Still a Runner

A Blog by Mary Lou Harris

Restless on Independence Day

This July 4th post doesn’t have any fireworks, not even an explosive topic.IMG_1047 I’ve simply been musing about the need to move about, to travel, to explore. Is it just me, or do I share this with most Americans?

We seem to be restless people. Since many of us are descendents of folks who picked up their worldly belongings and headed across an ocean or a landmass, it’s no surprise that the travel bug can create that restless itch in us. It may have begun with a need for freedom, a route out of poverty or a place to belong, but the restlessness persists. It may continue with the simple need to keep moving, whether through travel vacations that temporarily satisfy the bug, or through permanent relocations.

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Hiking with my brother through South Dakota meadow.

Does our work life demand travel or do we invent other reasons? Currently, other than friends and family connections there is no need for me to travel. That said, I can always find a rationale to keep moving and poke my curious nose into the corners of this country and beyond. I may be traveling to visit relatives, but I can usually  find a way to explore something new along the way or at destination.

I may travel to run races, but will always bank in several days to explore a path, a city, a state, or country new to me. There are perfectly fine races of almost every distance within a 20-mile radius of my home.

Finishing a Canadian 10K

Finishing a Canadian 10K

Yet, I travel across the country and beyond to races from a 5K to a mara- thon. I’m placing the blame for this restlessness that drives the spirit squarely on my brave and adventurous ancestors. Along with blaming them, I thank them for it.

I expect many Americans8580479-u-s-american-flag-in-front-of-a-blue-sky are traveling this week to be with friends and family and to share with their children the many wonders of the road.

Safe travels to all and a Happy 4th.

 

 

Losing my Sole in Stockholm

 

Events at any destination, even cities as beautiful and inviting as Stockholm, can bring disappointments, some of the traveler’s own making.

A Stockholm Sunday in the Park

A Stockholm Sunday in the Park

This was doubly true for my visit. The first disappointment came a month or two before departure when I took a detailed look at my itinerary. My “eureka” cry upon noticing that we would be arriving in port the morning of the Stockholm Marathon, was squelched when I hopped over to the marathon’s website.

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Stockholm Marathon runners – I’m not one of them. Lesson learned: She who hesitates in scrutinizing travel itinerary gets shut out of race registration.

In large, blaring type were the two words no runner wants to see: REGISTRATION CLOSED.

On this Stockholm Sunday, my closest connection to their marathon came as I sat with other travelers, caught up in traffic that wasn’t moving, straining to  see the mass of runners several blocks ahead while listening to fellow passengers complain about the inconvenient delay caused by these crazy marathon runners.

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Walking trail near archeological dig of Viking cemetery

The second disappointment of the day came on a grassy lane, looking at a recently dug archeological site somewhere between Vellentuna and Täby.

As we walked on wet grass and soil, I felt an unfamiliar flop underfoot. The sole of the my left shoe had parted ways with the upper. This was no ordinary shoe.

A lost sole

A lost sole

I was looking at the disintegration of my favorite travel shoe purchased roughly ten years ago at the Plum Bottom. I have worn them on many a journey, walking miles a day over cobblestone, broken pavement and city thoroughfares in comfort.

This shoe was made by Stonefly. I don’t see the model on their current website (10 years is a long time in fashion years). I’m sure I paid a princely sum at purchase, but amortized over years worn, they are a bargain. This is a shoe that is waterproof, sophisticated enough for the city, can make the leap from sightseeing to a dressy lunch and have the comfort of a sports shoe.

With weeks of travel to go, I was relegated to walking my way through European cities in my Brooks Ravenna,Unknown a model I chose for travel because it does a double duty for light trail running and road running. It is not my preference in the city.

My damaged Stonefly’s are back home and sitting on the shelf. I’ve avoided taking them to my shoe repair, not wanting to hear that they are beyond help. Maybe next week.

Not bad in appearance after 10 years of hoofing around the world.

Not bad in appearance after 10 years of hoofing around the world.

And, maybe a new model Stonefly for the next 10 years of travel.

Wishing you a good Fitness Friday with your soles intact.

 

 

 

A Brief Jog In the Arctic Circle

The occurrence of summer solstice earlier this week continued the cat and mouse game I have been playing with the sun. During the Iron & Ice Voyage, we bopped back and forth between time zones while continuing north. Daylight hung around way past my bedtime. This was a trip to leave the Vitamin D capsules at home. The most extreme daylight was June 10th with a sunset at 0022 and June 11th with a sunrise of 0150. Then, heading south from Iceland toward Northern Ireland, it seemed odd to see the sun setting near 10 p.m.

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Leaving port at Akureyri

Leaving the Icelandic harbor of Akureyri on the 25th day of our voyage, we were to sail into the Arctic Circle before heading south to Belfast.  Although I had a few days on land early in the trip and many days in port, I still found that 25 days on an ocean voyage had me occupying some odd thoughts. Like, what would my Garmin record if I were running on the sea in the Arctic Circle?

My Garmin has become a hybrid travelogue, something between photos and a travel journal. I don’t bore family and non-running friends with this, but downloads that record the paths, bridges, and coastlines of travel runs and races around the world elicit wonderful memories.

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My mini-track

So, after briefly joining a party raising glasses to our entry into the Arctic Circle, I slipped away to my cabin to retrieve running shoes and Garmin, then made my way to the upper deck. A couple of other passengers enjoyed the quiet there. Even so, I found a sense of personal solitude in the chilly air. In the distance, whales would sporadically surface off the port sideI pushed the power button on the Garmin. It found satellites immediately. Beginning with a fast walk, then a jog out and back on the short area on deck. I glanced at the Garmin. It was registering about a tenth of a mile for my every step. Running on a moving ship was improving my pace significantly.

Returning to my cabin later in the evening, I downloaded the inflated results onto my laptop. The map doesn’t scream “Arctic Circle,” but results do show we were in the Greenland Sea, which is within the Arctic Circle.  

Not from my Garmin download

Not from my Garmin download

If there is a point to this post perhaps it is that runners who are generally obsessive can become more obsessive when at sea.

Are you having summer adventures with equally obscure thoughts? I’d love to hear about them.

Return from a Voyage of Iron & Ice

I’ve been on a journey. Yes, I know, all of life is a journey. But this was a particular journey,IMG_0163 a voyage including stops at some of the most sought after ports and some off the radar of many travelers. From the previous Iron Curtain countries with their mix of the industrial and the pastoral, followed by the ice of those in the northern climes IMG_0693where daylight seemed eternal, I let the history, sights, food, and people of new countries and the knowledge of fellow travelers soak in.

UnknownA lack of access to the internet during much of this voyage helped keep my head in the journey. I reached the point of attending only to messages that were urgent or time-sentitive.

This voyage took us to multiple and varied ports on the Kiel Canal, the Baltic, North, Greenland, Irish and Celtic Seas as well as the Atlantic Ocean. We explored harbors, cities and villages, each distinct in its flavor and in my memory.

There are many stories to tell. I don’t expect they will appear in any particular order, but will be interspersed with my reentry to the local running scene.

IMG_0728Now it’s time to catch up with all of you and your tales during my absence. A voyage ends, another journey begins.

Blog Break – Words of Wisdom from the South

Words of wisdom this week come from Diane Nyad, writer, speaker, athlete, and after many attempts became the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida without a shark cage.

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photo credit: the guardian.com

I believe endurance grows and we can never discount the mental…the powers of concentration and perspective of what it all means. What you are capable of is infinitely higher at this age [64] than when you are a young twenty-something.

Speaking as someone who was 56 years old before developing the focus to complete training for a marathon, Diane Nyad’s words ring true. Something to contemplate while I’m taking a break: where do the scales of ability and mental toughness balance?

Blog Break – Words of Wisdom from the East

This week’s quote comes from Maine native Joan Benoit Samuelson, a gold medal olympian and multiple marathon winner setting records along the way.2f53a6cb8d1bda7f3d66365bf81c5048_0

When I first started running, I was so embarrassed I’d walk when cars passed me. I’d pretend I was looking at the flowers!

 

Now a speaker and author, Samuelson continues to set records. Her time of 2:50:29 in the 2013 Boston Marathon is the fastest marathon ever run by a woman in the 55-59 age group.

Blog Break – Words of Wisdom from the North

Our words of wisdom this week come from Olympian and 1980 Boston Marathon winner, Jacqueline Gareau. A fellow member of the age group 65-69, Gareau continues to race, to conduct training and running workshops, speaking engagements and is a massage therapist in Sainte-Adèle, Quebec.Unknown

The body does not want you to do this. As you run, it tells you to stop but the mind must be strong. You always go too far for your body. You must handle the pain with strategy…It is not age; it is not diet. It is the will to succeed.

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