I had one of those beautiful runs of a lifetime this weekend in Washington, DC. Another one that comes to mind is running along Lake Michigan in Chicago last fall. At any rate, my family flew into DC on Friday morning for the weekend. My left knee has been intermittently sore since my previous 20-mile run so I didn't run on Friday but enjoyed lots of walking from our hotel to many of the sites along the mall.
I had a 13-mile run on my “schedule” for Saturday. My husband was on west coast time due to a business trip and my almost 13-year-old son has started to enjoy sleeping in, so they were still sound asleep when I snuck out of our hotel room at about 7:30 on Saturday morning. Rain had been forecast but the day was bright and clear although windy. I headed down toward the Washington Monument and then ran toward the Lincoln Memorial. I knew from a Runner's World article this month that there was a way to head over a bridge and get to a running trail in a park but I hadn't taken time to study a map. There were lots of other runners out so I followed two men ahead of me that seemed to know where they were going.
I headed over a bridge and kept following their lead and then got tears in my eyes when I realized they had led me to the edge of Arlington Cemetery. I followed them along a path outside the cemetery wall and then saw a road sign pointing to the Iwo Jima Memorial so took a breather and walked up the hill to view this stunning monument. It was such a beautiful spring day with trees and flowers in early bloom that it was a bit emotional to feel so alive and contemplating those that are no longer with us. Once I had left the Iwo Jima Memorial, I started running back along the path toward the bridge I had crossed and headed back into the mall area. I ran again until I reached the Korean War Memorial, which is another moving work and again walked to view it. Next I headed back up the mall toward the Smithsonian buildings, running toward the Capitol. The path in the center of the mall is firm packed dirt with loose rock and after a few blocks of this I decided it wasn't the best surface for my knee so switched to the firm sidewalks. Capitol Hill is most definitely a hill and that climb slowed me down a bit but I ran behind the Capitol to the front of the Supreme Court and then back down the hill to return to the Smithsonian admiring the new spring flowers and the beautiful design of the Native American Museum.
At that point I'd had a phenomenal tour of the area and was hungry, thirsty, wondering if my family was awake and starting to have more and more left knee discomfort. By the time I had made it back to my hotel, I had "only" run 10.6 miles but didn't have it in me to do my full 13. I rationalized that I'd get a lot more miles in while walking the rest of the day (which I did). It was certainly a run I'll never forget and hope to have the opportunity to repeat in the future.