Exploring Philly by Foot: The Shofuso Japanese House and Garden

This weekend was perfect, beginning with a lazy Saturday morning marked by biscuits and raspberry preserves, purchased from our local farmers’ market, in bed. There, of course, was some quality cat time too.

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Once we finally willed ourselves out of bed, Noah and I did something we haven’t in ages — really, since living in New York. An adventure run. A run with a purpose. A run where the halfway point was something awesome, before turning around to run back home.

We’ve done a lot of these in our time, while dating, while engaged, and now, while married. Running has enabled us, as a couple, to explore the city we’re in, whether the one we call home (New York and, now, Philly) or the one we call vacation. Our running sneakers are always near by, ready to take us somewhere new.

Remember the Dumpling and Donut run? That one was amazing (and delicious, to say the least). How time flies. This was in February of 2012. I was 25. Noah was my boyfriend. We lived together. And the dumplings were $1.

There was also our moonlit Valentine’s Day run, also a memorable adventure circa 2012. On that evening, Noah picked me up from work in Union Square, and we ran through Washington Square Park over to the West Side Highway. In one picture, you can actually see the Freedom Tower being build behind me. Once in the Meatpacking District, we made an impromptu stop at The Standard and grabbed beers. Tipsy, we ran home and indulged in a platter of cheese.

On Saturday, our adventure would take us to the Shofuso Japanese House and Garden, a little oasis in the Fairmount district of Philly. It was the perfect place to stop and soak in peaceful vibes.

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Lesson: Always bring your credit card and a few dollars on these types of runs. There was a small fee to get inside. Once you stop, you’ll probably need to hydrate too, so make sure you grab water.

While I needed to start off our run at what I’ll generously call a glacial pace, I really picked it up from there. For the bulk of those 7 or so miles, I wasn’t just jogging. My pace was somewhere in the mid- to high- 9’s. I don’t wear a Garmin, but from 7 years of running and racing, I just know.

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By far the best part of our adventure: the koi pond in the Japanese Garden. For $2, we purchased some fish food from the front desk and watched the fish frenzy — I never realized how giant these fish can be or how HIDEOUS they actually are.

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Some of them, in a bid to swallow as much fish and algae as they can, try to suck the other fishes’ faces off, lurching atop one another and almost swimming right up on shore.

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Others nearly took a cute turtle’s head off. I had a red eared slider just like that one growing up. I wanted that guy to survive!

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After 25 minutes or so wandering around the garden, we began our journey home.

4 miles there. 4 miles back.

The original plan was to grab bikes from the bike share and ride back home, but we wound up screwing that up somehow and just doing the whole thing on foot. Around mile 6.5, I stopped to walk for a bit, not out of exhaustion but simply because I felt like it. My right shin had been bothering me earlier in the week anyway, so I thought I should rest it and just walk the final 1.5 miles back home. About a quarter of a mile later, I got bored, and requested we run again. It’s just so much faster. It feels so much better. Walking is simply not for me.

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The weather itself was perfect, with just enough cloud coverage to make it a pleasant (albeit humid) run. After a long morning on my feet (punctuated by a quick trip to Trader Joes; we were out of peanut butter!) it felt amazing to shower, get in bed, and indulge in TV for a couple of hours of my afternoon. Fortunately, there were a few downpours midday that made me feel great about doing so.

When’s the last time you turned your run into an adventure? What’s the last place you explored (at home or on vacation) while working out?

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One thought on “Exploring Philly by Foot: The Shofuso Japanese House and Garden

  1. I love running adventures! Every Wednesday I run with a group from my church but our adventure is getting back to that week’s starting point so we can eat. 😉 I need to tackle your definition of adventure soon, especially since I’ve only lived in DC for less than a year! Much to explore. Also, I totally agree with you — walking is not for me! Ha!

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