Sunday, March 12, 2006

Running in Washington

The last week saw me in Washington D.C. I went to our nation's capitol to talk to congressmen about the president's FY 2007 budget which includes a nice increase for the Office of Science. I thought it was really excellent that you can make an appointment to talk to our representatives and then fly to Washington, walk into their offices and have a 15 minute meeting. I don't know how many other countries you can do that in. I found out about DOE, NSF and AAAS fellowships that will put you into a congressional office for 1 year.....could be a fun opportunity....perhaps.....Anyways onto the vacation/running report. It's a bit long so to skip all the fluff I have put the running stuff in purple italics so if you are just interested in that go ahead and skip down. As usual click the pictures for a bigger version.

My flight left Chicago on Tuesday at 12 pm. Of course for my insane self....I must be at the airport mega early to catch my flight...I was at O'Hare at 9:30 am. This is not actually my fault as I planned for both traffic on the way and long lines at the airport. Of course there was neither and it took me roughly 30 minutes to get from my front door to the gate. Well I got a lot of reading done which was nice.

I was flying with 3 other Fermi Lab people and after we all got to the hotel and changed....there was a Pepsi incident on the airplane, the three graduate students and some california people decided to walk around and do some sight seeing. We were staying about 3/4 of a mile from the White House so we walked by there and then down to the Washington monument. On the way home we found the Einstein Monument and how do 5 physics nerds resist stopping for a group photo.....well we do not. We did however get 5 cameras to take an automatic picture at the same was funny trying to get that going. Alright everyone press start, now run into the picture. It actually came out pretty nice.

On Wednesday we had our first day of meetings. We started at the University Research Association (URA) office to get any last minute information and then headed to Capitol Hill for meetings. I had meetings at 11am, 1 pm, 2:30pm, 3:30pm, and 4pm. Most of these went really well. There was always two of us meeting with a staffer person. I realized quickly that all these staffers were my age and so I thought about my meetings as if I was talking to one of my friends about what it is I exactly do and why it is important. This worked pretty well and I found out that the staffer from Congressman Visclosky's office (NW indiana) grew up about a block away from where my grandparents and then aunt & uncle lived. He was also a fellow Indiana graduate and so I felt very comfortable talking to him about the issues at hand. After all the meetings were over I realized that my feet were quite hurting me so I decided to take a cab back to the hotel because I wanted to get a run in before meeting the rest of my group for dinner.

It was a really beautiful late afternoon when I started the run. I thought for kicks I would time the run just to see where I was at. The running schedule had called for a tempo run for that day, but I figured that I had done enough walking around and such and just went out to enjoy myself. I ran to the mall area and around the Washington mounument and looked toward the Capitol building and thought that's not too far. I ran all the way there and up the stairs and looked back out towards the mall. It was really beautiful, so I stopped for a second and stretched. There was a gentleman trying to take a picture of himself in front of the Capitol so I offered to take the picture for him. I started to head back to my hotel and thought that I would run around the White House and take Pennslyvania avenue back. I was probably about 10 minutes away from the White House when I looked up and saw 3 huge helicopters heading that way. If I was just a bit earlier I think I would have been able to see the President getting out of the helicopters....ah well. I headed back up around the white house, up Pennsylvania avenue, and to the hotel. I hit stop on my watch and look at it and see that I had been running for an hour. Nice. I just checked on Google Earth and I think the run was probably a little over 6 miles.

On Thursday we had a whole day of meetings. I only had 4 meetings scheduled so I had tons of time during the day where there wasn't much to do. My poor feet were killing me so I didn't want to walk to far away from the buildings where my meetings were. I had my first meeting on the Senate side, then a meeting on the House side and then back to the Senete for 2 more meetings. The last two meetings that I had were an hour apart but in the same building. So meeting one went really good, and afterwards I went and got a Diet Coke with the guy that was my partner at the meeting figuring I had tons of time.

So I get to the room where the office is and the Senator's name is not on the door. SHIT. He must have moved and the meeting is in about 15 minutes. All around these buildings are signs that say where everyones office is, so I quickly walk out of the office and look for one of the signs. Of course there is not one anywhere in sight. I walk around the corner and see one of the signs at the end of a super long hallway. So I walk super fast to the sign, find the senator that I should be seeing and realize that he is 3 buildings away. I ask the security guard the fastest
way to get there and he says to go through the basement (all the buildings are connected through these underground tunnels). So I have about 10 minutes at this point so I get to the basement and start running, in the heels which are breaking my poor feets. I realize that this is stupid so do I stop? No, I take off the shoes and start really running. People were looking at me like I was insane. I get to the elevator at the end of the middle building, just catch it and everyone in the elevator laughs at me because, well, I look ridiculous. In the end I got to the meeting with a few minutes to spare.

The group I had traveled with had a photograph planned for 6:30 pm on the steps of the Supreme Court. My last meeting ended around 4pm so I didn't quite have enough time to go back to the hotel run and get back for the picture. However, I did go back to the hotel changed and walked all the way back to the Supreme court. I would say that this would be about 3 miles or so. We ended wanting the picture in front of the capitol so it was back around to the other side. We took the picture and then the group seperated for dinner. I fell into bed that night like a sack of potatoes.

I woke up around 9am and the bottoms of my feet felt bruised. I stuffed them into some shoes and went downstairs for breakfast. I contemplated not doing anything until it was time to get ready for my meeting but that's really not my thing, so I head back upstairs, but on some running clothes, shove the feet into my shoes and head out. Boy am I happy that I did. It was such a beautiful & warm day out. Although everything below the waist was sore it felt really good to be running. That mornings run took me past the Vietnam Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial and I believe the WW2 memorial. This run was not as long as the one I had taken earlier, but I had to get back to the hotel to get ready and check out.

It was so fun running in Washington D.C. I love running in towns that I don't live in because it forces me to think about whether or not I would even want to live there. It makes it feel like home since running is such a normal thing that I do here at home. I loved Washington and will think about applying for jobs here when that time comes.


Bob said...

Welcome back Leah, sounds like you had a great time. I was thinking you were going to say you pulled a Rocky Balboa at the top of the capitol stairs. It must have been pretty cool to run through that history. How is Jason's leg feeling? Better I hope.

LeahC said...

yes it was almost a rocky moment. The huge set of steps going up to the buidling were closed, so I coudln't get all the way to to top...still quite a great feeling getting all the way to that building.

Danny said...

nice pictures! makes me want to go to DC.

(i was pretty good in physics. maybe i can fake it...)

LeahC said...

thanks! I do like the one of the american flag in front of the washington monument....very patriotic!

Jason said...

My leg is feeling better, thanks for asking. I ran seven miles yesterday with Leah and it felt like it might give out three times, but it didn't and I rallied both times. I think it's going to be fine. Bob, your advice was helpful in figuring out what was going on, btw, so thanks

Kendra said...

Cool pictures. I'm glad you had a good trip AND managed to get your runs in. Your energy level is much higher than mine!

Scott said...

Great Washington pics. Great memories...


LeahC said...


yumke said...

Funny you write about running in Washington. My girlfriend is moving there for work so i'll be doing lots of running there. It looks like it's a running friendly city, no?