Sunday, August 31, 2008

Last run through Southie, plus a long weekend jaunt with Allison

One more run through Southie, and this time a short one, on Wednesday. I admit that this reason was conducted for a sole reason--reconnaissance. After the last, somewhat long blog post, my mother mentioned she'd have like to see the art I mentioned. Here it is, ma one other lovely sight I happened across (below art).

Yesterday, Saturday, a long and shambling, rolling run, filled with the always good conversation found with Alison Ruhlmann...with an assortment of things filling our mutual summer weekends and weeknights, tandem runs have been few and far between. This Ponkapoag 8+ miles through lush, still damp, wooded trails, was just what I needed--what both of us needed, I think. It also reminded me that I need new running shoes--oh, so sweet, to think of new kicks.

Six hours and two carloads of moving later, I finally hit the shower, revolted by my own well-aged funk. Half a pepperoni pizza, 3.5 beers, a surprisingly good movie (Hancock), and 10 hours of sleep later, I woke up ready to rock.

But...the previous tenant of our apartment is only now able to move the last of his things (it's 5:02 p.m.), and both Jared and I are chomping at the bit--a feeling made all the worse after a lazy day of shopping to pick up the last of the things we needed--a 12 x 18" frame, a Swiffer, and a Dave Matthews DVD...

Aargh. Moving.

Monday, August 25, 2008

A Multitude of Runs, and Southie's Top 10

Quick summation of the last two weeks:

1. Falmouth=ick. Abby gasping for air in heat, and Jared's IT band causing mondo knee pain. AND. No free beer at the end. (Seriously, is there any other reason to do a summer race??) Boo on this one overall--though to be fair, it was absolutely the most efficiently run race I've ever seen.
2. A series of runs, all in the 4-6 mile range: a couple across the bridge and over to Cambridge, a Southie loop with Kate, and today's, also through Southie, with just little old me...
3. A CRRRRAZY! hike with Jared on Maine's Mount Katahdin--a life-altering experience, and one that might be a little difficult for me to blog about. Suffice to say that the mountain was, as promised, horrible, and beautiful. I realized the fragility of my own body, while marveling at the strength as well.

But it would be strange of me not to go into further detail regarding today's run.

Today, as I loped toward Castle Island, clad in my last clean pair of running shorts, I reflected on my running days in Southie. With the upcoming move looming in only 4-6 days, I took a walk down memory lane. Southie's been the scene of many a run for me--usually at least once a week, something I held strong to until this summer's lazy weeknights and crammed weekends, and in the early days of marathon training, sometimes twice a week. With the move comes the sure knowledge that I will likely not be coming back for many nostalgia runs. New terrain awaits, and I cannot wait to try it out, in both the literal, running sense, with our new home around 1/2 mile from the Minuteman Trail, and the figurative, taking up habitation with my beloved. Sigh...happy adventures!

All of this aside, today I spent my loop reflecting on the things I will, and won't, miss from my Southie runs. First, the things I won't:

1. The dogs. Today's standard 5.5 loop was like running through a mine field. Even in places where I didn't see any actual dogs, the smell of fresh dog poop lurked in the air, and a runner such as me, lassez faire in all other circumstances, had to be wary of where each foot fell. I love you too, little turd-burglar, but keep that stuff away from my shoes...
2. The truly inexplicable number of pizza places, laundry joints, and bars in a 2-mile radius. Had I attempted to actually keep count, the tally would be something like this: 5 pizza joints, 14 bars, and 4 laundromats. Note that I didn't even mention the number of sketchy Chinese and/or Mexican haunts. My stomach aches a little to think of it, and my nose wrinkles painfully in remembrance of these smells, mixed with the hint of summer urine.
3. The noise. As soon as warm weather hits, my airless (and air conditioner-less) apartment begs for air. I oblige, by opening the windows, and turning on the ceiling fan--which unfortunately does nothing to drown out the teenage drunks on the street (Seriously, guys, a Tuesday?), the trucks that seem to feel a strange need to back up, beeping all the way, between 4:00 and 7:00 a.m., and the random, rare accident, that leaves gouges in multiple cars, and scattered bits of another strewn about the street.
4. The city. At heart, I love trails. I love trees, wind, water, the absence of city. I love to run to find myself, to run closer to the core of me--hard to do when there are people, cars, and buildings everywhere the eye can see.
5. Looping around the projects. While Southie is much cleaned up from its former violent past, there are still some areas that a lone woman really ought not run alone at night--limiting my latenight loops to only those well-lit areas, or when it doesn't, earning me a (deserved) scolding.

And to be fair, the things that I most certainly will:
1. The cold, winter loneliness of running along the causeway, the air sharp and crisp, almost jagged when it hit my lungs. The drop in temperate, and the early leavetaking of the sun bringing about a dark, inky black backdrop--a perfect viewing spot for stars. The heavy wind and rain of New England's quasi-winter making it perfect for runners--real runners, who continue to go out in 20-degree weather, clad in tights, long underwear, fleece, and an assortment of five other layers--and perfect for this runner, who often stopped at the causeway to hear the waves crashing underneath into Pleasure Bay.
2. The dogs. I know, they really shouldn't be in both lists, but they're so darned cute...not to mention varied. Today I saw a ludicrously thin teenage girl walking an ugly English Bulldog, black labs of various sizes, including a couple of gamboling puppies, their feet too big for their legs, a 20-something woman whose pigtailed hair perfectly resembled the lilt and cock of her spaniel mutt's ears, a man with three tiny yapping name the breed, it's been at Castle Island on one of my runs...though I will say, there tends to be a noticeable lack of presence in the truly large breeds. I've yet to see a dane or mastiff down there, though labs and pit bulls abound.
3. The Southie art. At some point of every summer, some local group puts up youth art on the signposts up and down all of Broadway, making my loop a feast for the cultured senses as well as the physical. From mermaids to lighthouses, Irish pride, and the occasional avant garde piece (this year, a barcode-themed item), these paintings are a bright, youthful piece of a part of Boston too often known for its plethora of bars...and the people who frequent them.
4. Easily measurable mileage, and familiarity. I've run, and mapped the same loops so many times that I know how long they should take. I know the approximate distances. I know that to loop from my apartment down to Castle Island, looping the long way around the projects, and back via Dot Ave, is about 5.5 miles. I know that if I bypass home and tack on a quick jaunt to the T station, I'll have gone 6.75, and that if I loop twice around Castle Island, the mileage is closer to 9 miles. Watches can be left at home, as can directions.
5. The characters. Few parts of Boston that I have seen have the same colorful populace that Southie does. A few random snippits of conversations I have had or have heard:
While running in spandex tights, a turtleneck and fleece with no pockets, from a very drunk man in the bus stop: "Help a fellow Irishman out." Translation: Do you have some money? Where, I ask, would I have put it? And who on earth sees a 5'11" blond woman in spandex, and thinks Irish?
Two 25ish girls, today, at Castle Island: "It's too bad he's shady...He's a very nice-looking man." Girl 2 responds: "He's not shady...but he is very nice-looking. Well, not that shady..."
Upon running up to my favorite Exxon station for a mid-run emergency bathroom stop, to a the gas station attendant, at the time leaning against the gas tanks, smoking a cigarette: "Hi! Can I use your bathroom?! Wow...that's a really bold move there." Man shrugs, flicks out butt, and gets the key to the bathroom for me.
Keep in mind this doesn't take into account the numerous random scenes--from a couple fighting, a couple making out, groups of fishermen lined along the waterfront, beachgoers, an old, cheerful man wearing a t-shirt emblazoned with a large, cartoonish tabby cat at sleep, and the words "I'm not a morning person" curling underneath, the walkers, the fair-weather joggers, the kids running up and down the grassy back side of the fort, drag queens polar-bearing in the winter months to fundraise efforts to fight domestic can see it all in Southie.

All of this list-making aside, I of course couldn't be more thrilled to be getting closer and closer to cohabitation with my beloved, with the sure knowledge that whatever the mileage, whatever its details, days, times, and all that other junk that we runners way overvalue, I am at last running to exactly where I want to be, and who I want to find there.

Now, if only we had some dishes.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Cramming for Falmouth

This week, mostly because Falmouth is this Sunday, I hauled my sorry self out and about for two runs of a bit over 7 miles each. Procrastination? Yes. But that went ok, so all's well that...well, I'll let you know on Sunday if it ends well.

Tuesday, a 7.5 mile run through Southie, around Pleasure Bay, then over to CambridgeSide Galleria (yes, crossing over that dirty water).

Thursday, last night, a warm up run to Brenda's, a scathingly fast 3-4 mile river loop with her, then a "cool-down/digestive aid" run back to the car--after two cold beers and a slice of cheese pizza at Crossroads.

Sigh. Bliss. Guilt-free beer and pizza--possibly the runner's sole motivation...or at least mine, at times.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Just when you think the worst can't happen...the worst happens.

As some of you already know (those of you who haven't abandoned my blog after my month-long hiatus--thanks, Mom & Dad), I planned to do a trail run this past weekend, at Pawtuckaway State Park in NH.

I did complete said run, with Jared--a man who remains, after a year of mooning, and six months of actual dating (That's right! We're dating! Me and that stone fox!) remains the most ridiculously wonderful, charming, and ludicrously sexy man I have ever seen. I don't tell you this because I'm just dizzy with love (though I am); I tell you this because it makes what occurred all the worse.

To fully capture my experience, I resorted to verse, a medium I typically scorn. (At least for my own writing--that's not to say verse as a whole is bad. Just mine.)

An Ode to Pawtuckaway

'Twas only three days ago
that I opted for a long, luscious run.
With my stellar beloved,
this was sure to be boatloads of fun.

New Hampshire's state park
slotted to be our new site
the miles to be fast--
to evade many mosquito bite.

We began at the lodge,
when a guide filled with her park power
suggested a 6-mile hike
to ye old Mountain Trail tower.

Not thinking of rain nor of mud,
nor of uphills so steep,
We laced up our shoes
to find this old keep.

Jared bolted ahead,
looking fit and so strong
while an old summer cold
left me dragging along.

Twists and turns with each path
with lush greenery exposed
But by the end of two miles
I felt somewhat hosed.

Still we trundled along,
another 1/2 mile or so
When disaster did strike--
I just had to GO.

Panic set in,
and I looked round with fear
Hoping to hold it
but knowing doom was a-near.

Jared eyed me with pity,
and a bit of a smile
and told me these words,
though I spoke my denial.

"We've all been there, my love,
we've all had to crap.
At least you're equipped
with this handy trail map."

So off he skipped away,
while singing loudly off key
as I squatted in shame
near rocks bigger than me.

Business all finished,
I called him back up the trail--
red-faced and sheepish
in front of my good handsome male.

I wondered his thoughts
as we ran back to the car,
Though only three miles,
it seemed much, much too far.

Too late then to talk
of the shouldn'ts and shoulds
when your girlfriend
has stopped to shit in the woods.

Side note: All ended well, minus the map that I was forced to leave as litter. Sorry, park ranger. So, so sorry.

Friday, August 1, 2008

That Timeless Question...

Shamelessly stalking Brenda via her blog, I ran across this question:

What type of runner are you?

I clicked the link, and tried to decide which one I am. Tough, to say the least. I think I've decided on a combination of the Salination Machine, the High Five Twister ("The human spirit is indomitable!"), and strangely, at different times in each race, both the Gazelle AND the Sloth...

So check it out, and try to figure out what type YOU are....

In other news! At least, a run (planned for) today! I've officially decided there is no way to defeat this 10-day+ cold other than to destroy it by pounding it out via running shoes (in the style of the Loud Runner, perhaps?). Today, I head to Pawtuckaway with Jared, where I will attempt to subvert these phlemmy germs to my iron will.