Still a Runner

A Blog by Mary Lou Harris

HARRC in the Dark runs under a Sturgeon Moon

Taking full advantage of long, beautiful days, this is the third outdoor event in the summer of full moons. This evening’s activity is payback for all the volunteers that make it possible for me to run races .

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Credit: Farmer’s Almanac

Under tonight’s Sturgeon Moon, I am one of the volunteers, spectators, and cheerleaders.

HARRC in the Dark is a 7K race held at 7 p.m., maybe not actually dark but a beautiful sunset at dusk played with colors along the Susquehanna. And, when we finished with awards at the Federal Taphouse it was dark.

Organized by the Harrisburg Area Road Runners Club (HARRC), this 7K has become a staple of summer evening running and socializing. I joined other volunteers from Open Stage of Harrisburg and HARRC at the registration table.IMG_2204 (1).jpg

The race start and finish are on our linear Riverfront Park with the Susquehanna River along the path

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and historic buildings across the street.

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A smallish race with around 200 runners, participants run the gamut from elites to beginners and ages from under 12’s to 80+. 

Temperatures finally fell out of the 90’s for our race but the humidity still made runners work to get to the finish, conditions as we could expect for a late summer evening. Among old friends and new acquaintances, we ignore that humidity to spend time cheering one another on.

I encourage anyone who races a few local races a year to become more involved with your running community. Take a break from running a race to volunteer. You will learn the working of how a race is put together and likely make some stronger friendships in the process.

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The race is run, awards are distributed and volunteers have packed up.

Good night, Sturgeon Moon. No fishing for me tonight, but you did light my way home.

(If you are interested in a bit more about the naming of that Sturgeon Moon hanging in our night sky, I found some interesting background over at cherokeebillie.)

 

Reaching New Heights in Olympic Viewing

This week I have found a way to do almost any chore while watching television. For someone who, with the exception of a movie or two,  can go for weeks without turning on a  television, this week I made a reach for new heights.

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This anomaly is a repeat of my behavior every four years, and every two years to a lesser degree. The Summer Olympics have captivated me for years. Part of it is nostalgia. I remember a year watching  the Olympics with friends who had such enthusiasm, it lit a fire under my mild interest. After another four-year span, I recall kicking back at the midnight hour with the wonderful women in my family watching the women’s gymnastics competition happening on the other side of our world.

Another year I watched solo sharing the big moments with friends and family who were kind enough to share those moments with me over a telephone line.

Then, there were the Atlanta Olympics. A colleague enticed me to join her in participating in security training for the Olympics, spending a week in Atlanta. That experience is worth a separate post, but I will say I learned more about security than I did the Games that year.

There are more than enough reasons to give less of my time to the Summer Games, but the draw to watch remains. It’s as though they reach to me through the screen.

Athletes find themselves competing in less than stellar water, as in Rio, or compete in polluted air, as in China. Still I watch.

Commentators covering the the Games make absurd comments about competitors. Still I watch.

Summer storms knock my satellite coverage out at pivotal moments in competition. Still I watch.

Some of the events are a puzzle to me and I have difficulty following the judges’ decisions. Still I watch.

And here I am with the television humming in the background, watching the last day of swimming, beautiful competitions to watch.

Tomorrow morning, you can find me along with many others watching more than 150 women compete in the Women’s Olympic Marathon.

And where will you be? Watching from an athletic center or health club? Watching at the home of hospitable friends with a large screen tv? Watching solo?  Wherever you are, we will be cheering together.

Looking for the Hay Moon

All of us folk who wander around in the outdoors seems to be particularly enticed by full moons this year.  In June, I was running a Summer Solstice Run under a Strawberry Moon. Last night, I had the option of joining my running club

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for a full moon run or joining my Meetup hiking group for their Trekkin’ Tuesday Workout Hike Full Moon Edition.

So, under this Hay Moon (aptly named as I see farmers putting up hay in fields along my  route to the trailhead) I opted for the workout hike, feeling a need to get back on the trail.

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Our day hiking group mingling with through hikers settling in at Scott Farm for the evening.

 

We hiked a portion of the Appalachian Trail up Blue Mountain, then doing a turnaround before reaching the lookout. We then moved south along the Conodoguinet Creek to Scott Farm Trail Work Center.

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Boardwalk over the Conodoguinet Creek

We tried in vain to spot the Hay Moon on our return to the trailhead. Unfortunately, the moon was hidden by cloud cover.

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Homemade moonpies – what hiker could ask for more?

We didn’t have a view of the Hay Moon, but our trail leaders made up for it with homemade moon pies. It works for me.

 

Hemp Hearts Discovery – they’re new-to-me

Like Columbus claiming to discover the Americas when thousands of people who lived here knew of its existence as did the Vikings who quietly arrived and left centuries before, it seems I am late to the discovery of hemp hearts.

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credit: istockphoto.com

Last week, I ran across hemp hearts as the final ingredient in a chopped salad recipe. Having never heard of it, I called my health food store and yes, of course they carry it. So off I went to pick up this new-to-me ingredient. I happened to buy the brand Manitoba Harvest.

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credit: kelownaceliac.org

With the intriguing name of hemp hearts, they are actually raw shelled hemp seed, with a moist nutty appearance, adding flavor and texture to the salad, but not overwhelming other ingredients.

While adding the texture and flavor, the hemp hearts also added a nutritional component: protein. For someone who eats many meatless meals, this was a great find. Two tablespoons of these little nuggets gets me 7 grams of protein. It also gets me lots of good fats.

Hemp hearts to my diet have become something like those surprise words that pop up. You run across that word the first time in reading not having been familiar with it, and then suddenly that word appears, looking back at you from many other sources.

So now, having made my ‘discovery’ of hemp hearts, they pop out at me here and there. Within a day of trying that salad recipe, I noticed pro triathlete Sarah Kim Bonner includes hemp hearts in her blog’s muffin recipe.

Then on a recent trip to the pharmacy,  I spot hemp hearts right there in the aisle near the energy bars and sunflower seeds. Clearly, I am among the last to add this wonderful food to just about everything – including a tablespoon or so on my morning cereal.

So, fess up readers. Am I the last to discover hemp hearts?

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credit: meganwallacerd.com

Spectating Ironman 70.3 Mont-Tremblant

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Pros beginning the swim course on Lac Tremblant

Occasionally, a day is well spent just watching athletes do what they do. Rather than lining up at the start or supporting a friend through a race, its great just to observe and cheer. 

So it was today when we set out at 7 a.m. to arrive at Lac Tremblant for the 8:00 swim start of Ironman 70.3 Mont-Tremblant. It was warm for an early summer morning when the Laurentian Mountains usually require a light jacket. 

The sparkling, flat surface of Lac Tremblant, helicopter overhead, fighter jets making a pass as the pros made their way into the water, was a beautiful and exciting start.

 

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We stayed at the beach until the 50+ women left the shore (these are my people). From the beach, we walked a trail to the base of Mont-Tremblant where the swim/cycling transition takes place. By the time we reached the transition area, the pros were already on the bike course.

 

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We cheered age-group participants as they emerged from the water, searched for their bike location, made any wardrobe changes and took a bit of nutrition before biking off.

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Some bikes remain in place for participants still finishing their swim

 

We then found our way to an excellent breakfast, lazily relaxing  until we conjectured the first finishers would begin arriving. This spectator role is beginning to grow on me. Before the finish area became too crowded, we left the comfort of the restaurant’s terrace and found a shaded view near the finish. Last year’s winner Lionel Sanders (Canada) finished first with a time of 3:47:31, nearly five minutes ahead of second place Trevor Wurtele (Canada). Trevor’s wife Heather placed as second woman  (4:17:08, 15th overall). First woman finisher was Holly Lawrence (Great Britain) with an impressive time of 4:08:53 (10th overall).

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Finally the finish line

 

Deciding that five hours of observing was enough and with other commitments calling, we walked back to the shuttle for a ride back to the parking area. As the bus slowly made its way on Chemin de Village, we could see many of the age groupers on the hilly run course. It’s a beautiful route, but under an unusually warm sky at 1 p.m. and little shade, runners were having a tough go. Cooling sprinklers were set up along this portion of the course and I could see aid stations and medical tents along this section of the route were well supplied. I lost sight of runners as they looped around the train station (now an art gallery) and on to the Petit Train du Nord trail to their turnaround. For the first time during the day I felt uneasy, sitting in relative comfort of a shuttle bus as runners were struggling and toughing it out through those last few miles.

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The sign says it all

 

Checking online results, I see two women in my age group (F65-69) finished the race (6:30 and 7:59). Were in not for a lack of swim and cycling expertise, I would love to be doing this event with them.

I hope every participant has an opportunity post-race to soak in the great food and beauty this region has to offer following their hard-earned finish.

 

Summer Solstice Run

A friend had suggested I check out the Cumberland Valley Rails-to-Trails Race Series sometime. This was the sometime. And, the race start time was the exact time our summer officially began.IMG_2065

6:34 P.M. EST – and the 5K/10K on the Cumberland Valley Trail began. With 51 finishers in the 5K and 81 in the 10K, the size was just right for an out-and-back rail trail run.

After a day of 90 degree weather, I decided at the start to take it easy and enjoy the trail. Underfoot was pea gravel, overhead a lot of shade until mile 4, and a slight breeze through the trees. So there would be no question that summer had begun, the mulberry trees bordering the trail had dropped copious amounts of their fruit leaving the soles of my running shoes tinged with a lovely shade of pink.

The Summer Solstice Run is one of a series where points are given for participation and results in each of the race series. Age Grading points based on each runner’s gender, age and performance toward the total race series are calculated at each individual race in the series. As it happened, at 76.61%, I was the top age grader in the 10K for the Summer Solstice Run.

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Some of our group started the summer by picking up first Masters and AG awards.

After joining with old friends and making a few new acquaintances, I drove home under a beautiful sky and a full Strawberry Moon. On this day, we enjoyed out longest day of light. When it finally gave way to darkness, the Strawberry Moon took over to brighten our night.

 

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Destination Marathon: Running the Rhinebeck Hudson Valley Marathon

Let me say it upfront: the Rhinebeck Marathon sits in the top three of the most beautiful marathon courses I have run. Tucked neatly into the Hudson River Valley the town of Rhinebeck, New York is worth a visit even without a marathon.

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Mile 8/21 running parallel to the Hudson River

Always looking for an opportunity to return to this region, the marathon was a good find. I selected this race for its small size and historic location near the Catskill Mountains, a sort of antidote to the throngs of runners and spectators at my Boston Marathon a month earlier.

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Runners begin to congregate at Fairgrounds start

In its inaugural year, Rhinebeck had 23 marathon finishers. This year it grew to 89 finishers with larger numbers running the half marathon. Among those running were many folks from other states, at least one first-time marathoner, a marathon maniac, and a runner working on her 50-state status. I expect the race will see continued growth as word of this little treasure gets out.

This is a 2-loop course, with a start/finish at the Dutchess County Fairgrounds. I don’t generally choose loop courses, but I took a chance with this one and the scenery was so dazzling I looked forward to covering it again. The course is flat for the first few miles, then moves into rolling hills. Some of the route was open to traffic, but drivers and runners were carefully considerate and all was well.

Leaving the Fairgounds, the route moved through a residential area and then out in the countryside on a pastoral course. We were on a Heritage Trail for a good portion of the time, running past farms, cemeteries, historic estates, and the beautiful but hilly Hamlet of Rhinecliff with occasional views of the Hudson River over the left shoulder.

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Mile 5/18 – lane to  Wilderstein, historic home of the Suckley family. Daisy Suckley was archivist and confidante to FDR. Trails and carriage roads on property  open to the public

The majority of the route is shaded, a blessing on this unexpectedly warm day. Even on mile 23 as my pace slowed to a crawl, I was appreciating the sound of bird calls and the light breeze rustling through the trees. (Note to ponder: During a colder than normal Spring, how did I manage to select two Spring marathons that fell on what seemed like the only two warm days this season? Only the universe knows.) My finish time was a disappointment (a minute slower than my Boston finish) but the experience of running this course was not.

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Mile 7/20 – hilly Hamlet of Rhinecliff founded 1686

The Rhinebeck Hudson Valley Marathon is a USATF-certified course. Aid stations and porta-potties were well placed and spaced. Parking was simple and easily accessible from the start/finish.

 

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What makes an ideal destination marathon? Rhinebeck is close, offering a wonderful course in a location with a myriad of interests for family and friends who may want to come along for the ride (or the run). This is not Disney World, but a real experience of our American past. History buffs can explore the land settled before the Revolutionary War took place, outstanding arts and architecture with homes from the 1600’s and the region of the Hudson River School artists established in the 19th century. Within driving distance you will also find the family homes of several of our twentieth century presidents. Finally, if food is your interest, the area abounds in locally grown food served in restaurants. You can also get a tour and a superb meal at the Culinary Institute of America just down the road.

On to my next destination race. Any suggestions?

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