It's that time of year again here in DC - the annual Cherry Blossom festival!
Many DC residents hate the festival because of the 9 billion tourists that flood the city and make Obama's inauguration crowd look like the line at an Arby's by comparison. Having grown up in New England, however, I'm accustomed to folks clogging the streets and sidewalks every year to check out foliage of another sort, so I roll with it.
...and I run with it too! As luck would have it, one of the highest concentrations of Cherry Blossoms is along my regular Hains Point loop. After blasting my legs on a 30+ mile Bull Run run on Saturday, I took the opportunity during my recovery run yesterday to bring along my camera and show everyone my daily running route at its prettiest.
First off, here's a map to orient you. That big green peninsula in the middle of the picture is where I run (I run about 2.5 miles to get there/back home). On that strip of land (also known as East Potomac Park), there's a road around the outside and a golf course in the middle. The southern tip of the peninsula is called Hains Point, and I will put it up against any other place on earth in terms of consistently brutal wind in the winter. Something about the Potomac River forcing the prevailing winds in a NNE direction makes that place seem more like Mt. Washington in New Hampshire than Washington, DC (For those of you too lazy to follow that link, I mentioned Mt. Washington because it is the home of the highest wind speed ever recorded on earth - 231 mph).
Here's what it looks like from the road during Cherry Blossom week. You know how people refer to the Appalachian Trail as the "Long Green Tunnel", well, I've got my very own pink tunnel to run here in DC.
Between the road and the fence/trees that line the golf course is a great strip of single-track. I try to run on this as frequently as possible to give my legs a break from the hard roads.
More pink tunnel. In about a week all of those blossoms will be on the ground. The brightest flames burn quickest, as they say. I actually enjoy the blossoms just as much when they fall - it's like running through piles of pink snow out there (minus the cold/frostbite)!
On the west side of the loop you can see Reagan National Airport across the Potomac. Fisherman are pretty much camped out here around the clock. I'm not sure they catch anything great - I get the feeling they enjoy coming out here for the peacefulness more than anything else. Especially at night when the place is completely deserted. After a long day at work, I appreciate the area for that reason as well.
After I have my fun out on Hains Point, I make my way back home. One of the cool things about living 1 block from the Capitol Building is this view as I make the turn with 1 mile to go. No matter if my run was 6 miles or 60 miles, this is always the view for the final stretch home. It's even prettier at night...and I never take it for granted!