Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Thursday, November 27th: The Thanksgiving Run

Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday, as it is the only time of year that you can find all six siblings in my mother's family and their children in the same place. Couple that with homemade cherry pie and some serious turkey, and I probably couldn't be happier. I take a little bit of pretentious pride in the fact that, even as a small child, I valued that one special time of year when the whole family got together more than the overly-hyped holiday that comes 3 weeks later and everyone gets a bunch of presents. I have no shame in eating an uncomfortable amount of food on Thanksgiving, and my new addition to the repertoire of traditions is to treat myself to a longer-ish morning run so that I can eat even MORE.

Since I've moved to Boston, we've begun doing a double Thanksgiving that begins with my parents driving up from PA on Tuesday. Come Thursday, we scoot up to New Hampshire to do some feasting with my dad's crowd, then high-tail it back down to PA in time for Thanksgiving #2 on Friday in Jersey. It is chaotic and awesome. So this year, I was able to do a pre-gluttony trot around the city before heading to NH, and now I am going to tell you about it.

There is something special about running through the city when it is unusually empty, like for the time being it is a little bit more yours than anyone else's. Thanksgiving morning tends to be like that, especially at 7am, and I love it. This year we had an unusual, sloppy snowfall on Wednesday. It may have made travel a nightmare, but the sunlight bouncing blindingly off the snow and the air hovering just around freezing as I left my new house on Dow Street sure made for a pretty scene. I knew I wanted to run through the downtown, but living near Teele Square now (almost at the end of the Red Line, near Davis) makes looping downtown a very far run. So I did a straight shot with plans to take the T back, and headed downtown the most efficient way possible via Inman Square and my old neighborhood. It has been quite a while since I've had to run on snow, and I was quickly reminded how the reduced traction is somewhat exhausting, but I felt fresh enough. There were very few people out.

The clouds began to take over the sky around halfway there, and it wasn't long until I arrived at Mass Ave by the big pit at MIT, marked by the scent of apple fritters and sticky buns that always hangs for blocks around the Flour bakery. I stopped on the Harvard bridge to soak in the view, and it was as lovely as ever. I felt a little cheeky as I cut onto Commonwealth Avenue simply to enjoy making a right on Hereford and a left on Boylston, as I imagined I would last April 21st. After only having gone 5 miles or so, it felt nearly impossible to think how it will feel having come an additional 21 (guhhh). Still, I took a pause at the finish line that remains always painted on Boylston St. by the public library and tried to feel confident in the first baby steps that I have made towards being able to endure 26.2 miles of pavement.

The snow in the public garden had nearly melted in the warm pocket of air downtown, and I was pumped at how close I managed to get to a group of cute ducks (I love ducks). A sizable group of people were letting their dogs run and play on the lawn of the Common, and I tried to seize some of the palpable canine energy as I chugged up the hill towards the State House. Mary Dyer sits on the corner where I turned to head down the back of Beacon Hill, and I thought briefly of her heroism. It pretty much goes without saying that she was a bonafide badass, and I could not do what she did. Running marathons and whatnot looks like a bit of a paltry effort compared to taking the noose like a champ for religious freedom.

I had been planning to stop at the Starbucks on Cambridge Street before taking the T from Charles/MGH, but I decided to continue over the Longfellow and get one last view of the city instead. The green construction fence that blocks 90% of the view is a drag, but merely feeling the wind whip up as I crossed the Charles was enough to push me over the final leg into Kendall Square. I located a Starbucks in the Marriott, the same hotel where my dad stayed before the finale of his BDD awareness walk. Coffee in hand, I caught a nearly-empty train headed home. Unexpectedly, by Harvard I suddenly realized that I was insanely close to experiencing something I have always wished for but has never actually happened--to be completely alone in a Red Line Train (not for reasons that are weird--I'll explain in a second). Only one dude was in the car with me, and I practically started to get a bit nervous with anticipation. The guy got off at Porter, and for the first time in the 2 and a half years since I moved here I was free to run up and down the length of the car like a dingaling and do flips on the bars like I was on a giant, moving jungle gym. Awesome, right? Unfortunately the duration of the ride between Porter and Davis is easily one of the shortest, so my moment of triumph was short-lived. Basking in the glory of it all, the brisk walk to my house from Davis Square was further enhanced by the fact that Holland Street was choked with Turkey Trot runners, decked out in gobbles and turkey basters and costumes that made it look like they were riding turkeys. Nice. The day only got better from there, but it was a mighty good start. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

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