Running Up the Steps of the Lincoln Memorial

Its not the first step that is so amazing.  Its not the second, third or even the last step that makes this assent so incredible.  Its all of those steps added to the weight and magnitude of standing in a place that is so awe inspiring that makes this such a unique experience.

Getting the opportunity to explore cities that I visit is an added bonus to being a runner.  I have been looking forward to my trip to DC for the last few weeks.  I knew the weather was going to be nice and I knew I would be staying close to the city.  I had know idea that I would be right next to a trail that would take me through some of the most beautiful areas surrounding our nation's capital.

I left Charleston Sunday morning believing I would leave on my Delta flight at 10:00am.  I arrived early, had one carryon and went through security without a problem.  So far, so good...

Delta was looking for volunteers to take another flight because the plane had been overbooked (I passed).  Twenty minutes before boarding an announcement was made that they did not need any volunteers for the flight (good sign).  Ten minutes before boarding an announcement was made stating that there was a mechanical problem and the flight would be delayed twenty to thirty minutes (ok, still not the end of the world).   Twenty minutes later, they announce that they were ready to start boarding (yeah!).  I was in zone three so I was toward the end of the line.

As I started walking down the stairs to go outside, I notice that people were waiting to get on the plane.  After about five minutes of waiting, I notice that people were backing off the plane (bad sign).  A rumor made it back to me that the plane was too small and that we had to go back to the Delta desk (too small?  are you kidding me?).  Being at the end of the line, I ran back to the desk and was close to the front of that line.  What could be causing this confusion?  The actual plane had twenty fewer seats than the plane on the computer screen (one guy was looking for row twenty and there were only thirteen rows).  I was not happy at this point and to make it even better all the flights out of Charleston were full for the rest of the day (I am guessing there was a mass exudes from Charleston due to the Grits Festival being over).  Thirty minutes later I found myself in a van heading to Columbia, SC, to get on another fight to Atlanta (yep, that's right - I had to go two hours away in a van to get another flight).  Plus side was that I was given a $400 voucher, meal tickets and upgraded to first class.  Down side was that I did not get to DC until after 10:00pm and I was too tired to get out and run.

I spent all day Monday in meetings and could not wait to get back to the hotel to go for a run.  Two people working at the reception desk were runners and told me about the Mount Vernon Trail, they said I would love the run (they were so right).

I was staying in Crystal City and even though I had only been there one time, I had strong memories about this area.  Crystal City is part of the last four miles of the Marine Corps Marathon.  It was through this area that I thought I was going to have to drop out of the race.  I had cramped up so badly that I was limping and barely running, but the crowds were incredible and pushed me to keep moving.

When I got back to the hotel I quickly changed my clothes and headed out the door.  I got on the Mount Vernon Trail at the Crystal City Water Park.  I was in love as soon as I hit the trail.  The trees were hanging over each side and the trail made a loop down and around the highway to the Potomac River.  I made my way around and headed towards Reagan National Airport.  The trail passed right next to the end of the runway.  As I was running by, a plane flew right over me (it was so cool)!

The trail had so many amazing views of the capital that I thought I was going to have whiplash from turning my head so much.  I was really loving this run.  I had only planned on running about six miles, but then I noticed that I was getting close to a bridge that was directly across from the Lincoln Memorial (how could I pass that up?).

I made my way up the trail and over the bridge.  The Lincoln Memorial was right in front of me.  I ran around to the front and looked up at the steps to the top.  It was so amazing.  How lucky was I to be able to do this?  How many other people get to travel to a city and really explore and experience things so intensely?

I ran up the steps and walked through the monument to the statue of Abraham Lincoln.  There were hundreds of people standing around and for a brief second I felt strange just standing there sweating and breathing heavy.  I turned and ran down the steps to head back to my hotel.  I kept looking back as I made my way over the bridge and back to the trail.  I could have run all day and night.

On the way back I paid attention to every detail of the trail.  I knew I was only going to get one shot at this run and I wanted to take it all in.  As I moved off the trail and back to Crystal City I looked at my Garmin and saw that I had run over nine miles.  I wish it could have gone on for ever...


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