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March 31, 2008

My Kind of Business

I’ve never been crazy about business travel – but if there’s one place I ever have to visit, I’m glad that it’s Washington D.C.

People are sometimes surprised to hear that I pack my trail shoes whenever I visit our nation’s capital. And while it’s true that the most popular running soutes in the city are along the breezy banks of the Potomac, or amidst the stately monuments of the Mall, my tendency to be an “off the beaten path” type guy draws me to the quieter, more remote areas of town.

Most people come back from D.C. with pictures of the memorials and government buildings; I come back with pictures of dirt, rocks, and trees. That’s just the way I roll.

Furthermore, if you start in the right area of town, it’s quite easy to spend almost an entire run in the dirt – as the following pictures will attest.

Before we get to those however, I’ve neglected to mention the first run I took after reaching the city last week. Rainmaker was gracious enough to offer me a running tour from the District into northern Virginia. We covered almost 12 miles together, and I tacked another 4 on either side of meeting him to make it a solid 20 miles for the first night.

(No, I don’t have pictures of the meet-up, and I know what that means in the blogosphere. You’ll just have to take my word for it: it happened. And I was the mystery friend mentioned in this post of his. It’s circumstantial, but I can build a case around it.)

One other note about that first run: if you ever have the chance to run with Rainmaker, be sure to take him up on the offer. He’s a great host and very easy to talk with on the run. Just bring sure you bring your fast shoes with you – he’s become pretty speedy lately.

The second day was the 5-hour affair I described in the previous post, which left me one final day to take an easy recovery run – and to snap a few more pictures along the way.




The first 4 miles were the same as the day before – north on Rock Creek Parkway and into the park. There’s a dirt path that parallels the creek and roadway, so it’s fairly easy to avoid asphalt on this stretch.




Inside the park, a side trail navigates through a narrow canyon, heading up toward Connecticut Avenue. It’s hard to see the trail in this photo, but it’s fairly easy to follow on foot – as long as you’re willing to climb over some tree trunks and hop through some stream crossings.




After a mile or so, the trail emerges in one of those idyllic-looking D.C. neighborhoods north of Georgetown that I love running through, because the architecture is so different than anything I ever see on the West Coast. (There’s good reason for this, of course: brick crumbles like a house of cards in an earthquake. But it’s hard to match the aesthetics of homes like this.) This picture is from Upton Street, heading west.




It only takes 10 minutes and a couple of intersection crossings to reach another greenbelt trail that heads south toward the Potomac. Although there are buildings in close proximity on either side of this path, the surroundings make it easy to forget that they are there. However ...




The southern terminus of the trail is this tunnel under Canal Road, which is a somewhat jolting reminder that you’re actually in a big city.




Luckily, I got here before the sun had set too much – because going under tunnels like this at night often gives me a case of the yips. I’ve just heard too many bad stories, which I won’t disturb you with here.




The tunnel passage was uneventful, and here’s what awaits on the other side: the Potomac River and Key Bridge. The bridge crosses to the Virginia side, and is only a few minutes north of Roosevelt Island, if you haven’t had enough trails by now.




But on this night, I’m headed back to the hotel – which means following the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal back through Georgetown. If you’ll notice, it’s still a soft dirt surface.




The path finally gives way to brick at the end of the canal, which is less than 5 minutes away from my hotel. This run was about 10 miles long, and probably 90% of it was on dirt. Combined with the long runs of the previous two days, it gave me an approximate total of 60 miles for the three nights of my visit.

As I said before, I’ve never been crazy about business travel – but if you tell me that I’ll also have the opportunity to run 60 miles through beautiful scenery while I'm there, the prospect of being away from home becomes much more tolerable.

12 comments:

Scurry&Whirl 4/1/08, 1:36 PM  

thanks for the great review of DC! I think people are definitely surprised that we have all these great trails .. of course now we just need the year-round nice weather

Anne 4/1/08, 7:10 PM  

Why can't my business trips be this interesting?! As always, love the photos and the interesting perspectives -- especially that creepy tunnel. And thanks for the R.E.M. song in the sidebar. Great timing with the release of their album today.

Rainmaker 4/1/08, 9:14 PM  

It was a fun run! Even if not through the most scenic places around. ;) Thanks for meeting up!

I'll definitly have to give some of the places you've outlined here a run. It's funny how many routes there are out there, especially ones I've never done.

Addy 4/2/08, 2:44 PM  

Great DC tour! I never put together the whole bring crumbling in earthquakes thing with why there are no brick buildings out here, but it makes complete sense!

Dori 4/2/08, 4:12 PM  

Great tour! Looks like you´re new camera is working out nicely.

Mark Tanaka (Ultrailnakaman) 4/2/08, 9:16 PM  

Way to train! I did the same trails (Rock Creek Park) 2 or 3 times when I visited my sister the fall before last, although had to run through a lot of city to get there. It was such a pleasure to "get some trail," so to speak...thanks for the pics (I never brought my camera).

SLB 4/2/08, 10:29 PM  

Who's have thought! Some great trail footage around the nations capital, sounds like it's like LA; a bit of a disconnect between the reality and percption, I can head out my back door and within a half mile I am on dirt and can go for miles without hitting hard top. That's TV for you I guess.

PreFan1982 4/3/08, 3:05 AM  

I love Washington D.C.!! I'm a political science major so I love the history of it.
I never knew the neighborhoods were so nice. I will have to put "running in a Georgetown neighborhood" on my list of places I want to run.

RunBubbaRun 4/3/08, 3:38 AM  

Dang, thats some running there. On a business trip to get that many miles in, thats impressive..

Sounds like your training is going well for WS100.

Robb 4/3/08, 10:02 AM  

Sweet! I'd prefer the same, off-the-beaten-trail sort of thing in a big city. Glad you had a great time.

Annette 4/3/08, 4:38 PM  

Just the thought of running through that tunnel gives me the "yips." I would've run super fast if I had to do it. Yikes! Glad you found great places to run while out of town. Sometimes that's quite a challenge.

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