Archives for category: Just Sayin’

I recognize that I will not fully appreciate this until later, but I’ll do my best now.

A Saturday morning, legs crossed, one foot pressed against the boards. On the other side of the wood and glass, hockey players circled the rink—tall, bulky, padded black-and-goldfish on skates. They largely focused on their drills, motivated by short blasts of a whistle. But they snuck occasional looks, grins, stick-on-glass taps to the 100 or so of us on hand. I saw my favorite guys. The new guys. The boys, 18 or 19 years old, fighting for what amounts to a roster spot two seasons from now.

The buzz I’d expected to sense during my trip to Fort Myers back in March was finally here—six months late, different sport, right at home in Boston. This is what training camp is supposed to feel like: Players are competing for their spots, proving their worth, while diehards show up with their smuggled-in bagels to sit around, talk shop with fellow junkies, and get sneak previews of lines and pairings from vantage points significantly closer than anything they’ll experience during game play.

I made my way around the rink to take in the view from the other side, feeling my late morning stretch into an early afternoon. My later plans were much more flexible than the Bruins’ schedule, and I was reluctant to leave without seeing my favorite player skate in the second session. No stress in the preseason.

Two subway lines later, I navigated a collegiate crowd I’d spent the past month avoiding. Harvard Square wasn’t as congested as I’d feared it would be. That said, it would still be a few weeks before I’d return with any sense of regularity. But Harvard’s running shop was the easiest to visit on the way home and Mark Stuart had led to a time crunch. I was in and out in seven minutes: running socks, the sports beans that would give me a carbohydrate boost during long runs, and a couple other odds and ends I would never have imagined needing even a year ago.

Two hours later, the socks were on and the beans were tucked into the back pouch of my hydration belt, along with my cell phone, keys, transit pass, credit card, license, and health insurance card.

(Once you’ve cleared at least two hours in your schedule for running purposes, you ought to be prepared for anything.)

The route felt shorter this time. Perhaps it was that I felt stronger this time. I suspected that it was a combination of the two. Regardless, the doubt about whether I would be able to reach the twenty mile milestone had come and gone, replaced with focus and the flood of endorphins that kept my feet moving in time to the Ryan Adams song playing on my iPod. It was my first genuine runner’s high of the season. And it propelled me through Somerville, Cambridge, and Boston.

For twenty miles.

After the endorphin high faded and the muscle stiffness set in—albeit not nearly as badly as I’d anticipated—I sat on my couch, toasting the day with a glass of pumpkin beer and vanilla vodka while discussing how much fun was going to be had picking apples the next day …

… after getting out of work at Fenway Park.

Again, I recognize that I will not fully appreciate this until later. That said, I’m certainly doing my best right now.

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I would live in Lakeview, in a simple one-bedroom apartment with high ceilings and warm yellow walls in a sunny shade I picked out myself after copious sample examinations in a nearby hardware store. In the evenings, after my sunset runs up the bike path past Montrose Harbor (skipping the actual boardwalk paths, as they do nothing more than lead you everywhere and nowhere at once), I’d make my way over to Guthrie’s, my neighborhood bar of choice, for a bottle of Original Sin (or two) some playful competition over a board game (or two). I would fight a constant battle against the cinnamon rolls at Ann Sather and wish each day that just once the barista at Intelligentsia would make life perfect and say, “Skim milk in your latte? Sure, no problem at all.” I would consider giving tours of Wrigley Field, pointing out that while Wrigley has been the home to baseball since 1914, it’s only been home to the Cubs since 1916. I would find a quality karaoke night and make friends with the people who embrace the weekly turns at the mic. And while the winters are vicious and the summers can be cruel, I would embrace this quirky, charming big city that feels like a place I could happily call home.

I could do all of these things …

… if not for the things and people who have made Boston not just the city in which I live, but the home I love.

But sometimes, it’s nice to think about.

While waiting to hear what John Hynes, head of the MBTA’s Red Line, has to say in response to my email on Monday, I decided upon an interesting way to keep score of all the fun.

Since Monday:

  • Email responses from MBTA: 0
  • Times Red Line delays have appeared on front page of Boston.com: 2
  • Text alerts from MBTA regarding Red Line issues/delays: 20

My Chicago Marathon training process has given me the chance to do many things. I’ve been doing yoga, strength training, cross training. I laughed my way through a Crunch dance DVD the other day–I’m sure there’s nothing funnier than the sight of this girl trying to unleash some funk dance moves.

My favorite part, however, has been running or otherwise training with friends. My friend Emilee, who will also be crossing the finish line at Grant Park on October 10, has been absolutely remarkable during our yoga sessions, training runs, and pool-running sessions. And my friend Ashley has become a recent addition to the training process, as she and I have started taking on morning runs.

This morning, we set out for a quick 5K around my work neighborhood. We ran and caught up on how we’ve each been doing, and I was so impressed that we were rocking an early morning run. After bidding her farewell for the day, taking a quick shower, and transitioning into work mode, I was feeling pretty outstanding and with it as I made a quick dash across the street to get myself a latte and breakfast. Look at me, able to work in early-morning time with a friend, while running and gearing up for a busy day of work, then play …

That’s when I picked up my latte and the bag with my bagel in it, turned around …

… and ran smack into a tall drink cooler.

Mary Tyler Moore, I’m clearly not.

Forgive me, but I was feeling rather sassy. It was a Saturday evening. I was dressed sharply. Heels were involved and I’d created a braided updo for the engagement party to which I was on my way.

If the T would ever show up, that is.

Boston’s public transportation system has never been terribly reliable, but it has become normal – a daily occurence – to impatiently endure significant delays. As such, I shouldn’t have been surprised that the T was going to make me late.

I could, however, be thoroughly puzzled by the group of 15 or so people – accompanied by two T officials – that had decided to glom all around me.

“Make sure you’re all together!” said one of the hyperactive transportation officials. “Everyone on the same car!”

Theories bounced around my head as the T finally approached. Foreigners? Spies? Prospective Tufts students?

The door opened and the T official stepped in front of me. “Make sure she gets on! Make sure she gets on!”

Obviously, I wasn’t “she.” A petite blur of berry-colored coat passed me and I realized that Anna Faris – and seemingly 15 movie extras – had decided to descend upon my train. Me, another couple, and Hub Hollywood.

As I heard references to Porter Square, I realized: Anna Faris had been holding up my train.

So I did what anyone would do. I sat there, reading my book, and cast glances over to judge. A Red Line Cute-Off was in order. And while Faris had the upper hand in wardrobe – seriously, that coat was downright divine – my braided updo wiped the floor with the Faris ponytail.

Rather than continue on to compare figures, voices, charm, and grace, I decided to just call it a draw then and there. As she was whisked off the train and I continued on to my evening plans, I nodded to myself. A worthy advisary, that Faris. A worthy advisary, indeed.

**Update: I thought it important to note two things, especially now that there have been some links to this post. 1) Anna seemed very pleasant during the short T ride we shared – it was everyone buzzing around her that generated the attention. She just sat in a corner. 2) I wasn’t terribly annoyed by being held up – after all, it makes for a fun story – but found the T reaction laughable. I wish that the MBTA would extend one bit of the energy and enthusiasm thrust at this filming project at actually making it possible for regular Boston commuters to get to and from their homes and offices. They’re OK speaking in a monotone as they apologize to thousands of commuters each day for “any inconvenience they might have caused” while they fall all over themselves for a movie.

Confession time: I’m not a basketball fan.

At all.

People tend to be surprised by this. I often see surprise on faces when people ask me if I’m pumped for the big Celtics game and I respond with, “Eh, nah” or, even more surprising, “What game’s that?”

Sports Girl doesn’t like a sport? Madness. And yet it’s true.

Oh, I played. I was a shooting forward and played all the way up through high school. But I grew up in a small town and attended a small high school. If you were an athlete, you were most likely a three-sport athlete. Everyone played so there were enough players to field a team. And basketball was my bridge sport that kept me busy and in shape between soccer and softball seasons.

But that doesn’t mean I was overly fond of it. And hearing the squeak of the sneakers instantly takes me back to running UCLAs or doing wall sits in a hot high school gymnasium on a Saturday morning where the only thing I had to look forward to after surviving practice was walking out into the freezing cold. It makes my ankles and finger joints hurt. It makes me remember that I wasn’t as good at the sport as my crazy competitive high school self wanted me to be.

At the very root of my aversion to the NBA, however, is that I’m a sucker for fundamentals. And when you have a league that completely ignores the fact that traveling is a thing, a thing you’re not supposed to do, and that referees should blow their whistles when players do it, I get annoyed. It’s tough to not travel. If I couldn’t get away with it while playing varsity basketball in high school, people who get paid millions of dollars to play the game shouldn’t be able to get away with it every single night.

(Just to show that I’m not a hypocrite: that’s why Dice-K frustrates me, Manny Ramirez is one of my least favorite all-around baseball players on the planet, and Michael Ryder was on notice for most of the most recent Bruins season.)

But when you live in the Boston area and you’re a fan of sports in general, you’re going to know Celtics basketball. You’re going to know the game well enough to be able to have conversations about the team and the latest game.And I know what I do like about my local basketball team: the way Ray Allen looks so serene when he’s following through on a shot from behind the arc, the way Rondo controls the tempo, and the way everyone has been so giddy excited about the prospect of the team’s 18th championship.

I’m not a fan of basketball, but I’m a fan of the drama unfolding tonight. So I’m watching with the hopes that my local basketball team brings home a world title with a win tonight. I want to see a good second half and some smiles above those green jerseys.

I like to think that I’m a nice person. I try to be, anyway. I like to be helpful. I believe in karma. Many of the breaks I’ve gotten in life have come from people who’ve looked out for me the same way I’ve looked out for them.

That said, I’m such a bitch when I run.

Seriously. My weekly long runs take me out of my neighborhood, where I’m able to run comfortably and safely without a whole lot of interruption or agitation, and into a much busier environment. I like it that way – the stimulation and changing scenery keeps me entertained. Historically, I’ve had greater success running down Mass Ave to the Charles than I’ve had running through the wooded areas of the Minuteman. I love the exhileration of running against a city backdrop.

But I’m reminded every week of just how much people suck when you’re a runner. And rather that smile and carry on, I’m a bitch about it.

There’s ample discussion about how tough it can be to bike in the city. There are movements to make sure that pedestrians are taken care of. People lament trying to drive safely in Boston. But I don’t hear anything about how all of these other groups seem to conspire to make running as difficult as humanly possible. You have cars speeding through crosswalks, bikers eschewing bike lanes – lanes specifically established for the purpose of their travel – for sidewalks. Skateboarders are flipping all over the place, their boards flying out at whomever happens to be running by.

As for those fellow travelers by foot? A runner weaves past:

  • dogs
  • people walking side by side by side by side
  • others crawling at Newbury Street speed
  • those who are taking photos on one side of the path of the people standing on the other side (not knocking photography, of course, but still)
  • and, most obnoxious, the people who ignore repeated calls of “on the left” until you’re jogging in place behind them, having to pretty much shout “EXCUSE ME PLEASE.” And then, bless their little hearts, they snap at the runner that she should get out of the way.

Listen, people. I’m in training. I’m training for a marathon. I’m not trying to take up the entire road. I’m not trying to get in your way. I’m just trying to travel a path that gets me from Point A to Point B. And I’m a nice person, I swear, but after seven miles, when you are busy yapping with your buddy as you walk at a snail’s pace and block the entire sidewalk, I am going to be snippy.

So, in the immortal words of that poet for our times, Ludacris:

Move, bitch. Get out the way.