Dr. J on Running

Roosevelt Island

22 January 2010

A recent trip to Arlington, Virginia, afforded me an early morning run through Roosevelt Island, the site of the Theodore Roosevelt National Memorial. The air was dry and crisp, just a few degrees below freezing. I started at the Key Bridge, and followed the Mount Vernon trail towards the Island. I reached the bridge in five minutes, and turned left towards the Island.

A map of the Island showed half-a-dozen intersecting loops, a nightmare for this direction-challenged runner. At the suggestion of my wife, I kept the water to my right and followed the outermost loop. Mathematically, I was bound to return to the bridge if I ran long enough on the perimeter loop.

To my delight, the trail was unpaved just dirt and tree roots. The wildlife consisted of squirrels and geese. Some ten minutes into the run, the trail turned into a boardwalk in the marsh area. The panels on the boardwalk appeared synthetic and felt hard unyielding to the feet. My New Balance 505 provided adequate toe strike but lacked any cushioning. It felt like running barefoot on hard concrete.

About half-way around the Island, a light-footed runner in red tights and blue tops blew past me. I did not hear her footsteps behind me, even on the boardwalk. She ran effortlessly, pumping her arms at her sides, at 6:30 to 7-minute pace. She appeared in her twenties, possibly a local collegiate harrier. She disappeared as suddenly as she appeared, and never gave me a chance to debate whether to give chase.

A water fountain marked the intersection of two of the loops and the start of the muddy portion of the trail. I stopped for a cold drink, and then splashed my way forward. My wet socks felt suddenly cold on my feet. The bridge appeared and brought me back to dry footing. I estimated the perimeter of the Island at two miles.

I proceeded south on the Mount Vernon trail for several more minutes before turning back towards the hotel. My run lasted 64 minutes this morning, close to seven miles. A hot shower, hot coffee and a breakfast of croissant, scrambled eggs and chilled salmon rounded the morning.

Dr Kamal Jabbour enjoys adventure running on his frequent travels around the country. Dr. J's RUNNING Column appears in Cyberspace whenever the endorphines call.

© 2010 Dr Kamal Jabbour