As the wind sinks its teeth into my cheeks, I start to understand why poets always describe the winter cold with words like “biting.” I curse myself for not wearing a hat, as the below-30-degree weather gives me a cold headache. As I turn the corner past my liquor store of choice, I notice a sickly yellow trail that looks like the aftermath of a college freshman’s first party seems to have run down the street. I am so baffled by that that I don’t notice the white starting to cover the sidewalk in front of me.
It is cold enough for ice. It is far too early in the morning for this crap.
Again, facing a long day, I have opted for an early morning run. As I walk up Beacon Street toward the reservoir, I notice the far bank is bathed in a salmon light, as the last tinges of sunrise fade away. I was awake before my alarm, when it was still dark, due to a constant struggle between my body and brain. The former likes to wake me up for visits to the bathroom in the middle of the night, the latter likes to stay awake because there’s so much crap to think about!
The alarm was set for 6:15 a.m., and I was up a little after 5:30. I felt justified being grumpy, but with the sky such a pretty color, it was starting to challenge that feeling.
A minute or two of awkward stretching is followed by the start of the run. I know to expect the 25-minute run, although I quickly check that I haven’t got a longer run cued up. I start the five-minute warm up walk, which I feel I have time for this morning; annoyed as I am at the whims of my carcass, the early start did get me out of bed and ready faster.
“I come today armed with the knowledge that I can do this. I’ve done it before,” I say aloud.
Realizing I said it a bit louder than I meant to, and feeling a little self-conscious, I look around to make sure no one overheard my inspirational address to myself. The couple of small ducks swimming past didn’t seem to mind the crazy man’s external inner monologue, and the familiar vibration on my arm signaling the start of my run prevents me from really worrying about it.
I start my run. The track around the reservoir begins to take on its daunting sense of scale, a moment that is familiar to me. With the first moment of my legs starting to burn, I also start to see the whole track laid out before me, knowing I have just begun. I press on.
After a few minutes, I round the curve where my phone used to tell me I was halfway through the workout. I fight off the urge to check how much longer I have to run. I am keeping an eye, and one foot–my right, which starts aching first–on the grass wherever possible. I reflect on how much skipping the stretches and starting the run as I cross Chestnut Hill Avenue sets me back on the path. The new “halfway point” is at least a quarter of a mile further.
I start telling myself I can take a break when I hit the halfway mark. I try not to let on that I am lying, and that I intend to make it all the way again. But, for now, I buy it, and keep going past the smaller of the two pump houses. The halfway reminder buzzes in. I ignore it and keep pushing to the next marker in my head.
As I approach the larger pump house at the top of the stairs, I tell myself that I can take a look at the timer again. I let that slide, however. I already know I’m about two-thirds of the way around.
I round the bend where my warm up walk started. I am curious, still about how much longer, but I will wait until I cross my starting line (estimated). I already expect I will follow the same path, with the short trail leading up to the street that connects Beacon to Comm Ave in front of Boston College. When I pass the starting line, I still have about three minutes to go.
I roll my sleeves up again. I have been regulating my temperature relatively well this morning: the cool breeze in the shaded sections is a little too much, but the navy in my microfleece shirt picks up the sun on the brighter stretches. The convertible mittens have been folded back to reveal fingerless gloves, and then flipped back for warmth more than a few times.
I jog up the four stone steps, almost slowing to a walk at the top one. I keep up the pace, stepping over the small roots and over the uneven surface of the worn path. I am not certain whether this was meant to be a path, or it just became one. I hit the top, cross the crosswalk–to put both screaming feet back on the softer ground as fast as I can–and start around the path.
On Monday, when I finished, it was a few steps down a divot where the sidewalk dips below a bank of parking spaces. I hit that point. The phone doesn’t tell me to stop. I keep going, past the nadir of this section of path, and it doesn’t stop. Finally, it lets me stop, and I slow to a cool down pace.
I have apparently run just slightly faster than my Monday run.
I wipe the dew of sweat which has bubbled up on my microfleece-covered chest. I zip up the neck and prepare for a long walk home.
Breakfast, a cup of tea and a warm shower are three things my body and I agree upon as the wind whips around me, chewing again as my body temperature lowers to a more restive state.
Shirt of the Day: “Sorry Glenn, the only Beck I listen to has two turntables and a microphone,” under a navy microfleece I found in my closet.
- Talking Myself Into It (unsurerunner.wordpress.com)