May 24, 2014, Washington, DC: The art of slow travel has some history along the C&O Canal towpath. Back in the day, boats transported goods between east and west along the canal that parallels the Potomac River before railways offered a faster alternative and helped make canal transport obsolete. A journey on the 184-mile canal once took five to seven days, a pace at which the tiniest details of this landscape might have become quite familiar to those at work along the route.
“It was being a runner that mattered, not how fast or how far I could run. The joy was in the act of running and in the journey, not in the destination. We have a better chance of seeing where we are when we stop trying to get somewhere else. We can enjoy every moment of movement, as long as where we are is as good as where we’d like to be. That’s not to say that you need to be satisfied forever with where you are today. But you need to honor what you’ve accomplished, rather than thinking of what’s left to be done.” — John Bingham
May 20, 2013, Washington, DC: We run together through a spitting rain. First as a tight pack and later as a long string of a neon sneakers stretched out over the entire neighborhood. We check the landmarks off the list first, tagging the back of the Supreme Court and the Shakespeare Library before beelining it away from the city in a straight shot out toward its edge. Familiar faces and strangers reach into the street offering paper cups and high fives. Clutching coffee mugs, wearing baseball caps, there’s the shopkeeper from around the corner, the family who lives down the block…
“Every mile out there is a gift.”
-Amby Burfoot, winner of the 1968 Boston Marathon
April 22, 2013, Washington, DC: Amby Burfoot was less than a mile from the finish line last Monday, ready to celebrate the 45th anniversary of his marathon win, when the bombs went off on Boylston Street. I heard him recount his story a few days later on NPR’s Fresh Air as I drove home up Independence Ave. and past the U.S. Capitol where flags flew at half staff to commemorate the victims of the Boston Marathon. When I got home, like so many others, I went for a run. Past the Capitol Police on the corner of Independence and 3rd, behind the Library of Congress and the Supreme Court, out East Capitol and around Lincoln Park. The usual route, spiked this time with an unusual sense of patriotism.
I ran a lot last week, in fact. Undoubtedly inspired by those who ran the marathon and those who cheered them on, undoubtedly motivated by the neighborhood 10K coming up next month. On Thursday, I ran my occasional six mile route home from work, through Dupont Circle into downtown and east along Pennsylvania Ave towards Capitol Hill. The pedestrian plaza in front of the White House, a highlight on the route, remained closed due to increased security, but the crowds of runners and visitors out that day detoured around it and carried on.
November 3, 2011, Washington, DC: There is a trail in the Marin Headlands, just north of the Golden Gate Bridge, that always reminds me of racing daylight. It dead ends at Tennessee Beach facing west-southwest at the Pacific Ocean. If you squint hard enough, you think you just might see the Farrallon Islands. The Tennessee Valley Trail is one of my favorite spots in the country, and it’s the spot I’d once hurry to after work, to race out and back to the beach in the bottom right corner of the photo pictured above.
If I planned it right, I’d return to my car just in time to realize it was suddenly dark and very cold there in that valley. It’s that time of year again when I’m racing daylight.