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.
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.
On May 23, I will participate in the Red Sox Foundation and Massachusetts General Hospital Run to Home Base 9K. As one of the runners taking to Boston streets on that Sunday, I will be running to support and say thank you to the veterans and their families who now live with the realities of combat stress disorders and/or traumatic brain injury.
I’m pleased and honored to have an opportunity to honor all veterans, but especially the three members of my family who have served in the military.
While I am committed to running this race – which I will finish by crossing home plate at Fenway Park – I can’t complete my Home Base mission alone. I have set a goal of raising $1,000 for the Home Base program and hope that you can support me in my endeavor. Every little bit helps!
Please visit my fundraising page for more information about the program and the run. Consider supporting my run and please spread the word to others – whether it’s a runner who might be interested in participating or someone who would be interested in helping me reach my goals. I am incredibly excited about this run and look forward to being able to report on its success after May 23!
Thank you for any and all support you can provide.
I’m used to never knowing what to expect when I walk into Fenway during the offseason. Since I only work there on the weekends, a lot can happen and change during my time away, so it’s exciting to see what has been altered even over the course of just a few days.
I was particularly looking forward to my trip to the park yesterday evening, however, because it was my first time at the park since the rink installation process began.
(Yes, sometimes I actually do take days off. Rare, yes, but not unheard of.)
I was eager to see the rink where two of my favorite things – hockey and Fenway – were going to come together. And I have to say that I know that I’m biased, but I think that the setup is going to be absolutely stunning by New Year’s Day.
Soon after I stopped drooling at the sight of the rink, I was chatting with Michael Ivins, manager of photography for the Red Sox. When I mentioned that I hadn’t seen the rink, Mike said that he’s had images of the installation up on his blog.
Blog, you say? Yes, Mike’s a blogger. Not only does he have a gorgeous shot of the installation process, he has some amazing shots from Fenway and beyond. I am now suffering from compete and utter image envy. Be sure to check out his work.
Let’s give you warning: you are about to read what I sincerely hope is the first and only instance in which the holiday season is linked to R Kelly’s “Bump N’ Grind.”
My friend Brian was giving the tune his best – and given the set of pipes this guy has, that’s saying something – last night at karaoke while I chatted with friends. At one point, I glanced over at him and did a doubletake at the sight of a long necklace of lit up holiday lights.
“When did he get lit up? Did I miss that?” I asked.
“That’s how it goes when you look away for a moment,” was Dave’s response. Wise words proven even more right when I turned back a few moments later and realized that Brian had acquired himself a backup vocalist. I laughed as they conveyed their special message of love, perfect for the holiday season upon us.
I didn’t think about this again for a bit, as I was too busy gearing up to cross “Part of Your World” off my To Sing karaoke list.
(Yes, that happened.)
In many respects, however, I feel like the last few months and the arrival of the holiday season are similar to watching Brian sing “Bump N’ Grind.” I turn away for a moment in October and the next thing I know, I’m welcoming November during my trip to Chicago. I look away again and suddenly it’s December, a whirlwind of a month that periodically threatens to force me to adopt “Christmas Wrapping” as my theme song. Now here I am, realizing there’s a rink at Fenway (which I saw for the first time last night – amazing) and a crazy hot stove season underway. I’m thinking about the New Year and the Best of Lists I should be and will be putting together.
2009’s almost over and it feels like it just got underway.
“Wait, so let me get this straight. You ran a 5k when you were waiting for MRI results on your knee?” I could just see my friend shaking his head as he typed the words into the chat box.
“I hadn’t planned to run the whole thing. I’d signed up prior to all of the knee issues and I figured I’d rather walk than waste the bib and registration fee. So I just figured I’d jog until the knee felt sore and then I’d walk.”
More head shaking. And I deserved it. It was just that it felt amazing to be lined up with all of the other runners waiting for the start. And then it was just that the knee never started to hurt.
Besides, the results came back and the knee’s OK!
For the first time in months, my knee wanted to run. The rest of me, based on the way I felt the next day, was on a slightly different wavelength, but I’ll take it. How it felt, coupled with the test results, means that I might finally – FINALLY – be on the mend and able to start slowly making my way back into running life.
It’s a Christmas miracle!
Top Five Songs I Never Would Have Dared Sing In Front of People a Year Ago
or “How Karaoke’s Helped Me Come Out of My Shell”
(in no particular order)
- “Superstition” – Stevie Wonder
- “Use Somebody” – Kings of Leon
- “Roxie” – Chicago Soundtrack
- “Pour Some Sugar on Me” – Def Leppard
- “Total Eclipse of the Heart” – Bonnie Tyler
I believe in giving myself challenges. As such, I decided that I would end my tenure as a 28-year-old on a high note so as to challenge my 29-year-old self to bring the A game. And how much higher can you get than the 103rd floor of the Whatchu Talkin Bout Willis (nee Sears) Tower?
(Answer: the top of Burj Dubai. There. I beat you to it. Don’t sass me on my birthday.)
OK, 29. You’d better figure out how to top the top of the world. You have 365 days to do it, so get to it.
Photos and anecdotes from my trip to Chicago to come this week. In the meantime, please know that Boston has my heart and I was happy to see the Pru and the Hancock – the REAL one – as my plane made its final descent last night. But I’m going to be honest – Chicago made me daydream for a few moments there. That city knows how to treat a lady. It knows how to charm. It knows how to wine and dine, leaving me smiling and wondering when I’m going to come back for more.