When I signed up months ago to run the Boston Marathon I was filled with that excitement I get every time I commit to a race. A chance to summon my strong “inner runner” and conquer a course. And there’s “that feeling”…the one that greets you as you are crossing the finish line… sometimes it is accompanied by a sense of utter relief or an endorphin induced euphoria. But it is mostly a feeling of accomplishment for completing a difficult task. It is for that moment that I train. A high price to pay some may say. I don’t agree. This reward is perfectly proportionate to the effort. Ask any marathoner. Boston, however, is the exception. The greatest effort is in making it to the starting line. It’s this feeling and more.
So as I make the transition from maintaining to training there lurks my inner couch potato mourning the loss of 10pm ice cream breaks and sleeping in. In my world there is no angel and devil on my shoulders but there sits a fully trained runner on one side (in her skinny Asics tights) and a rounded middle aged woman (in her pajamas) eating a bowl of Java Chip on the other. I love them equally. Unfortunately there is no room for both enroute to the Boston Marathon. It’s a tough race and I can no longer wait to get my groove on. 12 weeks of work ahead: long runs, speed work, lots of hills…and so much more.
Jean and I log endless miles obsessing over the ins and outs of the campaign. We promise ourselves that if Obama wins, we will trek to the inauguration, our teenagers in tow. Jean magically scores Silver Tickets for all.
6:30 am: 30th Street station, Philadelphia: Bleary-eyed people of all ages begin to document this day by video and cell phone.
9:00 am: Our Amtrak train makes an unscheduled stop in Baltimore to disembark a passenger who is having an anxiety attack. I wonder, will this delay our Silver Ticket viability?
10:30 am: Washington DC: Where are the signs or officials to direct the millions of us? After countless wrong turns and dead ends (we briefly end up at a large party for tobacco lobbyists!), we are directed into the Purple Tunnel of Doom*** where thousands of people are grimly waiting. My thoughts grow softer towards the anxious Amtrak passenger and we leave the tunnel as soon as humanly possible.
11:30 am: The mall is officially closed and the swearing in ceremony is about to begin. Our Silver Tickets cannot help us. We stand with many others by a fence, 1 block from the mall. The sound is muffled. A man plays the ceremony from his cell phone, making sure that our kids can hear. There is a distinct and eerie time delay between the muffled speakers and the cell phone oratory. The crowd is proud and resolute in relishing the moment; our circumstances undiminished.
12:00 pm: Art saves the day—we decide to warm up, by walking. People are entering the Freer Gallery of Art. We follow through the museum and, Voila!, we exit onto the mall, a jumbotron directly in front of us. We listen to Obama’s tough, reasoned and intelligent (!) address.
Soon after, a helicopter takes George Bush away from Washington.
1/20/09 has arrived!
***A Facebook group was created, “Survivors of the purple tunnel of doom,” with hundreds of members.
I was never a big fan of New Years Eve. All that pressure to have fun. My husband and I now love a quiet one sitting around with family or/and friends. We ponder the events of the year and tie up in our minds its loose ends as if that one nightfall puts it all neatly behind us and allows us to hope for the new day. This year I have decided to start my new year on January 20 (the day of the presidential inauguration). So Happy New Year President! There is great opportunity for creativity to be found in change…and I am all for that. I seek it this year in my running, designing and relating. Here’s to figuring out ways to learn from what we have endured and to live more joyfully, more efficiently, and more consciously…and to of course: Blog on.
As we flew to Rome on Christmas night, my 12 year old daughter woke up from the Alitalia stupor to say, “Mom, when we get to Rome, let’s do some serious eating.” Perhaps a modicum of running may be in order.
We arrive on our ancient street at 9:00 am and immediately see a group of runners in sleek, Boston Marathon-blue jackets, running on the cobblestones. The men are happily conversing together up front, while the women, also chatting, are running behind them. Throughout the trip, I often came upon this group, running on the cobblestones, each time on a rainy morning.
Rome at Christmastime evokes breathtaking sites, colors and design. The fashion is understated, classic and waistlines are back in style; winter coats are cinched and belted. Roman dogs are dressed impeccably (though they don’t seem to have read the understated memo.)
In our family, lunch, vino and lattes are equal partners to the sites. We enjoyed incredible, one euro lattes (don’t kid yourself: I observed not a hint of low fat milk in Rome), long, delicious, moderately priced lunches, red wine to die for and vividly flavored gelato.
During Christmastime, Rome abounds with lovely holiday decorations and crèches (ranging from classic and gorgeous to tacky and time bending.) The weather was warmer than Philadelphia and, perhaps, the woeful economy caused very few American tourists to visit.
The bitter memory of plantar fasciitis ruled out running on the cobblestones, so I ventured up and down the Tiber. I would begin at Ponte Umberto (the lovely bridge near the Piazza Navona) and ran north to the Villa Borghese area where a bike path runs along the west bank of the River, crossing back on the Ponte Flamino. Alternately, I would run towards Trastevere, past the Isola Tiberina, crossing over at the Ponte Palatino. I would usually begin running at 9:30 am. The traffic was brisk and I tended to run on the Trastevere/Vatican side to avoid the fumes. I ran on the sidewalks and saw many runners out there as well. I felt safe, comfortable and completely engaged with Rome.
The perfect (running) moment: the sun was glinting on the Bernini designed angel statues of the Ponte Sant’Angelo (a bridge built by Hadrian in 134), my ipod is playing The Skin on my Yellow Country Teeth (Clap Your Hands Say Yeah) and I just have to wonder—is this what it takes for me to have a fabulous workout?
Our favorite guide book was written by (the far too earnest) Rick Steves (Rome 2009). It is well organized, clearly written, provides good tips and terrific restaurant suggestions.
For those of us watching our euros, the following moderately priced restaurant choices serve classic Roman food—to Romans!!
Osteria Ponte Sisto/Trastevere
Osteria Checco er Carettiere/Trastevere
Trattoria da Lucia/Trastevere (are you sensing a theme here?)
Ristorante Enoteca Corsi/near the Pantheon
Gelateria Caffe Pasticceria Giolitti for gelato (the hoards do get it right sometimes!)/near the Pantheon
Tazza d’Oro(one euro latte/cappuccino perfection-visit often!! And such attractive baristas!)/near the Pantheon
While facing the hoards at the Vatican museum, on the way to visit the Sistine Chapel, spend some time in the Raphael Room marveling at the School of Athens painting featuring the great thinkers, mathematicians, scientists and philosophers of the age.