In my 2019 goals post, I mentioned that one of my goals for this year is to run in a new-to-me place at least once a month.
I got to work on this goal early, with a long run on the Mount Vernon Trail in Northern Virginia on Jan. 6. I write for RunWashington and attended a brunch/meeting at a restaurant in Arlington, Virginia, that day.
Of course, I figured the new scenery would provide a good opportunity to see something different during a long run afterward. It was an unseasonably nice day — perfect for running — and I ran in a short-sleeved shirt.
I knew I was interested in running on the Mount Vernon Trail, but I decided to run to and from the trail rather than drive to a trailhead. It took me about two miles to get there, but I had 14 miles to run, so I was still able to run a good amount on the trail. It’s certainly nice to not have to worry about cars on a long trail like this.
The trail is paved and has a dashed dividing line down the middle. It was somewhat narrow, but I liked running on it.
Early on in my run, I noticed that I could see some of Washington, D.C.’s famous sites. The trail runs across the Potomac River from famous monuments such as the Washington Monument, which I clearly captured in a couple photos. I liked that the trail was right along the water. Plenty of people were using it.
The trail goes right past Reagan National Airport, where I saw planes taking off overhead. Right before I got to the airport on my run, I also ran through Gravelly Point Park, where there was a large field.
I did notice that there weren’t many public restrooms along the trail, at least not where I was — I got onto the trail near Arlington National Cemetery, ran past the turn-off for Four Mile Run and then turned around once my watch hit seven miles and ran up to Theodore Roosevelt Island before heading back to my car. This was during the government shutdown, and I did see some portable toilets, but I could smell them from afar and decided not to stop. Hopefully, that issue will be improved once the government reopens.
The trail is 18 miles long. At one end is Theodore Roosevelt Island, where I ran on an earlier trip to Washington, D.C., and at the other is George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate. A trail map and more information can be found at the Mount Vernon Trail website.
On my way to the trail, I ran by the U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial and Arlington National Cemetery. On the way back to my car, I noticed Marine Corps Marathon Drive.
I had also run down a pretty steep hill to get to the trail, and I had a lengthy ascent to get back to my car.
When I run in a new-to-me place, I usually stop to take a lot of photos, so my first few miles were slow. I was listening to podcasts as I ran, and then I saw that my phone was very low on battery. Somehow, it lasted for the whole run, but around the halfway point, I stopped taking photos to preserve the battery, and I got a lot faster — at least I got to the long hill back to my car.
I was happy that I had four miles (seven through 10) that I ran at paces of 10:55, 10:54, 10:55 and 10:56. I hope to be just slightly faster than that at my marathon, with my sub-4:45 goal, so I was glad to be able to run these consistent paces for a chunk of the run while still feeling pretty good.
My legs were sore afterward, but I had the next day off as a rest day.
I’ve already run in another new-to-me location this month — Reading, Pennsylvania. Read about my run on two trails there soon!