We’ve been told at some point in our lives, “Finish what you’ve started.” To leave something wide open without a resolution (such as ending a musical scale on the leading tone without resolving to tonic) results in a lot of discord, cringing, and thoughts of “what could have been”. There’s also a lot of “what ifs” thrown in there, too: “What if I had finished that manuscript?” “What if I had asked that cute person out on a date?” “What if I had trained just a little harder for that race?”
And so on, la dee dah.
As many of you know, I was swept at mile 18 this year at the Marine Corps Marathon (if you’re unfamiliar with this, I invite you to read my recap here: http://wp.me/p3N8MQ-f3). I signed up for the WDW Marathon as a sort of “revenge marathon” to make up for a lackluster performance at MCM, and to reassure myself that, “You’re still a marathoner. You know what went wrong this time. You know what works. You’ve crossed that finish line before. Train up, eat better, get some more miles, and go slay it, sister!”
About a week or so before I came down here to D.C. for the holidays, Patrick and I were chatting about the trip, and he made this suggestion:
This seriously got me thinking. I’ll already be down here. I need training. I told myself that this week was going to be Hell Week for my legs and mileage. This might be my only chance to do this for a very long time, since I didn’t know when I’d be coming back to the city…
Why not. Why not do it? Bragging rights forever, right?
So today I got the course directions from the MCM website and took off towards the Mount Vernon Square Metro (which is an easy .56 miles away from the apartment). The weather has been a roller coaster the entire time I’ve been down here, alternating between hot and cold, sun and rain…I’m surprised it hasn’t snowed. Yesterday was 70 and sunny. Perfect weather.
Today? 45 and rainy. With wind. It felt like 37 degrees at one point.
I got off at the L’Enfant Plaza Metro stop, and immediately headed into Starbucks for some tea. Even with hot tea in my hands, I was already frigid. I walked back up 7th street towards Constitution Ave, and beared right to head to the Capitol. Walking long this road triggered a little bit of anxiety as I recalled the vivid scene of slowly shuffling my feet along and seeing the sweep bus just up ahead…
No. Not you. Not this time.
I crossed the road and stood next to a tree to take my obligatory “start line” picture. It looked awfully similar to my “sweep picture” taken in almost the exact same spot roughly two months ago:
I started out with a semi-slow walk, getting some blood pumping and the muscles warmed up. (No need to run with hot tea, either!) The throngs of holiday tourists were still lingering, and this would play a part in my pacing later on. I swung back down Independence Ave. and started the lengthy journey towards 14th St. (Note: Yes, I should have went down Jefferson Dr. as per the instructions. Oh well, it was only one street over, and they still ran parallel. Onward…)
I ditched my empty tea cup and started running at this point, dodging tourists and getting stopped at all the lights. It was rush hour, so traffic and people were expected at this point. The stretches of sidewalk that I could get some room to run…were fantastic. I’m not a fan of running outside… but this time, I felt like I could fly. Feeling the pavement against my feet as I propelled myself forward was so gratifying, and this feeling would linger during the rest of the run whenever I’d have this opportunity.
*insert quick potty stop at the Air and Space Museum*
I got to experimenting around with some of my Project Playlist songs and lined up my footstrikes to the tempo of the songs. Once I settled into a groove, I lost myself in the music. It was a nice distraction from the chatter of society.
I was coming up on 14th Street, which is *the* critical point for the MCM. It was the cutoff point that I never made it to in 2015, but squeaked into (by five minutes) in 2014. The difference between the two years, though, were the bridges: 2014 has us going across the 14th St. Bridge, and, according to the 2015 map, it was the Rochambeau Bridge.
Herein lies the problem: Each go toward Crystal City, but neither has sidewalks for safe running. *insert table flip here*
Alrighty, I’ll just detour this somehow….too bad I can’t take a boat across…oh hey, footpath to the Jefferson Memorial! He’s my favorite! Let’s go there!
I dashed over to see good ol’ Tommy J. (who really is my favorite Founding Father), pacing myself along the Tidal Basin and running up the steps.
Stepping out of the Memorial, I checked my Google Map and looked across the Basin. Crystal City was plain as day on the left. Rosslyn was on the right. Both were key areas on the race course. And there it was…Arlington Memorial Bridge. I could get over that and be on the other side of the water and maybe have a chance of getting into Crystal City. At this point, it was nearing 4:45 and the light was fading rapidly.
For those familiar with the course, I’m at Mile 11 on the Rock Creek Park trails.
I darted up 23rd St. SW and took a left towards Arlington Memorial Bridge. I checked the National Mall map that was there and saw that the Arlington National Cemetery was ahead. Wooooo!
I took off across the bridge, and ran the majority of it. (I typically utilize a Galloway Run/Walk/Run method with my running, but I’ve been attempting to wean myself away from too many walk breaks in my running. Today was a great example of how amazing it feels to run for long periods of time.) Once off the bridge, I kept straight on to Memorial Ave. I was in the vicinity of ANC, and kept going…
Right to a dead end. (Not quite, the monument below was there.)
The cemetery is only open 8-5. I got there at 5:15.
I snapped the above picture and turned around to the ANC Metro station, which was only a little ways back. It was totally dark at this point, extremely cold, and the post-run shivers were starting to take over. I navigated my way back to Mount Vernon Square Station, and was greeted with drizzle to accompany the cold.
I don’t think I’ve ever ran .56 miles faster in my life.
I. Am. Not. Done.
I may have detoured myself six ways from Sunday on this run and made it up as I went along, but I managed a solid 10K out of it.
I may not have reached Crystal City and experienced its role in the MCM course, but that’s what tomorrow is for. When it’s light outside, and not dark and scary and cold.
I haven’t Taken the Iwo like I did last year…yet. It’s there, waiting for me. And always will be. For those that keep the promise and accomplish the mission. That’s what tomorrow is for.
I’m going to finish what I’ve started.
How about you?