Running to Heyerly’s bakery for a donut has been on my “bucket list” for at least a couple of years, but the distance — it’s a 13.66-mile round trip if I go the back way to avoid a busy highway — was daunting, especially because I knew this was a run I’d probably have to do on my own.
But one morning last week I sensed the time had come. The weather was perfect: cold but sunny, with little wind. And after several low-mileage days just to keep my Runner’s World Holiday Run Streak intact, I was itching to go long. I cleared my schedule, wrapped a couple of soccer socks around my face and neck (since I couldn’t find my usual scarf), tucked a couple dollar bills in my waist pack, and hit the road.
Earlier in the week I’d been feeling a twinge in my lower leg that I‘d thought might derail my hopes of getting this run in before the end of the year. This morning it felt more like a tickle than a twinge, and it faded altogether by the time I made the turn north onto the Norwell school road.
That’s also when I realized it wasn’t quite as cold as I thought. I took the soccer socks off before I hit the 2-mile mark and tied them to my waist-pack.
Besides money and my cell phone, I’d stuck a juice box and half a chocolate PB2 sandwich in there. I’ve been experimenting with taking a snack on longer runs with good results. It might be more a mental thing than an actual need for fuel, but it’s been a nice boost and I didn‘t want to leave home empty handed this time, even with the prospect of a donut or maybe a frosted Christmas cookie at my bakery turnaround point.
The funny thing was, now that I was finally doing this for real, I wasn’t even sure if I wanted this long-awaited sugar bomb reward. I’ve been cutting way back on sugar, going days at a stretch without, and other than occasional flare-ups — like coveting that corner piece of Heyerly’s cake at Brent and Darcy’s baby shower — my cravings had mostly subsided.
I thought again about Janel’s gorgeous gingerbread cookies at the Isch Christmas a few days earlier, the first time I can recall admiring something sweet without feeling an overwhelming desire to consume it.
Was it possible I could make this stop at Heyerly’s and just admire the cookies as if they were miniature works of art? Kinda like stopping in at the post office to get a look at the pretty Christmas stamps?
I’ve imagined making this run so many times, and now as I churn through this 3½ mile stretch to the road leading the last 2 miles into Ossian, I feel suddenly curious about what I’ll do when I finally get to the bakery. Will I buy a cookie? Or just take a picture of one?
And if I do buy one, what will I do to keep my change from jingling in my waist-pack? I imagine walking across the street to the library — hey, that would be a good place to use the bathroom — and using my change to pay on whatever overdue fines I’ve accumulated recently.
But the closer I get — now that I’ve made the turn, and can see the town water tower, I feel drawn like a magnet — the more I think I’ll hit the bathroom first. I run right up the to the door, but the library’s busy enough that nobody pays much attention to me. Which is a good thing, given that I‘ve got socks flapping from my waist pack.
I feel a little tingle when I open the bakery door. Maybe I always do, a little rush of anticipation, but it’s different this time. This isn’t just a sugar fix; it’s an experience. I feel like I’m watching myself in a movie.
There are three kinds of frosted sugar cookies. A santa, a Christmas tree, and a blue tree ornament. They’re cute, and look tasty, but none are as pretty as Janel’s gingerbread leaves. And none of them sound as appealing right now as that chocolate PB2 sandwich in my waist pack. I’d like to take a picture of one, but I feel silly enough as it is without asking the lady behind the counter to take out a cookie just so I can shoot it with my cell phone.
Maybe I could buy one and carry it back in my waist pack for Colleen? All that frosting would smear, though. Then I spy the ginger bread men. As big as my hand. Minimal icing. These look much more appealing. I could definitely imagine eating one. But the idea of carrying one back home and then presenting it to Colleen when I pick her up from school — she’d asked me to bring her a snack as she left this morning — is too hilarious to resist.
I snap a “before” picture, then carefully fold the cookie in its bag and zip it into my waist pack. I drink my apple juice, eat my sandwich, and start the nearly 7-mile run for home.
I’m glad this is such an easily chunked-up run. Just a 2-mile run to the first turn. Just a 3 ½ mile run to 224. Just a mile and change to our house. It’s slower going back than heading out, but my legs feel decent. And it’s fun to imagine Colleen’s reaction to my passenger.
When I take the ginger bread man out after I get back, he’s suffered only a cleanly broken leg. Amazing.
And Colleen gets a huge grin when I deliver her treat — and the story that stars this particular gingerbread man.