Short stories from long runs

This blog about my run and training

I was really pumped to meet up with Kaitlyn last night for our weekly run. For once I wasn’t secretly hoping she’d cancel so I could camp on the couch, which was a nice change of pace. She’s super encouraging.

Last night we and I set out in splotchy rain under blazing red skies. Boston has seem some really outstanding sunsets these past few weeks. In your corner of the world, too? The sunset was astounding. It’s miraculous we made it anywhere at all, we stopped so many times in the first mile to try and capture it, muttering “nah, it doesn’t work,” each time we tried. The sun is setting earlier and earlier each day now. As much as I hate to admit it, winter — or nonexistent evenings, at least — will be upon us in a matter of a week or 10 days. At least, I tell myself, at least it will be brighter in the mornings.

Running west along the Charles last night reminded me of a night about six years ago. It was the first night of the World Series at Fenway Park and my bags were packed to leave for Dublin the next morning. I ran home from Downtown Crossing, across the river at Mass Ave. and up through Cambridge. It was darker out than it was last night, but the energy around me felt electric in the very same way.

I was headed to Ireland to run my second marathon and it would mark my first trip back since spending six months studying abroad in Galway two years earlier. I was excited, anxious, and relieved to have finished up work and left the office for vacation (this, I suppose, I can only assume, but it seems inevitable). 

In the next few days I would reunite with my original running buddy, Kate, travel by train across the midlands from Dublin to Galway and back. I’d cut 20 minutes from my marathon time, take a road trip with a stranger from Scotland, and relax in my aunt’s new home in Kinsale, writing lots and staring out into the grey and moody sea from behind a steaming mug of tea in her living room. 

That night, I was only hours from taking off for what would be one of the best vacations I’d ever take. It was pitch black and cold as I ran home from the office, surrounded by familiar landmark towers with giant signs rooting for our Sox. In my memory I can hear the buzz from Fenway Park, though it’s impossible as reality. 

This year, after everything, the energy feels so much like that, though the stakes (emotional and physical healing as stakes, rather than ego and bragging rights) are so much higher. I read an article yesterday about the mantra Boston Strong and whether it meant the same thing as it did in April, if it was played out, and if it mattered. The phrase may be new and may be loaded, but I would argue that we’ve been Boston Strong all along: fiercely proud, stubbornly loyal, and stronger than your town, damnit.

Now we’re linked by something more, and more important, than rabid sports fandom and the rest of what makes Bostonians Bostonians, but it’s been there all along and its part of what made the way we reacted and recovered from the events of April 15 possible. Call New Englanders cold, but we have one another’s backs. We’re all in it together.

On Sunday morning, October 28, 2007, I lined up at the start line in Merrion Square, Dublin, with thousands of other runners. I had been anxious about running a marathon in Ireland, that it would inevitably pour rain and we would slosh our way around the city and through low-lying Phoenix Park, ankle deep in puddles. Instead, the weather was perfect: low-50s, overcast, comfortable. I awoke that morning and ran to the lobby of our hostel to log onto the Internet to check the score. The Red Sox won, clinching the World Series, beating the Colorado Rockies. Ecstatic, I wore a Sox hat for the race, pumping my fist, smiling, and high fiving each enthusiastic spectator who cheered me on, yelling “Yeah, Boston!” or “Did you hear they won?” along the way.