Thursday, August 17, 2006


I began beating back my inner loser again. First yesterday I managed to get into the pool and do my half mile. I have to admit that one of the ways I was able to do that was to make Mr. Pi go with me.

He swam a quarter mile and my last few laps he was practicing his "encouragement." I'd say "two more to go" and he'd reply, "keep going Mom, you can do it." It was really funny.

This morning I beat back my inner loser again running up Heartbreak Hill. First I actually hauled my sorry butt out of bed at 6:30 - something I haven't done in some time. (I don't call getting up at 6/6:30 last week as counting because it was really 9/9:30 as far as my body was concerned.) I got dressed and headed over to Newton City Hall to run Heartbreak Hill for my 2 miler.

For those of you who know Commonwealth Avenue, there is a carriage road that runs beside it - a residual from the days when the people in the big houses along the main drag needed such a thing. At some point things got paved over and the road structure remained the narrower lane separated from the main drag by a median strip.

The carriage road that runs along Commonwealth Ave. belongs to the walkers, runners and cyclists in the early morning hours. We take it up in singles and groups. Some people, usually the cyclists, are going somewhere while others are just out for a morning constitutional.

I start at the corner of Lowell Ave, a block beyond the Johnny Kelley statue. I take a warm up walk, stretch while Freddy Mercury croons "nothing's gonna stop me now" in my ear. Just as David Bowie yells out, "Wham bam thank you ma'am," I begin my 1 mile run up the hill.

The first block is easy - it's fairly level and when I get to the corner to wait for the light I usually call out, "Good morning Johnny," as I pass by the statue - then the climb begins. As I start up the next block I pass a couple of knots of walkers. They are older people and it's always a source of amusement to see which member is pushing the other to do this.

This is where I see my first runner as the Hives blast out see the idiot walk. I don't know why it seems appropriate for this particular person - perhaps it's the way their iPod shuffle bounces all over his chest because he's wearing the neck lanyard instead of the arm band. I do nod and mumble good morning as I run past. I'm heading up the hill while he is running down. I'm going where he's been and there's something to be said for that.

I travel along to Bono and B B King singing trying to repeat my mantra: 13 up, 12 down. This is the goal I've set for this run - 13 minutes up to Centre Street and 12 minutes back down to Lowell. One of the super runners passes me. She is the type of person I imagine as a runner - long and thin with a tan and a stride. I suddenly remember I'm short and fat as I wonder if I'll make it while the Foo Fighters sing "Everlong" (breathe out so I can breathe you in), I reach the top of my hill - 13:21. Not bad, just a hair off my goal of 13 up.

I turn around at Centre Street since this is the 1 mile mark for me. Lenny Kravitz asks me, "Are you gonna go my way?" as I run down, glancing at my watch every so often. I'm hoping to make my 12 minutes down - negative splits and all that. On the way down I start passing the older couples. I notice that one woman has given up on her husband, determined to show she can do this even if he can't. She has that look on her face - the one you see in the faces of couples, particularly older ones, who are in that "I told you so" mode. As I pass them I need to see where I'm at and out loud I count out with Bono, "Uno, dos, tres, catorce - turn it up loud Captain!" I can do this with out panting, but the level of sweat tells me I'm working hard so I'm in a good zone.

There is a group of three overweight adults - all of them maybe in their 60's - struggling up the hill. It really is steep at this point so I give them a thumbs up and yell, "good job." One of them smiles and thanks me before saying, "looking good."

I have to stop my watch as I wait for the light at the final block. The carriage road crosses Walnut St. here - a major intersection. I bop around to the Ramone's "She's the One" as Johnny Kelley looks on from across the intersection. Just as they finish up, I start my watch again because the light changes and I wonder if I should walk the last block, but the infectious drumming of "American Idiot" keeps my feet moving at pace.

I decide I really like this mix as I trot down the last block - OK, it's really two blocks but it feels like one because I'm keeping the length of City Hall in my peripheral vision as I go past the doggie water fountain to the finish line marked by two octagonal stop signs. I run across the crosswalk with my arms raised up as if I just broke the tape. I've done it, I ran Heartbreak again and I did it in25:58 - not quite my 13 up/12 down, but close. Maybe next week.

Now it's time to cool down and stretch a little. I walk towards the car as Dave Grohl tells me he doesn't want to be my Monkey Wrench. I lean against a tree to stretch my calves, my soleus, quads and hams in my right leg and then do the same for my left leg. Just as I finish, it starts again. Freddy Mercury reminds me - nothing's gonna stop me now.

1 comment:

Katie Fries said...

I am envious of your run. Though I was born and raised in California and now am exiled in the Barren Wasteland of the Midwest, my grandfather was a Massachusetts boy. He lived in California more than 50 years and never lost his accent. I feel a deep connection to Boston though I've only been there once. I can't wait to run there the next time I take a trip out.