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Washington DC

US Capitol Building.

Washington DC offers unique running.  Since my first visit in 1985, I have visited it many times for business and pleasure, and always looked forward to my regular run around the Washington Mall.  The exact distance has varied, depending on where I was staying, but my basic Washington DC 10km loop has remained the same.

Looking past the Capitol Building along the Mall to
the Washington Monument.

I try not use the word "unique" too often, but it's appropriate in this case.  Where else in the world can a 10km run take you past the United States Capitol Building, various parts of the Smithsonian Museum, the Washington Monument, the Jefferson Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, the Reflective Pool, and (distantly) the White House, as well as the Potomac River and many other sights, well-known memorials and institutions.

Looking the other way from the Washington Monument
along the Mall to the Capitol Building.

Before 9/11, security wasn't as tight around the US Capitol, and you could run quite close to the building.  It's a bit different today, but even then you could get into trouble.  While staying with friends for a couple of weeks in 1985, and still training twice a day, I would run hard up the hill on which the Capitol sits, sometimes in darkness.  On one of those occasions, my way was suddenly barred by two policemen who emerged from the gloom and asked me to identify myself.  Of course, I wasn't carrying any ID, but after a chat they let me continue on my way.  Subsequently, I tended to stay on the more well-lit paths closer to the road after dark.

The Jefferson Memorial and the path along the shore of
the Potomac Tidal Basin.

A good part of the 10km loop runs along the flattish and wide gravel paths on either side of the National Mall.  It's a popular place to run at either end of the day, but can get busy with tourists at other times.  When feeling good, I always enjoyed building to a good pace on the long straights and chasing down and over-taking fellow runners.

Apart from the impressive buildings and monuments, the area is characterised by expansive views and vast green lawns which, depending on the weather and time of day, can be very popular with tourists and locals alike.  I have a memory of running, one balmy summer evening, past countless games of mixed gender baseball and ultimate frisbee, played by people of all shapes, sizes and ages (mostly public servants, I would guess), running, shouting and encouraging each other.  A very happy scene.

Looking from the Lincoln Memorial over the Reflective
Pool to the Washington Monument.

I also have a memory of running the course on a chill winter morning with an icy wind blowing, remnant snow of a recent storm banked against park walls and buildings, and the few pedestrians protected by big coats and sturdy headgear.  Whatever the weather, it was always an interesting and inspiring place to run.

I plodded around 5km in Copa today, feeling a little stiff and sore after yesterday's exertions, particularly my chronically injured right knee.  For the first time, I wore a new heart monitor linked to my smart phone to collect data about the run and my associated effort for later computer upload.  It showed my average heart rate as 140bpm, with a maximum of 162bpm, and an average speed of 6 mins/km - pretty slow!