There’s been a lot going on, perhaps the  most exciting of which is that I’m training for the Boston Marathon to raise money for the American Stroke Association on behalf of Tedy’s Team! This has led to two things: 1) not as much personal travel because I have to do my long runs on the weekend and 2) a lot of exhaustion (and thus less extracurricular writing).

My stroke hero, mom and I in front of giant Tedy's Team poster 2008

My stroke here and I in front of a giant Tedy's Team poster 2008

But this weekend I’m initiating a new take on travel karma: travel karma as it relates to travelling by foot. So over the next couple of months I’ll be posting pieces about my runs and the quirky, weird, or karmic kicks in the rear that they bring.

Today was quite the karmic run. While DC is inundated in feet of snow, Boston for once, is relatively snow-free. However snow-free does not equal warm. Two years ago when training for the Boston Marathon I was shaking my fists at the running-weather gods. Every weekend, without fail in the four months of training, it snowed. This year, I’m shaking my fists at the running-weather gods for cold. Last Saturday morning when I awoke for my run, it was -10 with windchill–not a good temperature to run outside. So I ran on the treadmill. Fourteen dreary miles of staring at TNT (and don’t get me wrong, I love me some TNT, but not when they’re playing reruns of Leverage. I want my Law and Order!).

This morning, my weather bug was showing 20 degrees–warm! When I flipped on the local news though, they were showing nine degrees with windchill. I thought, ok, I have the clothing to mount up for nine degrees. I was wrong.

The first three miles of my run consisted of me simultaneously cursing at the wind (in my head), trying to flex my hands (yes, they were gloved), glowering at walking people in parkas, debating turning around to grab more clothes or turning around and heading to the gym to run on the treadmill. Around mile three, my right leg started feeling odd–not a cramp, not sore, not tired, not an injury–just odd. It was the first moment in my life where I legitimately felt as though my Texan muscles were saying “we are not built for cold.”

From mile three on, my plan was to run the Charles River. As I turned right to head east toward downtown Boston, the wind hit me, my eyes teared up and I thought, this is officially crazy. Usually my internal monologue consists of fun thoughts, daydreaming, planning, feelings of “bad-ass-ness” and always, thoughts about my mom and those affected by stroke. Today all I could think was, why the hell am I doing this and oh-my-god am I cold. I couldn’t even keep my focus on a stroke hero.

Frozen Charles River

Frozen Charles River shot by brockvicky at http://www.flickr.com/photos/vickyb/372461462/

Around mile five I began to plan my escape. With no money and no cell phone on me, I started fantasizing about stopping someone on Storrow Drive and asking him/her to give me a ride home–or at the very least to lend a cell phone so I could call Jon or a friend. At mile six, I began to realize that there were not very many other runners out and about. The wind was cutting fiercely, whipping across the river of ice and pummeling the southern bank. Of the few other runners out, almost all seemed to have judged the conditions far better than me. In my one layer of long tights on the bottom and tanktop, long-sleeved wicking shirt, and short-sleeved ‘Tedy’s Team’ training shirt on top (with lightweight gloves and earwarmers), I was no match for those passing me in layers of fleece, windbreaker, and wool socks.

And then I saw the light. Somewhere near the Esplanade, I saw two guys snuggled in sweatshirts and down jackets, camped out in front of an SUV with sneakers, food, drinks and gear. I thought I was seeing a mirage–or if it was real, a water stop for another running team.

As I approached, smiles, friendly faces, and the words, “Would you like some water, snack, garble, garble, garble, or fleece gloves?”  WHAT? FREE GLOVES!? I wasn’t sure I had heard correctly. Could it be true? Two really nice guys from New Balance (a great shoe company based in Boston) were out manning a free water, rest, and food stop for Charles River runners in nine degree weather and they were giving out free fleece gloves! Talk about karma coming around.

As Ty helped me to a pair of gloves, I struggled to get them on under my pathetic lightweight ones. My hands were white and inflexible–probably on the point of frostbite. I don’t think I have ever smiled more widely. I was like a kid on Christmas morning. They were soft, fit perfectly, and most importantly–delightfully warm. I felt a new surge of energy and knew I was going to finish the run.

I thanked Ty and New Balance, continued on and a few miles later found another lifesaver: Microsoft. Microsoft saving me on a run? Here’s how: with the intense cold and an hour and a half of running came an incredible need to use indoor plumbing facilities–and those are few and far between along the Charles River. I saw what I thought (in my cold haze) was a gym and started running toward it. Turns out, it was the private gym at the huge Microsoft building which overlooks the Charles (I didn’t even know Microsoft had offices in Boston). A very kind security guard let me in and gave me the go ahead to use said indoor plumbing facilities. Fantastic. The heat of the plush building, the relief of indoor plumbing, and the kindness of the security guard once again saved the day. I thanked him profusely, handed him a Tedy’s Team stroke awareness card to shed some light on who this crazy girl was asking to use the restroom, and took off to finish the run.

I made it home in about two hours and forty minutes…not my usual pace and not my usual post-run excitement. But now, hours later, warm, and reflecting on the run, I can better appreciate the wonderful karma that occurred. If it weren’t for the generous actions of Ty and the Microsoft security guard, I wouldn’t have been able to make it. I like to think that my years of always smiling, waving and saying hi to other runners (who usually think I’m crazy) may have paid off today in some karmic way. Then again, I could be in for karmic backlash tomorrow when I’m unable to walk…

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