Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Running the National Mall in January

Dear readers I am sorry, it has been far too long since I last blogged about running. I swear I still do it! And talk about it offline for that matter…everything but blog about it apparently. (Negative 10 points for using annoying office jargon there? Go me.)

I want to tell you about the run I went on yesterday morning as a matter of fact. It was COLD out – my phone told me 21 degrees at 6:15 am, and there was some serious wind chill on top of that.  I was solo for the experience and could have easily rolled over, re-cocooned, and gone back to sleep, but I felt like I NEEDED a run if you know what I mean, and I’m so glad I went!

National Mall Run
See details on MapMyRun.

I put on my second wintriest wear (fleece high neck top, a version of these pants, these gloves, and this headband, in case you care) and scooted out the door into a blast of cold air – the kind that hits you in the face and makes you gasp a little bit – before I could change my mind.

I started quick for warmth-creation purposes. By about five minutes in, I had hit my rhythm, breathing in-in-out-out, in-in-out-out with the music in my ears. And by 10 minutes in, the morning and the cold and real life were long gone, my mind was 100% elsewhere, and my body was moving on autopilot.

I ran all the way down to the Lincoln Memorial, wind gusting in my face the whole time. From Lincoln I saw the sun rise behind the Washington Monument over the Capitol on the first official day of Obama’s second term (woot!).

As I said, it was super-cold, so only a few particularly hardcore runners were out (I love the camaraderie of a miserable morning – everyone says hi to everyone), and the Inauguration clean-up crews were out in full force, gloved and hatted men loading up port-a-potties and fencing leftover from the day before.

And as I was striding along the Reflecting Pool, I had a wildlife sighting! To my left up the little hill I saw what I first thought was a gi-normous squirrel, but it was a fox! He ran up the hill, onto a tree stump, and looked around for a bit as I ran by just 10 feet away. It was one of the few times I’ve wished I ran with a phone or camera. Foxes are SO COOL.

The way back was much better – oh hello tailwind! The first half of my morning runs are always a bit of a blur, I think it’s because of the darkness, but the second half I’m usually more awake and aware. In front of the National Gallery I got into a little race with one of my fellow morning runners…actually, that’s not true, I’m strongly opposed to racing on mileage runs, I just run my own pace…what happened was he tried to race me. I won.

Then up the Hill, in front of the Capitol (people in business suits: what are you doing? It’s too early for you!), and back East Capitol. The run totaled to about 6.8 miles. Here’s the map if you’re interested.

I ended in front of my house and walked around the block for a cool down while singing along with some ZBB. Then hallelujah for hot water! And hairdryers! And coffee! It was an excellent morning.