Still a Runner

A Blog by Mary Lou Harris

Archive for December, 2012

Resolution: Strength Training to Conquer the Overhead Bin Lift

December’s last run on O’ahu and first run in Wisconsin resulted in the expected temperature jolt. With running gear adaptable to both climates, I was prepared for the transition from balmy upper 70’s in Makakilo to breezy lower 20’s along the Rock River.

Post-run on O'ahu

Post-run on O’ahu

trail along Rock River

Rock River Parkway Trail near family holiday stop in Wisconsin

Because this trip was planned for two distinctly different climates, I was doubly pleased to include everything needed for a multi-stop sojourn in a single carry-on bag and a roomy handbag. Sportswear designers deserve some of the credit for my efficient packing. Much of my running gear can now be combined with street clothing. Running skirts and dresses, leggings, and a running shirt (preferably one without a list of sponsors across the back) along with a wrap will take you to dinner and out for a run in the morning.

As a frequent traveler, I’ve worked to rethink what must absolutely be included in a packing list.  Self-sufficiency in handling baggage is important as circumstances will sometimes dictate when you – and only you – will be elected to get your worldly traveling goods from Point A to Point B. The always increasing checked baggage fees are an added impetus for this frugal traveler to lighten up.

My packing plan seemed flawless until I boarded the first flight. Lifting my carry-on to waist and chest height: no problem. Lifting it over my head: not happening.

English: Luggage compartments of an Airbus 340...

English: Luggage compartments of an Airbus 340-600 aircraft (economy class). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Fortunately, a fellow traveler with upper body strength to spare and about a 10 inch advantage in stature made short work of settling my bag into its space. Ever grateful for the help of strangers when I travel, this experience told me that with my bag packed about as heavy as the airline allows, my upper body strength was not equal to the task.

I was not put to the test again as a full flight out of Honolulu led to a request that some carry-on’s be tagged at the gate. I quickly complied, slipping my laptop out before my carry-on was handed-off. On the last leg of the journey, my husband joined me on the flight and made short work of stowing our carry-ons.

Still, this is a message that I need to heed. Do we loose muscle mass as we age?  Yes.  Can we take action to diminish that loss?  I think so. I admit upper body work and strength training in general takes a back seat to my mileage needs as a distance runner. A trade-off to spend time doing strength training when I could be experiencing the pure joy of running in the outdoors is a tough one, but one that it’s time to address.

Strength Training

Strength Training (Photo credit: Rtist MrB)

My strength training goal for 2013:  Build upper body strength to a point where I can single handedly lift a carry-on into overhead storage.

I’m all ears on advice from anyone who has a workout or a plan for a senior runner who would rather log miles than lift weights.

With gratitude that I’m still running, I’m wishing everyone a Happy, Healthy and Active New Year.

Hawaii Holiday Hill Run

Up and about in the early morning hours of my first Hawaii daybreak, I try to be a good houseguest and avoid waking my host.  I bide my time with a delicious cup of Hawaiian coffee and quiet time on the lanai. Patience brings the dawn and I’m off for a brief sunrise Makakilo, ‘observing eyes’ in the Hawaiian language, is a superb lookout point.  As I turn out of the street from my son’s home, the view extends down the island past Waikiki Beach all the way to Diamond Head. This morning, the landmark is shrouded in clouds but still visible. This vista was once a strategic spot to observe approaching visitors, be they friend or foe. Now, it’s a residential community far off the tourist

I run downhill on a wide boulevard under a canopy of monkeypod trees. A simple 4-miler will be  great for stretching out after a long flight, which is also a great excuse to run an out-and-back to the Malama Market and pick up a few goodies.  lThis little store at first glance appears to be a typical mini-market.  Inside, it has the feel of  an old fashioned grocery, with a deli area of fresh sandwiches, breads, salads and seafood with a local touch, and a great little coffee shop next door.  I snap up a pack of warm Hawaiian-style andagi, and a couple of other items.  Three favorites:  travel, running and a kickstart with a fresh morning local food treat.

"Sata andagi" is Okinawa doughnuts.サ...

“Sata andagi” is Okinawa doughnuts.サーターアンダーギー (Photo credit: Wikip

This is daunting running territory, with tough uphills and downhills. With a little less than two miles distance, my mini-grocery run requires a straight downhill with more than a 70 foot drop in elevation  (This U-tube video is a good visual of the downhill), which in turn means 70 feet elevation gain for my return trip.   With goodies loaded into a running backpack, I begin my reverse trek uphill with a jog, which quickly becomes a fast walk. 

I’m seeing a few other solo runners, retired boomers like myself along with a few military folks sharing a portion of my route.  On O’ahu, most runners are out early and in before 9 a.m. or so. With this year’s Honolulu Marathon taking place last weekend (Sunday, December 9), this is a recovery week for some.

The sun is quickly rising in the sky but soon enough I’m back to the house.  It’s time for some holiday gift baking before the second phase of my jet lag sets in.

Wishing all good family visits, good food, safe travels and few moments to get out for run.

This is just too good not to reblog. Beware the race photo…

The T-Rex Runner

Y’all, the past two days have been two of the weirdest days of my life. As you probably saw, the picture below has been floating around the Facebook and the internet for the past few days.

Why is that weird? Well, I TOOK THAT PICTURE back in May at the Flying Pig Marathon (which turned into a half marathon for me). So imagine my shock when I see that familiar looking picture being shared by not one but several of my Facebook friends, who had gotten it from other people. My first thought was “What a coincidence! Someone else took a picture of that guy too!” And then I checked my files and nope…it was ME. Seriously, the amount of shock cannot be overstated. And then I found out it was shared on HappyPlace, and Stumbleupon, and by running groups all over Facebook! All of a sudden, a picture…

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Gift Shopping for the Senior Athlete – Thinking Local

It must be the holiday season.

Jingle Bell 5k

Jingle Bell 5k (Photo credit: J Bull)

Every morning, my inbox is filled with special offers for outdoor gear and running apparel, just in time to buy for family and friends or to replenish my cold weather supply.  After several clicks, I can usually learn where the product is made.

Earlier this year, Tom Vanderbilt’s article “Born in the USA: The Amazing New Economics” appeared in Outside Magazine. He writes about a trend with some sporting goods and outdoor equipment companies to either establish in or return to manufacturing in the United States.

One of the companies he discusses was on my radar screen.  Last year, my stocking included a new ProTec headlamp.  It works really well for moonlight snowshoeing.

Although not a total zealot on the topic, and fully aware we live in and benefit from a global economy, I have a hard time justifying that long-sleeved tech shirt making its way on a barge thousands of miles just to give me a warm, breathable layer.  My point of view is, all things being equal in quality, to choose the product made nearby, then in my country, then from neighbors in my hemisphere.  

People who are interested in purchasing and eating locally grown foods are known as locavores.  

Buy Local!

Is there a similar term for those of us who attempt to feed our running needs with locally grown equipment and apparel?

I’m careful to stay faithful to this philosophy but I do make the occasional stumble. Admittedly, I have yet to find a running shoe that works for me and is made this side of either ocean.  But generally, I – and those who occasionally gift to me – have done pretty well.

Here are a few of the items found in my clothing and gear cache that were manufactured locally and nationally:


Running along river’s edge facing downtown Exeter

Darn Tough Earlier this year, I Darn Tough Socksvisited Exeter, New Hampshire. After a run along the river, I cut through downtown where I found a local sporting goods store, and these colorful, comfortable and cushioned running socks, manufactured right up the road in Vermont.

Nuu-muu  I love the quirky touch of fun this company brings to their products.  634850117771580942The dresses are great for running, as a go-to item to pack for vacations, or to throw on with a pair of leggings.

irunlikeagirlI bought two of their running shirts several years ago – one for me and one as a gift to a goddaughter as she was just getting interested in running.  My shirt is still wearing well.  Goddaughter is still running and has expanded to triathlons.

Sub4usaGreat apparel that seems to never wear out. Their compresssion shirt keeps me toasty and the 2-pocket compression pants are perfect for storing supplies during a long training run. Unfortunately, this company is going out of business and liquidating their inventory, so I have blown my running budget stocking up while my favorites are still available.

Additionally, during visits to our northern neighbor, I discovered a couple of Canadian labels that suit my needs.

Louis Garneau – I wear their cross-country gear for skiing and snowshoeing.  They have a lines of biking and running clothing and gear I haven’t yet tried.

Scanned Image

Grand Tetons National Park, Jackson WY

Kombi Sports  – These folks strictly manufacture cold weather gear.  I wear their long underwear as a base layer for skiing and snowshoeing.

That’s my closet inventory and shopping list from holidays past and present. What’s in your closet?

Whatever your purchase philosophy for gifts and updates to your sports closet, happy shopping and happy giving!