Pgh to DC

Since Saturday I have been in DC for the annual meeting of the Research Society on Alcoholism (imagine a big science fair for anyone who studies anything related to alcoholism). As a doctoral student I wear a lot of hats, one of them scientific researcher, and I was at this meeting to learn, network and present some preliminary findings from my Masters (although collateral- and self-reports of smoking, drinking, and deviance are significantly concordant, adolescents are not sensitive in their reporting of their friends’ problem behaviors). I had a great conference and I learned a lot, met a lot of really incredible people and saw some old friends.

Even though I did was I was “supposed” to do, one of my favorite parts of this trip was the time I spent running. I like running in Pittsburgh, but a thousand miles later my routes have gotten a little stale. I know hills are good for my training, but a break would be nice. I wasn’t necessarily looking forward to running in DC because I knew I’d be so busy with the meeting, I thought I’d really just be squeezing them in when I could.

Sunday I was up at 5:30 to meet Jen, a colleague from Pittsburgh and an MCM runner from last year, and Isaac, a member of the Marine Corps Marathon community. Ike brought a friend, Dave, and we headed out for an 8-mile run along the mall, Haines Point and the tidal basin. It was hot and humid (much more than Pittsburgh) and we were going at a pace about 30 seconds faster than I had run my 8 the week before. I’m not sure whether it was running with a group (I always run solo) or just the excitement of seeing the city early in the morning, but the run was the easiest long run I’ve ever had. Not only did we come in under our target pace as a group but I had enough in me to push the last bit. I can’t imagine a better way to start a Sunday morning than a sunrise run in the Nation’s Capital with a group of friends. We met some other MCM friends at Lincoln Diner and I had some scrambled eggs and blueberry pancakes and I was ready to start a very long day. Not only was the run great, but I really do think it set me up for a great rest of the day as well (including a student luncheon and 6 hours of meetings!).

(Tidal Basin)

Tuesday I ran 4 miles around the monuments… I hit the Washington, WWII, Korean War, Lincoln (including running up the steps), Vietnam, and then ran by the White House. I’ve seen all these monuments dozens of times, but I really think running them is the way to do it. See, with the monuments, once you see them, you see them. There isn’t much to DO there. You can stand, look, take pictures. But then you go to the next one and see that. I basically condensed a good morning worth of sight-seeing into about 35 minutes. Awesome.

(Lincoln Memorial)

This morning I ran a 5-mile loop with Jen. We started at the Woodley Park metro and ran to the National Cathedral, down Embassy Row and then through Rock Creek Park. It was so different than seeing the big touristy spots and it was wonderful not to need to dodge a million scattered sight-seers. Instead it was a really nice tour of beautiful neighborhoods, amazing architecture and DC’s famous traffic circles (I’ve heard the traffic circles were to protect the Capitol during a war to confuse enemy troops). It was also nice to feel like a DC-er as opposed to a tourist.

(National Cathedral)

I miss DC a lot. I love the architecture and the people. I LOVE the food! I’m sorry Pittsburgh, but just because you put fries on it (salads especially) doesn’t make it cultural, and it definitely does not make it good. A lot of people think DC is stuffy and Type-A…. but I’m formal and Type-A. When Jen and I were walking out of the Metro I realized where I got my impatience for slow Pittsburghers. In DC you can’t stand and be confused because otherwise you create bottlenecks and inconvenience lots of people. I’ve learned not to do that and it drives me CRAZY when people in Pittsburgh (read: everyone!) does that (especially in the grocery store as they stop in the middle of the aisle and wonder where, or where could the milk possibly be).

It was great to be back home and although the conference was great in itself, running was definitely the icing on the cake. It made me feel really privileged to be healthy and in-shape enough to be able to enjoy the experiences I did (sight-seeing, being with friends) as I ran around the city this week.

(Pictures taken from the web… if I wasn’t supposed to use them, tell me and I’ll happily take them down)