Monday, April 03, 2006

It's been a busy weekend, but a good one. We did some dancing on Saturday, followed by the traditional Running of the Errands and a nice dinner.

But then came Sunday...

Agnes had volunteered to work with a group from her Credit Union to help out at the annual Cherry Blossom 10-Mile Run in downtown DC. That's laudable. Of course, the fine print in the marriage contract says that the husband has to go along. Well, okay. But then we realized that the show time at the Metro station to meet up with our group was 5:45 AM!! On a Sunday!! Not just that, but it happened to be the same Sunday that we lost an hour of sleep to Daylight Savings Time, too!.

And so the day began with my dragging Agnes out of bed by her shapely ankle and filling her with coffee to get us moving. Things got better once we were moving, though...we met the rest of the group on schedule and took the Metro to the Arlington Cemetery station, from where we walked across the Memorial Bridge in the morning chill, past the groves of beautiful cherry blossoms at the peak of their spring glory and into the spreading pinks and golds of the sunrise. We eventually reached the amazingly well-organized chaos of the volunteer reception area, were issued our t-shirts and ID bibs, then parcelled out to the various areas where we were needed, mainly involving a mad rush to organize the finish area once the runners had cleared out.

The weather was glorious, and the mood of the runners and the volunteers was (generally!) happy and positive despite the early hour. The combination of the excitement, the great weather, the beautiful cherry blossoms, and the riverfront scenery was great, and we waited in growing anticipation for the runners to begin returning.

The difference between the excited, pumped-up runners who thundered out of the chute at the beginning of the race, and the exhausted, sweating, nearly-catatonic runners who finished was quite something. But regardless of how they looked or felt, each runner could look back with pride at having accomplished something few others could have done. The men's winner, from Kenya, and the women's winner, from Russia, literally zoomed across the finish line, and the wheelchair winner came in with a rapid and strong finish. But the most inspiring were the average people - not the trained athletes - who struggled across the finish line with pride and exhaustion mixed on their faces.

All in all, it was a great morning, and it was hard to believe that it was pretty much over by 11:00. And while I wouldn't necessarily want to have a lot of early Sundays like that one, I left the scene feeling happy and full of pride that we have a country that still produces people who can run in 10-mile races...and who will volunteer their weekends to cheer them on.

Have a good week. More tomorrow.


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