Inauguration Weekend Running
|January 20, 2013||Posted by Emily under Uncategorized|
Last week, the Washingtonian’s Well+Being blog asked the twitterverse to share suggestions for running routes that avoid the National Mall and chaos of inauguration weekend.
I immediately tweeted them a response with the longest list I could fit in 140 characters. The next day, they included my tweet in a great list of recommendations from other tweet-happy local runners.
Armed with more than 10 fantastic options for local trails and roads that skip the Mall, can you guess where I decided to start my long run?
If your answer was “I think you ignored every single suggestion and headed straight into the madness,” you are correct.
While no one detests sidewalk-hogging tourists more than this girl, I’m a huge political nerd and wanted to seize the opportunity to check out the inauguration setup before hundreds of thousands of people flock to the Mall on Monday to watch Obama get sworn-in.
Since January is all about recovery and base building, I brought my phone along on the run and used the first few miles to snap a few shots of the insanity. I have no problem being an obnoxious runner and taking a few pictures to document something that only happens once every four years.
Never have I ever seen so many porta-potties with no start or finish line in sight. Actually never have I ever seen this many porta-potties even at a race. Seriously. Thousands of these babies are all over my city.
After I soaked in the inauguration sights, I left the Mall and got down to business with my long run.
I’m not going to lie to you guys, this was not the easiest run I’ve ever been on. I don’t know if it was the freezing wind that kept my quads from getting warm (note to self: sometimes shorts are not the best option), or my Friday night fuel of happy hour beer and movie theatre popcorn (outrageous thought, I know), or if I’m just out of shape (or all of the above), but for whatever combination of reasons, my legs were not the freshest they’ve ever been during a long run.
Around mile 14, I started to get really depressed. Three months ago, 15 miles was a midweek run, usually coupled with another workout. It certainly was not a distance I defined as “long” and usually not a distance that was tough to get through unless I’d run some ridiculous workout the night before.
Then my mind wandered to inauguration weekend four years ago. I was living in Vermont, fresh off a campaign cycle and, as is always the case in January, coming back from an injury.
I’d run one marathon ever, started training for a second and quickly fell victim to Follows-A-Training-Plan-Too-Closely-Itis. I ran through pain, didn’t listen to my body, and by god, if Hal Higdon thought I should run a 35 minute tempo on Tuesday, then that’s what I was going to do, even if my hip flexor was one stride away from permanent failure.
After finally waving the white flag and taking some time off, I was depressed and having a tough time motivating to start over with another training cycle.
My mom suggested accompanying her to a race in New Hampshire to get my legs moving again.
I don’t remember why I decided to go. It certainly was not the desire to drive four hours each way for a 5k.
Yes, you read that right. FOUR HOURS EACH WAY. For 5 freakin’ kilometers of running.
And it most definitely was not the gorgeous weather. I believe it was hovering somewhere around -20 that weekend. Yes, negative 20, as in 20 degrees colder than zero.
It might have had something to do with the patriotic prize packs.
But whatever it was that got me to that race, it snapped me out of my funk and pushed me into one of my most rewarding training cycles.
I spent the next five months running with some amazing women in Vermont and actually training in a responsible way for the first time in my life. I stayed injury-free and met my goal of breaking four hours in the marathon at VCM that May.
Thinking about that spring made me feel better as I slogged through the last of my 15 miles. I can’t pinpoint exactly which thought helped the most, it was all good: a renewed love for running after an injury, being smart about training, connecting with incredible people through our shared love of miles, setting a goal to sub-x a marathon and making it happen, and gaining speed back after losing fitness.
Most of all, it was a good reminder that the early weeks back from an injury are always tough both physically and mentally. It’s not the right time to assess fitness or get discouraged. If 15 miles still feels tough two months into marathon training then we might need to talk. But for now, I am going to appreciate that I’ve got plenty of time to get my strength back, trust that it will happen, and go look for my Inauguration Day 5k hat. It’s obviously the perfect accessory for my inauguration weekend cocktail dress.