There is this computer and network geek warehouse just up from FDR Drive as you are heading inbound on Memorial Drive in Cambridge. Oh yes, that is correct- computer and network geek warehouse. I said it. I have given myself full literary license to make such a remark, as I am a total geek myself. In the past, presently, and most definitely in the future, I strut those isles at Micro Center (www.microcenter.com) looking for whats hot, whats new, what makes it easier to do what I do professionally. I design, and manage large-scale WLAN’s and IP Surveillance Systems for the most discerning clientele. But today- I turn my back on Micro Center. Yep… I don’t even pay it a single glance, as I tie my car key to my athletic shorts, pop on my I-Pod, and check to make sure my sneaks are laced with care. I take a sip of cool water.
I usually arrive in the Micro Center parking lot around 6pm. Some days it is super hot, others it is raining, still others… windy, cool, or just a nice comfortable warm. (www.weatherbug.com)
This is the moment. When I double check the locks on the car, turn to Memorial Drive and think… UH OH! This could be it! Squashed by a moving van! Run over by a Drivers Ed student! Leveled by a crazy person TWD (Texting While Driving!!!)
I sometimes will fake like I am going to dart out into traffic just to mess with them. I tell you… it is a shit show at 6pm.
After playing frogger and mad dashing it across Memorial Drive, I turn on my I-Pod… and start to walk. I like to ease into my running. If you were to chart my running pace it would be a perfect bell curve. I start out extremely slow… work into a very fast pace… and then end as slow as I started. It works for me.
The stretch of path at the beginning of my run is interesting. I usually run past a co-ed soccer game, people using the parks work out stations, and people running past me, towards me, walking past, whipping past on bikes. It is exciting!
Usually after about the 10th person or so to pass me I get a move on. I stop at a big tree in the middle of a field on the outskirts of a soccer field and do some stretching. Tune in a good instrumental, and hit the pavement. The first mile or so I work on the breathe… how my feet are impacting the ground… how my shoulders are aligned with my hips and my knees. All the things you read about. I want to run for the rest of my life… so if I focus on those things and take care to make running as low impact as possible… I will be free to enjoy for years to come!
When I run I usually breathe according to my stride. I will take a breathe in for three paces pause for a pace and then exhale one long breathe for two paces. It works for me. And I find it extremely meditating. Once I have the breathe down, I can listen to music, listen to my body…. my eyes are wide open, I am taking in the scenery, smiling with the people running past. Just enjoying. You know?
After about the first 3/4 of a mile the Memorial Drive side of the Charles poses a bit of a treat, that I usually never pass up. There is a water fountain right outside a boat house directly on the sidewalk. Its great for a quick sip before bounding down my favorite down-slope to my favorite off side-walk dirt trail. It really is fantastic the way it is set up. The entrance to the dirt trail reminds me of a ‘drop-in’ type entrance to a ski trail. Where once you drop in… you are off and hauling ass! Yeeeehawwww!
I am flying now usually… good long strides. Anyone that knows me will say I am a bit of a daddy long legs. My strides amount to two of yours most likely. Makes it a synch to run for an hour or two. My arms float by my sides… I don’t think much about anything but how great my breathe feels… the air across my face (hot, cool, warm, cold… whatever, its all good.)
I usually fly past some Canadian geese pooping up the lawn right about now. Sometimes I want to run right through them, and say hello as I run past… but I have seen these Charles River geese get downright nasty!!! Biting ass and ankle of the most cautious pedestrian. It is almost like they are paid off or something. So— I usually take a nice sloping arch around them… then drop back into the trail to continue my run.
It really is awesome just before the first turn across the Mass Ave Bridge… I get so inspired. I look to my right and I see the gorgeous City of Boston… just sitting proud, pretty, manicured. I think Boston is a female.
There are often singles and teams sculling in their shells… gliding… breathing, rowing. They inspire me on my run as well. I see them out there doing that… it looks so peaceful but powerful… and I get driven to breathe deeper, take care in my stride, everything aligned. Sweat glistening on my big bald head. That is the way it is.
Going over the 1st Bridge (Massachusetts Ave)… I am more motivated to get to the other side. It feels weird after being on the nice dirt path to go to something so hard and full of traffic. I will learn to appreciate it I think. So far though… when I am running across the bridge all I am thinking in my head is…. OH NO!!! PEOPLE IN CARS! LOOKING AT ME!!! Must…get… to the other…..siiiide. I am PSYCHED when I get across and back down on the dirt path across on the Boston side of the river.
The Boston side of the run poses an interesting proposition. There are two types of people on that side. Those that run on the pavement… and those that run on the dirt and grass. I am one that runs on the dirt and grass whenever it is an option. I bet a whole study could be done on the differences between those that run on pavement, and those that run on dirt and grass.
I like the dirt path on the Boston side. It is well trodden. It is windy.. narrow.. it gives you something to think about at about 3 miles in now. I pass the boat docks… there are flocks of people bathing in the sun… doing yoga… reading books… singing, dancing… all sorts of stuff. It is a great little stretch of run! I love it. I am a huge people watcher… so at this point when I am hitting my high in the run… this moment is perfectly enjoyable. Every now and then I will stop at one of the docks and do some stretching depending on how I feel. I have even practiced yoga there too. Though sometimes I feel like I am on display unless there are others doing it too.
Then I am off to the second bridge! This one is unusual.. there is a windy pedestrian bridge to cross.. then a spiral stair to run up and then you are on the bridge. It is chaotic. Be careful if you run this way. When I am on this bridge I am almost holding my breathe. There is not much room to run.. let alone walk… and let others pass by. You have to be careful not to lose your pace here… I spend the bulk of this bridge keeping my breathe going, and I catch up my pace once I drop down back onto the trail. Back on the Cambridge side.
This is the long straight 2 mile finish. I am at about 5.5 miles now. Here I am feeling either good or wiped. It really depends on how fast I took the beginning. I usually feel inspired because more often then not at this time.. about 6:50 (if I am on pace with 8 minute miles)… people are running in my direction and it is fun to be moving right along with them. I find myself listening to the best music on my playlist at this point… it could be anything… but the way I am feeling at this point it is AMAZING music!!! I am thrilled to be getting close to the end of the run… but….
Not before I pay another visit to that totally awesome water fountain I spoke of earlier. Yep twice the bonus! Mmm, water … breathe…. body feels good… just one more sip… ahhh… ok I am gone.
Just like that I am back at my car. Feeling great! You all should try this run! It is very very cool!
PS- I don’t look at Mico Center when I return either. And- if you do do this run and want another bonus to look forward to… there is a Trader Joes (http://www.traderjoes.com) in the same lot!!!