Friday, February 27, 2015


I realized that I failed to document my last two longer runs, a 16-miler on Valentine's Day in PA and then a 10-miler right before returning to this winter hellscape. Both were rather lonely affairs, as Daniel was unable to join. However, my 16 mile loop included running to Ridley Creek State Park from my house, so my parents drove directly there to walk the opposite way around the circular trail and caught me around mile 9 to provide water. It was one of those incredibly dull white-sky days, which always makes me gripey, and it didn't help that I just felt "off" for the first 3 miles. I did, however, run right by the most spectacular and densely populated Poopland that I have ever seen, right on the edge of someone's yard. Nathaniel's main issue with dog owners was the lack of poop-pickup diligence, and frowned at the phenomenon of turd accumulation on one's lawn, rendering barefoot play a real game of Russian roulette. He coined the term Poopland some years ago, and actually submitted a definition here for your convenience. Overall, the run was significantly less gory than the previous 16 miler, and I finished just before the snow began to pick up. I did my 10 miler on the following Friday (because on Saturday we went into NJ to visit Grandma Jean), and while I got my bright sun, I also got only about 10 degrees. Which is actually what's on the menu for tomorrow's run, our first 18 miler. There should be some rule about the number of miles not being allowed to exceed the number of degrees. While I can admit that the weather doesn't owe me a thing, my inner 5-year-old wants to whine about how unfair it is, especially when tells me that the average high for this time of year should be 41. I didn't hold back grouching about the cold last year, but the past two months have proven just as brutally frigid. Oh, plus the 102 inches of snow that we've gotten. Did I mention that 8 feet of snow makes running difficult?

The hill run on Tuesday was particularly brutal and cold, a good 8 miles of going up and down the Beacon Street hill, 14 repeats. One repeat for every degree, it turned out. Yes, I am looking forward to spring. I am, however, very stoked on the fact that I have topped $9,000 with my fundraising, a huge leap forward! I am so impressed by and grateful for all my dogged supporters. You all are amazing, so thank you! I'll leave you with this definitely not-photoshopped photo, which I feels all too accurate.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Long Run, February 7th: Snow on snow on snow

I decided to forgo running the usual Riverside route with the team on Saturday, for a variety of reasons. One, I was hesitant to get up at the crack of dawn, and also aware that Beacon Street was probably more of a mess than usual. With the three or four feet of snow on the ground (this was before the most recent snow dump on Monday that has brought the total to over 77 inches), the running conditions have deteriorated greatly and Beacon Street is somehow always in particularly bad shape. Now that I live in the boonies of Somerville out near Tufts, it felt like ages since I have been downtown, so I decided to sleep in a bit and run on my own through the city on sidewalks that wouldn't be too much of a mess.
The view down my street on my way to work after the most recent snow!
It was dull and gray outside as I headed down Comm Ave. from Daniel's apartment towards BU past the telltale vomit piles that had frozen to the snowbanks over Friday night. I had gotten a late start well past 9:30am, and I tried to not feel envious of the faster runners that I could see finishing their Riverside Run as I passed through Kenmore. My own fault that I got a late start, and I wasn't actually so sorry that I'd opted for extra sleep. I continued down Commonwealth Avenue into the Public Garden, frequently forced to find footing on snow-packed sidewalks. The public garden was uncharacteristically empty for a Saturday morning, but with the pond choked with snow and a feeling of desolation in the grayness of the morning, I wasn't entirely surprised that normal people had decided to stay in and eat delicious brunch and get cozy with their pets. When I looped past Government Center, I got a glimpse of the progress for the new train station--it seems as though the poured concrete bunker has been replaced with a tall, airy structure that looks far from finished. Not too much of a shock, given that Boston City projects are required to take a minimum of 3 years to complete, plus an extra few for good measure. The snowbanks heading past Sam Adams' grave were coated in red, white, and blue confetti, a remnant of the Patriots victory parade earlier in the week. I actually ended up following a good chunk of the parade route, made evident by the lack of confetti clean-up.

Yes, it's a car!
I was a bit saddened by the lack of beauty as I crossed the Longfellow and followed Memorial Drive to the Harvard Bridge, as the construction fence from the bridge project  blocked my view. Plus, the snow-pack along the river forced me to stare down at my feet the entire time, instead of looking over at the view as I usually do. When I crossed back to Kenmore, I caught Michelle just finishing up her Riverside run, and it was a treat to be able to chat with her briefly. I had planned to head back on Beacon and then cut up Summit Hill, but Michelle advised against it due to poor conditions. So I headed back via Comm Ave. again, and happened to pass the same runner coming out of Kenmore that I had seen way down by Government Center, which I found very exciting but he apparently wasn't into eye contact. I spent the rest of the time playing a new game I devised, where I guess whether or not a snowbank contains a car. Often the result is inconclusive, but a lone side view mirror or tail light sticking out of the pile is often the giveaway. I finished up the run by continuing past Daniel's and up the big hill on Comm Ave. to make up for the fact that I was skipping Summit Hill. I actually ended up doing that same stretch over and over for my hill workout on Tuesday, since by then the T was closed down due to snow and I was unable to make it to the Common. I can't say that I am too sorry to be leaving this winter gulag for winter break in PA next week, although it has certainly made things interesting.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Also, THIS!

Long Run, January 31st: That Time of January

I don't often find myself honestly dreading a long run, even though they can be a bit daunting at times; usually I find myself ready for the big push. But when I looked out my window at 6:45 a.m. on Saturday, I watched the branches on the sturdy maple tree outside my window whip from side to side while fresh snow swirled down with some apprehension. I knew it was only 10 or 11 degrees out, and I truly felt little afraid. I've done colder runs, but they weren't quite sixteen miles, nor were the conditions quite so fun. I piled on the layers per my formula, resisting the urge to put on everything I owned. Hypothermia is no joke, but overheating is also pretty harsh.

My first step onto the sidewalk from my porch sent my foot flying out from under me, and although I did manage to not fall (thank God, because when I go down it's like a redwood being felled), but it didn't spell such great things to come. Daniel was being hugely supportive by driving me down to Kenmore Square and planned to take the T to Newton to then join me for part of the second half of the run, although at first it seemed that we might not even make it out of the parking space. We did, and 30 minutes later I was beginning my trot down familiar old Beacon Street.

The first three miles to Cleveland Circle were really just not great, I have to say. Like to the point where I began to have giant looming doubts about my finishing the run. The snow from Tuesday's blizzard had been packed down by pedestrians and was now being dusted with fresh powder, and resulting surface was sort of like someone cut a bunch of potatoes in half, glued them down to the sidewalk, and then poured soap over the entire surface. The amount of energy spent merely trying to propel myself forward without twisting an ankle was unwelcome, and when John Furey asked how I was doing when I reached the reservoir, I didn't have much good to say. He said that we should expect to be a minute or two per mile behind pace in such conditions, so I tried to convince myself that three minutes was also valid. The amount of wind coming off the reservoir as I approached BC was absolutely insane.

Daniel was waiting for me at the Starbucks in Newton, and I must have looked pretty worked when I came in the door based on the look of pity he gave me. I had to pee so bad because of the cold, so I ended up lingering for some minutes. We abandoned the sidewalks in favor of the roads to make our way out to the turnaround point (Chestnut Street), and thankfully the carriage road on Comm Ave was cleared for the way back. We stopped for a picture with Heartbreak Bill before Heartbreak Hill, and then continued up and over to BC. It seemed as though we might be on the home stretch, but then the situation started to degrade at Cleveland Circle. One, Daniel's IT band began to give him issues, to the point where he wasn't sure he should continue. Second, it came to my attention that I was having some sudden and serious "lady issues" that could not go unaddressed for an additional 4 miles. I honestly considered not mentioning any of this in my blog post, given people's squeamishness when it comes to discussing "that time of the month" (I'm going to see how many euphemisms I can use here), but the fact is that unsolicited visits from "Aunt Flo" are a real thing that us distance ladies have to navigate when doing runs that last several hours. Luckily I don't think any of my students read this blog, otherwise...well, health class just came early (ew, do you remember how horrible that was?).  But to make a long story short, the severity of the circumstances required a very long pit stop at the Cleveland Circle CVS to buy "sanitary items" as I attempted to salvage the situation. I believe the medical term for this particular case of the "monthlies" would be something like 'explosion.' Good God, all I have to say is that I am glad I was wearing black pants.

Anyways, with all the long breaks along the way, it hardly felt like a true 16 mile run, but I did honestly do the full thing in one way or another. To round out the distance, I continued through Kenmore Square to Hereford Street, and then looped back to Joint Ventures. While waiting at an intersection near the Mass Ave bridge, I could see the air over the river was thick white with whipped up snow, and the wind shooting down Mass Ave almost pushed me over. Yeah, we're having a bit of weather up here in New England these days, but I suppose it makes us all the more badass.