Bostonian Habits, Things to Do

How to Boston: Running the Esplanade

The Charles River Esplanade, Boston’s most expansive park.

Between concerts at the Hatch Shell, the numerous playgrounds for the kids, and fields for sporting events, it’s a great place for Bostonians to escape and catch a view of the Charles. With 18 miles of biking and running paths, it’s a fantastic place for runners to train all year round (thanks to New Balance’s commitment to plowing the path in the winter months.) But the Esplanade is also a source of many headaches for us runners. I hope I’m not speaking for myself when I say that the Esplanade has its own quirks and idiosyncrasies that can throw a monkey wrench into any long training run. To get the most out of those 18 miles of paths, you need to proceed with caution.

So here’s how to run the Esplanade without dying.

  1. Follow the rules of the road: Stay to the right. While hard to see in the snow-covered winter months, the Esplanade’s bike path has a dotted traffic line right down the center. The implied meaning of this line is that everyone should teat the path like a driving lane. You stay to the right hand side of that path, always. If you have to pass a walker or slow runner, pass on their left and give a little “heads up” or “on your left” to warn them. It’s common runner courtesy; it goes a long way. But you better look before you pass…
  2. Watch your back (and your front, sides, and while you’re at it, below your feet too). Unlike the road, there is no speed limit on the Esplanade and bikers take that lack of speed limit quite literally. Many will zip past you at the speed of light without so much as a fleeting “excuse me.” Even worse are those Hubway bikes with crowds of out-of-towners riding them. My favorite, the adjacent pathway-blockers who just simply meander down the middle of the path like they own it. In that case, you have every right to run right between them. Own it, you’re a Bostonian. Also watch out for fellow runners. They may be on your side, but it doesn’t mean they won’t run you down with a surprise pass. Finally, watch where you step. That path is NOT flat.
  3. Check the Esplanade schedule. In the summer, the Esplanade hosts dozens of outdoor events. There’s nothing worse than being on a 3-hour long run to find that the entire path near the Hatch Shell is blocked with hundreds of charity walkers or a massive yoga class. But do take advantage of some of these events when you’re not trying to get your fitness on.
  4. Pick a side. The pathways run on both sides of the Charles – Boston and Cambridge. Both have their positives and negatives. If you’re running the entire length of the bike path (from Watertown to the Museum of Science) your best bet is to run the Boston side until you reach Harvard. Dear God, switch to the Memorial Drive Side at Harvard. Yes, the Larz Anderson bridge construction is awful as awful can be right now, but once you get past Harvard, the Boston side gets narrower and narrower, until you’re pretty much rubbing sweaty elbows with everyone on the path. The stretch between the Western Ave. and River Street Bridge and underneath the BU Bridge is a bike/runner accident waiting to happen. Save your sanity (see #2). Once you get to the Mass Ave Bridge, I encourage you to enjoy the view and cross over to the Boston side again. On that side you will get two bathroom buildings and a lot more water fountains as you enjoy the ride to the Science Museum.

“How to Boston” is an arbitrary series, in which we talk you through those important Boston habits and help you fit in (and how not to get run over by a bicyclist).

Bostonian Habits, Sports Department

adidas Strikes Right Tone with 2014 Marathon Gear

2014 marathon gear

Last night, a sports marketing reporter who likes to tell people they are tweeting wrong was critical of the branded Boston Marathon gear that will no doubt be absolutely everywhere this spring. His comment, that “adidas had the chance to do something powerful” and then the punchline, “Don’t think they did” actually got under my skin a little bit.

I know, it’s the internet and the guy is a known troll who could care less what a small timer like me thinks. In my opinion – you know, as a Bostonian, as a runner – I’m actually quite pleased with the restraint on adidas’ part here, and in fact, the lack of anything different from previous years (where there is a continued rotation of colors with just a simple adjustment to the logo to reflect which number-100th running of the race) is a better tribute that our race, our city, will soldier on unshaken as if nothing has changed.

In fact, had it gone the other way – a big tribute or change with significant marketing speak and code words – I bet that I would have agreed the Paul Lukases and other UniWatchers of the world would have been immediately on the outfitter for exploiting the tragedy of last year.

There will be more than enough tributes this year, and I haven’t had this many feelings about a Boston Marathon since, well, ever. We don’t need a shoe company to join in.

Bostonian Habits, Neighborhoods

Boston Roommates

I think we represent this cross section of Roommate types from apartmentlist.com pretty well on WeLoveBeantown.

I will say that I live in Brighton, and I would like to switch “where I would also live” with “where I avoid”…I’m also terrified of riding bikes in the city… no “fixie” for me… and it will probably take me an hour and a half to get anywhere due to the 57 bus line.

Bostonian Habits, Quickly Around Town

Opening Number: 42.347888

Tilt Shift Trial

These fancy charts and graphs over here don’t mean too much to most folks, but I do believe what they are discussing is the joy that balance of night and day can bring due to the Autumnal Equinox. Of course, Boston is set in the mid-range latitude of 42.3, but the winding streets and variations of said latitude mean we never get a Bostonhenge experience quite like our Manhattanhenge-loving friends down south.

Except for one key area, at least to me: Pikehenge. As the days get shorter and the Sun crosses back towards its lower path, for the next few days the specific stretch of the Mass Pike that runs through Back Bay is almost perfectly aligned come the rush hour morning commute. That stretch of the Pike – coming out of the Copley underpass and up through Kenmore into BU – runs on the 42.347888 line.

The days get shorter, but enjoy the marvel of Pike Henge from the Mass Ave bridge at Hynes. When it comes back in March, we’ll know that spring is on its way.