Well, I Love That Dirty Water…

Boston skyline.  FYI: The "dirty water" of the Charles River is actually pretty clean now.

Boston skyline. Note to The Standells: The “dirty water” of the Charles River is actually pretty clean now.

…Boston, you’re my home. Took a last minute road trip to Boston this weekend to meet my new niece (yes, I’m in love) and got to enjoy my hometown for about 28 hours.

Boston is a vibrant city, but one thing that I actually love about it is that it is a city built on tradition, and there are some things that never change. Fenway Park just celebrated its Centennial. No, they haven’t torn our stadium down and replaced it with a dome or a comfy sportsplex. You want to see the Sox? You might just have to be a bit uncomfortable in your seat. We’re ok with that. And based on the number of consecutive sellouts at Fenway, I think lots of people are ok with that.

There are many large things in this historic city that stand for the importance of maintaining tradition, but I love all the small things that never change and always make me realize I am in Beantown. If I am there on a weekday, I can listen to Matt Siegel’s “Matty in the Morning” show on KISS 108, just like I did in the 80’s (he has been the morning anchor for 31 years). On my drive up, I can always tell when I start to pick up the Boston stations, because Aerosmith’s “Mamakin” will inevitably pop up on my radio. I love Aerosmith, and I love Mamakin, but I think Boston might be the only city where the song remains in regular play. I certainly never hear it on my NY-area radio stations. “Walk this Way?” Sure. “Dream On?” Maybe. But I only hear Mamakin when I am in Boston, and frankly, I’d be confused if it ever popped up on my radio anywhere else. Same with Marky Mark’s “Good Vibrations,” which also must be heard at least once before it is time to head home. And Boston’s “More than a Feeling.” Boston loves its native sons (and daughters) and is loyal to the core.

Another thing I love about Boston visits is that one of my normal running routes will take me up Heartbreak Hill, the famed make-or-break point for those who run the Boston Marathon.

Heartbreak Hill.  It looks so unassuming in this picture, doesn't it?

Heartbreak Hill. It looks so unassuming in this picture, doesn’t it?

It is actually not a difficult hill when you are running it between miles 8-9, like I do on my runs. In fact, if you live in a hilly area like I do, it’s not even notable (except that it ends at Boston College, one of my favorite places in the world, and you can see part of the Boston skyline at the top, which is cool.). Without a doubt, Heartbreak Hill is a tad more daunting when you are running it between miles 20-21 of the Boston Marathon. Heartbreak Hill is actually the last of a set of 4 “Newton Hills” on the Boston Marathon course, which start at mile 17.5 and end with the summit of Heartbreak Hill at mile 21. The 3 hills preceding it are far more difficult, and “Heartbreak” is so named not for its singular level of difficulty, but because it truly is the point where your body has had enough. If I can get a long run in while visiting, and yesterday I did, I like to run all 4 Newton Hills and get a teeny tiny miniscule sense of the satisfied feeling the marathon runners must have when they crest at the top of Heartbreak Hill (minus, of course, the dehydration, shin splints, blisters, road rash, glycogen depletion and the like). This area is where I used to stand as a spectator growing up, and I can still remember the awe I felt at watching the runners pass – pained, but determined. So determined.

I’m planning to sign up for a marathon in 2013, and though it won’t be Boston, it sure is fun to run a part of the course. I’m hoping that if I ever get there someday, I’ll be able to tap into my memories of these happy, relaxed runs up the Newton Hills to psyche myself through them.

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6 thoughts on “Well, I Love That Dirty Water…

    • The crowds are awesome in that stretch. I grew up in Newton and went to BC, so cheering on Comm Ave on Marathon Monday was as much an annual tradition for me as fireworks on the 4th of July. I do bow down to all who have climbed that set of hills after 17.5 miles of running (and especially immediately following the downhill from Wellesley – ouch!).

      • I ran Boston with a sinus infection and bronchitis. Not fun. I knew if I could make it to Wellesley, then Heartbreak, the crowds would carry me to the finish line — and they did! Despite being sick, it was a great experience.

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