I had such an awesome run this morning, not in terms of speed, but in terms of scenery.  I didn’t take my phone with me because it’s a RAZR and it weighs a bit much for the tiny pocket in my capri tights. So, instead, I took a mental catalog of the sights as I went along. Even if I had taken my camera today, I think the pictures would have turned out crappy anyway. It was so cloudy that it took a while for my Garmin to pick up the satellites, if you can believe it. 

If you’d like to see some of my older posts where I took lots of photos, please click here.  You could also look at my archive from April 2008, if you like. 

A few things to note – you have to be really aware of where you are running and all of the  traffic here in D.C. They love their rotaries (as do we in Boston), but it seems like there are cars coming at you from everywhere.  I love the fact that there are lots of paths to run on, as even I am not brave enough to literally run in the street here like I do at home.   You’d take your life into your hands! And HOLY CRAP! it was windy!! More about that later.
Anyway, here’s my foray into being a tour guide – I hope those of you who have never been to D.C. can get a good picture in your mind of my run/trip. This really is a cool city to run  in, and a lot of the runners tend to be the type who wave or at least say “good morning.”  (Did you all read that article about waving/not-waving in Runner’s World, about an issue or two ago? I got a kick out of it because I’m definitely a waver.)

Starting out from my hotel, if you run about .4 miles, you’ll find yourself in front of the Iwo Jima Memorial. If you looked over to your left, you can see something amazing.  The Washington Monument, and behind it, the Capitol.  To the left, you’d see the Lincoln Memorial. It was pretty awesome at the time, as the sun was trying to break through the clouds behind them – you could see a bright stripe of orange.  I was able to take a picture of the Iwo Jima memorial last night but it was also very cloudy then so I’m afraid it didn’t turn out as well as I would have liked.  You then pass by the Netherlands Carrillon which expresses gratitude of the Dutch people to American assistance given to them in WWII.

As you go past the Carrillon, you then see the Arlington National Cemetery in front of you. I’m kind of bummed that I won’t be able to go into it again this year while I’m here. I’m leaving on Wednesday, and the cemetery only starts extending its hours past 5 on April 1st, when it begins staying open from 8-7 p.m.  It is so sobering to realize, as you run on the path outside of it, and see the hundreds of rows of graves, and think that every single one of them stands for another person. As I was running by it, I pictured a lot of our military folks all standing there. Really sobering.

After the Arlington National Cemetery, which is about a mile into our run, the next monument you come to is a new one, I believe. It’s for the Sea Bees, and it’s on your left as you run toward the Memorial Bridge. So now you hit your first rotary.  This one is not nearly as bad as the one that circles around the Lincoln Memorial, trust me! But it’s also when the wind started to gust pretty strongly (the weather forecasted 18 mph winds, yeah, I would say that they were just a wee bit off on that!)

Tangent: It was pretty cool to see the Lincoln Memorial when it was not completely covered with tourists, as it usually is in the evening, although by the time I was heading back over the Memorial Bridge, the tour buses had started to pull up in droves.  I didn’t run up the stairs like I did last year because I was running out of time and had to get back to my hotel! The Lincoln Memorial is about 1.6 miles from my hotel area.

Anyway, continuing on from the Lincoln Memorial, if you run heading toward the Washington Monument, you’ll see the famous Reflecting Pool.  On your left you’ll see the Vietnam War Memorial (i.e., “The Wall”), and on your right you’d see the Korean War Memorial.  I used to think the Vietnam War Memorial was my favorite, but as I was running today, I thought of how life-like the statues are with the Korean War Memorial.  They are placed so that they look like they arewalking through the fields.  All of the guys are dressed in many layers of clothes, and have very heavy weaponry on their bodies as well as heavy packs.  They all look exhausted, and a bit haunted, too, I think.  Depending on how the light hits, you can see the statues reflected in the dark grey wall to their right. 

Ok, so now we are coming up on what was my favorite part of my run today.  You come up on the WWII memorial.  You’ll see that there are lots of columns arranged in a circle. On each of the columns is a wreath.  Each column has a state’s name on it, and there’s a fountain in the middle.  This is one of the newest, if not THE newest monument.  This was the furthest I’d run on any of my runs last year.  Today, I figured I still felt good and had some time, so I ran up to the Washington Monument.  I looked over to my left and there was the White House. Really absolutely beautiful.  Pretty amazing to think that I could see all of this in the span of just 2.5 or so miles.  I felt pretty grateful for having been able to do that run this morning, and was glad I waited until after sunrise to do it.  (I may be brave at running in the dark at home, and even brought my headlamp with me to D.C., but I have to admit, I don’t feel entirel comfortable running in a strange city, being a female, and not knowing the places where an attacker could hide in the dark, even though my airport cabbie said that it’s safe to run on the running paths and biking trails around my hotel.)  I don’t like inviting trouble, you know? I did stop during my run a few times – once was at the Washington Monument, because I just wanted to soak it all up, and enjoy where I was for the moment.  I wasn’t running for time (my Garmin definitely shows that). I also needed to get out of the wind (which was insane on top of the small hill on which the Washington Monument is perched) and have some sports beans for caffeine for the return trip!  (By the way, that was about 2.8 miles from the hotel.)

The run home was definitely more difficult, for no other reason than because the wind was freaking insane!! Especially as I was crossing the Potomac.  At times I felt like I was standing still,and was really happy I had brought along my gloves and hat. In fact, I’d say there are only two “cons” about running down here. Ok, three.  (1) lots of traffic to worry about. (2) lots and lots of wind, especially when crossing the potomac.  (3) not being able to run in the street, you end up running on lots of concrete sidewalks, which we all know is not good for your legs! But I’d say that the beautiful views more than make up for those flaws.

There is one other view I should mention I saw on my run today.  As I was fighting the wind while heading over the Memorial Bridge, with the Lincoln Memorial at my back, I saw at the hill that sits at one end of the Arlington National Cemetery, the building that houses the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.  JFK is buried close by, and there is a flame that is always burning, near his grave. If you ever get to D.C., I’d suggest making the trip up there. It’s pretty cool to watch the sentries walk back and forth in sync as they guard the tomb.  I remember it also being very quiet at the time, as if even little kids knew that this was not a place to yell and scream.

Anyway, total distance was 5.6 by the time I got back to my hotel. It totally helped to start my day off on a good footing.  I suppose it also helped that I was able to get a good 10 hours sleep last night.  The night before, some idiots were slamming doors all over the place on my hall, at 3 A.M. IN THE MORNING.  At one point, they woke me up and kept me awake, as all of the MORONS decided that they’d prefer to talk OUT IN THE HALL, RATHER THAN THEIR ROOMS. I finally had had it, and peeked out and asked them to keep it down.  “Oh, sorry,” is what I heard in response. The thing is, they didn’t look like they were 21, but older.  (Of course, I was half asleep, with no contacts in, so who knows?!)  I talked to one of the bellhops tonight and he said that they received lots of complaints on Saturday night, so I don’t think I was the only person they bothered!

By the way, the crocuses below first made their appearance in our yard a few days ago- spring really is coming if you see them!