alexandria girls scholarships to Learn, Dream, Live and Run towards a healthier future.
  • $5,000.00 to ACTion Alexandria (ACT for Alexandria), matching 10 (up to $500.00) on-line ‘calls of action’ for specific community needs like healthful after-school snacks and milk for kids in shelters.
at Girls on the Run

after school with Community Lodgings

choosing books at The Reading Connection

Off to run Little Rock, AR this weekend... State #22 and Marathon #31.  Cheers!

The New Orleans Mardi Gras Marathon, Bawdy and Tawdry!

Dear Friends, Family and Neighbors-

Just back from New Orleans and the Mardi Gras Marathon.  Being Bawdy, Tawdry, and historic, it made, to say the least, for an interesting visit.  Favorite Daughter #1 and I had a great time and we both got our eyes full, and saw some unexpected things on Bourbon Street!  "And that's all I got to say about that."  Forrest Gump...

New Orleans, founded in 1718, was initially a small trading camp on a curve of the Mississippi River.  Later, the city was organized into a rectangular community known as the French Quarter.  As the city grew, it followed the curve in the river and because of its shape, became known as the Crescent City.  Because New Orleans was surrounded by swamps and marshes -- sea level (some places below sea level) to approximately 6 feet, and because of the annual flooding of the Mississippi River and water surges from hurricanes, levees and canals were built to block and drain the excess water.  Interesting to learn however, that long-term and ongoing destruction of surrounding wetlands and the building of levees and canals meant to remedy the problem, actually exacerbated the flooding and elevated the potential destructive effect.  *Katrina exhibit at the Louisiana State Museum

*Factoid #1:   New Orleans has more miles of canals (above and below ground) than Venice, Italy.
St. Louis Cathedral and Jackson Square
*Factoid #2: New Orleans has over 35,000 structures on the National Register of Historic Places.  That's 15,000 more than Washington, DC.

New Orleans marks marathon # 30 and state # 20 in my quest to run a marathon on every continent, in each of the 50 states and the 5 marathon majors -- a marathon a month -- in order to raise awareness and raise money for vital charities serving Alexandria's at-risk.  London, the 5th and final major is in April, and my 6th continent, Antarctica, is scheduled for March of 2012.  Before I jump into the recap, there's a lot of exciting RunningBrooke news to report.

RunningBrooke News

  • First, I've made my grants for 2010.  Thanks to SO many of you for wanting to make Alexandria a better place and making all this possible!  Drumroll please:  $7,500 to Child and Family Network Centers, $10,000 to Community Lodgings, $2,500 to The Reading Connection, $5,000 to Girls on the Run (Northern VA) and $5,000 to ACT for Alexandria (details below).  *links to the specific beneficiaries can be found in email signature or through the RunningBrooke website

  • Second, ACTion Alexandria -- part of ACT for Alexandria -- a RunningBrooke beneficiary, kicked off its first featured action benefitting the Carpenter's Shelter.  It was a huge success!  In an online forum,  We raised $995, almost double our original goal of $500!  And with a $500 match from The RunningBrooke Fund, that's a total of $1495 or almost 3 months' worth of milk and after-school snacks for the children living at the shelter.

  • Third, I'd like to give a special 'shout out' to the 25, and counting,  RunningBrooke Racers who have signed up to run either the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler (April) or The National 1/2 or Full Marathon (March) and raise money for The RunningBrooke Cause.  I can't tell you how much I appreciate their help and how they are inspiring me to push harder.  So... I'll run with them and add DC to my list of completed marathons.  *there are a few spots left for the National event, email me if you want to 'lace up your shoes' too!

           * see the benefits and become a Sponsor too.  Full details at

And now, without further ado:

The Good

pre-race with Favorite Daughter #1
  • The Marathon.  I got to run the first 6 miles with Favorite Daughter #1 before the 1/2 and full marathon courses split.  Thumbs up to the race director for weaving us through historic and beautiful sections of the city.
Remember 'music belt' Ken from Jackson, MS?  He and I met up at at mile 8 and 'rocked on' playing 'name the artist/song/year/album.'   See you in Little Rock!

  • Bourbon Street and the carnival-like craziness and the raucous and sometimes-ridiculous behavior of those on it.

Bourbon Street at Dusk
does holding this sign make me look ridiculous?

a performer along the Mississippi

  • The Food and The Music.  We ate are way through the French Quarter -- jazz and blues music pouring out onto the sidewalks --  with Crawfish and Crab Etouffee, Red Beans and Rice and Jambalaya.  Finished it all off with warm Pralines.

*Factoid #3: 40% of all the seafood consumed in the US comes from Louisiana

The Bad

  • The Marathon.  I ran with a painfully annoyingly side cramp for 25 miles.   AND I cavalierly ignored one of the main tenets of long-distance running.  Never, ever, under any circumstance, use/wear something new and not broken in.

  • Things left undone.  We walked (and walked) the city but missed some local highlights due to time constraints: Riverboat tour on the steamboat Natchez, Katrina Tour to see areas devastated by the hurricane, Road to Freedom and Plantation Tour and Airboat Adventure through swamps.  Next time.

and The Unexplained

  • The Voodoo thing...  just don't get it
Voodoo Youdoo

That's it.  The Louisiana chapter is closed!  Next up, Little Rock, AR. on March 6.  A race I registered for solely for the finishers medal.  It's the size of a platter; shallow of me, I know...  Cheers and Run Strong (literally or figuratively).


Additional NOLA pictures below.

partial shot of painted door panels of Jazz Club

Crawfish Etouffee, Cornbread and Collard Greens

Gorgeous Wrought Ironwork