TODAY is gonna start off with a run. Today I'm gonna step outside of my building take a deep breath, look up at the sky and take it all in. "Attention Attention.. INCOMING INCOMING... SEEK SHELTER..INCOMING INCOMING." SHIT! Nevermind. Today's run is spoiled by warnings of another IDF attack. This is about a weekly occurrence in the summertime. Nothing can spoil a run more than the thought of running during an attack. I'd be lying if I said the thought of ignoring it and getting on with my running never crossed my mind. NO, I'm not Rambo. I just know that next hour was gonna be the only hour I got to run outside that day. It's back to my blanketed off 7x10 "personal" space to get some more rest before heading in to the office. These moments 7,000 miles away from home on a compound in eastern Afghanistan are the moments I break down the most. These are the moments, where all i want to do is be on East Capitol st back home, running through my own neighborhood without the fear of being attacked.
Since I first moved to the DC area, Capitol HIll has been where I've run the majority of my miles in the last 6 years. In DC, there has been no place like it for me. There's that saying about "know it like the back of my hand." and for my running routes in this part of the city, that couldn't apply more. Front door to The Capitol, 1 mile. From there down Penn Ave, another mile. Every turn, the distance known. There's not a street our route in DC that makes me feel more at home than the ones in my neighborhood. The familiar sidewalks. The street signs counting my blocks. The various parks. All of it gives me comfort. My first place in the neighborhood was a mile from East Capitol. From there a quick right turn and I'm half a mile from the steps of the US Capitol. No other place in my life has history been so close. Outside of family, friends and the obvious. I missed nothing more while away in Afghanistan than the streets of Capitol Hill and Northeast DC.
I've spoke often about the one road I got to run on while away and most of the time, with displeasure. While the moments that road was available to me, were moments I made sure to get the most out of. However, by the end of my time in Afghanistan, I wanted nothing to do with that road. It took no time at all to learn the potholes, the cracked edges and where the puddles would gather during the rain. More often than not those miles made me miss East Capitol more and more each time. Stretching from the Capitol Grounds to all the way past RFK Stadium. A straight shot with a quick pass through Lincoln Park. I've run it more times than I can count and still that feels like nearly not enough.
There was a day just shortly before I left Afghanistan where I had gone through all my warm-up workouts, legs felt good and relaxed. I was moments away from stepping on to the treadmill for a quick three miles before a good lifting routine when all of a sudden, the gym manager tells everyone they have to drop what they're doing and seeks shelter. Another one of those IDF attacks had just begun. Now, for the most part they began to feel a little routine. A five minute wait here or sometimes even an all clear just after it started. Though this one was different. 45 minutes later I had lost all motivation, energy and quite frankly patience with going through a workout after that experience. I just wanted to get back to bunk, have a quick nap and then head in to the office. My day was ruined. The time I did have to spare was again taken from me. The feeling of your time being out of your control is and was incredibly frustrating in those days. There was no space to retreat to. There was no empty sidewalk to find quite on. All that I wanted in those moments is what I have in the streets around where I lay my head at night. The sidewalks and roads of Northeast DC are my quite place.
The miles I've run through this city that originated from my address in Northeast DC are endless. I've made my way all the way to Georgetown & back. Down to the waterfront and beyond. Though without fail, my favorite miles are the quick ones. The out & backs. The quick run before a date night. Getting the miles in before I move forward with the rest of my weekend. The early morning miles ahead of catching a soccer match at the local pub with my buddies. And the subsequent eggs and house fries that are sure to follow. Those miles, with the familiar sites, using street signs and local business as my navigation are the ones that I longed for the most on that treadmill in the middle of Afghanistan. There's nothing better than the feeling of knowing where your at based on how big or small the US Capitol appears at that very moment. From my front door, I'm less than a mile from the steps of the Supreme Court. Another mile and I'm running alongside the Marine Corp Barracks. To the out of towner, these may not seem like the best running routes or perhaps even the most scenic but for me, there's nothing more comforting.
While away from home, I'd tell myself "Today, just make it to X" X was 4 miles or 6. It was a goal I'd give myself to encourage myself to do something new. To break up the routine. Mix in new ideas. Today, It's "Stanton Park to Lincoln Park and back twice. For time." I use my hood as my goal index. I'm taking advantage of being a mile away from the door steps of history. I've met friends here for runs. I've organized group runs. I've taken every moment I can to run the roads and sidewalks I'm so in love with. In sport you have home field advantage and there's a million reason why that exists. For me, I feel that same boost on the sun soaked East Capitol on a cold winter day in January. I'm cold but It's not bothering me. I'm not running as fast as I want but still, that doesn't bother me. Nothing will on this day. Because on this day, I have no sand in my shoes. I woke up, walked barefoot to my bathroom. Sat down in no rush, on my own sofa, with a cup of coffee. This morning I was home and this morning, I had the benefit of home street advantage.