Much of 2019 has been a year of charging forward without looking back, compared to previous years where I took time to do so throughout the months. With one day remaining in 2019, I thought I’d walk through my favorite photos from the past year, and reflect on the months gone by.
January brought weeks of unexpected time off thanks to the furlough/partial shutdown. Yes, we were paid in the end. Yes, I am glad I did not have to go into the office and work unpaid. No, I did not like it.
No, it did not feel like vacation, but I made sure to get lots of long runs in to keep my anxiety and frustration at bay. Also, running requires minimal gear and expense so it is an ideal furlough activity. I was in awesome running shape by the end of January.
This is a snowy run on Hains Point (which was also technically closed during the furlough as it is managed and maintained by the National Park Service). The lack of car and bike traffic, falling snow, and few runners on the Point made for a beautiful contemplative space.
The furlough ended, we all went back to work, and long runs reverted back to a weekend activity. This is from a Saturday long run along the C&O, which is about four miles from where I live. Thanks to Bikeshare, I sometimes take a bike from near my house to be able to start my run a little further from home. It allows me to spread my wings a little further and mix up running in the city. I love it!
I still revel in how the C&O tunnels right into the heart of the city. It’s such a peaceful space. Sometimes familiarity is boring, but other times it helps me see places more intimately, and I hone in on their subtle changes. The C&O is like that. This is the C&O on a chilly day with its winter haircut.
This photo was taken by Felkerino, but I’m including it anyway because it encapsulates my winter running. It’s during the latter part of the D.C. Rock ‘n Roll Marathon, and I was feeling so solid and tough.
The running miles during the furlough and into February paid off and I was able to really enjoy this marathon, even though they changed up the second half of the course such that runners had to do an out and back on a particularly hilly section. Argh! No matter, I was up for it. And down for it, ha ha!
Two weeks after finishing the marathon, Felkerino and I bike toured from Flagstaff to Los Angeles with our friend Foon. We used part of the Adventure Cycling Old Route 66 route. The tour marked my transition for the year from running to cycling.
I can’t say I would do this route again, as it involved a lot of highway riding and an insane entry over a mountain into the suburbs of L.A. via Interstate 15 that I’m totally okay not repeating, despite the decent shoulder.
It was great fun to ride into Los Angeles, though, and to meet up with our friends Jerry and Carolyn at the end. They spent most of 2018 and a large part of 2019 touring the world by bike, which I found very inspiring.
Brevets started in earnest during April, and weekends in between were spent keeping the legs going. It was game on for brevets and Paris-Brest-Paris (PBP). Time to start putting our 1200K faces together.
This is a photo from an informal ride with friends on one of my favorite local roads, Sugarland. I love the rise of this road, which is fairly gentle but still rewards with a nice swoopy view at the top. Sugarland is a fine country road and if you are ever in the area, I’ll take you there.
We lucked out with timing, and joined ride organizer and fellow D.C. Randonneur Bob C. on a checkout ride for the club’s Warrenton 300K. We had done the Frederick 300K a couple of weeks prior, and that ride had been gusty with a side of flat tires. In contrast, the Warrenton 300K was generally marvelous with gentle breezes, and sunny warmth with spring color popping everywhere.
Our route took us through horse and farm country in Virginia. The course has some undulation, but is never punishing. The segment featured in the photo sidles alongside a creek where you can usually see people out fishing.
The spring day was vibrant, even though we did run into the tail end of a storm late in the ride. I also recall how Bob could not contain his laughter when we were on a narrow country road with a giant tractor chasing us. He found the whole thing hilarious. It makes me laugh now just thinking about it.
In June, Felkerino and I officially qualified for PBP by completing the 600K with our club. The field was small, but we spent much of the two days of the ride leap-frogging or sharing miles with other riders. And there were two other women on this brevet riding a similar pace to Felkerino and me, which was also exciting!
Even though this course has beauty no matter the weather, the camaraderie of the group was a strong antidote to the overcast skies and rainy conditions. We were so lucky this year to enjoy so many miles of our long rides in the company of others.
With PBP just over the horizon, Felkerino and I kept the pedals turning with long summer rides, including another edition of the Kit ‘n Kish 600K which, after a 50-mile warmup, steers you right into the chop of Pennsylvania.
My legs were not at their best. Maybe it was the high heat, maybe it was all the miles we put into our legs over the previous months, I’m not sure. I never felt on top of the ride, and my body didn’t rise to the occasion in the way I hoped. Felkerino probably put in some extra effort for the team that weekend.
Even when a ride is eating you up, though, it can surprise you with something to keep you pushing ahead. This section of the course did that for me. To be out far away from home enjoying the sublime light with a couple out for their morning walk felt perfect.
The way that Felkerino and I approached PBP meant about 18 months of focused riding, including a 1200K in 2018. We were fortunate. It all paid off for us, and while we did not have a perfect ride, we had a pretty great one.
One of the toughest segments of PBP, mentally, was the section from Villaines to Mortagne on what is the third night for many 84-hour riders. We traversed almost all of this section in darkness, and after sunset it can become a real mental game to keep going those final 50 miles to the overnight.
Out of the darkness, this stop in Mamers came into view. Felkerino and I pulled over to take a break. I felt like I was in a French movie. All these bikes parked in front of the illuminated tent against a quiet town at something like one in the morning. We even saw fellow randonneur Kelly S. there! I had wanted to be able to push through to the overnight, but this stop was a treat that relieved the grind of pedaling and, in the end, kept me moving in better spirits.
After we returned from PBP, I had to keep my two feet going in order to be ready for the Marine Corps 50K, which I signed up for during an impulsive moment. It was a good challenge, and my body was up for it. I used my long runs to venture to places nearby, and where I could also catch some shade. It ended up being great fun seeing what new or rarely visited places my feet could take me.
One day my route included a loop around Roosevelt Island. I don’t generally run Roosevelt Island during the summer, as it can get crowded. After finishing my loop, I felt the urge to explore and ventured over to the Roosevelt statue. I was rewarded with this view of the the calm water reflecting the trees in front of it. Normally I don’t approach this section of the park, but I’m glad my feet took me there this day.
October found me back on the C&O Canal for a marathon tune-up. I felt like I needed an organized marathon early in the month to force my running mileage to an acceptable place for the Marine Corps 50K at the end of the month. This marathon – which consists of two out and back segments – feels like a blur, although I did not run it in a blur!
It was a spectacular day out there, though for some reason I was nervous up until the turn-around for the second half. After that, there was no finishing early option and my mind was at peace, so much so that I paused for this photo of the C&O in its transitional hairdo.
After this marathon, I began to experience burnout from all the year’s activity. I mean, I’m not that active, but setting the goals of a 1200K bike ride in France in mid-August with a road 50K run at the end of October requires some focus and effort, and I was ready to stop charging forward quite so much. That definitely had some impact on Marine Corps 50K. My fitness was there, but my mind was ready to do something else.
November! Party time! Coffeeneuring time! Don’t ride your bike so much time! I loved November because I was finally chilling out, doing short rides to coffee and going to the Philly Bike Expo for fun! I gave my aching achilles some rest. It was great.
This is a shot of Felkerino on the Schuylkill River Trail a mile or so outside of Manayunk, Pennsylvania. We were actually en route to a coffeeneuring stop at Volo Coffeehouse. I like the cobbles on this segment and wanted to capture them, as well as the lingering fall color.
Like it always does this time of year, the sun set earlier and earlier. I found myself frequently trying to beat sundown time for my post-work run and not quite making it, which is okay as randonneuring and year round bike commuting have taught me to embrace fading light and darkness. (Just make sure to have a light with you!)
I took this photo on a morning ride to Friday Coffee Club over at Swing’s on G Street. It was the day before the solstice. Frost covered the grass and the sun swept its golden light over the Mall. This grove of cherry trees to the left always fascinates me in winter. I paused for a photo – no more charging forward until next year.
- Running Miles: 1,015
- Cycling Miles: 5,800
- Two Feet: Two marathons, One 50K
- Two Wheels: Super Randonneur Series, 600K Kit ‘n Kish Permanent, Paris-Brest-Paris