19 January 2019
I’m at the age when things are supposed to start to slow down. Retirement (oh my, that word!) is within a ten-year window, hopefully sooner, and life’s priorities should be shifting toward enjoying things in the twenty-or-so years before bodily functions slow down (far more than they already appreciably have) to a point where some things become considerably impractical. So how come two months have passed since I’ve had the time to take a breath and pound out some storytelling? The busy level of late has been rather frenetic, but today I have a block of brilliantly uninterrupted time – since I’m not connected to the Internet – yes, airplane time. Clatter away, keys, clatter away.
To be fair, part of the issue is that there are fewer stories to tell. I’m racing less and spending more time managing a knee that almost certainly will never truly get better, and you, dear reader, get rather bored with prose about yesterday’s training run. But I haven’t been devoid of stories altogether, and yet still, my production schedule lags.
I missed altogether relating stories from this year’s instance of the Mill Cities Relay, but to be fair (again, do you see a pattern here?), there were fewer stories than usual from that soggy outing. Our team found itself separated at birth due to various participants’ weekend time conflicts, meaning we never were all in the same place at once, somewhat diminishing the team fun aspect of the day. The weather was ugly as it is wont to be in early December, and though the steady rain magically slowed a minute before the start of my opening leg, it paid me back after our third-leg man wanted to run a warm-down and I, nearly dry after playing team driver for the last two legs, foolishly agreed. The skies opened and we re-drenched ourselves, thus arriving waterlogged and shivering at the bash at the finish line, but still had a fine time. No brick (top placing teams at Mill Cities are awarded bricks – really), but that was to be expected.
Oh, and that opening leg I ran? Well, it rolled in faster than I expected, but considerably slower than last year. Which takes us back to that, ‘things are supposed to slow down’ bit. And they have. I vacillate between thinking I’ve gotten way slower (which I have) and that I’ll get whomped any time I show my face at any moderately competitive race, and alternately deeming I’m really not that out of it, scanning the race articles in the back of New England Runner and seeing that the senior division times are still often in line with my reality. I know I should just go ahead and race anyway, and to be fair, I’ve got four and a half future races already in the chute, so that will come. In the meanwhile, it’s fun to just kick back, enjoy the sport for what it is, and take part in some activities that don’t require speed, pain, and suffering.
Like running two marathons two days apart.
I haven’t told many of my non-running friends about this one. The few to whom I’ve mentioned it are certain I’m overdue for the looney bin. My running friends, on the other hand, know of goofy things like the seven-day, seven-continent, seven-marathon challenge, and see just doing two as relatively tame. Well, some of them, at least. Other of my buds often run ultras, where twenty-six miles is just the warm-up. For them I just said that I ran a fifty-two miler over a span of forty-nine hours. Even at the ‘go slow and survive forever’ pace of an ultra, that’s absurdly leisurely.
The end of the year offers an interesting opportunity for this kind of lark. The last Sunday of the year plays host to the Groton Marathon, a loose conglomeration of crazies from the Squannacook River Runners, where participants are welcome to run anywhere from a couple of miles to the whole banana. And New Year’s morning brings another tradition, the New Year’s Boston Marathon, where a different loose conglomeration of total loonies, goaded on from afar by the Maine’s somewhat legendary Gary Allen, gathers at six in the morning in Hopkinton on New Year’s Day – an hour when some have yet to go to bed from the previous night’s revelry – and proceeds to hoof it into Boston. Depending on the vagaries of the calendar, these two runs fall anywhere from a week to a day apart.
New Year’s Eve wasn’t pretty if you were a Times Square or downtown Boston reveler. But the rains quit somewhere around five, and other than a few leftover spits, six arrived with wet roads but reasonably warm temps and a benevolent western zephyr that, while rarely actually felt, certainly must have offered a boost on our trek to the Back Bay.
watch us goofballs go here), they were gone in a flash. I’d later learn they nearly broke three hours that morning. Instead I found myself in the company of two quite reasonably paced companions, one who intended only to run the first ten miles back to her home town of Natick, and another young lad who’d notched a few ultras but never a road marathon.
Mile10Connections), set up a full-fledged aid station in Natick, and later at the finish line. Amy left us in Natick, and Rob got a head start while I continued to jaw it up, so when I hit the road again, I had to add a little oomph to reel him back in so as to continue giving him the verbal tour of the course. After another aid station set up by his folks in Wellesley, I dragged him into the hills as he started to flag, his hips unhappy with the extended asphalt mileage.
Pancho’s Taqueria in Dedham, who supplied fabulous homemade salsa, shameless plug!), but he being of the Boston EMS Heroes (yes, he was there on that fateful day in 2013) called out one of his on-duty squads who parked their unit at the finish line, lights flashing. Nothing beats cranking down Boylston Street – in (light but very much real) traffic – because, well, dammit, you’re finishing the Boston Marathon, and they can just go around you, and there’s an ambulance up there making it an event just to prove it. And just under forty-nine hours since we ambled away from the Groton Senior Center, I had two marathons – not the kind that count in my race list, but two marathons nonetheless – in my pocket.
What a way to start the year!
A small price to pay for some big smiles to remember some big miles.