Hello DC: CHASING DESTINY…   1 comment

Today was the furthest I believe I have ever run in my life.

A few days ago, I wrote a blog about my running habits (here), and I explained the manic nature of how I run.
It is a complex emotional affair, rooted in stuff from the past, thoughts about the future, or maybe the frightening present that fuels me.
Columbus Day is the day I decided to run. I was sitting in my room, listening to music, when I felt very bored. I didn’t feel like running yesterday, but I ran about five miles on Saturday evening.
As always, I started out on first street northwest. Running through the Shaw Howard area, I passed Hospitals, seven elevens and streets filled with light traffic. I wore a visor today, an old Von Dutch hat I bought a few years ago. When I run, night or day, after a while the stream of sweat that gets in my eyes is the most trying aspect of it all. This time I had no such problem.
I had planned a quick two mile run to Dupont Circle. As I ran on the road, running along side moving traffic, I felt a vague sense of quietness around me. There was the noise of the city, but somewhere within me was a blanketed silence. I can’t describe it exactly. I can’t say it was loneliness, or any of the isolated emotions that people are privy to feeling, but it was something.
I didn’t feel like I would be able to run very far. My left calf felt very tight, and my left instep throbbed with each step I took. A few pedestrians looked at me interestedly as I ran past. I’m not sure why exactly, but I think it was the visor I was wearing. I don’t believe I’ve ever seen a runner in DC with a visor. Headband? Yes. Baseball Cap? Maybe. Visor? Never.
After reaching Dupont circle, I did a few light stretches. I didn’t look at anyone around me, but in my peripheral vision I could make out dozens of people sitting on benches, in the grass and generally enjoying the relatively warm day. I was warm and sweaty now, and my mediocre ipod headphones weren’t doing justice to my carefully selected trance playlist I made minutes before heading out. At this point, I decide to run to Embassy Row.
I’ve been to the Embassy area twice before, to get passports to go to Spain and France respectively. I head north away from the circle, and take a left by a bus stop that I believe leads to where the French Embassy is.
I’ll stop at the Embassy, I say to myself. I run down a few streets filled with healthy trees. It is a relaxing atmosphere. I’m at Twenty-seventh Street now, and I realize I’m near Georgetown. The embassy was further north; I think I was heading East.
I run across a bridge and I swear I see Mel Gibson. The man is tall, with a long scraggly head of hair. “Sorry buddy.” He says to me as I run past, even though he wasn’t really in my way. A few feet away from him are people with film equipment. If he was Mel Gibson, Mr. Gibson, is really REALLY tall. I’m tempted to turn around and ask him if he is who I think he is, but I keep running. I take a left turn on twenty-fifth street and start running up an incline.
I’m running on a road I’ve been on before. One night a few months ago, I visited a girl somewhere around here. We ordered Thai food and talked about books. I had met her at a bar, and we had made a connection. She was doing preparations for some hardcore financial exam, but she wanted to see me in the evening. I think it was Sunday. Either way, we talked and talked, and I realized I didn’t want to do anything with her. She said she wanted to “sample” me. I didn’t’ like it.
I run past her apartment, and head further up towards Georgetown.
I’m passing the Tudor house, and I’m tempted to stop there. I wanted to walk through the large gardens, touch the leaves and breathe in the air as I sit in a shadow space, but I keep going.
I’m on Connecticut now, (I think ) and I wonder if I should run to Georgetown’s campus and then circle back, and end my run. I look down the road, looking at the line of shops I’m quite familiar with. I decide to run to the waterfront.
I run past the Commander Salamander, a pizza place I used to frequent, and the Georgetown mall. I amuse myself briefly by out running another person running in front of me, a short blonde girl.
I reach the waterfront, and I am taken by the vista in front of me. The sky is a stark blue with sparse clouds, and the water is a silky golden green. I run to the waterfront and look into the distance. I see a large bridge. Is it the Arlington Memorial bridge? I ask my self. I decide to run there.
I run past a few hundred people dining on the outdoor patios of a waterfront eatery, narrowly dodge a few cyclists, while occasionally looking at people kayaking on the water. During this whole time, I’m not even sure of what is keeping me going. My thoughts of late have been awkward. Sometimes I think about a project I’m working on, sometimes I wonder about the present, and how well I can enjoy it, but mostly, I’m wondering if I’ll see someone.
I wonder if someone driving by will see me running, tall and sweaty, and beep their car horn. Will I get a facebook message saying, “Hey, I saw you running through Georgetown yesterday! Good job man!” That I think, was on my mind the most. But one hundred percent of the time, I never see someone when I’m running.
I run past a place where people can rent Kayaks, and I get a flash of memory of my first time there. I turn away from that establishment and follow a short path that leads to the main road. I go briefly through a light patch of thick foliage. There is dirt on the ground, and it feels good under my feet. Then, the road opens up and an asphalt path with grass on either side stretches for a good bit. I run past a family of six, a few cyclists, and a few other runners. Like me, all the runners I see are intensely focused. They are looking directly ahead, covered in light sweat, and they all have headphones.
The path curves out towards the water, and then I’m running on smoother ground, beside a rib-high wall. The bridge I want to reach is much closer now, and I’ve almost reached my goal. Then, I see the Arlington Memorial Bridge in the distance. It is another mile or two away. Across the water, I can see Virginia. It is a postcard quality picture, with large billowy trees and grass that seems hand-painted. Sunlight dances off everything, and it is glowing. Looking at the sight makes me want to walk amongst those trees, to touch the grass, and sit there.
I decide to run to Virginia.
I reach the first bridge and run under it. The acoustics under the bridge make a strange echoing noise in my ears for a minute or so, then I’m back outside. Now, I’m running down a well-paved path. In the distance, I can see the Lincoln memorial, and the shiny glint of the massive Statues at the entrance of the bridge. They look close, but they are far, far away.
At this point I’ve probably run ten miles, and I’m wondering why I’m running. Why am I running so far? I ask myself. The way I feel isn’t euphoric, and whenever I run I don’t feel relaxed or relieved in some way. Maybe I’m just running for running’s sake, to get away from the contiguous existence of living in a row house, or trying to escape the memories of DC for an hour or so.
I’m getting near Arlington Memorial bridge now, and I see people running up the steps, lounging like lizards in the sun and looking out at the water. I go under a small under pass and I see the large statues looming in front of me. Underneath one, a small lady in gray shorts is taking a picture.
I breathe deeply and hit the bridge. As I step on it, I feel a sense of power envelop me. I have always wanted to run along this bridge during the day, and this—this felt good in some way. The bridge is very long, and my goal was in sight. Good old Virginia loomed ahead with its green pastures and beautiful trees, and I wasn’t about to stop now.
To my left and right, is the Potomac, and I watch boats go to and fro, but mostly I look directly ahead, feeling my body wet with sweat, and lick my dry lips with my tongue. I only have three dollars on me, and I hope that I’ll be able to find water nearby. I don’t’ feel the least bit fatigued, but I briefly fantasize that I’ll keel over in a few seconds, and the lady approaching me will call an ambulance and I’ll wake up in the hospital with a beautiful nurse looking at me, and I’ll smile at her, then we’ll have some fantastic love story about me pushing myself too hard, and she’ll talk about almost leaving early that day.
I don’t faint.
In another few minutes, I’ve reached Virginia and I run down a beaten path towards the water. There, I finally stop and look out at the river in front of me. As if signaling the greatness of my achievement, a huge fish leaps out of the river at the precise moment I stop at the end of the path. I do some more stretches, and then stand for a minute. I’m not even breathing heavily, but I sense I am more mentally tired than physically. I have been exercising a lot lately, almost too much. But no matter how much exercise I do, or how far I run, I never feel completely relaxed or centered when I am finished. I feel like I need to run farther, to climb higher and do more.
Maybe I’ll travel to Antarctica, and walk through the frozen tundra for a few months and see what that tells me about myself. Maybe I’ll go mountain climbing and see if I can survive a mountain that has killed thousands before me. Or maybe I’ll take up some weird martial art, paint, or a dozen other little things to see if each of them can give me little insights into things about myself.
I want to feel the world around me. I want to taste it again.
I take off my shirt and close my eyes, raising them in the air and breathing in and out. I focus on the moment; the grass around me, the beautiful day and the river water rippling quietly in front of me. I try to release the strain of negative thoughts that have been plaguing me of late, and I try to just feel good in the moment. I tell myself, Good job Marcus, you ran like a bazillion miles. Feel good about that.
In a small way, I feel okay. I never thought I would run from DC to Virginia. I’m guessing I ran about nine or ten miles give or take. I walk to the National mall after crossing the bridge again and leisurely go back home. For the entire day, I’ve walked and run twenty miles.
When I reach inside my apartment, I sit down for a moment and sip on some water. Some part of me feels accomplished, but there are still little pockets of emptiness rippling about. I feel like running some more, but I’m too tired. I Toss my clothes into the laundry hamper and hop into the shower. As the water beats on my skin, I imagine myself somewhere else, swimming in a river, far, far away.

Advertisements

One response to “Hello DC: CHASING DESTINY…

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. I’ve felt like that before myself… like you can run into oblivion…but at some point, you have to decide where to stop and turn back towards home…

    It’s amazing how you can recall all the minute details of your perspective after such a long run like that. Feels like i was there. It’s almost like you have a video camera for eyes or something and you just hit rewind and play whenever you are ready.

    Great writing by the way!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: