Running Through Grief
I needed a change of scenery today. I also was up for a challenge. Ever since the Wilson Bridge Half Marathon was inaugurated last year, I have been intimidated by the thought of running across the bridge. From my usual vantage point at the park where I start my long runs and finish with stretching, the bridge looks long, with a long, steep incline.
(Sorry, my iPhone doesn’t do very well with scenery in the distance.)
From my experience driving across the bridge, I know that the pedestrian path has steep switchbacks over the highway.
But, I was up for a challenge. The weather was awesome–upper 50’s–and I was able to leave my jacket at home for the first time since winter began. As I started my run I noticed the wind, and wondered if maybe that was a good reason not to run across the bridge today, but I decided not to be deterred.
As I neared the bridge, I was hoping for some signage to make sure I got on the right path, since I knew that there were paths to scenic lookouts on this side of the river. Luckily, there was this guidance on the path:
For part of the path, it is separated from the highway by the sound barrier walls:
You can see through the barriers, and I really hoped that they were strong in case a car came careening off the road! Most of the path is separated from the highway by only a guard rail:
National Harbor is on the other side of the bridge–a fake “town” anchored by a Gaylord Hotel. I ran along the waterfront and out to the ends of two of the piers to hit four miles before heading back.
On the run back, the wind was against me, and from the side. I ran close to the guard rail and laughed at its strength–it really was pushing me sideways.
It was a perfect run. At the first hill, I found myself sobbing, but I just pushed forward and caught my breath as the path flattened out. When the wind came along, I figured it would dry my tears. The view from the bridge was lovely–it was just after sunrise and the sky was still pink. Running over the water, along the water and out to the ends of the piers was just what I needed–water is so therapeutic. I found myself crying a few more times, but it was all good.
When I got back over the bridge, I saw my husband approaching on his bike. I stopped for a quick hug and finished my run as he finished his ride. I felt like I had more energy to run farther, but I knew it was my emotions that were driving me, not necessarily my legs, so I stuck to my planned 8 miles.
Distance: 8.01 miles
Split Times: 9:45; 9:14; 9:06; 9:37: 10:04; 9:31; 9:07: 9:07