Why I Ran 26 Miles on Christmas Day

Christmas came early to me in the form of a nice surprise -- a call from a friend I haven't seen or heard from in nearly 20 years.  We had gone to school together at Florida and her call from Shanghai was absolutely the right wake-up call I needed to jumpstart my day.  I needed to run, but life is not always on a time table.  No one was waiting for me and the race would start when life was ready for me to begin.

A call home to Mom to wish her well with her big dinner at home.  A call to my son and I wished he was home with me instead.  And then I was off to the National Christmas Tree to start my momentous run.

Why there, you ask?

Because Christmas in DC is not about shopping at Pentagon City, admiring the gargantuan palm trees adorned with sparking Christmas decor.

Christmas in DC is not about strolling through the National Zoo enjoying the dazzling display of the Giant Pandas, the Asian Elephants and the Komodo Dragons during the festive ZooLights.

Christmas in DC is not about endless parties in Adams Morgan, or bebopping to holiday jazz on eclectic U Street while enjoying half smokes at the historic Ben's Chili Bowl

Instead, Christmas in DC is about the one thing that is both traditional and contemporary, deeply rooted in Washingtonian heritage and Presidential history.  Around the perfectly-trimmed, paragon Christmas tree -- a 87-year tradition, a large-scale model train loops around sounding a low pitch steam whistle with lights, bells and the festive music emanating from the stage.

Christmas in DC is all about the culture, celebrations and customs that has made the fine, fab festivities so delightful, delectable and unique -- the National Christmas Tree -- our Nation's own and only Christmas tree to enjoy, adorn and embrace.

That is why I started there and that is why I made a pitstop to admire the US Capitol Tree as well as the Christmas displays at the US Botanical Gardens.

Then I was off toward the Nationals ballpark, across the Frederick Douglas over the wind-swept Anacostia, through the barren and broken (glass) Suitland Parkway to the dark reaches of Mississippi Ave, SE and Oxon Run Trail.

US Botanical Gardens
By the time I arrived in far southeast, the sky had turned a gloomy gray and the few folks who braved the cold gave me a stare like I was some Martian touring their turf.  In some parts of the trail, it got dark, eerie, quiet.  A dog barked feverishly somewhere in the unkempt, tall grass.  A squirrel ran hither, tither up a spreading oak tree.

Then there were the deer sightings, over a dozen of them -- one big, extended family grazing together, the buck with his proud 6-point antlers taking charge, ready to charge, but just staring innocently, his white tail bobbing in the bitter cold wind.

Pushing yourself physically is a great feeling during and especially after.  But you always need to take time to smell the roses.  And that is why I finally arrived at National Harbor, I took a stroll towards the Gaylord Resort to admire its highly acclaimed candy-glass Christmas Tree.  I enjoyed the spirited light and water show and took a bite of a sandwich at National Pastime, enjoying the humongous projection screen (Coyboys vs Cardinals) and wondering when and if I would hit the road again.

An hour passed and the food slowly digested, then I took the trail and over the gargantuan Woodrow Wilson Bridge.  By now, it was 9:00 PM -- cold, dark, lonely -- wondering what I was doing here all by myself on Christmas Day, and truly I had not seen a soul on the path all day.

Then I realized that there was no better place to be here than here in DC, running the 26-mile DC, Maryland, Virginia (DMV) loop.  Working out the body, exercising the mind, reflecting on my family, my life, my career and where I would be heading next.

It was a perfect and wonderful opportunity to revitalize, reflect and renew.  And then hours turned to minutes.  And before long, Old Town, was in my rear sights and I could visualize, more and more the towering glow of the Washington Monument Obelisk, guiding me home.

There was no greater sight indeed.
New ghost ship at National Harbor
The moment I reached the crown, I lifted my arms high up in the DC December sky.  I had made it -- my Christmas Day Marathon was here and done.  Not a soul on the run, but I was not alone -- the Lord lifted my soul.

1 comment:

  1. I love that you took this day to reflect, sometimes reflecting is the beginning of a new tomorrow, it is what gives you new perspective and renewed energy for a better tomorrow. More people need to stop and reflect instead of running around all the time and not getting to really ponder if their priorities are straight. Christmas to me was all about being thankful for what I have, not wishing I had more.... I appreciate my family more on this day, when I am not able to be with them, because I know how many awesome memories we have in our hearts and I could feel their love even if 3000 miles apart. Sometimes you can't appreciate something unless you don't have it right there in front of you all the time. Also, it is in the moment that you begin to find value in the journey of life, understand that each mile you go, just like in a race, challenges you somehow, either there is an obstacle to overcome or a distraction to lead you off course for a moment, or better yet, a diversion that can lead you to something amazingly beautiful and a gem in the midst of what appears to be a junkyard...
    I think there is something serene and spiritually connected with your mind, body and natural world that becomes evident when you are choosing to be alone and challenge all of your senses amidst a vast space without relying on anything but your own thoughts to guide and lead you...
    BRAVO for doing something different on a day that could still be taken for granted like each day we live out in a hurried rush!

    Sarah D