Wednesday’s run was a vast improvement on Monday’s. Proving that I am a human capable of learning from mistakes, I put on a second pair of socks, and ate dinner after the run. Another key improvement:

It was still Hoth cold out. Boston is apparently experiencing another Polar Vortex, which means today’s run is going to be also cold. The run down the hills felt like a return to form, and the runs up the hill felt like a terrible mistake. Or, as I put it to the world at large on Twitter:

Despite the temperatures plummeting to below freezing, a lot of the ice had melted. My vigilante spitting routine was less necessary–at least until I hit Washington Street, where at least two houses had the same caked sheet of solid ice as the day before. I assume because the tree line on that part of the street protects it from the sun.

“Clear your goddamn sidewalks,” I call to the lit living room of one house, slipping imperceptibly on the rime-lined sidewalk.

The house’s bright windows stare back, nonplussed by my frustrated outburst.

I start envisioning coming back with fliers, detailing what the law has to say on the subject of ice-covered sidewalks. Returning to the scenes of the crime, to threaten them with lawsuits should I break my skull open on what–to my understanding–is part of their property. Similar to my Epic passive-aggressive note from the past weekend.

By the time the mission finishes, for some reason much closer to my house than the last time I went out running (I must be getting faster…?), I give up on the vigilante note thing. I just want to go home, take a quick shower, and eat dinner. Or–if nothing else–to get in from the cold, where I can breathe without the cold air forming a ball of snot at the back of my throat.


Fingers crossed the weather warms up, so I can at the least stop blogging about snot and spitting.

Shirt of the Day: Portal 2 – SPACE (the NASA Logo with Space Core)


Breaking the Ice

The keys clink together as I slip them back into the pocket of my overcoat. I have just gotten back from work, and it’s about 7:45 p.m. I need dinner, ideally beer, and then I want to relax.

I am also starting to feel like the sidewalks are clear enough for a run. I quickly check the weather report, see that it’s going to be about the same temperature now as it will be tomorrow morning before work. I hoped that would solve my problem. It didn’t. My stomach growls, and I feel slightly faint. I think food is going to be in my immediate future. Leftovers, penne pasta and a pasta sauce I made from random ingredients in the fridge, make up my meal. I devour it. It’s not something I need to savor, I’ve had it for nearly a week now.

8:15 p.m. rolls around. My roommate is making dinner, and I’m giving in to a stupid notion. I am going to go running. I need to get back on that horse before it bolts. I strap on my shoes, my TuneBelt, and pull a long-sleeved shirt over my head. I also need to make a trip to the Whole Foods down the street for quarters, so I can do laundry, but I don’t expect I’ll run far enough to make it back there before I give up. I didn’t get that far when I ran last time.

Almost as soon as I round the corner onto Comm Ave, I regret it. The owners of the empty lot at the end of the road have clearly not looked at it since the last snow. The sidewalks are caked in a thick, white sheet of ice. The kind that is actually a fraction of an inch above the ground, and will crack when someone steps on it hard enough, but it’s treacherous until then. I step out into the road, running inside the carriage lane along the side of the road.

My next regret hits at the bottom of the hill. Gloves I have on, my head and ears are protected by both hat and headphones, and my sleeves are keeping my arms warm enough, but I could have done with a second pair of socks.

Despite that, I am pleased with the time I am making down the hill. I feel like I am running naturally, almost like I am doing it professionally. This is the way running should be, my knees up, my body getting a few moments in the air before toes hit the ground and I spring forward for another stride.

Then I hit the uphill, and I remember that I am not a marathon man. I slow rapidly.

As I pass some of the houses who have been lax in clearing their sidewalks in the past–although the sun’s persistent beat on the street seems to have covered for their laziness today–something clicks in my head, and I come up with a solution to the dilemma of spitting.

On the one hand, I feel strongly that spitting is disgusting, not worthy of police society. On the other, when you are running, especially in the cold, as I’ve found, you get a backup of some kind of phlegm in the back of the throat. It can get in the way of your breathing, and make you look even more attractive than usual. So, it’s an exception I have to make, and society has to suffer.

Except now, I can be a vigilante. It becomes not only an efficiency thing, but a way to punish those who have not cleared their sidewalks, those whose laziness poses not only a risk to runners, but to all pedestrians. Their houses deserve it, nay, they asked for it. I am the Spitting Runner, the defender of those on two feet. If you want your yard spit-free, then you’d best head out there with the rock salt. It’s like a bed time story, the Boogieman, only the one you tell if you want your children to grow up to be considerate homeowners.

Or perhaps I need some more sleep.

Either way, as I pass through Cleveland Circle, the final evidence that I made a bad call starts to hit. My stomach churns and tenses. I am starting to get a stomach cramp. This is what my mother had warned me about swimming after eating.

I’m determined, though, I am going to push through, at least to the end of the mission. That’s almost a half-hour running. I can make that. Based on the tone of the story arc playing in Zombies, Run, I am probably one or two vignettes away.

Another sheet of ice, this one avoidable, and then I am two blocks away from Whole Foods. I curse myself for not bringing my debit card, my final mistake. But, despite that, the mission ends and I come to a walk. I follow two slow, old Russian women for about a block before turning onto my street.

I made it nearly as far as I did at the end of my last real run; the one before two weeks of snow and cold–both the temperate and the viral kind.

It isn’t until I am under the awning of my building that I realize I left my keys upstairs. I pull out my phone and call my roommate.

“Hello?” She answers, fortunately, after a few rings.

“Guess who forgot his keys!”

“You idiot.”

I was in no place to argue. “Could you buzz me in?”

The buzzer sounds, I say “Thanks!” and hang up as I mount the stairs.

Despite the few accidents, I am feeling pretty good about how my run went down.

Shirt of the Day: “I’m Sorry, Glenn. But the Only Beck I listen to has two turntables and a microphone.”

(I’m retiring the weird pickup. They got less and less weird, so it’s just not exciting anymore.)

HuffPo’s 9 Books Every Runner Should Read

HuffPo’s 9 Books Every Runner Should Read

Admittedly, I haven’t read any of these. I looked nonetheless, and the main reason I looked was to see if one author had made the list. 

Haruki Murakami, the author of What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, is one of my favorite contemporary authors. I’m aware of, but haven’t gotten around to, his 2007 memoir. I have read a few of his novels and short stories, (Norwegian Wood, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicles and After the Quake) and have always felt like he and his translators deserve millions of awards. 

So, what I’m saying is, if you read only one of the 9 books every runner should read, I’d say this make it this one. 


Meanwhile, in Boston, temperatures were in the mid-40s yesterday. I walked home in the sleeting rain last night, but am optimistic that the winter weather could be over soon. May go for a walk and run some errands later, but it’s also possible I’ll deem it safe to run.

The Loss and Retention of Momentum

Monday is a day I should go running. Today, however, with the remnants of a cold–I hope it’s a cold–still rattling around my head and sinuses, I decided against it. Many of my neighbors’ landlords, or my neighbors themselves, are evidently too lazy to clear the sidewalks anyway. I assume laziness, not just because of my misanthropic streak, but because of the stretch of sidewalk across the street that looks like someone tossed rock salt on it hoping that would solve the problem (which it has not). 

As I fell asleep on Sunday night, I wondered whether running with an audiobook would be at all interesting–I picked up the Humble Bundle’s recent audiobook collection, and have been listening to Dave Eggers’ A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius–I had also forgotten that the Zombies Run app only works with the handful of playlists that are on my phone. The audiobook has temporarily replaced the Zombies Run app while I’m trying to walk my way to 10,000 steps. Still fit, less energy, and something my tired, sick body is more easily capable of. 

My big fear, however, is that the momentum I made up with running–the building a routine, the regular 2.5-3 mile runs, the conditioning and training–is going to start fading as I spend less and less time in my running shoes. I know I’ll need to work my way back up to a 5k, but am I going to give up entirely? Am I just going to decide the whole thing was a pointless exercise in, well, exercise?

As I shower, get ready for my job (my work schedule has changed, giving me a little more time at the higher-paying of the two jobs), I go actively seeking that voice of exercise approval. Which, is apparently aware of my situation, is taking it easy on me. It seems as though my inner monologue is taking it easy on me while I fight a cold. I start to feel more sure about getting back out there. This isn’t permanent, this is just a cold. Hopefully not the flu, but possibly that. But, it’s not going to keep me down. 

I hop into the shower, the steamy water clears out my head and sinuses. I feel healthier, altough still in desperate need of a tea before I head out to work. Just shy of invincible. 

And still not frost-proof; I can’t wait for the snow to clear and the temperatures to heat up. 

Snow Running This Week



It was another rough week at Unsure Runner HQ. Rough in that it was not ideal conditions for running. It snowed again in Boston, which means that the sidewalks are alternately slick and entirely missing for large portions of the street, due mostly to laziness or the laissez-faire attitude of some of my neighbors.

So, while these scenes are pretty:



It does mean my running surface looks a lot like this:



I could, conceivably, still go out for a run–in fact, I saw some other people out doing just that: running mostly in the street, kicking up slush and water as they stepped through puddles left behind by the city’s army of salt trucks. But I felt I’d rather A) not slip and fall on my ass, and thus B) take a walk instead. I visited my friend Jess (of Money Jar Life fame) and her fiancé, and helped them with a wedding project.

Which means I was less active, but I still hit my 10,000 step goal on Wednesday, and got my feet about as wet as if I’d gone running.  My snow boots are not entirely waterproof, and there were some very deep slush puddles.

As I left my house, I was greeted by a new neighbor:



Friday, and today, I am battling a cold. I could still run, but with the road surface and the not-feeling-100%-still thing, I decided to take another week off. With a pile of used tissues next to my laptop, the thought of a run fills me with a shudder. It’s too cold, it’s too much effort. Work today wiped me out a bit more than I expected, although I’ll try to drag myself out for a friend’s birthday.

I feel a little like I’ve let myself down, but also like I’ve made a wise decision. The voice of determined exercise isn’t really disagreeing on that last point. So, we’ll pick things up when the sidewalks are more passable.

Despite the snow, and despite everything else, I have managed to raise another $5 donation via Everymove.


Second Wind and the Temptation to Make a Fart Joke

Three or four blocks ahead, beyond the slow hill and a slight turn on Beacon Street, lies Washington Square. I have hit the endpoint of my last run, the street I live off of. I could turn, head home, take a shower and go see my friend. I consider calling it a day.

Or, I could keep running.

This is when a curious thing happens. A sensation with which I am unfamiliar–beyond the slangy sense from parties–I have the energy to keep going. I have the breath, the strength, all of the above. There’s no need to stop, even if I have a slow hill ahead of me.

I keep going. Slower, smaller steps up the hill. Higher, longer strides when I am going down. I’m picking up speed, and not just because a faster, trendier couple has passed me on the way to the running store on Beacon Street. I genuinely feel like I can.

The Zombies, Run mission ended early–I had picked up where I left off on the last run, which was just before the end. In the meantime, the radio mode DJs were talking about whether Runner 4 was faster than me, Runner 5. I chose to ignore the fact that there were hundreds, at least, of Runner 5s; anyone else who may be playing the game currently holds that moniker. But, despite that, I muttered to myself (when no one else was on the sidewalk),
“Jack, Eugene, flattery will get you everywhere.”

Turn up Washington Street, keep going. The rush has worn off a little, but I want to keep going. At least to the far corner of the block next to mine. On rubber legs I cross the street.

Victorious, I hit my goal. I wanted to go further than I did the other day, and I wanted to pass through Washington Square.

A shower, some pizza, a beer or two was the rest of my night.

Shirt of the Day: Pitfall cover art.