I was really not feeling in the mood for a long run when I got up on Saturday. I had been up a bit late stringing pretzel necklaces with my coworker, Rebecca, for us all to bring to the craft beer festival downtown on Saturday evening. So I was tired, not to mention sick of the cold, which I can feel beginning to take a toll on me. This past week in particular was rather challenging. Super early on Thursday morning I ventured out into very low single-digit temps to do an 8-miler around the Fresh Pond area with Carl's girlfriend, Katie, who is running on the Tuft's team. When I got back to the T, my hands were so frozen and swollen that I was literally unable to unzip my pocket to get my T pass out. There was a train coming in 1 minute and I was already late getting home, but no matter how hard I tried, my fingers could not grasp the little zipper. In desperation I started rubbing my butt up and down on the sensor to see if it could read my card through my pants, but it didn't work and definitely got me some weird looks (in the end, I was so completely helpless that I just had to ghost in after someone). The hill workout on Tuesday night was equally ridiculous. We have yet to have reasonable weather for any of those--first the extreme cold, then the downpour, and this week's fun times in some very heavy snowfall that reduced traction to the point where I felt like I was running in sand. I am done complaining, but let's just say that whoever decided to put the Boston Marathon in the spring is not my favorite. In fact, they are almost certainly dead at this point, and I don't feel bad.
The upside of Saturday was that it was a practically balmy 20 degrees out, although really clouded over and sort of dull. Nicole and I have been setting our rendezvous time later and later, so we got to Joint Ventures not too long before we all once again piled onto the T at Kenmore for the trip out to Riverside. I was zoning out on the train, almost ready to take a nap, when I looked down the car and got a wave from Katherine, the woman who I ran with way back in December on our first Furey run. It was great to see her again, and after reaching Riverside we embarked on the journey back together. Even though she hasn't been able to attend many of these program runs, she explained how she's been running to and from her job at Boston Medical Center with her work clothes in a little backpack, and that she recently took her 2-year-old for a 12-miler in a running stroller. She had also acquired one of those nifty GPS watches that clocks your mileage and pace, so she was able to keep an eye on our speed.
The first segment of the Riverside run isn't so great, as it's along big roads and the sidewalk wasn't really shoveled so there were a lot of snow and ice patches. I was really glad to reach Commonwealth Ave, which has the carriage road to run on. This time, it was filled with even more runners than before, which Katherine thought was hilarious and she even ran into some people that she knew from her sports club. The masses of runners training up and down the Newton hills is really quite impressive, although you can totally tell we're the charity bunch--pretty rag-tag compared to what people typically imagine when they think "marathon runner." It was great energy all around though, and after the first hill we ran into Katy who was running with another teammate, Helene, who is my "big sib" on the Samaritans team (since she did it last year, although was unfortunately stopped before the finish). We chatted with them for a while before moving on, and then it was just the two of us.
After passing BC and jumping onto Beacon Street for the final 3 miles home, Katherine began to explain her journey to her current job--how she moved out the Bay Area after college and got involved in health clinic work which led her back to Yale for graduate school and then up to Boston to work at BMC. She is 40 (although doesn't look it), and surprised me at one point by exclaiming how much she loves getting older, and how each era of her life seems better than the last. Upon hearing her say that, I couldn't help but express my envy and admit that I definitely struggle with the fear of getting older and how much stress it brings me to think about it. She listened thoughtfully while I explained more fully how derailed I was at age 22 when Nathaniel's death really pulled the framework from my life and left me with reeling with uncertainty and questions that did not make me feel very optimistic about my future. After reflecting on this, she wondered if it was a bit like climbing a mountain, where the uphill battle seems endless but when you suddenly turn and look back, that's when you are able to see how far you have come. And she was right--moving forward does seem slow, but in many ways my life is less stagnant than I sometimes believe.
Katy caught us again while we lingered and talked to John at the water stop that he'd set up right after BC, so the three of us took the final few miles together. It seems a bit backwards that running 10 miles would make me feel more energetic, but the sluggishness that I'd felt while on the T had finally passed. When we got back to Joint Ventures, Katherine's watch device declared our pace to be around 8:22, which had felt really slow so we were both pleased about that. And I felt way less wasted than I had last week after pushing it so hard on the 15 miler. I think that this speed is probably the way to go if I am going to stay in one piece. I took care to spend some time rolling a golf ball under my right foot to stretch my plantar fascia, and I think that helped ward off the heel pain which always flares up very aggressively after the longer runs. I'm still skeptical about my hips, which feel a bit off. I asked hot Dr. Hagan about it on Wednesday, and he said not to worry about it too much--that nobody is perfectly even and the exercises he's having me do will help level them slowly on their own. I wasn't entirely sure I believed him and kind of just wanted him to knock them back into place, but he seemed confident that all was OK. I skeptically agreed, uncomfortably aware of how the more he frustrated me the more I felt attracted to him...not sure what that's all about, but regardless, my injuries are indeed slowly improving despite the increases in mileage, so I guess I will just have to take his word. We'll see what next week's 16-miler does to me.