Michael Bryant is a serial procrastinator when his to-do list includes repairing his basement or building a deck for his back yard or even finishing graduate school.
But Bryant does not mess around when it comes to the important stuff -- such as running all of Washington's 1,100 miles of public streets, including its freeways, military bases, college campuses and 10 cemeteries.
Not even the sweltering 94-degree heat stopped him Monday night when he embarked on what he said was the last of the 280 runs it took to complete his three-year quest to jog the entire city.
"It's almost cathartic," said Bryant, 41, standing at the starting point for the final run, 13th and C streets SE, the air thick. He quickly qualified his enthusiasm: "As long as you don't overdo it and kill yourself."
In the realm of quixotic obsessions, Bryant's urban marathon might be singular, although not entirely unprecedented, at least for him. In 2002, he completed his first odyssey, running home to his Northwest rowhouse from each of Metro's 83 stations.
It was when he finished that two-year journey that the computer systems administrator hatched his next one. It has taken him from Georgetown to Congress Heights, from the sweeping green vistas of Rock Creek Park to the hold-your-nose stench of the Blue Plains sewage plant in Southwest.
"I didn't know it smelled so bad," Bryant said. "Had to go twice."
The reasons for his journeys were simple. He hoped to give himself a purpose for exercise beyond mere sweat and strain. And he also wanted to see the city in its entirety, not just the familiar stretch from his Mount Pleasant home to his Capitol Hill office.
"You can live here your whole life, you know the museums, the theaters, the restaurants, and you still only see 5 percent of the city," he said. "If you want to see the whole thing, you have to make the conscious effort."
A log of his trips -- including Bolling Air Force Base and the Southeast-Southwest Freeway -- fill a red spiral notebook in which he has scrawled every street he traveled, as well as a few unusual sights and sounds along the way.
"Come on, white boy, run a little faster," one man yelled at him as he ran along South Dakota Avenue NE a couple of years ago, according to the log.
"Why is your booty showing so much?" yelled another as he jogged through another neighborhood a few days later.
"Burnt out car with toilet on engine" he wrote after running past the rubble on New York Avenue, near Bladensburg Road.
Aside from a stray comment here and there, and a "flying chunk of something" that landed nearby, Bryant said he traversed the city without incident. There were moments of unexpected kindness, he said, such as when a drunken woman lumbered into the middle of the street to embrace him as he passed.
At times, particularly as he ran through African American neighborhoods, he said, people asked what he believed to have been a perfectly reasonable question:
What are you doing here?
Depending on his mood, he'd sometimes stop to answer or he kept moving, always explaining that he was "exploring" or "trying to run every street of Washington, D.C."
"Some people would just say, 'Wow,' " he recalled. "And some would look at me like I was crazy."
His passion for unusual diversions is nothing new, as far as his mother is concerned. "Our Michael," Dorothy Bryant half-chuckled and half-sighed into the telephone. "He's one of a kind."
As a kid in West Virginia, she recalled, her son liked to count everything -- his hiccups or the telephone poles as the family traveled a highway.
"He'd say, 'That was our 322nd telephone pole,' " she recalled.
When he told her of his running project, she thought, "That's Michael."
"It's about persistence," Dorothy Bryant said. "You say you want to do something and, by golly, you do it."
Bryant acknowledged that he has not been that way about everything, including various household projects. But with running, he kept at it, even as he skipped weeks and even months without hitting the streets, either because of the cold weather or when he broke his arm playing soccer.
For support, he often commiserated with fellow runner Ross Brennan, who had written to Bryant after learning about his project.
Coincidentally, Brennan, 46, a branch director at the Environmental Protection Agency, had undertaken his own expedition to run the entire city. He started in 1996 but was slowed by the births of his two children.
Together the men studied District maps and devised rules for what constituted a public street and road and what did not. They decided to leave out unnamed alleys, and, because it would be too difficult to arrange, the Naval Observatory and White House grounds. But they did obtain permission to run through Bolling and the U.S. Armed Forces Retirement Home.
In total, they estimate that they ran as much as 1,700 miles, including the Navy Yard, the Anacostia Naval annex and Fort McNair and all the doubling back they had to do to fill in streets here and there.
After 10 years of running the city, Brennan said he was impressed by the amount of change he witnessed "in real time," particularly on the eastern edge, where housing projects disappeared and up popped suburban-style housing developments that "look like Gaithersburg."
"It was interesting and a bit sobering," he said.
Brennan showed up Monday afternoon to join Bryant for their final four-mile run around Capitol Hill. A dozen friends came along, a few of them jogging, the others snapping pictures and cheering as they passed the finish line.
"So what city is next?" a friend asked.
Bryant shrugged, then stripped off his sweat-soaked T-shirt and announced it was up for auction.
"The bidding starts at $150," he said. No one budged, but a woman offered him a bottle of Gatorade, which he proceeded to chug.