For four years, from age 25 to 29, I managed the Gutman Conference Center at theHarvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE). That time was extremely significant in my 16 years in Boston. I met and married (eloped with!) my wife, moved briefly out of Jamaica Plain to Watertown, and switched career paths from considering a Masters in Divinity to a Masters in Business Administration. Actually, coerced into applying to business school would be more accurate. The then-Administrative Dean at HGSE told me one day, “Apply to business school or I’m going to fire you, so you have no choice but to go back to school.” I had no choice.
For those four years I pounded lots of miles along the Charles River. The Charles River is 80 miles long, and like the Boston Marathon, its course runs from Hopkinton to Boston; it just takes a slightly different route. The Charles River's course is conveniently located about four blocks from former my office at HGSE, and my employer conveniently allowed me work my day around my ten mile runs along the river. I could go east to the Science Museum or west to Watertown Square; each loop is about 9.8 miles. The nice thing about the route west to Watertown is the network of worn-in dirt trails that run alongside the asphalt paths; there are also some nice stretches of planned dirt paths. This enabled me to get about six or seven miles of my 10-mile run on soft surfaces, which left me feeling a little less beat up with all the miles I was attempting to run.
The Run: Since I am not doing the mileage that I used to log on the river, for this blog I am breaking my runs on the Charles River into bite-size pieces. I started my run (map) from the well-known prep school, Buckingham Browne & Nichols, where my wife has been a History teacher for the past ten years. From BB&N, I ran west on the Cambridge/Watertown side, crossed over Arsenal Street and turned around at the North Beacon Street bridge to head back on the Boston side. Along the Boston side between North Beacon and Arsenal there is a view of the New Balance headquarters where, for a brief time, I worked as a footwear product manager. During nice weather, crew teams train out of boat houses up and down this section of the river. One of the best times to run is just at sunrise, when all you can see are little lights attached to the tips of the crew boats.
Thought for the Day: I chose this section of the river because I wanted to snap a picture of the inspirational graffiti under the North Beacon Street bridge that reads “Drop the Hammer”, meant as an inspiration to crew teams passing underneath the bridge. I always liked the phrase “Drop the Hammer.” In running “dropping the hammer” means to lay it on the line, give it all you’ve got and run hard ‘till you can’t run any longer. One can “drop the hammer” on an opponent by ending the race with a furious sprint that leaves the opponent in the dust. One can also just simply “drop the hammer” out alone on a distance run, and just hammer for the pure enjoyment of it.
To track my distances for this blog I am wearing a GPS watch; however, wearing a GPS watch makes me focus too much on the watch, and too little on my body. I’m always checking it for pace, distance and whatever wisdom it is supposed to provide, which takes away from what I love about running -- just getting out and enjoying being one with “The Run.” When I am in really great shape, and in tune with my body, I can tell you with relative accuracy my pace. Plus, the GPS watch has no reading on how I feel physically, emotionally or spiritually about my run. No machine call tell me when to "drop the hammer" because "dropping the hammer" is a gut feel. It's knowing how much is left in my tank to get me to the finish line, what pace I need to run to not exhaust the fuel, and, despite that knowledge, pushing my body faster, and faster and faster.