It was only a little over a days run through New Hampshire from Kitterly to the Massachusetts state line. First I had to run through Portsmouth a large New Hampshire city. Today I decided I would follow Googlemaps advice and just plotted out my route for the next 3 days to Hudson, Ma. A distance of something like 135km/ 85 miles. I ran over the bridge in Portsmouth that had a no pedestrians sign. Luckily there was nobody in the guard booth, probably due to the holidays.
The Googlemaps route proved to be a great success. I had selected ‘ no highways ‘ I was taken on secondary country roads past expensive looking houses and exclusive golf clubs on and on towards small picturesque towns with English sounding names like Exeter and Northampton. The directions say things like go two miles and turn left onto Old Post Road and take 1st right onto US111 till you see a turn for route 38 south. Its idiot proof, surely even Tony proof.. I am thinking about cutting outs some of the major cities from my route and travelling across small town America. I am excited by that thought.
I was in a very giddy mood as I passed an ice cream dairy farm. I actually considered stopping and asking if I could sleep on the farm! It would not have taken much for me to be persuaded into taking a rest month there
As I passed by the ice cream dairy farm I was pushing Nirvana up a hill with my head down. I was having a Fr. Doughall moment from the comedy tv series Fr Ted. I imagined a monster Black Forest Gateaux ice cream chasing me up the hill! This terrifying thought had my tongue hanging down to the road as I waved goodbye to my chance of a lifetime. I imagined I was being smacked in the face by a Cherry Garcia…. Oh Yes! And told to get back to the farm…. Tony you need some fattening up
Eventually I got to the top of the hill and escaped my ice cream monster tormentors.
I ran on and on and came to Kingston just before dark. The first store I came to was called the Kingston Village Market. I went inside far away from my creamy demons. I closed the door.Hugged the doorway. Three young people at a table looked at me in silence. Am I safe now I wondered. Irene the clerk looked me straight in the eye and said….. ”Young boy. Let me treat you to a slice of pizza and coffee! ”
” Oh no! The monsters are in here too! ”
God! I am never far from food…. I cant stop thinking about it or stop eating it! I don’t know how many calories I am burning up… Don’ know how people count them up or even how they have the time to. I think I have lost about 3 or 4 kilos or just under 8 lbs. Am down to around 65 kilos 142 lb. But not underweight… Am strong eating every bit of junk I can get my hands on….Whats Happening? Am I pregnant? Well I got the baby stroller anyway.
Thanks Irene. I select a slice of pepperoni. Then she motherly gives me a second, goes behind the deli counter and makes me a big ham and cheese roll. She won’t take a penny.
There are 3 young lads barely out of their teens sitting at a table. In another situation one may think they would be up to some devilment but they speak nice and softly like good lads.
I tell them I think its nice to see young lads sitting in a store drinking coffee and not in a field doing drugs or alcohol.
” No sir we would never do anything like that. ”
I believe them. It turns out one is a volunteer fireman. He gives me his card as they leave.
Irene is on the phone calling the local author who is as she says a ’ very interesting man. ‘
Very Interesting Man is going out for the night and unavailable and not very interested in me. Next Irene calls Pastor Thomas from the church across the road and leaves a voicemail message. I hand her the volunteer fireman card. Just then her phone rings. Its her son. She says this is her sons shops and she works here only two days a week. She also lives in her sons house. Her son seems eager to have me. He tells his kids and they are excited by my imminent arrival. Problem is Irene doesn’t finish work for another two hours and the son has some kind of an appointment later that evening. He seems keen to help but it seems to be a bit messy. Then the phone rings again and its Bill a senior fire officer on the phone offering me a place in his place. So I have Bill on the phone talking to to me and I am also talking to Irene having said yes and I am embarrassed by the dual offer.
So Bill comes over to the store while I am still stuffing my face in pizza and the ham and cheese sandwich.
Then I tell him.. ” Thanks Bill but I already said yes to Irene’s son and family.”
Bill says. ” No worries. ”
Then Irene says…. ” But are you sure? We don’t really mind Tony please do what you think is best! ”
I bring Nirvana into the store and place her beside the pizza display machine. We take photos, have a laugh and I go off to Bills place……. Decisions!
Irene and Bill the fireman beside the pizza machine.
Back in Bills house his wife, Nathalie has a delicious bowl of pot roast stew.
They both have to start work early and I am rolling at 7.15 which is a new record for me. I run for a couple of hours and stop for coffee in a service station. An hour is gone in no time. I suspect I fell asleep while sitting at the table for about half an hour. I see the clerk looking over and smiling at me when I open my eyes and am too embarrassed to ask her. She just tells me to get another coffee…. So I figure I did.
I run along route 111 and then just after it turned into 38 I met Glen from the Greater Lowell Road Runners. Glen is the president of the club. He is retired and was out removing signs for a race they had over the holidays. I gave Glen Nirvana to stick in the back of his pickup and ran the last 8 miles/ 13km to Lowell. Glen went on ahead to their clubhouse to put on the heating. I would be staying there tonight. Just before the city limits he returned to run with me the rest of the way.
I spent a very pleasant evening out for dinner with a few of the runners. They are a great bunch of lads. One of them EJ is a bit of a nutter. He has told me he took the day off work tomorrow so as he can run the 27 miles to Hudson.
” So how you getting home EJ? ”
” I don’t know and I don’t care! ”
I loved his attitude. We make arrangements for him to call over for me at 9am. They go home early and I am working on the computer for 3 hours on the bars wi-fi.
Out with the Greater Lowell Road Runners.
The room they gave me to sleep in had no windows. Their club house consists of a couple of rented rooms upstairs in a running shoe shop.
I had slept on a matress and because there were no windows there I overslept till a few minutes before nine. I remembered EJ was coming over so I jumped out of bed pulling on my running tights. Sure enough he was sitting outside on a step. He had no key and I guess had I slept a little longer he would have thought I had departed early.
So we were about an hour late departing. Just as we were locking up Fil came along to run a few miles with us as he had to work later.
We eventually ran out of the mill city of Lowell which was one of the centers of America’s Industrial Revolution, along with Manchester NH and other towns that were powered by the mighty Merrimack River. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lowell_Mill_Girls
We ran on for another hour at a good steady clip. Then we were joined by Jessica who had no problem using the alternate facilities when the ladys room was locked at the service station!
” Hey EJ…. Should I report it on my blog? ”
” Naw Tony don’t! ”
Then it was just down to EJ and me running on towards Hudson where my aunt Marie and uncle Frank Mangan live. Ej was a bit surprised when around lunchtime I asked to stop in a Dunkin Donuts for a break! This aint like any other long run you will make for your Boston marathon EJ!
So we stopped and called Marie. EJ was talking to her. I didn’t want to know the details of the route. Today he was the navigator and baby pusher… I was taking the day off.
We ran on again.
” Hey Tony! Do you know what Maynard’s famous for? ” he asked as we approached the new England village.
” Wine gums ” I said in all seriousness.
” No It’s The Mill, now known as Clocktower Place it was the international headquarters of Digital Equipment Corporation. DEC was one of the state’s and New England region’s largest employers.” Said EJ in a rare serious tone.
” Oh Yeah…. And what about the winegums? ”
” Do you know that in 1977 Ken Olsen, the founder and CEO of Digital Equipment Corporation, said….”
“There is no reason for any individual to have a computer in his home.”
The Mill would later become the home of a little startup called monster.com.
We later ran by a daycare center which was previously home to a notorious and ingenious method of controlling young children. Just duct tape the kid to the wall. The center is operating under a different name these days….. (http://articles.latimes.com/2000/mar/26/news/mn-12753 , you just can’t make this stuff up!
The Boys Are Back In Town
So we got to the other side of Maynard as just as I was forgetting about the winegums who pulls up in front of me and blocks the road for oncoming traffic. My uncle Frank actually parked in the middle of an intersection and jumped out of his Mazda 7 seat passenger vehicle to give me a big hug!
” Nephew…. he says
” We are so proud of you!”
Is this the SWAT team roadblock looking for the winegums?Or my uncle Frank? I think it runs in the family!
On we run and arrive at Maries house about an hour later. It’s a major effort to get EJ in for a cup of tea. He wants to run all the way back to Lowell!
He comes in eventually and Marie makes the tea. As luck would have it Glen was in the area on business and just happens to phone EJ to see how the run went. So Glen comes over and gives EJ a ride back home.
We arrive at my aunt Marie's house.