Saturday, October 25, 2008

Running a Marathon + Sightseeing = Not a Vacation

Don't try to fool yourself. I did. It is extremely difficult to take a weekend trip where the main focus is work or some other commitment (whether it is athletic or family), and turn it into a sightseeing vacation.

Last fall I headed down to Washington, D.C for Halloween weekend to run in the Marine Corp Marathon. I had gone through months and months of training. I was ready to go. And, looking at the course map (and considering my "amazing" level of fitness), I was ready to take this 26.2 mile run whilst enjoying some of the major monuments in the D.C. area: the Pentagon, the Watergate, the Lincoln Memorial, the Capital, the Washington Monument, the Smithsonian museums, the Jefferson Memorial, and actually crossing the finish line at the Iwo Jima Memorial. Silly, naive Molly. While it was surreal running past all of these national monuments, I was way more focused on trying to make my legs move another step and not passing out by the side of the road.Marine Corps Marathon
(The Iwo Jima monument never looked so good with thousands of sweaty runners, and orange security fencing).

While it wasn't totally unexpected that I didn't fully enjoy my marathon sightseeing experience, I thought for sure I would be ready to go the following day before my friend and I had to get our flight back home. As I hobbled around the Reflecting Pool, past the Vietnam Memorial, and then through the Aerospace Museum (I touched a moon rock - I'm basically an astronaut now), I knew that my D.C. vacation experience just wasn't meant to be. While it was a beautiful day, and the monuments were impressive, I was so exhausted from the race the previous day, I really couldn't enjoy half of what I was seeing.

I have made a bunch of similar attempts while on work trips, and have run into very similar issues. I always seem too busy with work commitments and obligations, that the sites I do see seem tainted, and while not completely ruined, at the very least seem less charming or enjoyable.

Yes, it may seem that I am advocating not even bothering to try to turn this type of trip into a "leisure" vacation (ewww, I don't like calling it that), I'm don't mean that exactly. It is more meant to be a cautionary message: don't raise expectations when going on trips where you have larger obligations (such as work - the most cursed obligation of them all).  I feel that even when you are squeezing some fun into the trip, those obligations will generally act as a cloud over most of what you do...I'm still hoping to prove myself wrong on this point.


Meriel said...

I semi-agree after our Memphis marathon experience. Arriving a few days before the marathon allowed for some descent tourism (minus the inside of all the bars). It would've been well worth it if the weather hadn't prevented the arrival of my site seeing buddy.

Prêt à Voyager said...

I for one know I always try to cram too much in in every trip. Either way, well done! I know when I ran the Baltimore half, it was a fascinating way to see the city, even as a local.


Molly said...

If nothing else it is a great excuse to travel. I'm hoping to run the Dublin marathon next fall, and take an entire week after to travel. Ireland is the land of hydration.

Meriel said...

Count me IN for Dublin!!!