I sometimes take for granted the area I live in. When I think about where I should go on my runs and bike rides, I have a lot of options. Sure, I have my usual loop or two, but its the surroundings that I take for granted. Arlington, VA is just over the river from Washington DC. Specifically, the area I live in is about a mile jog into the city. So when I consider where I want to run or bike, I can ride trails in Virginia or in DC. In total, there's several hundred miles of dedicated trails (without having to compete with cars) for runners, cyclists, and the occasional roller blader (who do not seem to understand the rules of the road).
This morning, my intention was to go for a 10 mile run that consisted of heading into DC, around the Capitol building, and back. Instead, I stayed on the Virginia side and went along the Mount Vernon trail. The Mount Vernon trail is one of many trails in the DC area. It snakes along the Potomac River from Arlington, VA down to Mount Vernon, site of George Washington's estate. It's approximately 18 miles each way, through mostly asphalt paved trails. Unfortunately, its also one of the more congested trails in the country, especially once the tourist season begins in a few months. So that is why now is the best time to enjoy it. Nothing like seeing the early sun shine across the Potomac as a cool breeze keeps the sweat from dripping off your face. Notable sights along the way include: Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, the Potomac River, Arlington Cemetery, Iwo Jima Memorial, Navy-Marine Memorial, lush wetlands, and Reagan National Airport to name a few. If you enjoy taking in scenery with varying sights to keep your attention going, then the Mount Vernon trail is for you.
The result of my run included running down to the airport, where you can literally stand under planes as they take off, and back to Arlington. The majority of the first few miles are downhill as you head toward the Potomac, but after that, its rolling hills. However, the way back to Arlington is all up hill, so it makes for a nice last few miles of hills on tired legs.
Numbers for today's run:
Distance: 10 miles
Time: 1 hour 25 min
Pace: 8:35 min/mile
I was pretty satisfied with the results. I ran the Army 10 Miler last October at the end of the season and finished in about 1:20, only slightly faster than today's run. Given people to pace with and the mentality of a race, I'm sure I could hit that time relatively easily. I'm looking forward to the GW Parkway Classic 10 Miler coming up in April in hopes I can get under 1:20.