Author Archives: richardamernick
Many times over the last 7 years, people have asked me, “How did the DC Capital Striders begin?” Well, here is your answer.
In spring 2006, I was having a conversation with a neighbor of mine about where people meet others in the area? I am not talking about joining a random kickball league, or softball league and than going out to drink, or joining one of the dating websites. I was talking about meeting others with similar interests and healthy lifestyles. She drew me to the attention of a website called meetup.com. I was first very reluctant, but then decided to take a look at this website. I cruised around, looking at various pages and interests, some photography, some knitting, some animal lovers, foodies, and came across a page that had 3 members and was listed Washington Running. I decided to join and give it a whirl.
I came down to the mall one early April 2006 evening and met 3 other runners. We met outside the Smithsonian metro station, ran towards the Lincoln Memorial, back up towards the Capitol building and back to the metro station. This was way before I had a GPS system, and I had no clue how far we had run, or how fast; I just know I loved it. This was also before I had run anything longer than a random 10K, and had never run more than around 48 minutes in my entire life. This run was about 45 minutes long.
I decided to join again the next week and had a casual conversation with the leader about the group. She informed me that she was headed to graduate school and could no longer take control of the group, and asked me if I would like it. I agreed, she transferred the group over to me, and now I had a running group on meetup.com with about 10 members. I continued this weekly run down at the Smithsonian metro every week for about 2 months. I would leave work, walk my dog, drive downtown, wait for runners, leave the run, come home, shower, and head to bed for another days work. It was a great way to enjoy the sites around the mall in downtown Washington DC, as I live/work in the burbs of Tysons Corner, VA and Vienna/Fairfax, VA.
This run continued for about 2 months and I met a lot of really great people who I consider friends and the FIRST of MANY DCCS runners I have met over the years. In matter of fact, this was before we actually had a name. More on that later. So, I had a conversation with a few people who run downtown regularly, and before long, we had a Dupont Run, a Capitol Hill Run, and a run in Georgetown. 10 members became 50, 50 became 100, and 100 became 500. When the group got to around 500, I had a discussion with one girl in the group (Miriam) about having a name for the group. We came up with Capital Striders, but after doing an internet search and finding a Capital Striders in Iowa (of all places), I decided to make it “DC” Capital Striders. Another member in our group created a logo, and before long, we had a name and a logo. Pretty cool!
Over the last 7 years, WE have turned into a very large community of runners, open to all runners of all paces and ability levels. We have volunteered at TONS of races in the community, organized our own races for various charities including American Red Cross, Salvation Army, DC Central Kitchen, Back on my Feet, High Cloud Foundation, Wounded Warrior Project, and soon Special Love. In short, it’s pretty amazing how far we have come. Since 2006, I have completed 4 marathons, several half marathons, other endurance events, a few triathlons, centuries, and half Ironman distance races. I also became a certified running coach through the Road Runners Club of America.
It’s become a huge part of my life and I have met a ton of amazing people! I can honestly say one thing, I have never met a pessimistic and unhappy endurance athlete, only when they are injured naturally. I am thankful for the ALL the amazing people over the years who have helped DCCS become what it is, and also helped me to become the athlete and person that I am today.
One of my favorite things to do is trail run. Why do I like this? Well, for starters, I enjoy nature! There is nothing better then leaving work and being able to breathe fresh air, get away from traffic, take in the scenery, and feel the earth underneath your feet. I started trail running around 4 years ago when a friend, Elyse Braner, called and asked if I would be a co-leader for a North Face Endurance Training Program. We met a group of runners each Wednesday evening at Difficult Run (just off route 193 – Georgetown Pike) and Saturday mornings at Algonkian (out route 7 headed towards Ashburn).
We trained runners to run distances anywhere between 10K and 50 mile and I met a great group of runners. Since that time, I have run my own trail races, mainly through EX2 Adventure Backyard Burn Series, but also other endurance events. I love the group of runners I meet with on a regular basis. They not only inspire me to be a better runner, but give me a repreive from the daily grind of work each week.
I encourage anyone who is interested in trail running to come out and meet us. It’s a great group of very friendly people, we are accommodating to runners of all ability levels, and I promise you if you give it some time, you will come to love the sport as much as I do.
Check us out at: http://www.meetup.com/dccapitalstriders-NOVA/events/103480842/
A photo from last year attached.
If you have never tried trail running; you should. Trail running generally takes place on hiking trails, most commonly single track trails, although fire roads are not uncommon. Great Falls, Va offers wonderful trails for locals to use. There are multiple routes available, inclines, declines, vistas, switchbacks, rocks, everything a trail runner can ask for.
The place: Difficult Run Parking Lot (located between 495 and Old Georgetown Road)
The time: 6 pm
The course: We pick a course from the parking lot – sometimes we head west on flatter surfaces, and sometimes we head towards the visitors center for some hill work.
The pace: Open to ALL – run at a pace that is most comfortable for you.
The distance: Go as far as you would like. Some run 3, some run 5, some run 8. We will try to pair up runners as best we can pending your approximate pace and distance desired. Beginners are welcome and we will make sure you know the general course.
The experience: LOVE it! You will be hooked quickly. You may require trail running shoes with firmer mid soles; but you can run in basic running shoes as well; more so if it hasn’t rained recently. Bring a hydration bottle with your favorite energy drink and maybe a gu, or an energy bar.
TIP OF THE DAY: This place is only called “Difficult Run”; don’t be fooled by the name. Come out and enjoy nature at it’s finest just minutes from downtown (without traffic)
Washington DC – March 17, 2012
On a brisk early Saturday morning, I, along with 35 of my soon to be closest friends volunteered at the Rock-N-Roll marathon in Washington DC at mile 17. We arrived there between 7:30 am to 7:45 am. Volunteers set up tables, poured tons of water into cups and waited for the runners to arrive. The marathon began at 8 am. We anticipated our first runner around 9:40 am and sure enough, here came Michael Wardian, 5 time winner of this race and local elite running favorite. About 30 seconds later, another runner came by and then a few minutes later other runners. These guys are fast!!
Around 10 minutes later, our first female runner arrived. What I didn’t know at the time was, this runner who wound up winning the race; had not run more then 10 miles before this day. That’s impressive; but left me wondering how her legs felt on Sunday morning.
All in all, it was a great day! We saw waves of runners pass us, many runners thanked us for volunteering and the race director came by and told us we had the cleanest aid/water station. What he didn’t know is DC Capital Striders Running Group are pro’s at this stuff.
Thank you ALL volunteers – please join us again at another local race and give back to the running community!
Sunday, March 18, 2012: Davidsonville, MD Park and Ride
This was my first long ride of the 2012 cycling season. I had only been on my bike once about a week ago for a 15 mile jaunt around my neighborhood that did include hills; but this was my first real test of the season. A little chillier start than had hoped, but all in all, the weather wasn’t really a problem. I rode with Adam S, Kim “pinkalicious” G, and Scott “Big Ron”.
This is a NICE ride! Nice countrysides; rolling hills; not so rolling hills, and nice downhills. Our average pace was around 17.5 MPH; not so shabby for mid March. After riding, cleaning up a bit, headed over to Baltimore Coffee and Tea Company in Annapolis; which if you havent been there, you should go – this place rocks! Then after, went over to Pusser’s in the Marriott Waterfront Hotel in Annapolis for some post ride beverages and grub on a very comfortable leather couch by a fire.
This was a good day and I will visit these places again!
On a cold, brisk, early Sunday morning, the DC Capital Striders Running Group offered a slew of volunteers for the annual St. Paddy’s Day 8K road race. If you have never volunteered at a race before; you should; plain and simple. It is a great way to give back to the running community; to which we take so much from.
DC Capital Striders offers volunteers to many local races annually. Come join us sometime; meet your fellow DCCS members; and see what goes on behind the scenes.
Tip of the Day: If you are runner, please say thank you to the volunteers AND when you are done drinking your water, don’t toss the cup at the feet of the volunteers; wait til you are past the water station and then drop it. We promise to pick it up.
If you want to join a great group of runners; beginners and advanced; and enjoy running through nature – this is the group for you! We meet each Wednesday evening, at 6 pm, in the Difficult Run Parking Lot; which is off Route 193 (Georgetown Pike) between 495 and Old Dominion Drive.
Everyone is welcome to join!
Visit http://www.meetup.com/dccapitalstriders-nova for more information!
Great Falls Park is located at the corner of Route 193 (Georgetown Pike) and Old Dominion Drive in Great Falls, Virginia. It’s a short 5 minute drive from Tyson’s Corner or an approximate 4 1/2 mile drive from 495. It’s a natural beauty any time of the year and each time I go there, I see something new and anticipate a return back. Hiking, biking, canoeing, walking, running, making a picnic, this is the place for you! Enjoy it like I do!
The DC Trash Running Group originating in 2009, an outreach project by Atayne, has provided many Washington DC parks and trails with a cleaner look. Runners begin at a central location, bags and gloves in hand, and trek out a course of between 2 to 3 miles. Participants collectively run, and then walk back to the starting location, picking up glass bottles, soda cans, and other various items along the trail. The group recycles as much as possible and the rest is placed in trash bins/dumpsters along the course.
“It’s a great way to first meet new people, second get in a good run, and third clean up the environment” says one long time participant. Participants feel a great sense of pride in the community and many people observing show their gratitude.
Be a part of something special! For more information, visit: