The year winds down, and the lull in normal activity opens up time for reflection. The last 12 months have signified intense growth for me, but not in the areas that I write about here. I tried some new things I wanted to do, and learned a lot about the importance of incremental progress and a good sense of humor.
Both running and cycling remained foundational activities to my everyday life, but they were not as in the forefront as has been the case in the past. As I noted earlier this year, I came to appreciate both running and cycling for what they offer in the moment – be it a time to meditate, a way to work out stress and agitation, or a healthy way to spend time with people I care about.
Ultimately the level of daily activity that I like to maintain was off, but over the years I’ve found that times of optimal balance are fantasic, but rare. Even though I spent more time in front of a computer screen this year than planned, I still managed to commute by bike or running. In the end, I ran over 900 miles, including three marathons, and I also took a few photos along the way.
January: Freshly Fallen
The first big snow of the year fell toward the end of January (Snowzilla!), and I ran around the Southwest Quadrant to check it out. I was so excited to find streets that had yet to be touched by any form of traffic. The area where I took this photo is now under construction for the new soccer stadium.
February: The Chill
During the early months of this year, I spent a lot of miles in the saddle, but there were a few days where the cold temperatures made running a more appealing option.
March: A Marathon and Active Transportation
I find spring marathons difficult to train for, but the Rock ‘n Roll D.C. Marathon (or whatever it’s properly called) is one of my favorite courses. The start is just over one mile from my house, and it passes through all four quadrants of the city. If you ever want to see D.C. on two feet, give this marathon a try. The photo above was taken by Felkerino in Capitol Hill.
This was also the month of the Errandonnee and the Errundonnee, the winter active transportation challenge I host on the blog. I chose to do the Errundonnee myself this year, and had a blast running around town with a pack on my back in the name of errands. This picture was taken at Yards Park, in front of a temporary art installation of giant bunnies. Giant bunnies!
D.C. popped with color throughout April and I caught Tulipmania, a seasonal illness where you cannot resist seeking out parts of the city filled with tulips and taking photos. It is an intense, but fortunately, short-lived illness that many in our area suffer through each year.
May: Running in New Places
May kicked off a summer full of travel, and I spent a week in Phoenix checking out the independent coffee shop scene, including a seven-shop running coffee crawl. Phoenix has several high-quality local shops worth visiting, including Bicycle Nomad, which is owned Erick Cedeno, an avid touring cyclist and advocate for active transportation.
After Phoenix, I headed to New Mexico and ran a few miles around Farmington (among other activities).
June: More Runs in New Places
June meant more travel. Some people really like travel. I like exploring, but on my own terms and using modes that don’t involve cars or airplanes. That said, it is enjoyable to run in places that differ from the terrain of home, and the places I visited in Arizona, New Mexico, and South Dakota were all fairly runner-friendly.
Out of the three, I made the most of my time in Rapid City, South Dakota. It’s a city a visitor can quickly wrap their arms around, and it also has an excellent trail system of both paved and unpaved paths. I wish I could have spent more days in Rapid City, and have added it to the list of places I would like to visit in the future on my own terms.
While much of July was taken up by our summer tour and more travel, I managed a few runs toward the latter part of the month.
Unfortunately, this included a run where I passed out, and I now have a few lingering scars to remind me of it. The lesson I took from this experience was the importance of running prepared, which essentially means leaving the house adequately fueled and hydrated, along with some form of identification.
No more travel! Yay! It felt so good to be home. Days were warm, but I didn’t care. Home!
On occasion, I find myself compelled to climb the steps to the Lincoln Memorial and join the tourists. It’s a beautiful memorial, and the view from its perch (no matter which direction you look) is lovely.
September: A Rare 10K
Felkerino and I planned a visit to Pittsburgh to see his daughter, who suggested we all participate in the Great Race. Felkerino finished the 5K, and his daughter and I ran the 10K. It was a perfect fall day for running – sunny and mild temps – and the course is a net downhill. I came away with a personal best in this race, at 53:29.00. Victory!
October: Marathon Month!
If you run, you know what October is… marathon month! I love October running, as it’s the culmination of so many people’s summer training. This year I ran Freedom’s Run (which included a D.C. to Harpers Ferry and back bike ride bonus) and participated in the Des Moines Marathon for the first time.
Both events were great in their own way. They were really too close together (October 1 and October 16) to allow adequate recovery between the two, but it worked out. By running the Des Moines Marathon I was able to combine a visit to family and friends in Iowa, and as for Freedom’s Run in West Virginia… well, it’s my favorite. This photo was taken by Paul Encarnación as we ran through Murphy Farm in a downpour. Yay, running!
November: Changing Seasons
I was undertrained for my back-to-back marathons and ended up with lingering achilles pain. Boo, running! Just kidding. I took it easy for a couple of weeks so it would stop crabbing at me. It’s frustrating to recognize when rest is the key to running more, but it’s part of taking care of the body.
And then I was back to it, incorporating a few jump photo sessions along the way. This photo was taken on a warm and sunny weekend run by Fort McNair in the waning days of fall.
December: Friends Make It Better
Running is better with good friends, and this year I started running regularly with Alex. She motivated me to go outside on days when I thought I would have preferred not to run. But always, after we began to pad our way down the Mall, I would be glad we decided to run.
Having a friend share the miles helps me stay more active and makes running more fun in general. We celebrated our last run together of 2016 with a jump photo by the Capitol Christmas Tree.
Even though I ran over 900 miles this year, I don’t really know that many people in the local running community. I might try to change this in the next year, and join a local running group. I’ll keep you posted.
BikeDC is another matter, though, and since the runners and cyclists often converge in places like Hains Point and the National Mall, it’s not infrequent that I encounter a BikeDC buddy while I’m out on my two feet.
Such was the case a couple of weeks ago when Ian and I ran into each other (figuratively) on Hains Point. He happened to be meeting his goal of 10,000 miles for the year, and I was just out stretching my legs on a chilly, overcast, and not-really-inviting day. That’s the benefit of less ideal days… the city quiets and it becomes your city.
When I first started writing this post I was disappointed in the year, thinking that I hadn’t really done much. After poring through photos and looking at overall miles for the year, I’d say it was a solid year of running and I’m glad I wrote about it.
My consistency was off from one month to the next, but as I said earlier, ideal balance amid competing priorities is difficult to achieve. Nine hundred miles isn’t nothing, and I’m also pleased that all of my miles were run outside. That’s right, zero treadmill miles in 2016!
I also did some bike riding, too, and I’ll write about that in a few. In the meantime, I hope you had a good year, too.