Posted tagged ‘spring’

Spring City Run

March 21, 2014

Howie and I hit the pavement together early this morning.  I have driven to Somerville to run on my day off—a small concession to be able to train with my friend.  Howie starts to sweat almost immediately and I am envious of the water dripping from his hair and face. It’s much colder than I anticipated, and I find myself shivering as we start off and for the first few miles.  Although I wear gloves, my fingers are an ugly blue-yellow from the cold.

Howie leads me from his house through a labyrinth of sides streets.  We run through Porter Square, Harvard Square, Central Square and Inman Square.  He cuts through parking lots and down driveways like rivers whose mouths narrowly spill onto more tiny roads.  He points out the many places he has lived in Cambridge and tells me the story behind each lovely old house—the trees he planted, the skylights he put in to let in the light he so loves in his living space.  As he talks while we run, I find myself grateful for his friendship and understanding of the world. We are both in the same place in a lot of ways, but right now mostly we share being a bit stuck in our respective areas of creativity.  It is good to talk to him, and even better to listen to his thoughts about life and where we stand in it.

The sidewalks are upthrust and askew with frost heaves in a lot of places; brick and pavement reach sharp edges up to trip me.  I pay extra-close attention so that I don’t fall.  I jump over a lot of the big bumps, exhilarated by the cold air and the joy of running with my friend.  We run close together on the narrow paths, sometimes turning ourselves out onto the streets, the thought unspoken that it might be safer as long as we don’t get run over.

We pass some runners, others pass us as we press against the cold, fresh spring wind.  We run along the Charles River for a while, keeping to the soft dirt paths, that softness protecting our joints, ligaments and tendons.  Crews are out rowing on the river and we watch them as we run by.  Running here today gets me thinking about the long runs we did last summer, miles and miles and miles along the river in the heat. I  already anticipate with excitement more of the same coming soon.

I breathe in the smells of the city—car exhaust, oil, the slightly funky smell of the Charles River, a thousand different food smells from all of the restaurants we pass.  The mingled scents bring on a slew of memories of other times, but I keep them to myself today, wanting only to enjoy the quiet sound of our sneakers touching the pavement or dirt, and the sound of our breathing as we run in step along the route.

We cross streets without waiting for the lights to change and sometimes far from the crosswalks, even Memorial Drive.  I let Howie assess the safety factor in that today; I feel like he will take better care of me that I will myself.  As we approach a small intersection near Inman Square, a car stalls as the light turns green.  Without even looking to each other, we both scoot behind the car, indicating to the driver that we will push her out of the way.  I take the left and Howie takes the right and it is easy for us to move the little gray sedan out of the intersection and up the road.  The driver steers her car into a parking spot along the side of the road and gets out to tell us she can call AAA.  We wave and run on.  When we reach Central Square, we cut around the back of the busiest street.  A delivery man spills his cart of milk, eggs and sour cream on the sidewalk.  Once again, we stop together and immediately begin to help, grabbing cartons that have not ruptured.  The delivery man takes one look at us and says, “Hey!  You guys are getting your exercise.  Keep going.  Don’t interrupt your run to do this.  I got it!”  His face breaks into a warm smile as we ask if he really doesn’t need help.  “No, no.  You two go on.  Have a good run!”

By the time we are finished, we have logged close to nine miles.  I am still cold, but feeling pleased.  Pleased with our distance, the camaraderie  we share for running and also for stopping to do the things we both know are the right things to do.  Mostly, though, I am pleased that I have Howie for a running partner and a friend.

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Ready for Race Day

May 7, 2012

It’s Monday morning and I head out for an easy five mile run.  The sun shines warm and bright on me, and on the tiny new leaves on the trees.   The full moon has pulled the low tide farther out than usual and I can see dozens of seaweed-covered granite boulders poking their heads up on the shore of Back Beach.  As I run, I make my plan for this week.  I will back off on the miles, ice my heel and arch, refrain from any crazy plyometric sessions, and ease up on strength training—in other words, rest a bit so that I can run the Twin Lights Half Marathon this coming Saturday and finish strong.

Today is the third day in a row for running.  There is a part of me that still doesn’t trust myself to run the distance.  While I rest, I plan to spend some time adjusting my attitude.  I am going to get in my own head and boss myself around.  I am going to muzzle  the chattering monkeys.  And then, I am going to let go of everything and be present each minute of the race.  I like the plan.

The monkeys are already backing off this morning.  Each stride is relaxed.  My breath comes easy—I can sing along to Girl Talk, The Black Eyed Peas, and Foster the People.  I run along Granite Street and close my eyes for a moment to fully appreciate the scent of the hedge of flowering lilac bushes along the sidewalk.  The sweet pungent blooms bow gently over my head and I think of my Nana and how she loved lilacs, magnolias, and lilies of the valley.  This feeling of being in the moment, with good memories tagging along, takes me to the place that makes running magical for me.  I am not thinking about the race.  I am not thinking about my foot, whether it is hurting or not.  I am not thinking.   I am just being.

I make sure to cut my loop short so I stay within my self-imposed five mile limit.  I curve around Phillip’s Ave. and turn right instead of left, easing down the steep hill toward the ocean and the old Tool Company.  The water, visible to the left of the building,  glistens and sparkles in the early morning light.  The clean smells of ocean, low tide and flowers are the core of my awareness.  As I turn back onto Granite Street, I run past a few walkers.  A car horn sounds and I see the hand of someone I must know but don’t recognize wave to me from their window.  I raise my hand back, but don’t even look to see who it is.

I take the big hill slowly, not pushing, but when I come to the long, easy slope that heads back to town, I speed up, letting my body go as it wishes.  My legs feel long, long, long today and I can feel myself flying.  My feet barely have time to make contact before they pick up to stride again.  I sprint down Broadway, cross Mount Pleasant, then slow down to a dog-trot as I turn onto Atlantic.  A small sadness sets in, as I know I will be backing off the rest of the week.  That was it, the last real run.  I will take a couple more short jaunts, but otherwise stick to the plan.  I’m ready.