Running outside has always been a little bit of an adventure for me. When I was traveling after my semester abroad, I used my morning run to explore whatever city we were in at the time. Sometimes that would lead to getting lost, but I still maintain that that’s all part of the exploration. And running outside is SO much more rewarding and entertaining than running on the treadmill – which is why I decided to take advantage of the unseasonably warm D.C. weather this weekend and last.
When I started out, my biggest worry was my inherent lack of gracefulness and the uneven sidewalks – I once turned my ankle mid-run and had to walk most of the way back to my apartment. Not pleasant. These past couple times, though, I met far more interesting interruptions.
1) The route that I run takes me down by the Mall. I understand that D.C. is a tourist mecca, but I didn’t quite expect the crowds that I saw, considering it’s only February. Clearly, everyone was thinking along the same lines of taking advantage of the weather. But tourists, as glad as I am to have them here, are a very “interesting” bunch to judge observe. I saw more fanny packs, open maps, and combinations of long denim skirts and furry clogs than I ever have (or, really, ever should) in one place. I know that some tourists can blend in with their surroundings – but those tourists weren’t at the Mall this weekend or last. At least, I didn’t see them.
2) As I continued my run up 15th Street, I could feel my energy flagging. And I suppose Abe Lincoln could tell, too. What? What’s that you say? He’s dead? Well, not downtown he’s not. Somewhere on 15th Street, a man dressed as Honest Abe leaned in toward me as I ran past, urging me to, “Come on in [to the souvenir shop]! Take a break!” while trying to hand me a coupon. The encounter fueled my energy reserve, partly from the laughter, partly because he was bordering on creepy and I wanted to get away.
3) This one was really the kicker. Going up 14th Street, I saw a couple up ahead of me, and saw something small fly into a trash can immediately to their right. As I got closer and pulled up nearly level to the trash can, I realized what it was, because a similar small “something” had flown right past my face, not an inch from my nose. A ketchup packet! Ketchup! When I looked in the direction it had come from, I saw a bum (is that not PC?) sitting in an alcove, with a stash of ketchup packets that he apparently liked to throw at passersby.
I may not be the most city savvy, but I don’t usually consider myself too easily surprised. Point to the ketchup thrower.
If you, too, decide to run in the city, let me offer you some advice: enjoy the tourists; laugh at/run away from Abe; and watch out for the flying ketchup – with all that practice, I’m sure his aim is getting better.