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2020 on Two Feet

Running is what I do when I want to sift thoughts through my head. A run helps me believe that life is manageable. I ran steadily in 2020 and ended up with 1,280 miles. I walked, too – 614 miles – because walking is a good tool for not only doing errands around town, but also contemplating life.

This is my 2020 year in review on two feet.

January – Anacostia Park Runs are for Weekends

In January, I fit in weekday runs on the work treadmill, and ran outside mostly on weekends. Looking back, life seemed plain and unremarkable.

January – Anacostia Park Run

This is a photo from a run in Anacostia Park. I like this little spot that leads out to the river. The prairie grass reminds me of the Midwest.

February – Reflecting Pool is Full

The Capitol reflecting pool was refilled after it was drained toward the end of 2019. The water did not last long. Something must have still needed fixing because a few weeks later it was empty again and remained so for most of the year.

February – Capitol Reflecting Pool

I ran past it just after the refill and took this photo. The clear water was a rare treat to see.

Again, I am not sure why they drained it again and left it empty so long. Maybe people in the Capitol were unable to see their reflections and convinced themselves it was because of the water.

March – Virtual Challenges Begin

Mid-March and the pandemic altered our lives. We began figuring out the social distancing and face mask routine and learning new ways to help keep ourselves and others safe.

I participated in a virtual challenge called the Social Distance Running Project. I printed out a bib, decorated a t-shirt in what I thought was a very clever and creative design, and then timed myself doing a 5K.

March – Socially Distanced Running

I really don’t like this photo, but it captures my state and the city at this point of the pandemic. Flowers bloom behind me, and what would normally be a fairly busy part of the city is largely empty of people.

I did not understand the magnitude and gravity of what was happening, and was just abstractly anxious about it. “Social distance” was a new term we were rolling over our tongues, and I thought it would be fun to put on a bib and a decorated t-shirt.

It wasn’t unfun, I guess, but the effort to stay healthy, calm, and empathetic throughout the pandemic has not been a light-hearted endeavor.

April – Emptiness

I wrote about this in the 2020 on Two Wheels post, but the city was so empty in April. In a way it was eerie, in another way it freed me up to run all over the place. In the street, on Constitution Avenue, along Massachusetts Avenue, and up and down Hains Point (which closed to cars for a time and really, why can’t we do that all the time?).

April – Empty streets and spaces

I took photos of the emptiness because it was so unusual. I also started to feel pretty down this month. I stopped listening to music, I ran and ran because I was struggling with the adjustments to our circumstances.

I couldn’t decide on one photo so I’ve included four that captured how I saw the city. “We’ll get thru this” is still on the side marquee of The Anthem as I write this post.

May – Bridge Work

May – New Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge

Felkerino modeled good behavior this year and religiously went out on the bike before work. I followed suit by going for pre-work runs because I am a copycat.

The easiest route for me was to a no-stop-signs loop through Anacostia Park. I also encountered fewer people on this route, which made it a more easeful space to stretch the legs.

By taking this route most days I had a close-up view of the construction of the New Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge. It will ultimately replace the original bridge that sits right beside it.

I can’t believe that one day we will all drive, run, and ride our bikes over this new bridge made by human beings! I know that’s how it has always been done, but it’s the first time I have seen it happen right in front of me.

These two photos were taken on one of my weekday morning runs. It gave me the wobblies to watch and then I worried I’d drop my phone in the river taking the picture. Guess I’m not cut out for bridge work after all.

June – Black Lives Matter Plaza

Black Lives Matter and the month of June shook me out of my complacent existence. People covered the fences outside of Lafayette Square and the White House – fencing installed to distance the White House from citizens – and shared their signs and messages about racism and injustice. People changed the space there, and made it about the people.

June – Black Lives Matter

One morning I took a break from the Anacostia Park loop, ran by the plaza, and took photos of most of the sections as they were at the time. It was early so I had an opportunity to soak it all in and take photos.

July – Always Be Coffeeneuring – On Two Feet

Once businesses figured out how to operate safely and we all figured out masks and social distancing guidelines, Felkerino and I began what he called Covid Coffee Club. Our main spot for Covid Coffee Club was Peregrine in Eastern Market.

Felkerino would ride over, and I would run. At two miles point to point, it’s a perfect morning run distance.

July – Covid Coffee Club

This particular morning it was just Felkerino and me though we usually have a group of around four of us most Fridays. It’s a bit of small fun in 2020, and I like how it inspires me to go outside before the day gets away.

This photo encapsulates how Felkerino and I have dealt with the stresses of the pandemic. He gravitates toward the bike (he even has the trailer on this day as he was off to get groceries after coffee), and I generally choose my two feet.

August – Final Bridge Segment

The bridge project has been super exciting, especially the installation of the segments that comprise the arches. I was such a regular passerby that one of the workers/project managers told me when the last segment would be installed.

August – Final segment installed

I marked my calendar and sprinted out over my lunch hour between meetings to see it. I ran so fast!

The giant crane, the imposing piece of steel, and all the people working to make sure it fit just so – it was all amazing to observe in real time, right above me. I also learned the tradition of the topping tree, where a pine tree is placed atop the structure once it reaches its fullest height.

In addition to installing the segments, work began on the support for the road surface. This is another job I would not be suited for due to vertigo and general ineptitude. Still, I liked the fluorescent orange buckets of nails and watching the workers pound the giant nails into the supports. They are fearless.

September – Ruth Bader Ginsberg

After Ruth Bader Ginsberg died, people made pilgrimages to the Supreme Court to pay their respects. My friend Courtney and I also went by one evening. People had left flowers, stones, signs, even little earrings and other tokens, and written messages in chalk all along the barriers outside the Capitol complex.

September – RBG

I returned the next morning after Covid Coffee Club for a better look before the rain washed everything away. A few people were milling about to see RBG’s casket moved from the Supreme Court to the Capitol, but in general it was quiet and I loved getting a glimpse of her legacy in all the messages people had left her.

October – Virtual Marine Corps Marathon

I try to do about two local marathons each year. D.C. has a great running community and puts on some really fun local events. It’s frivolous, but I missed marathons this year.

Over the year, I ended up doing two marathon distance runs. The first was a spontaneous affair on Hains Point at the end of June (yep, Hains Point!). The second was a 26.2-mile jaunt that I routed from home to the C&O towpath for several miles and back as part of the virtual Marine Corps Marathon (MCM) held this year. I thought about doing a version of the actual MCM course, but I was really craving green space and calm so the C&O was the better destination.

October – Virtual Marine Corps Marathon

I did not run for time, and got distracted for a couple of miles by the beauty of the fall leaves such that I had to kick my own butt to get back to the task at hand. The day was a bit rainy and cool and I had the C&O mostly to myself, a rare treat.

At this point in the year, I was just glad to be outside and not working so it took some mental gymnastics to refocus on putting one foot in front of the other with a real sense of purpose. Mission accomplished, though, another MCM in the books even it if ended up being pretty much the antithesis of what a real life Marine Corps Marathon is like!

November – Night Runs

My morning routine faltered a little in the latter months of 2020, and I became inspired to start night running again. With sunset at something ridiculous like 4 p.m., there were lots of hours to work in a night run.

For some reason, the thought of running at night had been unsettling earlier in the year, but in October and November it became a calming activity.

November – Night Runs

One evening I was running along Ohio Drive toward the Lincoln and turned to see the full moon rising beside the Washington Monument. Quietly stunning, I paused to take a picture so I could have the memory of it.

December – Holiday Walks with Courtney!

One of the only other people I have seen in real life this year is my friend Courtney, and we like exploring the city on two feet.

December was a particularly great month for walking because people put up their holiday decorations early and they put up lots of lights! And they even refilled the Capitol reflecting pool – finally!

December – Holiday Walks with Courtney

At some point in our walks we latched on to taking a picture of someone taking a picture. It started spontaneously and then expanded. Night walks almost always present some moment that sets up well for a meta photo. All the pictures here were taken during our December walks.

It has been such a unique experience and privilege to see the city as we have this year, and we did so much of it on two feet. We’re the ultimate Mall walkers, haha!

I am happy to be walking out of 2020 in good health. Through it all, Felkerino helped me stick to a routine so I didn’t succomb to inertia. He often kept my spirits up simply by pushing forward each day. The city became like a park that I was lucky to explore for much of the year, and my good friend and I grew our friendship and affection for the city through time on two feet.

I am keeping my hopes high for all of us in 2021. Cheers, everybody.

2 Comments »

  1. Thanks for all those great bridge pictures. (Reminded me of when the Wilson Bridge was replaced. Same method for the arches. Segments cabled together.) How in the world did you get those closeups of the workers way up high?

    Oh, and HNY to you and your intern.

    Like

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