Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Because we can

Uncle Jimmy's black Lincoln Continental was parked on the wrong side of Powder House Boulevard in Somerville but since I was sitting in the back seat on the drivers side, it gave me a great view of the triangle-shaped field at the end of the Tufts University property where the woman in gray sweats and a rain jacket was throwing a tennis ball for her Doberman using one of those "Chuck It" ball launcher thingies. She could throw the ball a great distance with that thing and the dog never seemed to tire of chasing it--sometimes he would snag the ball out of the air on the bounce and other times he would totally miss and go sliding on his face before recovering to pick the ball up from wherever it had stopped rolling. He didn't seem to mind either way. And most of the time he didn't run straight back and drop the ball at the woman's feet but instead took the long route, circling the field and running along the fence at what looked like full speed, just because he could.

By the wrong side I mean that the car was parked on the left, facing the oncoming traffic that was turning off of the rotary at Powder House Square. It was okay though--the Doherty Funeral Home guys had parked us that way to make it easier to fall into line when Auntie Marge's funeral procession got rolling on its way through Somerville and Arlington. I rode with Uncle Jimmy, Aunt Fran and my mom, listening to the Graceland Channel on Sirius Satellite Radio.

It was a long day--a long, sad, beautiful, hopeful, memorable, reassuring, nostalgic, emotional day. Later, just before dark, I went for a run. I thought about that dog on Tufts field. I thought about Auntie Marge. I didn't think about my creaky hip or my balky IT Band. The run was good enough. Sometimes because we can is good enough.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Old ramblings

Yes, an appreciation for the aesthetic value of a run is very important to me. At first, I guess I needed an ostensibly beautiful and unpopulated place like Rancho San Antonio County Park in Santa Clara County, California to help motivate me to run. Now, several years and thousands of miles later, my motivation comes much more from within--but the aesthetic is still a huge part of why running is therapeutic. Even some of my more mundane suburban/urban routes have for me their own beauty. There are sights, sounds, smells that I miss if I go more than a few days without running a certain route. When I was in California for a buddy's wedding, I mapped out a run for the sole purpose of experiencing the place where I would be, both the country side and the town. Running is now a big part of how I interpret and learn my environment.

One of my favorite runs ever was on Tuesday afternoon when I ran in a driving rain storm out around the Castle Island causeway in South Boston--there was nobody out due to the weather and I was running on a narrow jetty with water on both sides of me and water hitting me in the face and the harbor islands just faint shadows in the fog. I felt sorry for the poor slugs crouching in doorways downtown or running from cover to cover with umbrellas like the guys from the 5th floor of my building who rode the elevator down with me when I was heading out and couldn't believe I was going out running in that. "It's only water," I told them. They didn't get to know what I knew and they didn't get to experience the city from my perspective or feel physically connected to the natural world, and it was their loss.

Saturday, November 7, 2009


I ran the Run for All Ages 5k in Wakefield today in a time that was slower than I ran the second half of the Lone Gull 10k seven weeks ago. Boo. I guess running a marathon and then not doing a whole lot of running for three weeks after that doesn't do much for my racing fitness. Maybe it's time to--oh, I don't know--do a workout or something. Or maybe just take up running again. That might work too.
The race benefits prostate cancer and offers prize money for men over 40 on an age graded basis, so lots of fast masters showed up. Craig Fram (51) won it in 16:21. I wound up 10th in 17:58, I think my 4th slowest 5k ever.
Anyway, it was a nice day and it felt good to run hard for a change. But I've got some work to do.