When I scheduled a customer trip to northern Virginia, I couldn’t help but notice the proximity of my hotel to Manassas National Battlefield from the Civil War. I used to love learning about the Civil War when I was in school so the entire time leading up to the trip I was so excited! I had done my research and I couldn’t wait to run the 5 mile loop around the site of the Battle of Bull Run.
All through the morning’s meetings I heard reports on the news of an impending thunderstorm, but they kept talking about the threat north of DC so I didn’t pay much attention. When I arrived in the parking lot of the Visitor’s Center, the sun was shining and it was a balmy 105° but it wouldn’t last long.
I passed the statue of General Stonewall Jackson and set off into the woods with the #IOHear album blasting in my ears. As I ran along I thought long and hard about the history of the area I was running through. Here I was coming to exercise while so long ago brothers fought and died on the very same trails I was enjoying. The Stone Bridge was where the Confederate Army was commanded on that fateful day, but today it was just another beautiful sight for me. Distracted by the beauty of Adam and Paul’s voices, I didn’t notice how dark it had gotten so quickly until I burst back into the battlefield.
I decided to press on and hope I could outrun the storm. Wrong decision. At almost exactly the furthest point from my car, the winds began to whip and the storm was telling me “you had better get back to your car now”. I ran on and luckily took a wrong turn that doubled me back to a part of the trail I had already covered. I ended up back on the street I had crossed and quickly decided to run down the road rather than try to navigate my way back on the trail. Traffic had picked up so I ran along the side of the road trying not to get hit by cars, but the worst was still to come.
I made the last turn on the main street that would lead me to the visitor’s center entrance, but it was then that the bottom dropped out. I still had about a half mile to go and I made a snap decision to sprint across the battlefield rather than continue to follow the road. Can you guess what happened next? If you guessed that I would run across a giant open field with lightning striking all around me, then you would be right. Oh yeah, and the hail started to come down as well. It was a recipe for the scariest run I’ve ever had. As I breathlessly flopped into my car with the rain pouring down, I knew that I had completed a memorable run but I’m not sure if I even realize now how dangerous it was. Next time I’ll check the weather before I head out!
However, I think it was all worth it for the spectacular sunset that I got to see on the way back to the hotel!