Finishing the states this year, running a marathon in each, I felt would not be complete without running in Washington DC. As much as the political environment in this country disgusts me (although I would not live anywhere else), Washington DC is the epicenter of our country's rich democratic society and model democracy for all of the world.
Growing up just 70 miles from Washington in Hagerstown, MD, in all my 55 years, I had never really visited as a tourist. I've been there for a couple of conferences, ran around the mall from the Lincoln memorial to the Capitol but that is about it. We still didn't have a lot of time to be tourists this time but Cindy and I, together, did our best. And, of course, I had to run 26.2 miles as well.
The Competitor group that stages the Rock n Roll Series, generally stages events that have poor logistics, separating start line, expo and finish line far enough apart to be annoying. Understandably, large running events are held for the runners but I think every event needs to take into consideration the people who come to support the runners. Its not always the case.
I selected the Courtyard Marriott on F and 9th since it was about half-way between the convention center and the starting line. It was a good selection and Courtyard is my favorite hotel chains because they are so consistent in their properties. The Expo was a typical Rock n Roll Expo with overpriced branded merchandise and big name sponsors. Actually, I thank the sponsors because without them, many of these events would not exist. Packet pick-up was easy and organized and the shirts were simple and nice. presented by Brooks. On our way we ate at the City Tap House.
So, the previous Saturday night into Sunday, I was deathly ill with the 24 hour flu, Rotavirus. I can't remember the last time I had the flu and can never remember being that sick. I also had a long day to Columbus on Tuesday for a meeting. Needless to say, I was concerned about running on Saturday. My appetite waned all week, I got dehydrated when I was sick and to top it off it was supposed to rain.
The City Tap House is a gastro pub and had some interesting food. Since they are a tap house, I felt obligated to have a pint. My appetite was coming back so I had a Cuban sandwich and a few wings, split with Cindy. After the Expo, we needed to find the Metro because, truly the only way for Cindy to get tot he finish line at RFK stadium or for me to get back to the hotel after finishing was to take the Metro. The Metro? Really?
The Metro is relatively easy to use in DC. We went to the Federal Triangle station to pre-purchase tickets for Cindy's trip to the finish. Buying a ticket was a challenge and it has to be exact fare between the two stops. It is not like NYC or Paris where you pay one fare and ride anywhere, So, here is my question, why put the finish way over by RFK stadium? I am sure that it was a permitting requirement for a few reasons: 1) with 25,000 runners and their guests, it would be a boon to the Metro's bottom line 2) there is ample room at RFK for everyone 3) it is far enough away from downtown that if another Boston happened, it would be away from the core city. I suspect that reasons 1 and 3 were the most likely because there have been millions on the mall with all kinds of events with ample room. But, it would have been nice to start and finish near the mall on Constitution avenue. Cindy said that the Metro also had an issue and the trains had to run on one track which backed up people getting on. She also said that when she arrived at RFK, the line to return (the half-marathoners) was so long it wrapped around the block. Yes, let's jam 25,000 people on trains with a reduced number of cars.
After the Metro we walked the mall to the Washington Monument, WWII Memorial, along the empty wading pool to the Lincoln Memorial. One thing I noticed was that most visitors were foreign but I thought, "we Americans need to get out and see our own country more." We then head back to the hotel by walking past the White House on Pennsylvania ave. This was the first time I had seen the White House live.
Sure enough, I woke to cold rain and even contemplated not running. What kind of runner would I be if I didn't run because of rain? Rain is actually not bad for marathons where the weather is a bit warmer as it has a cooling effect. But rain in the low 40's is not that pleasant. At least it was light but consistent enough that I would be wet relatively quickly.
We ventured to the starting area which was going to be a wave start. I was in corral 15 out of 32. Runners were everywhere. Porta-potties were plentiful on 12th street, which is around where my corral started. Miami's corral start was awful and I was expecting the same. Truly, it was done well with 1 minute in between corrals. Constitution avenue is wide as well so running at the start was not a problem.
The rain pretty much stayed with us throughout the run. There were more people on the streets than expected and volunteers were plentiful despite the rain. Event he bands played on. The course reminds me of the Baltimore course except it never comes back to the core of downtown. It goes close to the National Zoo and through some pretty interesting neighborhoods. The first half was definitely more scenic than the second half. It felt very industrial in the second half. I shared a Gu with a woman from China and ran a bit as we chatted with a woman from NJ about their first marathon. At miles 23-25, there are some significant climbs. I started to cramp at mile 24 while climbing and never really ran out of the cramp until the end. My pace dropped off and would never recover. The finish line awaited in a big parking lot which sort of looked empty due to the rain. It wasn't but I am sure it would have been much more crowded and bands would have played longer if it wasn't raining. I saw my girl, Cynthia, and I ran to her waving an American flag. It is the best feeling to see her there at the finish especially knowing what she had to do to get there spending the time waiting.
Just like the day before, it was a day packed full of Washington DC. We went to the Crime museum and did a CSI workshop, had dinner and then went to Ford's Theater to see Freedom's Song a musical written using Lincoln's words through years of the Civil War and the abolition of slavery. It was an emotional experience sitting across from where Lincoln was shot and watching this drama.
In spite of the rain, it was a really good weekend and besides running we packed a lot into 48 hours.
|Expo fitting room|
|On the mall|
|Lincoln Memorial with DC Police|
|Looking to Capitol from Lincoln|
|My first visit tot he White House|
|House where Lincoln died across from Ford's Theater|
|Love this black and white|
|Helping the corral captain|
|Finish - time for chocolate milk|
|CSI workshop at Crime Museum|
|Inside Ford's Theatre - flags is where Lincoln was shot|