Still a Runner

A Blog by Mary Lou Harris

Tuesday in the Park with Flora, Fauna and Friends

I’m a regular in a morning running group, the Tuesday Morning Gang. We meet at a nature sanctuary with a great path.  It’s interesting terrain with a 3+mile loop                                          

surrounding a lilly-covered lake.

Wildwood Park provides a good workout, with two miles of ascents and descents. Through the hills, a runner faces 940 feet of elevation change.

Then, the prize! 

More than a mile of the park loop is flat canopied towpath.

This stretch sits between the lake and a narrow swamp bordering an industrial road.  The atmosphere on the towpath differs from the other miles on the loop.  Runners and walkers who have been chattering become hushed on the towpath, voices lowered.  Fishermen and birdwatchers are tucked here and there in the brush.  They come with poles, lawn chairs, binoculars, cameras, and tripods, then quietly wait for opportunity.

Not all of my running group shares my appreciation for this shady, swampy section.  Some avoid the exposed gnarled tree roots, ruts and rodents.  As I swing onto the towpath, they turn onto the berm of the industrial road just outside the park, running parallel to the swamp side of the towpath. 

Their muffled conversation and the sound of truck traffic occasionally filters across the swamp.

What wildlife will be sharing the towpath with me today?  First the usual critters: a chipmunk, then a cottontail.  No snakes or weasels today.  This morning, I take a run break to spy on a birder intent on her view.  I quietly ask what she has found. 

Four white egrets and one blue egret are caught in her lens, fishing for breakfast.  She is one of the patient folk in the world who by example teach me to take a moment.

Waving good-bye to my birding mentor, I hit the Garmin start button and continue along the towpath.  To my right this time, I hear a deep sonorous bellow.  Does the sound belong to a horn of a tractor-trailer pulling out of the industrial park?  I hear it again, and again.  No, this was no truck horn, but a bullfrog sending a message.

Here, the magic of nature survives among runners, walkers, bicyclists and nature study folks circling throughout the day.  All the creatures of the park and those of us who come to visit and exercise are there encircled by industrial warehouses and petroleum companies on one concourse, and a major four-lane highway on another.

Enough revery.  Better get another mile in fast or I’ll be late for coffee with the gang.  A start to my day running a demanding course surrounded by the scents and sounds of nature,  followed by a post-run coffee with friends who love running;  these are just a few of the reasons I’m still running.

And you, are you still running?

What entices you out the door?

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5 Comments»

  Patty wrote @

Mary Lou
Another great blog. Wildwood Park is very beautiful to run but I agree very strange location. You should take up writing. Your blogs are very interesting. Keep up the good work for the older generation. And, yes I am still running.

  marylouharris wrote @

Thanks, Patty. In my professional life, I’ve written in a number of formats. It is refreshing now to have a platform to write informally on topics that call out to me for discussion. Stay tuned for the next post on nutrition for the older athlete.

[…] mostly flat, mostly scenic course surprised some out-of-town guests as they approached the hills in Wildwood Park. The final six miles brought them back down the river to City Island food and […]

  Kat wrote @

Good for you girl, what an inspiration you are!

  marylouharris wrote @

Thanks, Kat. And I am most recently inspired by the first snow run of the season this week. I love that squeaky sound under my heels.


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