06 December 2009

I Love this City

So this morning I headed out to Pacers in Pentagon City with my friend Brad (Look Brad, I figured out how to hyperlink - thanks!) to partake in a little group run/autograph action with Ryan Hall and his wife Sara. I'd heard about this event via a Pacers e-mail a few weeks ago and definitely wanted to go. I still have work to do on my papers, but how often do you get to go for a group run with an Olympian? Obviously paper writing was set aside for this morning. Brad brought a Runners World with Ryan Hall on the cover to be signed. I brought my 2009 Boston Marathon bib with me to be signed (hey, I was going to frame it anyway, now it just has a little extra bling).

The Halls arrived and we were all out the door running within five minutes of their arrival. They seem to be really nice and down-to-earth, they were chatting with everyone during the run, Sara staying near the front of the pack and Ryan mingling in the back. He and I were both wondering if these sort of events were enjoyable for them. I mean, it really must be kind of awkward, you walk into a store and there's a crowd of people who immediately start taking pictures. And then they just bombard you with questions while you are trying to run. And there were a few that were kind of creepy/geeky/and stalkerish that I would've told to just buzz off, but the Halls are much more gracious than I and were polite and engaging with everyone, even the creepy ones.

The run itself turned out to be great. It was a six mile loop, the longest I've run since Ironman 29 days ago, and even though the weather was cold, it was also beautiful and sunny. We ran from Pentagon City, past the Pentagon, over the Memorial Bridge, past the Lincoln Memorial, along the reflecting pool, past the WWII Memorial, and then did a turnaround at the Washington Monument and headed back the way we came. I haven't run through the city in awhile and I forget how cool it is that we live here and all of the monuments are within running distance of my house. At the reflecting pool, we passed by a very enthusiastic group of tourists from somewhere in Asia - they began hooting, hollering, and waving as we blew through. While we were running, I was thinking to myself, "I wonder if any of these pedestrians we are running by know that one of the best, if not THE best, American distance runners is in their midst." For the most part, the celebrity of the great runners seems to be confined to the within the bounds of the running community. They really aren't national sports figures, they don't appear in the major Sports Illustrated-type magazines, and they probably don't get mobbed walking down the street or going grocery shopping. They do their training on quiet back roads, most of their races aren't televised and receive very little printed coverage. It just struck me as funny when compared to other sports figures. I'm sure that any Redskins or Capitols player would get run over by a crowd of people if they were ever out for a jog around the Mall.

Anyway, the run went surprisingly well. I didn't wear my Garmin or HRM so I have no idea what speed I was going or what zone I was in. The first two miles were uncomfortably fast and I was definitely feeling the fact that I haven't done a good, hard run in awhile. But then I loosened up and by the end, I felt like I could've kept going. It was a great way to start off the day.

Back at Pacers, Brad and I successfully got our running paraphernalia autographed. Again, the Halls were good sports, signing all sorts of stuff and smiling in pictures that everyone wanted to take with them. The main purpose of them being there was to raise money for their foundation to alleviate poverty in Africa, the Hall Steps Foundation (twice in one post, Brad!). So when it was my turn for an autograph, I gave them a donation and told them that I think the work the foundation is doing is really important and it's great that they have committed to something like that. They looked happily surprised that I wasn't trying to talk to them about running and really seemed to take the compliment to heart.

So, all in all, a pretty good day. And all before noon!

1 comment:

onthebusrunning said...

Great post! So proud of the hyperlinking :) Thanks for the shout out. Looks like we had similar sentiments about the day!