Saturday, October 11, 2008

Seriously....THE COOLEST RUN EVER! (Part 2)

We had a half day on Wednesday to do whatever we wanted around D.C. Having been numerous times, I decided that the afternoon would be a great opportunity to get in a long run. The weather was perfect - 55 degrees. I had really just set out to do a 14 to 16 mile run but everything was just right. I decided, what better place to do an 18 mile run? I hit 18 and then decided..."go for it!" "Go for the full 20!" So, here's a recap of my most excellent run!

I started out running south down 15th street from the hotel towards the National Mall. As I approached the White House there were police and guards everywhere closing off the streets - even the pedestrian sidewalks. There was a motorcycle police escort blaring their blues and sirens and exiting the side entrance. Right behind the police were two black suburbans. The first one, the windows were all rolled up and completely blacked out. The second one, all the windows were rolled down and about seven Secret Service guys were hanging out every window in the their full suits, dark sunglasses and ear pieces. This is a picture of the first suburban as I caught up to them again on Jefferson Ave. My camera wasn't quick enough to catch the second SS suburban which looked pretty cool with all these guys hanging out the windows and casing the neighborhood. But, I found out later that night that it was Condoleezza Rice in that first suburban. Kinda cool! (My husband says that usually she wouldn't get that kind of motorcade. He figures the Prez or the VP was in there - COOL!)

This is the park just north of the National Mall. I took it around down to the Lincoln Memorial. Funny thing, on Sunday when I hit this park there was some kind of dog fair/convention going on. There were dogs EVERYWHERE and dog vendors set up all over the place. It was so cute to watch all these dogs and owners mingling and frolicking.

At about mile 2 I hit the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument just across from the Lincoln Memorial. They are doing some construction in front of it so half of the sidewalks are shut down and it gets really narrow to run around. It's quite the obstacle course running around all the tourists.

Then I headed over the Potomac River towards Arlington National Cemetery. I'm not sure if you can tell, but at this time it started to get very overcast and a bit colder. The breeze was blowing pretty readily off of the Potomac. So, not only was I fighting the wind, but now the temperature dropped several degrees too. I was getting COLD!

Two pictures of Arlington National Cemetery. It always just blows me away at how vast the cemetery is. It goes on and on and on and on. It is a very poignant experience.

Then I jogged along through Johnson Memorial Park and on into the Mount Vernon Trail. Here is a view of D.C. across the Potomac from the Virginia side.

The Mount Vernon Trail is approximately an 18 mile biking and jogging paved trail that runs along the Potomac River from Roosevelt Island, up through Alexandria and ends at Mount Vernon. The trail is so beautiful to run on - so many things to look at while you're sweating and cursing your knees and ankles.

The world's most disgusting porta-potties I've EVER been near. Seriously - you could smell these babies from a 100 yards away. And according to the friendly "last serviced" (yeah - right) sign, they hadn't been serviced (and by serviced the must only mean dumped) in three days. Nice. But, when ya gotta go....ya gotta go. At about mile 6 all the pre-fueling and watering hit my bladder and I was about to BURST. So, I just held my nose and hoovered the best I could. Do you KNOW how hard it is to hoover when your quads are already burning from running???? My legs were shaking. I know...TMI.

A really great thing on the trail is that you cross over several brooks and streams near the river. They have built these quaint little wooden bridges across. It was so serene to see all the colors of the leaves starting to change, to hear the soothing babbling of the nearby brook and to hear the dull thud as your feet hit the wooden planks.

At mile 10 I hit Alexandria. I had always wanted to go into Alexandria and walk around the old town shops there, but never managed the time. Well, I made it there this time and completely by accident! I really just took off running on the trail, wanting to get several miles in. I never intended to wind up in Alexandria!

So I decided, "While I'm here - I might as well walk around!"

Here are some pictures of the shops, pubs, cobble-stone streets and condos near Old Town Alexandria.

Funny thing...while I was walking around I figured I had better fuel back up for the 10ish mile run back. I had two packets of goo in my fuel belt, but as I was walking around I passed, not one, not two - but THREE ice cream stores. It was a sign. I rationalized to myself that ice cream is in fact a form of goo - all the sugars will give me the carbs I need, plus ice cream has protein that will sustain my energy later.

So, here I am enjoying a combo scoop of pumpkin ice cream (the seasonal special) and blackberry cheesecake. She gave me a HUGE amount of ice cream for $4.50!! But don't worry - I only ate about a quarter (OK - maybe a third...) of it. I didn't want to run on a full stomach.

Ahhh - I'm taking a break, just basking in my ice cream. Guess I gotta get up now and head back. 10 miles back....

Alexandria is a very picturesque city. Even as you get into town from the trail there is artwork and monuments like above to welcome you into the city.

I guess that's why I found this so humorous. About a mile outside of town on this beautiful trail is a Kaiser plant sitting right on the water. Now the plant is a monstrosity of rusted metal and filth, but Kaiser has tried to make it "pretty" by placing the muraled wall in front of the plant with a note of "thanks" to the community.

The next five or six miles just FLY by. I'm just enjoying the scenery and watching the bikers and runners around me, listening to my ipod. The next thing I know I'm at mile marker 15 (and for some reason Minnie coincided exactly with the mile markers coming back! Weird!).

Then I see THIS gorgeous site across the river - the Washington Monument and the Jefferson Memorial. I'm almost home!!!

At mile 18 I hit the Jefferson Memorial and I convince a nice tourist lady to take a picture of the very sweaty blond girl all geared up in her dorky runner apparel.

I turned at the Washington Monument a little after mile 18, not wanting to go back to the hotel just yet. I decided to finish out the run strong and get my full 20 miles in. So, I took a right and ran down the mall toward the Capitol. It was dusk at this point and to run toward the Capitol building, watching the sunset and to watch the Capitol light up was was WOW! And the coolest thing was right as I started to run toward the Capitol, John Cooger's "Pink Houses" started to play across my ipod. This run was just MEANT to be.

Again - a sign that the run was meant to be. As I turned back up 15th street to head back to the hotel I had about a half mile until I reached 20 miles. Right as I hit 20 miles I look down and there is this plaque entitled "The Extra Mile". It's part of the Points of Light monument encouraging people to go that extra mile to help others. How fitting though for that extra mile to be my long run goal!

Shockingly, I wasn't too terribly sore that night or the next day. Now, I was sore - truly, but not gimping around, popping advil all the time sore. I averaged right at 12:30 miles, but that's with frequent stops to take pictures and sight see. Every time I looked down I was jogging at about an 11:30 pace. So, if I can just keep around 12:00 miles for the marathon I will be one happy gal. It was a glorious run and I'm so super proud of myself for just doing it. One 20 miler out of the way. I have an 18 miler and then start tapering for the race. I'm getting excited!!!!!

Today I LOVE: The thrill of what seemed like a daunting run - accomplished!


Emma said...

That was the coolest post EVER....I have never been to Washington and now I feel like I had a first hand tour. How beautiful...If the Texas Panhandle looked like that, I may be up to running 20
Thanks for adding the pictures...They are awesome...Wish my job let me travel...I'm very jealous of you!

Sarah said...

I have to second Emma on this one, this is the COOLEST post and the sweetest run I have ever encountered! I LOVE LOVE the pictures! OMG, how fantastic and memorable. I haven't been to Washington either and it is not for lack of wanting...that is so amazing. It makes me want to experience it all the more.

Glad you had a super run and you are totally pumped up!!

Have a great day!

Willie said...

You are a total rock star! I'm so impressed.

DID YOU REALLY STOP FOR ICE CREAM IN THE MIDDLE OF A 20 MILER??? That right there is enough to skyrocket you to insane status.

I love the picture of the capital. I took the same one last year when I was there! I still have it on my desktop. I got the reflection off the pool also so it's super cool.

You were totally equipped for an urban adventure weren't you?! Got the Ipod, sunglasses, water, etc... Totally prepared for anything the city could throw at you.

What a great tour of the city and you had all those great omens just screaming GREAT RUN!

Girl on Top said...

Great job for getting out there. I love all the pictures and everything really seemed to be a sign of the meant-to-be run!

Melissa said...

Jen, that is totally the coolest run ever!! I love the photo tour! Thanks!!

You are a running rock star!! So proud of you!

RBR said...

What an awesome run!! Truly, the COOLEST RUN EVER! You look so fabulous and even stopped for ice cream like it was no big thing running 20.5. You are so ready for San Antonio! ROCK ON!!