March 12, 2008

Running in the dark and talking to strangers

Basically, tonight I did several things that are very big not-supposed-tos. I ran in the dark in a city I didn’t know (and got lost in the process), without my cell phone in case of emergency, and then gave my phone number to a strange man who stopped me to flirt. It’s a good thing my mom doesn’t read my blog, or she would kill me! Here’s how it all went down…

I got out of work really early tonight, and it was actually light out! I was amazed. It took absolutely forever for my cab to get me back to the hotel, during which time I contemplated my evening. I was absolutely exhausted, possibly from my early morning spinning session but more likely from sleep shortages the last few days (4 or 5 hours per night, compared to my normal 8).

Luckily, I had recently been alerted to an interesting phenomenon: according to the New York Times, The Cure for Exhaustion? More Exercise. (That’s the title of the article). Basically, they did a study and found that low-intensity exercise can boost energy levels in people suffering from fatigue. Now granted, this study was done of a period of time and doesn’t mean you’re supposed to feel more energized right after you work out. But you know what? I do have a lot more energy now! (Placebo effect, I know, but whatever).

When I got back to the hotel, I stopped at the concierge desk to finally pick up my RunWestin map. It turned out to be a little handheld card with a mini map on the front, and instructions for where to turn on the back. I also asked about running in the dark in the morning, and the concierge advised against it, saying it just wasn’t safe. I contemplated that in the elevator, and also looked at the mini map, which showed a 3 mile loop and a 5 mile loop. When I got up to my room, I made a quick decision: I was going for a run. Just a quick 3 mile run, because it was getting dark, but a run nonetheless.

I set out with dusk just starting to set in. I assumed that since I’d be back in less than 30 minutes, I’d be fine with the darkness. However, I failed to take into account that it is very hard to read tiny print when it’s getting dark and you’re bouncing up and down. I refused to stop, thinking I knew where I was going. And I kind of did. I made it to the river, took a left, and headed over to what I now knew was called Harvard Bridge. I followed the winding path up, and found myself running across the river. How cool! Scarinzic and TK are always posting about their bridge runs in NYC, but I had never tried it. I’m definitely going to start, and also very much looking forward to the Cooper River Bridge Run in a few weeks. It was just so cool to be going over the water!

I took a right at the end of the bridge to head back up(?)river. At this point, it was really getting dark. However, I knew from both RunWestin and from Doug’s cool map that I was supposed to take the Longfellow Bridge back. I saw the bridge approaching… and then found myself running under it. Where the heck was the pedestrian entrance? There were cars whizzing by, and seemingy ten highways all converging, so there was nowhere to turn. I just kept running, figuring that I’d find my way back sooner or later.

Unfortunately, even “sooner” was getting pretty dark. Before I knew it, I was running in something that could not be classified as “dusk,” but definitively “night.” Of course, the running clothes that I packed this week were black, with no reflective strips. Very safe, I know. I kept chugging along, trying to pick up my pace. The idea was that anyone who wanted to harass me would see my sheer speed and know that I could just sprint away. (Ha.)

I figured out how to cross back to the Boston side of the river at the Science Center, which I knew was putting me on target for a 5 mile loop. Once I crossed, I didn’t see any pedestrians at all, and I was running through kind of a wooded area. I felt really safe, let me tell you. I did see a lone figure on the playground, but it was an adult, with no kids around, which was a bit sketchy. I passed a cannon replica tht was pointed at the running path, and couldn’t resist the urge to duck. Then right after, I passed a bandshell that I knew was close to where I could take the bridge over Storrow Drive and be back on the actual city streets.

As I turned at the split in the path, I saw a runner going the other direction. “Hey!” he yelled to me. Apparently my mother did not teach me well enough not to talk to strangers, because I stopped. “I saw you over on the other side of the river.” Great. A stalker. “Oh?” I said. “Yeah, I was wondering if you might want to grab a beer after your run.” Seriously?? You saw me in all my slow-running, scared-rabbit-face, panting-glory, and you want to grab a beer? I politely declined, because while I may not know better than to talk to strangers, I do know better than to make plans with a strange man that you bump into on the street. I said I had work to do tonight (partially true – it was more that I wanted to watch Biggest Loser), and he asked about what I do. We chatted briefly (by briefly, I mean for about 10 seconds), introduced ourselves, and then Bill (yes, he is my new BFF and I know his name) asked if he could take a raincheck on the drink. Somewhat impressed by his persistance, I agreed, and asked if he had a pen with which to write down my number. Nope. Bill insisted that he could remember it, so I doubtfully gave it to him, figuring that if he could actually remember it, that’d be worth going for a drink. He said he’d call me later – I’ll keep you all updated if he does.

When we parted ways, I felt completely reenergized by my little flirt session. As sketchy as it was, I think that running would be such a cute way to meet a guy! Too bad I wasn’t in NYC meeting him. But seriously, I felt awesome for the remainder of my run, even managing to sprint up the incline on the footbridge over Storrow Drive.

Overall, I finished my easy “3 mile” run in 43:41, covering 4.87 miles. That’s an 8:59 pace – not too shabby! I didn’t even feel too winded throughout – it did feel like a pretty easy run. Hopefully that means I can be fast as long as I actually rest up a bit? And today I wasn’t even that rested!

Yeah, don’t tell my mom about my sleeping habits either…

Update: While posting this, I got a text message reading, “Girl like u, there’s no way i was going to forget. Talk to you soon! Bill”. Impressive, I must say. Should I call him back?


11 thoughts on “Running in the dark and talking to strangers”

  1. I’m not a native but I’ve spent some time in Boston so I thought I’d offer some running/walking route advice. I stayed by Copley Square last summer for a conference, and by the seaport a few months before for a wedding, and my brother lived on Commonwealth. From Copley Sq., I remember going across Harvard Bridge and feeling safe running around MIT and extending the run east on Beacon St (and I remember people running along the river along the Boston side but not doing it myself). However, I do remember walking on Mass Ave during daylight between MIT and Harvard and feeling a bit uncomfortable so be careful there. That is the only place I have ever felt uncomfortable in main parts of Boston. Otherwise ran between the convention center and seaport and I always felt okay around Summer St, through wherever to Boston Common, and specifically on Beacon St. I actually have never felt unsafe in Boston/Cambridge except for Mass Ave between MIT and Harvard.
    Anyway, good luck! It always seemed like there were a lot of Boston runners, especially on Harvard bridge and Beacon.

  2. Hmm I’ve done some running in Boston too when there for work and I’m pretty sure most places I wouldn’t have tread after dark. I’m not a big fan of the random meet ups…but you know it could be good. I guess I’d say go with your gut and meet in a public place!

  3. When I was in Philly for a personal chef conference I headed out for a 5-mile run. I had hoped to run along the Schuylkill River but made a wrong turn. I was running through a neighborhood that was getting increasingly more run-down, so I made my way toward a busier street (I also thought it would lead me to the Schuylkill). After a couple of miles I figured I had gone the wrong way, and since it was getting pretty humid I decided to head back to the hotel.

    Once I was back in my room I grabbed a city map to show my roommate where I had gone. “Where’s Temple University?” I asked, since I remembered running by it. “Oh, you DON’T want to be running there,” she says. D’oh! However, I never did feel I was in danger (although I’m sure I was quite the sight with my short orange running skort and blonde ponytail!)

    And yes, I think you should call him.

  4. I would LOVE to run in Boston – it’s one of my favorite cities!

    I would be impressed he remembered my number!

    (PS I love your blog!)

  5. I don’t see a problem with you at least calling him back, and like someone said, meeting in a public place, like a coffee shop or something. He did remember your #. Nice job on the pace, too!!!

  6. You better not do that again. Please be safe and trust your gut. If you meet Bill, keep it in a public place and keep it short. Sorry to sound like a mom, but I am.

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