this week brings me back to washington d.c. who would have guessed that a small town, mountain lovin’, western girl, would fall so hopelessly in love with this city. but I did, and i do. in addition to the city itself, i discovered two other loves of my life while living in the nation’s capitol: running and joe.
at the end of my college career when i moved to d.c., a coworker asked me to enter the cherry blossom 10 mile run as a member of our office team. each of the u.s. senate offices formed a team. everyone in the office was encouraged to sign up and run, but only six runners (3 men and 3 women) were selected to be the individuals whose finish times were tallied up and contributed to the overall race time for the office. those times were then compared and the rankings were publicized for the whole u.s. senate to see.
the year previous, our office finished SECOND out of the 100 offices, but one of the females who was a part of that success, was injured and couldn’t run the year i arrived. apparently my athletic background convinced my coworkers that i was equipped to fill her shoes, and i was asked to be one of the six.
as a collegiate volleyball player, long distance running was counterproductive to our training and the development of our quick twitch muscles. we definitely ran, but we never ran long distance. little did my coworkers know that i had probably never ran more than 4 casual miles at a leisurely pace in my life!
however, my competitive side quickly kicked in and i was off to training. i wasn’t worried about being able to finish the 10 miles, but I was worried about being able to finish it faster than all the other women being timed for their offices. so without a clue as to what I was doing, i purchased the best winter running clothes i could find, i began setting my alarm clock for 5am, and i started running. the grassy terrain that stretches from the nation’s capitol all the way down to the Lincoln memorial, is what is referred to as the “national mall.” and i lived within a mile of it, so i knew exactly where i would be running.
smithsonian museums line the green park as do running paths, which create a safe and encompassed feeling. the beautiful architecture of those buildings protects pedestrians from the busy streets. they are beautiful any time of day. but in thefirst2hours of each day, they have a special aura and they are lit with a warm glow to light the path of the early birds like myself.
i will never forget the first day i ran on the national mall. i had my playlist set to go, but from the moment i entered the national mall, my music was off and i was soaking in nothing but the sounds of birdsong and silence. i barely ran at all on that first day, because i was so struck with the beauty of my surroundings. all i could do was stare and think about how awesome and vast life was.
this run took me from the capitol building, past the smithsonians, along this thoughtful dirt path that kept my knees happy. i ran on toward the washington monument that towered above, past the world war II memorial that gave a shout out to each state of the u.s., and continued along the water to the massive lincoln. after looping around lincoln i ran toward the potomac and past what is now the mlk and roosevelt memorials. i hugged the water line of the tidal basin and stared ahead in anticipation of my favorite memorial – the jefferson. after paying my dues to tom, i connected back on the dirt paths of the national mall and made my way back to the capitol. at the end of that run, i felt like i could do it three times over. i was so caught up in the sights that i didn’t even know i was running at all.
training for the cherry blossom run all those years ago, was an easy feat. this run showed me how incredible and fulfilling running can be. i lived in d.c. for 4 years, and in that time frame i returned on countless occasions to this route. my mileage crept up way beyond what it needed to be, while my times crept way down.
once i started running, i couldn’t stop. and i haven’t stopped running since.
the running routes in d.c. are plentiful and i could spend many days and words describing them here at thefirst2hours; but this run, in the early morning hours, before the sun rises and the tourists stir, will forever be one of my happy places.
as stated earlier, i discovered two of my greatest loves while living in dc: running and joe. this week i get to combine all of the above.
joe and i randomly met at a beer festival in d.c.’s eastern market, but we didn’t start dating until years later. this week is the first time we have been able to experience the city together since the day we met. so to celebrate, we went on this run.
ok…truth be told, we actually went on this walk. and it was only a portion of the walk, as we weren’t fully equipped for a 10 degree run with the limited clothing we traveled with from idaho. but we were still there and we managed to snap some shots of the glowing buildings to share.
it’s quite amazing that an area that is bustling with more happenings than i could possibly comprehend, also feels so peaceful and serene in the early morning hours. perhaps it is that exact quality that makes the national mall so magical for me. i feel so small when i am there, in the very best of ways.
joe and i weren’t able to run the 6 mile loop in this instance, but we did do some sky high skipping, and we soaked it all in the best we could. everyone visits the national mall while they are visiting d.c., but to soak it in, in its entirety, its essential to experience it in thefirst2hours.
to read about how joe and i met, click here:
shat is your most memorable run?
sunrise or sunset?
what is your favorite d.c. monument / memorial ?