The blog about what we experience in our everyday runs

Monday, February 13, 2012

Sunny with a chance of snowballs

38 Days -- 

After running 20 miles on Saturday I felt a great sense of accomplishment and pride. Just 6 weeks short of my marathon, I was able to complete my longest and toughest training day yet.

But adding to the feat this Saturday was the diverse weather conditions that I experienced during my 2 hour and 45 minute trek through D.C. and Virginia.

Even though I had the potential to see multiple sights on this lengthy route, the most interesting of the entire run was my continued wardrobe changes to reflect the ever changing weather patterns. (Although the multiple cop cars and ambulance outside a run-down pawn shop off North Capitol in Northeast D.C. was a bit interesting).

With weather conditions changing about as rapidly as Metro escalator service, I wasn't sure whether to be praising or hating Al Gore for inventing global warming.

When I started the run, it was a balmy 45 degrees and completely sunny. In fact people probably thought I was getting ready to start streaking as I kept unzipping and pulling off articles of clothing. You are welcome National Mall goers, my clothes stayed on.

But just as I was cursing myself for wearing a warm running jacket in February and watching several men run by in shorts and t-shirts, the wind whipped up and the clouds rolled in and lordy be, I was zipping that jacket right back up.

Of course as I'm entering the 17th mile of this run, energy on low and trying hard to keep my legs moving forward (I purposefully planned a downhill last few miles, hoping sheer gravity will help me finish), the biggest blizzard of the winter blew up with me in the direct center of it.

With snow blowing and the wind drying the salty sweat to my cheeks, I trudged on, toward my goal of completing the 20 miles.

Can't say I would purposefully go running in a blizzard again, but it was pretty fun to get out and run in some different weather conditions. And considering winter is almost over, I'm definitely glad I had this moment of Sights in My Nikes.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Forget the tunnels, start building in the sky

44 Days --

With the Acura Super Bowl ad highlighting the advances in human flight, it seems only proper to write about the trapeze school in Washington, D.C.

Located near the Nationals Stadium at the Navy Yard waterfront, the trapeze school offers a tempting vacant lot of tall metal poles, ropes and fun looking things to jump from.

This strange location for a trapeze school (a New York one at that) only begs the question of its purpose. Perhaps there's some secretive plot, something akin to HUD's building doubling as a UFO landing pad.

Two alternative uses come to mind. First, this trapeze school is eerily close to the Department of Transportation's headquarters. Perhaps DOT is investigating new modes of transportation to alleviate traffic congestion. Nothing like a little outside the box thinking.

Should probably closely read the FY 2013 DOT highway bill for sure.

In the slightly more likely scenario, it seems as if Jerry Seinfeld was on to something when he offered his personal network of trapeze throughout Manhattan in exchange for the new NSX. Of course, why would Seinfeld need such car if his trapeze network was so efficient? But that's beside the point.

In what would definitely be an interesting and marked change to the Nation's skyline, the possibility of traveling via zip line throughout the Capital would be a welcome change to the current system of subterranean travel. Just imagine the speed that could be built up flying from the National Cathedral down Connecticut Ave to Farragut Square. Sounds like a solid investment to me.

While we search for this line item in DOT's budget, maybe we should go back to the Super Bowl commercial to check out how exactly Seinfeld had that network constructed (although Leno's device grants greater flexibility). Next time I run along the water front I may climb the trapeze pole for some good Sights in My Nikes and to get used to my new form of city travel

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Diggin for gold in Einstein's nose

48 Days --

As the saying goes: "You can pick your friends, you can pick your nose, but you can't pick your friend's nose."

If only the school group near the National Science Foundation on Constitution Ave followed that valuable phrase.

It's fitting that the Einstein memorial is located on NSF's front yard. In a departure from the artist's perceived intent, the statue gives the outdoorsy types a free place to practice their rock climbing, a place for school groups to take photos, people to rest and of course for scientists to think (I would imagine the rough service helps with the rocking climbing grip. Abe, across the street, is far too smooth and has too many armed guards to warrant this activity).

While the aforementioned activities are at the very least plausibly acceptable, the statue's large nose provides for an ample picking from 8th graders, which in many of the DC social circles is utterly unacceptable.

I understand the desire to take a picture with one of our nation's greatest scientists. But to jam a finger up the nose, well, that's just plain rude. People don't go sit in Abe's lap and talk to him like he is Santa; people don't hop in FDR's wheelchair to take it for a spin; and only Martin Luther King can really climb that mountain.

Although, people do commit strange acts with (or in front of) the Washington Monument. That could be an exception to the monument rule and will be taken into advisement.

But I do understand the need for Albert's nose to be at least itched. Perhaps our cities visitors could offer a tissue instead of their finger next time.

Or even better, maybe the solution is to do what Teddy did. Get your own island that only locals know about and put up a giant statue. Perhaps Teddy's lonely habitat, though, explains his string of losses in the Nationals game races. That question too remains pending.

Nevertheless, its most often the tourists that make for the comical things in Sights in My Nikes. I just suggest letting Albert pick his own nose (and his own friends) next time.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

What lies beneath? DC's silos lead to an innovative past

 52 Days — 

Missing from the Tourmobile bus route is a 25 acre plot of land in D.C.'s Bloomingdale neighborhood. The open space with silos, manholes and a lake resembles something closer to Stonehenge than any type of structure that would belong in NW D.C.

The plot on the corner of Michigan Ave NW and North Capitol St NW is what's left of the McMillian Reservoir Sand Filtration system. The Army Corps of Engineers originally constructed the system in 1905 as a means to provide clean drinking water to a burgeoning population.

What was once considered a public health milestone, now stands in a state of disrepair, with the District  and community groups unsure of its future. But during it's near 90 years of service, the facility provided chemical free, clean drinking water to the District.

Beneath the silos and the manhole covers are large cells with sand which filtered water from the Potomac River. Much of the sand came from Michigan, in honor of Sen. James McMillian of Michigan who brought the sanitation system to the area.

While water was purified underground, the open space on the surface contained a park, complete with carriage paths, benches and fountains — certainly something that would rival the National Mall.

Shortly after WWII the area was fenced off and the park closed as the government had concerns with people tampering the entire water system.

In 1986 the Army Corps sold the property to the District and closed the facilities. Since it's sale, there have been numerous attempts to commercialize the land with plans including housing units, a hotel, shopping mall and limited green space. Community groups and other organizations have suggested turning the area into a museum, park, library or some other form of public mixed-use property.

There even has been a recommendation for a dog memorial to all dogs who have died in the district.

The property was designated a DC Historical Landmark in 1991 and has been listed on most endangered lists in 2000 and 2005.

Since the silos and near 5,000 manhole covers caught my attention on today's run, it only seemed proper to give this historical, strange looking and somewhat out-of-place plot of land a little salute in Sights in My Nights.

Sources: | | |

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Can someone say ouchies!

56 Days — 

Running on crowded sidewalks often calls for a little self-defense.

Often I must throw a defensive stiff arm at a car turning into me (yes my Hulk like arms will stop a cabbie in its tracks), hurdle a bush or just come to a complete halt.

Yet, I usually don't have trouble with stationary objects. Shockingly, the trees, monuments, statues and metal barricades don't move; thus making them pretty predictable objects to dodge. Although some of those horses do look real.

It's on the rare occasion, that the objects do move that I somehow find a way to jump in their way. Tonight, I took a tight corner with a wrought iron fence post, and as I was rounding the corner, the fence post gained an inch and whacked me right in the elbow.

Since I often lift my arm up just to the right height when I run by metal poles, the only rational explanation is that the fence gained a few inches as I ran by.

Fortunately for me, my elbow took the brunt of the damage, leaving my legs in tact for future runs.

Just in case those inanimate objects don't move, the next time I take in a Sights in My Nikes, I'll definitely pull that elbow up a higher.

(Aren't you lucky...two posts in one day)

My motorcade is bigger than your motorcade

56 Days --

There are a few things that only Washingtonians have the pleasure of dealing with.

While much of this is covered in "Shit DC People Say," there are still a few realms that even such a comedic masterpiece neglect.

We deal with streets that were designed to confuse people, tourists that aimlessly walk into the middle of the street just so they can get far enough away to fit the Washington Monument in the photo, corrupt city council members, Metro buses that act more like M1-A1 tanks than public transit and a Chinatown that lacks, of all things, Chinese places.

Beyond the headaches that these aforementioned and other daily nuisances cause, there is one distinctly DC regular happening that just doesn't occur elsewhere. Motorcades.

It's fitting that the run on the State of the Union night includes motorcades. But they don't just magically appear on major speech nights. It seems that everyone and their mother needs at least two black unmarked Suburbans, a Metro DC cop car and a posse of burly men and ear pieces.

I don't know what goes into deciding which important official gets the black Lincoln and which deputy gets thrown into the Airport-like shuttle van, but I wonder if there is a competition for who's motorcade is longer. I can only imagine the thoughts that go through these distinguished officials minds when they walk outside and see their fleet of cars.

Unbeknownst to the general public, there is probably some underground running pool. I imagine the points system would run as follows: one point per black unmarked SUV, double points for snipers hanging out the back, triple points for a bus and finally 10x bonus powerup for the helicopter trail, with the searchlight running.

All I hope is that there isn't a reward for taking out runners. But if there were, that would be quite the Sights in My Nikes.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Chef Spike's pre-race fuel

60 Days — 

Good Stuff Eatery on Capitol Hill hits the spot nearly every time.

Let's just say the Canadians giving up Chef Spike is the price they had to pay for that premo embassy real estate.

But just because it's good stuff, doesn't mean it's good stuff to fuel a run.

As a general rule of thumb, downing a cheeseburger and fries a few hours before a run has a negative effect on speed and overall well-being.

Not to mention it produces some serious fartleks (and we're not talking about the Swedish kind).

In the spirit of trying different foods, running techniques, workouts, neighborhoods and truly anything new before the marathon in March, I actively ate a delicious Good Stuff meal only a few short hours before my evening run.

Sometimes runners complain that their legs feel like they are moving through cement—usually this feeling comes after a hard workout from sore legs. Tonight, I literally had the cement stuck in my gut. Beyond the new gastro-intestinal feelings, breathing was slightly more difficult and I'm sure my heart was ready to go into attack mode in protest.

For the future, I'm going to shelve this technique and place it in the category of "I must be getting older because my digestive tract certainly didn't move as fast as I thought."

While I often write about what I see on my runs (there was a beautiful sunset over the Mall tonight), I chose to write about an experience to warn my fellow runners to stick to the traditional methods — or the one's recommended in Runner's World — before heading out for a some Sights in My Nikes.