RunDC: 12 Months of Running in Washington, D.C.

I am on my way to Kindergarten. My mom has packed my lunch for me. I stuff it in my backpack, shrug on my coat, and point my two little feet toward school. It’s three blocks away– three country blocks and I have five-year-old legs, but still… it’s three blocks. And I have 30 minutes to walk these three blocks, so it should be no problem to arrive well before circle time. One would think.

Despite an ample time cushion, I was a chronically late Kindergartener. The 8:30 a.m. bell sounded, and I was still winding my way to the school’s front doors. Fifteen or twenty minutes later, I would saunter into class.

Every day I took the same route to school, but the outdoors always had ways of luring me away from my scholastic endeavors. School’s sameness bored me, but my walking route did not.

When the teacher called home to report my arrival habits, my mom was shocked. How much time does a person need to walk three blocks? Lots of time, Mom. There is a lot to see in three blocks.

Mrs. Peterson’s diligent efforts to reform my tardy ways had a low success rate. I continued to arrive after the morning bell had long stopped ringing.

I shaped up in later grades, but I have no regrets about my Kindergarten choices. I remember those walks with fondness, and through them I bonded with the outdoors.

Kindergarten walks to school remind me of my runs in the city over the last 12 months. Run commutes and lunch runs usually covered the same pieces of path and pavement, but they were seldom dull. I even carried a backpack on my run commutes, like my Kindergarten days, but now my feet are bigger and my commute is three miles.

January

January began with cold and sticky snow– ideal for making snowmen. I’ve never seen so many snowmen as I did in 2014. Snowmen are a fleeting sight, at least on the National Mall. It was rare to see a snowman in the morning who hadn’t been obliterated by the afternoon.

Early January morning run
Early January morning run
Late January run commute
Late January run commute

At the end of January, it snowed again, slightly more than a dusting. I maintain that morning commutes are best. When can you say you made fresh tracks on the National Mall? Only on the morning commute.

February

Valentine's Day afternoon run commute
Valentine’s Day afternoon run commute

Valentine’s Day. More snow! It wouldn’t last long, as the temperatures quickly rose above freezing, but it made for picturesque running.

March

Not a run commute
Not a run commute

I wasn’t taking many run photos in March, but I do have this memory from a 26.2-mile figure eight around D.C. This was a tough run for me, especially when it passed by my house at mile 18, but I stuck it out and resisted the urge to go home early. I’m glad I did.

April

April tulips by the Capitol
April tulips by the Capitol

Tulips remind me of Pella, Iowa, a town I visited several times as a child during its Tulip Time festival. The vibrant sea of colors from a garden of tulips never gets old.

May

May dandelions and clover along Ohio Drive on a morning run
May dandelions and clover along Ohio Drive on a morning run

The dandelion does not enchant me when it is blooming, but as it prepares to go to seed I’m always amazed by its delicate spherical symmetry.

June

June morning run commute
June morning run commute

“Hey runner! You’re going the wrong way!” Yes, this photo shows me running in the opposite direction of my office, but haven’t we all been tempted to take the path away from work?

July

July post-work run commute by Ft. McNair
July post-work run commute by Ft. McNair

This is a typical summer afternoon run commute, only I took a circuitous way home by Ft. McNair. I like this spot. You’re still in the city, but something about this brick wall makes it seem like it’s a D.C. from many years ago.

August

August morning run
August morning run

Whenever I go by the Enid Haupt Garden and the Smithsonian Castle, I see a fair number of federal workers walking through. It’s a handy cut-through from the Smithsonian Metro station. Do they admire the green space like I do? I can’t tell.

August morning run commute flower photos
August morning run commute flower photos

When I was putting together this photo set, I double-checked when I took the photos of these roses. A morning run commute! It’s a good thing I live close to work and can run fast when I have to.

September

September afternoon commute. Sometimes you see weird things in the city
September afternoon commute. Sometimes you see weird things in the city

One afternoon in September, I was returning home and passed these two gentlemen. I stopped and stared, perplexed by what I was seeing. A man with a stick, a guy at a desk with a computer, and a hat in midair.

It turns out this was an art exhibit that ran between 1:00-2:00 p.m. every Wednesday for a couple of months. What kind of art is that? I’ll call it poorly planned and elusive, but watching them set up at this unremarkable intersection in Southwest D.C. fascinated me.

September jump photo on the morning run commute
September jump photo on the morning run commute

I’m adding this one in late, but I couldn’t let a year pass without including a jump photo, and this was also the month when the U.S. Capitol got braces.

Mornings are definitely the time for jump photos. Otherwise there are too many potential observers, and I feel a bit crazy doing them– even though D.C. is a tourist town, and I see people taking crazy pictures on a regular basis.

October

October. Time for another long run around the city
October. Time for another long run around the city. Photo by Felkerino

Those poor people, running 26.2 miles around the city. Oh wait, I’m doing that too. Felkerino took this photo of me during one of my low points of the Marine Corps Marathon– after running Hains Point, a place where I often have my “why am I doing this” monologue.

November

November leaves on the morning run
November leaves on the morning run

I love the way raindrops will linger on the waxy leaves. I’m tempted to reach out a finger and touch them, but that only makes them slide away.

December

Dreary December lunch run
Dreary December lunch run

December has been an unusually mild and rainy month, but that actually can make for good running conditions, once I convince myself that running under gray skies is okay. To kick myself out the door for this run, I made a promise that I would reward myself with a tourist moment at the Lincoln.

While the area by Mr. Lincoln buzzed with visitors, the sides of the memorial were refreshingly quiet. Also, if you look closely toward the Capitol, the construction that’s being done makes it look like a monster took a big bite out of the side of the dome. Chomp!

Thanks for indulging the Year in Review posts, all. These are personal posts that help me appreciate any given year.

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