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Saturday, September 18, 2010

The Red Bandana: Walking By An Egyptian Obelisk

I walked by an Egyptian-style obelisk over Labor Day. You might have seen it. It is near the west end of the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

The Washington Monument, as the world's tallest stone structure and the world's tallest obelisk, standing 555 feet 5⅛ inches (169.294 m), reminds us of a great man. President George Washington was "polite with dignity, affable without familiarity, distant without haughtiness, grave without austerity, modest, wise, and good," according to Abigail Adams, wife of President John Adams.

Walking in Washington D.C., for a tourist, is a necessity. Taxis and busses exist, as does the very capable Metrorail and Metrobus transit services (something like the El, only cleaner), but the best way to see things is on foot. The Capitol is on one end of the Mall, and the Lincoln Memorial is on the other. Wear shoes meant for walking or running if you plan to traipse across the city.

For me, getting from Metro, to the Mall, and around town over three days, involved around nine miles of walking all said. At first, it seems like a lot, but the right speed, and the right view of things can keep things fresh. Be encouraged to that a leisurely mile walk of three mph (20:00) burns 93 calories for a 175 lb. person. Each mile adds up.

Try to pick up the pace when you get near the guy selling hot dogs. Cross the street if you must to avoid him. He's over by the couple selling "I love DC" t-shirts and White House kitsch. Remember: fitness. I cannot claim the same discipline, as I grabbed a tasty dog slathered in mustard. You know the old saying, "Don't do as I do, do as I say."

Chicago vs Washington D.C.
Living near Chicago, I know what a Midwestern big city looks like. Buildings lifted by strong men with calloused hands, with accents from every country, working, living and thriving together in the city that works, with people daily pouring in and out of suburbs. Chicagoland is a rich, lively organism.

Carl Sandburg says in his poem "Chicago,"

"Come and show me another city with lifted head singing
so proud to be alive and coarse and strong and cunning."

Chicago is a great city. Perhaps we are no longer "hog butcher for the world," but we have our history. You can see reminders of it on Michigan Avenue, on State Street and Randolph Street. We have our stories and lore. Frank Sinatra sings, "One town that won't let you down./It's my kind of town."

We have the early residents and explorers too: the Potawatomis long ago, Jean Baptiste Point du Sable as a first settler, and, yes, Mrs. Catherine O'Leary (whose cow really had nothing to do with the Great Fire, no matter what you hear). And, more recently, we had Al Capone. We have more history than that, but Washington D.C. carries a cachet of history that defines America.

As the anniversary of 9-11 was a week away, seeing Lincoln's Tennessee marble statue surrounded by some of his great speeches of freedom, standing where Martin Luther King, Jr. told us about his dream, and looking over toward memorials of the men and women who fought to keep us free -- I could only think of the greatness of my country.

With this in mind, considering too the tragedy of 9-11, the walk did not seem as far.

It is good to be back home in Wheaton.

Running Playlist Song of the Week
Walk Like An Egyptian by Liam Sternberg as performed by The Bangles, 1986
"All the kids in the marketplace say
Ay oh whey oh, ay oh whey oh
Walk like an Egyptian"

more songs

Writer Anthony Trendl loves BBQs, folk music and porches. Recently divorced from his couch, he looks to running as he battles midlife and his mid-section. Find out more at

For more about my running adventures, see A Runner's Dilemma (workout details, videos and more)

Click here to contact me.

The Red Bandana: Finding Fitness Through the Joy of Running

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