6 Reasons I’m Head Over Heels for Boston’s Running Paths

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In a perfect world, I’d live near a river. That river would be long and wide, with tree-lined pathways and bridges connecting one side to the other. And there’d be people. Loads and loads of people at all hours of the day. Runners. Bikers. Walkers. Rowers. Out there solo. In groups. Whatever.

Welcome to Cambridge, the place I’ve come to quickly call home.

When Noah and I decided to move to Boston, we had to make a few important choices. The first was where to live, and I had no idea where to begin. There was Beacon Hill — a young, hip neighborhood with small streets and lots of brownstones. There was the Back Bay, where you can dine on $35 lobster rolls at lunch before hitting up Chanel. And there was Cambridge — in reality, a fairly large area with many neighborhoods, but to the uninitiated like myself, it was just one big clump on the map.

From what I had heard, Cambridge was residential. It was clean. It was quiet. And it was great for runners. This quickly became apparent on the weekend of April 15th, both the weekend Noah and I decided to apartment hunt as well as the weekend before the Boston marathon. (Coincidence? I think not.) At any rate, this was what I took away from each neighborhood.

While adorable and quaint, Beacon Hill felt claustrophobic. And, you know, as a lazy runner … there were wayyyy too many hills.

Back Bay’s sweeping streets certainly wooed me, but given that I intentionally moved away from New York real estate two years ago, it felt like it might break the bank.

Cambridge, for me, was the Goldie Locks of communities. And it was in Cambridge, after looking at about six properties and scarfing down a buttery lobster sandwich…

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…that we found the unit we’d eventually call home.

Today, for the last two months, and for what I hope to be years to come, I live just five blocks from the Charles River — that dream-like runner’s path I described just moments ago. Here are the six reasons I’ve fallen head over heels for it.

1. So. Many. Options.

On any given morning, I can turn right and run toward Harvard, or I can go left and make my way into Boston. On mornings when I have even more time, I can do both. The river runs in both directions, and neither is better than the other. Whether I choose to stay in Cambridge or venture into more urban surroundings, there is beauty everywhere.

2. Bridges over pristine water.

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This is one of my favorite parts of living near the Charles; there are bridges every half mile or so, which makes it easy to extend (or shorten) any run. If I get to the end of a run but feel like I have enough energy to go longer, I can — without having to commit to a long out-and-back or an overly aggressive loop. Plus, going back to numero uno, those bridges add variety. And, since I can use both sides of the river, they ensure that I never have to cover the same ground on any single run.

3. The city cares about what it looks like.

Much like Philadelphia, Boston does a wonderful job of keeping up its parks and rivers. The difference is that Philly was just a lot smaller. From the footpaths of Harvard (and beyond) to the Longfellow Bridge, which connects Beacon Hill to the area near MIT, it’s impeccable. You’ll find boat slips, boathouses, small parks, kid’s pools, kayak rentals, community gardens, quiet docks and even outdoor community gyms (think of it as a playground for adults). No matter where you turn, it feels as though the city has made an effort to be clean and helpful, while keeping everyone in shape.

4. It’s kind of a popular place.

This was one of the things I liked least about running in Philadelphia. It’s not that I didn’t feel safe; it’s just that there were enough incidences in the course of the two years I lived there to make me think twice about my morning run. And more than that, there weren’t a ton of other pedestrians out there on the paths, so if something did happen … well … I don’t really know what I’d have done.

Boston, on the other hand, is known for having a ton of eager beavers out there — dusk to dawn, rain or shine, winter, spring, summer or fall. Of course, come fall, the rowing will come to an end. And I bet you that once it gets snowy, bikers will hibernate too. But runners know no bounds, and I guarantee that come colder months, they’ll be out there in sub-freezing temperatures alongside me.

5. Docks, docks and more docks.

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I had this morning routine in Philly, where I’d stop midway into my run — just after I ran past the first bridge, which leads to the zoo — and stretch. There was something really rewarding about this one stretch of the Schuylkill. To me, it feels as though that’s where the busy part of Philly ends and the quiet bucolic landscape begins.

There’s a bit of that in Boston and Cambridge, but my favorite place to stop and stretch is actually along the river at any one of the many floating docks. More recently, I’ve set up shop near the Mass. Ave. Bridge for three minutes of planking. There’s something about taking a moment to step off of the pathway and onto the river that brings a really unique sense of calm.

6. Shady in a good way.

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The pockets of shade are sooooooooo nice. Especially in a heatwave like this — it has, after all, been above 90 for the last five days and above 70 around the time I typically run at 7am. Without all of those sweet, sweet trees to line the river paths, it’d be nearly impossible to break a sweat without passing out. It’s hot out there, but the breeze and the shady trees make it far more tolerable.

Your turn! Boston or not, what are your favorite aspects of wherever it is you choose to run?

Hello, from Boston (and Around the World)

Hello, from Boston.

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It’s been a while, hasn’t it — and I’d apologize for it, but recently I’ve been making a solid attempt to stop saying sorry for things that 1) I’m not truly sorry for, and 2) that I shouldn’t feel compelled to feel bad about. I have an inspiring blog post from fellow runner and blogger, Ali on the Run, to thank for that.

Life gets crazy, sometimes. And I can promise you that indeed, that last two months have been just that.

Like I said, hello from Boston. For those of you who know me, the first big change you’ll notice is that I’ve moved from The City of Brotherly Love — Philly — to Beantown. It doesn’t have the same ring to it, does it? But rest assured that I am glad to be here. I am settling in. And I can’t wait to explore.

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One of my favorite shots from a morning run here in Cambridge.

But the real reason I’ve been so quiet over the last couple of months is that, in addition to moving, working and settling into a new city, I also took some vacation. Three of them, to be exact. Here’s what I’ve been up to since the start of summer.

Vacation 1: The Hamptons

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Only a few short days after moving six loooong hours north, I hopped on a train back to my old stomping grounds; I went home to Long Island. Memorial Day was spent sun bathing in the Hamptons with my oldest childhood friend. And after dealing with the stresses of moving, that three-day respite was very, very, very welcome.

Vacation 2: France

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Paris, paying respects to the victims of Orlando on the evening after. So classy.

The second stop, just a couple of weeks after MDW, was Paris. Ah, Paris. Even saying the city makes me want to go back right now.

Noah (my hubs, for any newbies here) and I are incredibly lucky on this front; we have family — his brother, sister-in-law and nephew — who live there. And being on the east coast, The City of Light is simply a hop, skip and a plane ride away. Which means any time we want to hang with the family, shop ’til we drop, or fill our stomachs with wine, cheese and croissants, we can. Well, maybe not any time. But we try to go at least once or twice a year. For that, I’m most definitely grateful.

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This picture was taken at 10:30pm after dinner. Amazing how light it stays in Paris so late into the evening.

Because we travel there so frequently, we also don’t tend to go for very long — usually it’s just five days or so at a time. This time was different. With the luxury of time, we snuck of a whole week in, and with it, a two-day excursion to the wonderful, enchanted, wine-filled town of Saint Émilion.

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Never have I appreciated wine to the extent that I did after two absolutely magical lessons, one at Chateau Gaudet and the other at Chateau Fonplegade.

As if that weren’t enough, we also did a billion-course tasting menu (seven to be exact, but I’m pretty sure they added an extra four soufflés in there somewhere) at Logis de la Cadene. If you’re ever in the area, go!

After seven days in France, I had just a week and a half of rest (re: working like a maniac) before we were off again, this time to California for nine days.

Vacation 3: California

Our itinerary on the west coast was even more relaxed than the time we spent in France.

Stop 1: San Fransisco to see friends and Noah’s other brother. Highlights include starting each morning with a short run along the bay…

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Prison running is the best.

…an amazing hike along the Matt Davis trail on Mt. Tam, and dinner at NOPA (apparently not easy to get a reservation, but my brother-in-law is sometimes a BOSS).

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Somewhere along the Matt Davis trail, a hike with many different micro-climates, making it interesting from beginning to end.

Also, I met my first redwood tree.

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Stop 2: San Gregorio for a seriously dope 30th birthday party, complete with a sunset hike (damn you, fog!), a lot of Moscow mules, and the perfect set up for glamping.

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There’s supposed to be a sunset back there. Use your imagination. 

Stop 3: Big Sur for even more glamping. We stayed in yurts at a remote “resort” called Treebones, where we had absolutely no service for two days. We hiked. We read. A lot. It was glorious.

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This picture was taken at Pfeiffer Beach, one of the most naturally beautiful spots I’ve ever been to.

Stop 3.5: Monterey for a quick afternoon at the aquarium — my first ever aquarium experience, and an awesome one at that. My favorite parts? Hands down the otters, octopus and jellyfish.

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One of my favorite shots from a morning run here in Cambridge.

Stop 4: Point Reyes for more hiking and a lovely stay in a cottage on Tomales Bay. One of the hikes took us 10+ miles along the coast…

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Alameda Falls in Point Reyes

…which we washed down with two dozen shuck-your-own oysters on the bay at Hog Island Oyster Co. And by shuck your own, I mean have your husband shuck them all. I really didn’t want fishy hands.

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Stop 5: San Fransisco for our final night. On the way, we stopped at Muir Woods — that famous tourist attraction with trees and stuff. Thankfully, we looked up nearby trails before going, as the actual redwood grove was packed. After spending the previous five days in somewhat remote areas, being surrounded by hordes of people was a major shock. If you’re ever near Muir Woods and looking for a legit hike, check out the Ben Johnson trail. It’s 5.2 miles, boasts a fairly steep climb, and weeds about 99% of the tourists out.

We washed that down with one of our favorite restaurants in the city — Anchor Oyster Bar, the one place I’d been dying to go back to since we last went to California. See below for how happy I was to chow down on a giant crab bowl.

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And here we are. A gray Sunday afternoon after having moved states and taken three vacations, all while putting in full hours at work along the way.

I’m tired, I’m happy, but I’m very much still in limbo. Moving — and getting used to a new city — takes time. I know, because we literally did this two years ago when we moved from New York City to Philly.

Still, I’m eager to finally be able to invest that in Boston. Luckily, I’ve been able to run almost every morning since we moved here, and I already feel like the paths are quickly become second nature. They’re quickly becoming my morning home.