Monday, January 3, 2011

First Post

Clever title, I know.

Today, January 3, 2011, marks the start of a potentially foolish but pretty ambitious endeavor. Before I explain it, let me give a little background. For the past five years, I've lived in the fair city of Washington, DC (My boyfriend will correct me here, so in the spirit of full disclosure, I should point out that for the first year and a half in the region I lived in Arlington, VA.).

In those five years, I've taken the Metro pretty much everywhere I've needed to go. As a kid from the suburbs, I was instantly enamored with the idea of public transportation, taking Metro and Metrobus everywhere, surviving car-less until a new job required it. Every move to a new apartment was influenced by the search for a location closer to a Metro stop. I've since landed within two blocks of the Cleveland Park station on the Red Line, among my finest achievements since I got here (Is that sad? I don't care.).

For the past decade or so, I've also been an endurance athlete. Running and cycling are my weapons of choice. There was a brief period during which I added swimming for extra fun, but a poorly timed fall off my bike while riding home from a happy hour (I no longer advise this as a legitimate means to get home after drinking) injured my shoulder and cut my triathlon career short.

I've run the National Marathon here in DC, and many other races in the area, leading me through neighborhoods in which I don't spend much time or money or attention. I've ridden Metro or Metrobus to locations far and near (the Target in Wheaton, MD; Tyson's Corner, VA; Silver Spring Stage for my local theater debut), not really thinking about the places in between my starting point and my destination.

So, how are these things related? Long ago (really not THAT long ago, but before magazines were widely accessible on the internet..maybe 2000? 2002?), I read a fascinating side item in Runner's World about a guy from Washington, DC, who had run home from EVERY METRO STATION. Eighty-six stations, comprising more than 100 miles of track (it's many more miles when you consider it's often impossible to run or walk along the Metro tracks). He took the Metro to a station on the map, and ran back to his house. It's a startlingly simple idea that has stuck with me for the better part of a decade, despite the fact that I no longer have that issue of Runner's World and I had no idea at the time that I would one day live in DC.

But I DO live here, and I've recently realized that though I've been here for more than five years, and have seen and done a lot of things in that time, I'm still lacking in knowledge about the geography, history and people of the area. I mean, looking at that Metro map, there are stations I've never even heard of (Morgan Boulevard?). Does that automatically mean a station is in an area full of history and scenery? Of course not. But, I've been looking for my newest challenge, (a challenge that doesn't involve watching an entire season of an HBO series from my bed...) my own personal Everest, if you will.

Eighty-six stations, ranging from 0.7 to 15.9 miles from my home station. Fifty-two weeks in one year of calculated madness. And in 362 days, I will hopefully not only gain dozens of miles under my feet, but a greater sense of the landscape and people of the DC metro area. I declare 2011 my year of taking the long way home.

No comments:

Post a Comment