My alarm goes off at 6:00 and I hear the radio announcer start the headlines at the top of the hour. The cool breeze blows across my body and I remember that I wanted to run before work today. Up, put on the new running shorts, find a pair of socks and track down the calf compression sleeves. Why didn't I lay out my shoes the night before? Grab a bite to eat, drink a little left over iced tea from last night, put the earbuds on (Tide is High by Blondie) and start down the stairs. It's cool and refreshing as I put the watch into training mode, stretch the legs a bit, and take off at a slow pace onto Magnus St.
My first steps are slow and uneven, pretty common for my morning runs. I should stretch more before running but the first mile acts as my warm up. Past The Biscuit as the first patrons of the day head in for their morning coffee. Past the stacks of dry ice containers at Acme Ice, waiting to be unloaded. Savenor's isn't open yet, and the papers sit on the stoop in front of the convenience store. I begin to settle into a rhythm as I see one or two other runners headed opposite me. Construction workers carrying their lunches in coolers are arriving at the Fogg Museum, traffic is light but there's steady flow in and out of the Dunkin' Donuts. At a mile I'm now running comfortably, still cool but I can feel the heat building.
I stop at Memorial Drive waiting for traffic to clear and see many more runners and bikers traveling up and down the river. The light changes and I'm across, running on dirt now as I spy a single shell in the water headed upstream. It looks like Robyn, who paced me in the marathon, and I decide to have her pace me again. I accelerate and find a new gear in an effort to keep up with the boat cutting through the still water with efficient strokes. Is it really Robyn? I don't know but she managed to pace me again regardless. I turn across the Lars Andersen bridge and head downstream, leaving the shell behind
There are fewer runners on the Boston side of the river and more bikers. My steady footfalls propel me past the Weeks foot bridge, the Western Ave bridge and I turn at River St. I pass a few of the runners I saw earlier on heading in the opposite direction, everyone looping in their own orbits. Crossing back to the side streets I glance at my watch, checking my pace and thinking about the 1.5 miles remaining. Up Dewolfe and Bow streets, stepping on my lucky manhole cover before climbing my one hill, thinking to myself that Stairway to Heaven is an awful running song. As I turn on Kirkland I spot a woman ahead of me wearing a shirt from my first half-marathon in June 2010. My pace is a bit faster and I reel her in by the time we cross Beacon St. As I turn to home I see a small table out on the curb with a "free" sign that would fit in my hallway. I loop back, adding an extra .2 miles to my run and stop the watch as I reach the table.
As I carry my new possession back to the house I can feel the heat catch up to me. It's going to be another hot day but I've completed my first task. The rest of the day will include this sense of accomplishment and some well earned satisfaction. Maybe tomorrow I can start a half hour earlier?