126 down, 419 to go

Thought I’d give up on that wacky “I’m going to run every road in Marlborough while I train for the Boston Marathon” idea? Well, I didn’t.  Here’s an update:

– Five hundred and forty five named roads make up the City of Marlborough, Massachusetts.  When I first concocted this admittedly odd quest, a quick count showed my go-to run routes took me down only 39—a paltry seven percent of the borough’s asphalt.  [A note to Heidi, who found mathematical errors in a recent post and called ’em out in the “comments” section: this time I let Xcel do the division.  Caveat: it’s a coin toss as to which is worse—my Xcel or my freestyle math. Please double-check me again  : ) ]

– Since I set this goal on January 20th, I’ve run 87 complete “new to me” roads—bringing my marathon training total to 126, which is something just north of 23% of my hometown’s thoroughfares (insert math disclaimer here). 

Here are two snapshots of my map:

Green = routes run Oct. – Dec 2010
Yellow = January 2011 additions
Blue = Feb 2011 additions

as of January 20th 2011


as of February 10th 2011


– Like all good games, this one has its ground rules.  For instance, since the goal was to “run Marlborough” during my marathon training, I could not “count” roads run prior to my acceptance on the Miles for Miracles/Children’s Hospital Team on October 18th 2010. So despite all those “Dairy Queen runs” the teenage CJ did with the MHS girls X-C team circa 1984-1988, I couldn’t highlight that swath of East Main Street until the 40-year-old CJ had run it. (Sadly, the 40-year-old CJ couldn’t stop for a cone with that oh-so-yummy chocolate dip like she did in high school—DQ was closed for the season, icicles and snow drifts giving new meaning to the poster advertising the famously yummy “Blizzard” treat.)

– Another rule: I can’t officially cross off a road until I’ve run it in its entirety.  So while most of East Main is colored in on my map—the DQ section got colored in after one run, the CVS/Price Chopper section on another day—I haven’t been able to officially cross the whole street off my master list as I’ve yet to run the tenth of a mile between Lincoln and Church.  Some 20 roads fall into this frustratingly close-but-no-cigar category. Damn, whoever made up these rules sure is a stickler! : )

– A note to the city’s road namers: shouldn’t Short Street be fairly short?  Shouldn’t Lover’s Lane be fairly secluded? Not that I doubt your judgment but…well…yeah, I kinda doubt your judgment. Sorry ’bout that.

– A note to the city’s cartographer: gimme a call, dude. Several roads you show as through streets are in reality dead ends (e.g. Greenwood Street) or don’t go quite as far as you seem to think (e.g. Beaman ends at Stow and does not extend all the way to Thomas—unless it runs right through a very nice home’s living room).  A handful of well-established streets (Lamarre, Kenney, Bellows and Marien, to name just a few) do not even exist in your world.  Fear not: I’m keeping a running list of all errors for your edification : )

– Don’t believe I’ve run all these roads? Click here for far more information on each run than any human on the planet will ever care to peruse.

– I’ve achieved the bulk of my new-road-collection thusly: pick a section of map that is under-highlighted, drive to it, run my trainer-prescribed distance for the day while my Garmin collects the data for future analysis.  I’ve contemplated more scientific approaches.  For instance, a recent article in the Main Street Journal said the city’s snow removal team has divvied Marlborough up into 13 salt routes covering major roads and 19 sand routes that hit all the smaller streets; a quick call to the DPW might provide me with a gameplan to finish off my Run Marlborough project in much shorter order.  However, I kinda like the fly-by-the-seat-of-your-running-tights approach. Plus, there are already a plethora of people in this city who think I’m wacky; I see no reason to add the staff of the DPW to that growing list. Yet. 

– The New England weather is not cooperating.  For example, this past weekend’s long run could have nabbed me dozens of Drives, Courts, Circles, Ways, and Paths; instead I was relegated to a dozen gerbil-like laps in the relative safety of the high school parking lot.  Lafreniere, Poirier, Lafreniere, Poirier—that’s all I did.  For two hours, 21 minutes and 13 seconds. If you don’t believe me, here’s the file to prove it : )

– I’ll miss out on another primo road-collecting opportunity this weekend: my long run on February 12th won’t be a solo Tour de Marlborough but will instead be accomplished with my teammates on the Boston Marathon course itself.  Yep, the Children’s Hospital Miles for Miracles Team will convene in Natick and run the final 17 miles of the Boston Marathon course together, all the way to the finish line on Boylston Street.  I am super-super-SUPER excited about this on multiple levels, though truth be told I do wish I could run my LSD (remember? Long Slow Distance) twice this weekend as I would lovelovelove to cross off a bunch more roadways.  Don’t worry—I won’t run two 17-milers this weekend; I am crazy, but not that crazy! 

– Four of my final eight (gulp—only eight to go!) pre-marathon long runs will be out-of-city (I’m doing the New Bedford Half Marathon in, duh, New Bedford, Mass.; the Black Cat 20-Miler in Salem, Mass.; one weekend will take me to Cape Cod for my Dad’s birthday where I will likely re-enact my New Year’s Weekend Reach Five Beaches run and then the Children’s Hospital Team 21-Miler will start in Hopkinton and take us over the first 21 miles of the marathon course). So time is a’wastin’ and I need to use my mid-week six-to-eight milers to keep this game of mine afloat.

– My daughters are keenly interested in one aspect of this wacky project: my intent to ask the Marlborough Police Department for permission to run the swath of Route 495 that cuts through the western part of town.  The girls ask me about it each time they inspect my multi-colored map. Ironically enough, my rule-breaking master plan is proving to be an excellent lesson for my girls in paying one’s dues: I tell them I can’t possibly ask to run 495 until I’ve earned the right by running the rest of Marlborough.  : )        

As always, thanks for stopping by and brownie points to you, dear reader, for making it all the way to the very end of my latest rambling missive.  My favorite college journalism professor (the incomparable Larry Tye) once told me that I should put something extra special in the final paragraph to reward readers who stick with me to the very end, don’t bail before the jump page (that was back in the days before iPads, when newspapers had jump pages).  So I leave you with this: between you and me, I kinda doubt I’ll collect all the remaining 419 roads before my Boston Marathon training naturally comes to its logical conclusion on April 18th, 2011.  That’s a whole lotta roads and too little time. So I’ve pulled the trigger and signed up for the Chicago Marathon as well. Yep, I sure do hope my tendons and ligaments are up to this marathoning gig, because they’ll be at it again come October 9th 2011. I may not be able to “Run Marlboro” before Boston, but it’s definitely doable before I’m blown west to the Windy City 🙂

Here’s hoping your local Lover’s Lane is appropriately secluded,

– Christine

About garmin_girl

I'm a 40-something single mother of three--two great human girls and one four-legged Dalmatian banshee--who is hellbent on swimming, biking and running straight through my midlife crisis. Care to tag along? Crazy loves company! ;)
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4 Responses to 126 down, 419 to go

  1. LeAnne says:

    This post was the final nail in your coffin. You are now fully qualified to train for that half Ironman, Ms. Type AAAAA!

  2. gswoodward says:

    I’m flabbergasted by the whole concept but I applaud your resolve. For me simply getting through 16 weeks of marathon training including four 20+ mile runs and a host of other problems is all I can muster. I run the same three loops, 6, 7 or 8 miles in some combination or another for every run. Imagination? Clearly lacking.

    But now I have a change to see CJ – I will be on The Course as well as running the streets of New Bedford!

    Good luck this weekend.

    • Hurrah re: New Bedford, Marathon George! 🙂 My guess is it will be easier to see each other there than on The Course Itself! Just a hunch! If you care to hang around long enough for me to finish, that is 😉

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