Tonight, Ruth and I ran at Casey’s for the first time in a month. Every Thursday night, my club, the Somerville Road Runners, puts on a free 4 mile race through Somerville. We meet at Casey’s, then walk over to the start at the base of Winter Hill.
We’ve been doing it every Thursday without fail, through rain, snow, holidays, and fire (yes, fire) since 1995. At first, the run was hosted out of Khoury’s, a dive bar in East Somerville. After the city finally closed Khoury’s, we moved down the street to Casey’s Pub, a relatively upscale establishment (Khoury’s set a very low bar).
The old course that started at Khoury’s was 4.13 miles long and crossed the busy, multi-lane McGrath Highway twice. The current course is slightly shorter and starts and finishes on the other side of the highway, which makes it safer for everyone. I miss the days when the race started and finished at the door to the bar, especially in the winter.
The run actually started before the club existed. I wasn’t there for the first run, but I was there the night when a bunch of us created SRR over post-run beers at Khoury’s.
Even before the Thursday night run started, there was a “real” race held on the same route, with entry fees, numbers, traffic control, prizes, and a post-race party (of course). The first Summer Steamer (in 1992) was my very first road race. The 20th edition of the Steamer, in 2011, was my first race after I turned 50. The 2011 race was also the last Summer Steamer, which is the sort of thing that makes a runner feel old.
Tonight, like many other nights, I got in extra miles by running the four miles from home to Casey’s before the race. Sometimes I run back after the race, but usually I stick around, hang out in the bar with my friends, and eat free pizza. At Khoury’s, I often (too often) closed the bar after a run, but these days Ruth and I are usually ready to leave while the others are still on their first pitcher.
Casey’s is a good place for a training run. Enough people show up so no matter what pace I choose to run, there’s always someone I can run with. The course starts with the half-mile climb up Winter Hill, and is challenging enough the rest of the way to make for a good workout before it flattens out for the finish.
Since the course goes through urban Somerville, I never know when I’ll have to stop for a light or to dodge some idiot in a car. That uncertainty keeps me from taking my time too seriously, that and the fact that I’ve run the Thursday night course hundreds of times.
Tonight was hot and steamy. It was still in the upper 80s when I left home to run to Casey’s. I cruised through the run in 34:36, slow, but not bad considering my level of enthusiasm for the task in the soupy weather. Afterward, there were Saucony reps at the bar looking for volunteers to wear test shoes. As I expected, they had none that fit me.
(8 mi. run; 148.5#)