My friends in travel over at Where’s My Backpack? have sparked memories of steaming streams, fumaroles and geysers. I’m flipping through photos of a beautiful, energy-efficient land. It’s a timely topic.
Those of us living in the Northeast United States are growing weary of deep-freeze temperatures, comparing notes on fuel prices, watching the electric meter click away, and taking a deep breath before opening the utility bill.
Here is my solution: Move to Iceland. Your energy bill will be $0 (or, um, 0 kr). The land under their feet and the technology aboveground sustains their energy needs. Here, no one will ask you to turn down the thermostat or hit the light switch as you leave a room.
In a more low-tech and time-tested method, the energy from streams fed from the underground heat will bake your bread and cook your lunch.
Finally, get on your feet. Use your personal energy and take a run or a walk in the Laugarnes area on one of the interlinking paths around Reykjavik. It will take you from the Videy Ferry Terminal toward the City Center and link in with other trails as well.
A strip of running path bordered by grass mediums, trees, picnic tables and sculptures,
the river and a lower running path to my right, and wide one-way Front Street on my left, this is my Cheers.
I hear someone call “Hey, Mar…” and see a waving arm out the window, recognizing the vehicle with marathon placards on the tailgate. Several minutes later a light tap on a horn and a wave, my husband on his way to a meeting or, depending on the day, off to pick up the Sunday NY Times.
A trio of young women emerge up a ramp from the lower path. I’m acquainted with two of them and we exchange information on surface conditions on the path.
The cast of characters on that much loved sitcom covered a wide demographic. Runners at my Cheers include surgeons and mailmen, bureaucrats and politicians, fitness instructors and educators. Although many that I recognize along the path and who recognize me are in their 30’s and 40’s, there are plenty of us much younger and much older.
Not everybody knows my name. Like Cheers, there are the background characters. During a mid-day run, I make my way through a tag game among children and teacher out for recess. On a Sunday morning, a few couples walking arm-in-arm to one of the nearby churches. Almost anytime during the day, I will pass the occasional homeless folk.
They along with a few downtown workforce taking a bag lunch and a break in the park, are not the main characters but are a backdrop to my Cheers. I know their faces, they know mine. Add to that tourists who flag me to take their photo with the Susquehanna in the background and the stage set to my Cheers is complete.
I didn’t expect a slice of riverside land would weasel itself into the fabric of my life, but there it is. A place where almost everybody knows my name, and I know their name, their gait, their pace and their friendship. Sometimes it takes a frigid winter morning to know you are at your Cheers.
As expected, dawn on this last day of January brought single digit temps, drifting snow and a windchill well below zero, I’ve rescheduled my long run and taken to the keyboard. It’s about time, since the draft version of my 2015 running plan is stale and outdated.
With the nagging ache of a 2-year old ski injury, I’ve taken a few pie-in-the-sky running adventures off the table for this year in order to concentrate on strengthening my knee and working on alignment, doing what I need to do now to assure that I can continue to say that I am still a runner.
So, what is left for the year? I plan to honor the races I have already registered for, but run them simply as training and enjoyment without a concern for time. By mid-year, I expect to be back full-throttle. In the meantime, here is a scaled back list of possibilities:
February: First up is the Squirrely Tail Twail Wun, a 1/2 Marathon in the woods. I impulsively registered after a January trail run/walk tagging along behind a fellow race director and his cohorts mapping out the HARRC in the Park fall 15K trail race on some of the same trails. Conditions for Squirrely Tail were notoriously bad last year and this year will likely not resemble the snowy but reasonably passable trail of January. This may be a scratch.
Lower Potomac River Marathon, a low-key, low cost Maryland marathon limited to 200 runners. I selected it as an antidote after running New York, the largest marathon in the world, a few months ago. Originally, I also selected it for the likelihood of a good finish time. Now, I’m planning to just take it easy and make it through.
Capital 10-Miler – a run for the Arts - On March 29, I will be race directing the race but I love the course through the Greenbelt and across the Susquehanna bridges and will be running it with race committee members a number of times before race date.
Hmm, seems to be a drought here. A good time to continue working on corrections and rest. I will likely pick up a few 5K’s and 10K’s and find some trail runs or hikes in preparation for ……
Dirty German 50K (really) I signed up for my first ultra, a well-established run and the course is a figure 8. If I decide a 50K is beyond my ability, this may be downgraded to the 25K. We’ll see.
My big plans for June are scuttled by better judgment, with hope for that adventure next year. I’m sure I will find something to fill this space.
National Senior Games in Minneapolis, MN. I will be racing the 10K on July 4 and the 5K on July 6. Qualification for national games is at the state level in even-numbered years. If you’re interested, take a look at your state – or surrounding states – for the competition schedule in 2016. This is a great opportunity to meet and watch some outstanding senior athletes in action. With a minimum age of 50 years, there will be 12,000 athletes attending and competition in more than 20 different sports.
My last trip to Minneapolis was to a conference where my time in the beautiful city was mostly spent in meeting rooms. This time, I plan to enjoy family, the outdoors and some of the many arts venues.
Nothing big planned here, so a great time to get in distance training and throw in a couple of half-marathons. Wild card – I may throw my name in the Chicago Marathon lottery, another opportunity to tie running in with a visit to the Midwest.
Harrisburg Marathon In spite of tempting e-mails from the NYC Marathon warning me I have only xxx weeks left to claim my guaranteed entry before the February 15 deadline, with only a week between the New York and Harrisburg Marathons, I’m saying no. It has been several years since I ran the full Harrisburg Marathon and I want to get at least one in while in the F65-69 AG. This is a wonderfully organized marathon with miles of scenic riverside and neighborhood running.
When I’m not running the full Harrisburg, I volunteer and/or run with a senior relay team, all great alternatives. So, NYC, I’ll see you again another year.
It depends – on where or if I’m traveling. Who knows what the future holds?
Well now, I see sunshine flowing in the window and temps have moved into the high teens. Maybe I’ll get in a mile or two. Gotta run…………
Of the many ports of call during my Enrichment Voyage, Copenhagen was one of the shortest, a mere eight hours from disembarkation to ship’s time. I was fortunate to spend some time with my family in Copenhagen and Aalborg Denmark in the early ’80s. Arriving at the Lengelinie Pier for a brief port stop this time around,
it made sense to avoid any of the castle tours and other sites I had distant and fond memories of. Instead, it was a do-it-yourself walking tour.
My partner in impromptu city strolling this day was Catherine, a travel-loving American ex-pat making her home in London. She also happens to be a fellow blogger who can be found over at the Blue Marble. Catherine and I became acquainted during our tour of the Baltics. Though less than half my age, we discovered one of the many traits we have in common is a preference for seeing port cities on foot. This day, according to my Garmin, we walked 8.6 miles exploring Copenhagen’s streets.
On this overcast, drizzly day, we hopped indoors to do a walk-through visit to Georg Jensen. To call this a store somehow doesn’t do it justice. Georg Jensen rises to the level of a museum where the beautiful designs are for sale. Here for me, there is no desire to buy, to own. Simply experiencing the clean lines, the aesthetic design that seems to transcend time is enough. Should you be in Copenhagen, save an hour or so to peruse the exquisite lines of their jewelry and home products.
With long, sometimes dreary days, the bright energy of color takes the gray edge off a busy retail street. Likewise, the bikes that make their way through traffic and line store walls offer sunshine colors.
Outdoor restaurants similar to this one dot the streets. Across Scandinavia, al fresco dining casually or elegantly is a way of life. I love the cozy, colorful throws that are provided with the seating, saving diners from the chill of a sudden breeze.
Before sprinting up the gangplank, we popped into the port shopping area. The facade gives the incongruous appearance of second rate shopping, particularly after our stroll down the Strøget. Don’t be fooled. There is some excellent shopping behind those cluttered windows.
And like ocean-going birds, we too return to open waters destined for the North Sea.
When the calendar says January and the thermometer says 10℉ what is a runner to do? Well, most of us sign up for an early spring race, which then motivates us to get out in the cold (or in the worst of circumstances grab a treadmill).
Then, others of us decide to build and direct an early spring race. And while we’re at it, let’s use our passion for running to feed another passion – we make that race a benefit for some local arts organizations. Let’s call it the Capital 10-Miler – a run for the arts.
Perfecting a 10-mile course requires running it numerous times with other runners just to ensure we have it right. Through ice, snow and bone-chilling cold, that course becomes one of the distance training runs for you and many others. Running the 10-mile course through the winter with winds whipping down the Susquehanna River prepares us for our spring marathons. It becomes an annual ritual.
Then suddenly, it’s five years later and you’re still directing that 10-mile race and raising funds for nonprofit arts organizations. So, on this frigid morning, I’m thinking of our upcoming fifth race and the number 5 appears as an arts image, the Figure 5 in Gold. And why not? The artist Charles Demuth was a local guy from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania – just down the road. He made his mark and many friends in the exciting New York art world of the 1920’s.
But back to 2015 Harrisburg and back to that 5th Annual Race. The Capital 10-miler – a run for the arts – has some talented and tough runners from the Northeast and across Pennsylvania, most returning every spring. We run it as a tune-up for Boston, as a challenge for runners moving up from the 10K distance, and we run and walk it to raise funds to support the talented arts groups that bring refreshing productions to us during our gray winter days and all year long.
Capital 10-miler runners had to be tough to finish last year’s race when sheets of cold rain and high winds drove them to the finish line.
So this year, we’re hoping for a break on Sunday, March 29, with March going out like a lamb, mild temperatures and sunshine. It could happen. If not, we will be there for you at the finish with hot coffee, broth, lots of healthy goodies and good company. Get motivated. Come join us for a 10-mile early spring race with a mostly flat course free of traffic, interesting scenery, dedicated runners and service at our water stops by arts volunteers.
As a final note, since my inspiration today comes from the work of Demuth, I’ll share his inspiration for the work, the poetry of his friend, William Carlos Williams:
The Great Figure
BY WILLIAM CARLOS WILLIAMS
Among the rain
I saw the figure 5
on a red
to gong clangs
and wheels rumbling
through the dark city.
With that vision, Williams could have been with me on one of my early morning training runs through Riverfront Park along the Susquehanna.
What inspires you? If it’s a spring 10-miler, you can find us on Active.com.
I doubt that it was done intentionally, but I so appreciate that several of my Midwest relatives selected homes near bike paths and rail trails. As an overnight guest, I can slip out the door in the early morning and within a few blocks, I’m on a path.
So it was Christmas morning when I took to the quiet streets. A usually busy inter- section was nearly deserted. I crossed and found my way to the Hononegah Path. No snow to run through this year as the weather was eerily warm.
There was little time for more than five or six miles today so this 3+ mile path was perfect. Another time and another visit, I will add on one of the connecting trails identified by Rails to Trails Conservancy.
I notice that the small horse farm that backs onto the trail is for sale. Here’s hoping it stays pasture land. The pessimist in me encourages taking a good look as I will likely see ongoing residential construction next visit.
The entrance to the Forest Preserve was open although camping is closed for the season. The area was quiet with the exception of the footfall of a few other runners who had made their dash out the door before the day’s action got under way. They were joined by a couple of dog walkers, birds calling across the trees, and dried underbrush rustling in the wind.
Answering my title question upfront: Black is the new bad when worn at night without reflective material anywhere there is vehicular traffic.
I’m saddened by three recent reports of people over the age of 65 killed in pedestrian/auto accidents. Two I knew personally; one a neighbor who power-walked past my home almost daily, the other a former colleague and community volunteer. To my knowledge, none of the three were runners. I don’t know the details of the accidents but I do know under any circumstances vehicles and people are not an even match.
So why am I telling you this on a blog post primarily about senior runners? Because it dawned on me that I, and I suspect you, don’t take adequate precautions when we are are not in running mode.
Out the door for a run anytime of day or night, we are in safety green or day-glo yellow. At dusk or dawn, we are wearing headlamps, flashing red lights and those bizarre but effective neon circle lights. But dear fellow senior runner, what are you wearing when you step out during the holiday season? Is it that little black dress that you can still get away with because you are a runner and in great shape? Are you out for happy hour in bluejeans, black knee-length boots, maybe a dark fleece jacket to shield you from the evening cold? Black gloves? Uh-huh, I thought so.
Are we as attentive when out in the evening socially as we are when running? On a run, I find I can still do a fast ditch-dive when a vehicle comes too close. My antennae are on alert. Do I have the same level of caution crossing streets when out socially in the evening? Honestly, no.
When we walk across a dimly-lit parking lot on our way to a holiday concert, to church, to a restaurant to gather with friends, is a driver likely to see us in dark colors – before it is too late?
Probably not the driver on their cell phone, not the driver talking to soothe a tired child, not the driver hurrying to a store before it closes. Even the driver with brilliant attention and quick reflexes may not spot us in time.
I’m taking my own advice here and please join me. Black is a great evening color and without it my closet would be nearly bare, but the fatal accidents of late have convinced me that it won’t hurt a bit to keep something lightweight and reflective tucked in my purse or pocket ready to add when in dark areas.
Please be safe out there and when taking in holiday events with family and friends or when crossing a street in the evening. Use the same precautions used when out for a pre-dawn run.
We are approaching the year’s shortest day and longest night, with sunset tonight at 4:43 p.m.
Stay safe and healthy. Peace.