Happy Friday! This week was a long one for me so I’m pretty glad the weekend is here. Having a longer commute to a job where I can’t take my pup along makes the days drag, so I’m pretty excited to spend some quality time with my girl this weekend. I’m not happy that the weather was gorgeous all week and is now going to rain and get cold all weekend, though!

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I hate winter. And cold. And precipitation.

This week I’m linking up with Courtney, Mar, and Cynthia for Friday Five: Favorites themed. Since I was all excited about a plan I had to run 5 miles around the Washington Monument and the reflecting pool this weekend and then get crack pie at Milkbar afterward and now may be looking at the treadmill instead, I’m going to daydream about my favorite places to go for a run instead.

1 – An out and back from my parents’ house, at night

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I’ve written extensively about the comfort of my “normal” route. When I was in the eighth grade, our bus ride home was always delayed a little bit because of construction they were doing to make room for a bike lane on either side of the road that connected all the suburban neighborhoods around my house. At the time we whined about it; now, I see what a great blessing it is to live in a place that can afford to make space for people exercising.

Mainly, though, it reminds me of when I first started running and what a comfort it is to be able to run where no one can judge your speed or form and you can just work your thoughts out.

2- Rock Creek Trail in Rockville, MD

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Rock Creek Trail is a very long, wonderful blessing for the DC area’s runners, 14 miles long and taking you from Gaithersburg, MD (my hometown) straight across the DC border into Rock Creek Park (DC’s version of Central Park minus any flat areas or protest marches – those happen on the Mall – but plus the infamous Chandra Levy case).

When I trained for my marathon in 2014, most of my weekday short runs plus some of my early long runs happened on Rock Creek Trail in the dead of summer. It’s such a beautiful place to be. You go by fields where people are playing pickup soccer or games of catch, or you might catch a deer or three scuttle out of your way the further toward the trailhead at Lake Needwood that you get. It’s a safe place to go running in the heat – it’s shaded with so many beautiful green trees and woods and the babbling of the creek that gives it its name. It also had some nice gentle rolls and I think part of my later injury can be attributed to switching my longer runs to all flat trails so my gait was so repetitive. Had I stayed on Rock Creek, my muscles would have had to change it up more.

3- Capitol Crescent Trail – Bethesda, MD to Georgetown, DC

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My affinity for CCT begins also in the summer of 2014 when I started running on Wednesday nights with Team RWB. Running with a group pushes me to go faster to keep up with everyone. I may be at the back of the pack but they’re running so much faster than me that in order to keep them in my sights I’m hauling ass the best I can.

CCT is especially fun on a weekend morning, because it’s so populated with people who are getting out of their houses and getting outside. It runs from Bethesda all the way into the ritzy Georgetown section of DC, so it’s more suburban-feeling than RCT. Of course I have my many places I like to run alone and find solace, but running past or getting passed by other runners helps me check my form and keep my pace up, the same way I always run faster and smarter in an actual race as well.

And there’s a Georgetown Cupcake at either end of the trail, so…

4- Anytime Fitness in Tyler, TX

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Wait what?! A gym?!

Yup. When I first moved to Tyler, my apartment didn’t have hot water. That was a “warm” welcome! So my best bet was to shower at the gym. Combine that with my oft-lamented lack of access to sidewalks or bike lanes in the city of Tyler, TX, and my Anytime Fitness membership, which gave me access to two different locations in Tyler, became the only reason I didn’t gain 40 pounds while living in Texas and eating all those tacos.

After a while it became comforting. I did go running at Rudman Park and around Lake Athens with some of my coworkers, so I did have short runs outside while living in Texas, but even when I really really REALLY didn’t want to get on the treadmill, stepping in the doors of those two gyms became like a safehaven. I knew I was guaranteed a hot shower and a safe place to get my sweat on. I actually cried a little bit the last time I went for a run at the gym before I left Texas. How many bad moods did those treadmills save me from? Countless.

5- Anywhere next to water

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From White Rock Lake to the Tidal Basin to Lake Athens to Rehoboth Beach to the Boardwalk at Disney’s California Adventure or Epcot, running next to a lake, ocean, river, what have you- it’s the most refreshing and energizing feeling ever. It’s why I’ll even forgive every DC race course that isn’t Rock ‘n’ Roll DC from sending us around Hains Point, because even though it’s always lacking in spectators, it has the Tidal Basin. It’s why Brooklyn Half Marathon’s Coney Island finish line makes it one of my favorite races of all time.

Even though our route I ran with some of my coworkers back in Texas didn’t make Lake Athens visible until we got back to our starting point, the smell of the lake was always there and I’m one of those people who LOVES the swampy lake smell. I just really like to be outside and I REALLY love to be near water.

So there you have it! Now, who wants to go to the beach…? I guess I can pretend a rain run counts as “running near water.”

Don’t forget to check out and link up with this week’s Friday Five!

 

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