I remember running along Commonwealth Avenue, going out to the famed Newton Hills. At times the great local runners of the day would be out there. Bill Rodgers and Patti Lyons-Catalano were among the faces I would see. Rodgers, running on his toes, his feet barely touching the ground was beautiful to see. I could never figure out how he did that. Patti Lyons-Catalano, in attack mode, pounding over the hills.
During my short time in college, I converted to being a sprinter. I had some decent times in the 100 meter and 200 meter races. My sprinting career ended with me qualifiying for the New England Division 3 Track and Field Championships in 1983.
But distance was always my love. Hour after hour, mile after mile. There was nothing better. The time alone, with nothing in front of me but the road. Way back then, there were no I-Pods, and Sony was just perfecting the Walkman. The solitude of a long run was time looked forward to. There were no distractions. I would just let my mind wander and run along.
As the years passed, my running began to taper off. A job, a wife, kids - so many other responsibilities began to chip away at free time. Looking back, I realize that it was easier to take a day off rather than get up early or go to bed late. One day off turned into several days off, and so on and so on. I would run here and there, but nothing sustained. Maybe once or twice a week, for three or four miles.
Recently, I began to run some more. At first, things hurt. My knees, hips and ankles groaned as I plodded along. I kept at it, getting out every other day. It is getting easier now as my body gets used to the new (old) activity. I went out last week for a planned six mile run. This would be my longest run in quite some time. I stayed near home. Main St. to City Square, across the Charlestown Bridge then a left onto Commercial St., I took the Harbor Walk at some points and got some fine views of Boston Harbor. Commercial St. turns into Atlantic Ave., and I followed that out to South Station. I took the Rose Kennedy Greenway most of the way back to the Charlestown Bridge then home again.
As I ran, things seemed to click. I had a good rhythm going. For the first time in a long time, I was comfortable running. I had been taking things slowly, which is not like me. I was afraid of getting injured, what with a funky heel and a balky calf. On this run, at times I let go and found a comfortable stride. It was then that I remembered what I loved to much. Being outdoors, a breeze in your face, or at your back. The sights, sounds and smells of the city. My run, my pace, my time in the sun. It really doesn't get any better.
My times aren't all that great right now and my hope is that I can improve that. I like how my body has responded, and I like how I feel after running. I'm tired, but it's the good tired that comes from pushing yourself, not the tired from life whacking away at you. I still can't run with music, I find it too distracting. I'm finding that the physical activity helps with the stress in my life. Half and hour or so running gets the endorphins going. It really does make you feel better both physically and mentally.