Still a Runner

A Blog by Mary Lou Harris

Archive for January, 2013

Run for the Arts

As I suspect is the case with many bloggers who write on a specific topic (in my case senior running), other aspects of the blogger’s life seldom see the light of day in print. Sooner or later though, other interests will organically wind their way through the narrative.  Take for instance, the Capital 10-Miler – a run for the arts.Capital 10-Miler Logo COLOR-325

Truth be told, this senior runner is as likely to be found browsing an art gallery  Art Assoc of Hbg 1as to be found in a group training run.  

Likely as well to be hanging out in a theatre lobby  
in the evening and at a race start the following morning.  open stage insights logo-w200

And, the occasional  concert is worth taking in.  559043_10151311917200915_198874223_n

An interest in the arts and a passion for running are not mutually exclusive, so why not a race to support the arts?  The story of the creation of the 10-mile race to support nonprofit arts organizations is worthy of a separate post saved for another day.


Capital 10-Miler
Bill Bonney Photography

Because once upon a time, January was a quiet month; a time to put away the holidays, spend quiet time with family, simmer some chili, and take a run in the snow.  This month is ending full throttle with activity, organizing the Capital 10-Miler scheduled for April 7 and simultaneously training for the Boston Marathon, scheduled a mere eight days later.  A recent email from the Boston Athletic Association offering winter training tips is a needed reminder,

Bill Bonney Photography

Capital 10-Miler
Bill Bonney Photography

I’m pleased that I’m not in this alone.  A number of folks on the Capital 10-Miler race committee have also trained well and qualified for Boston 2013.  I will be in the company of plenty of volunteers at the Capital 10-Miler and many supportive friends at Boston, although most of my group will be lined up several corrals in front of me.

I haven’t made that run from Hopkinton to Copley Square for a couple of years.  I’m looking forward to once again being part of the excitement and tradition.  Until then, I will be sharing some tales of odd happenings during previous Boston Marathon trips, most of them occurring off the course. 

Participants in the 2010 Boston Marathon in We...

Boston Marathon near Wellesley – wikipedia

Something to be Said for Spontaneity

Have you ever had one of those moments on a road trip when you drive by a trail entrance or a linear park and the urge to run overtakes you?  It happens to me.  My mental inventory begins with:  1) do I have – or am I wearing – running shoes?   2) when do I need to arrive at my destination? and  3) does the location feel safe?

None of those situations was an impulse stopper on a recent drive along the Thousand Islands Parkway, a 20-some mile stretch along the St Lawrence River.  This time, I had no urgent need to arrive at destination at a particular time, I was wearing running clothes disguised as travel gear, and the location was probably as safe as anything gets in this life.

The Parkway can be accessed immediately after clearing Canadian Customs and leaving the Thousands Islands Bridge.

In addition to the scenic drive overlooking the river out one window, a linear bike path out the other extends the full length of the parkway.   I’ve driven this stretch many times and for various reasons stifled the urge to pull the vehicle over and place my feet on the path.  The sometimes beautiful, sometimes quirky cottages built on the small islands dotting the river are an other-worldly view for a mid-day run.


Some island homes are connected to other homes and island boathouses in the river.

I pulled into a nearly empty parking lot.  With a sudden vision of returning fresh from a run to find an empty space where the truck was parked (I’ve been there), I made a brief stop in the Saint Lawrence Islands park office to alert the rangers on duty that I would be leaving my vehicle.  They appreciated the heads-up, since the park was not officially open.  Having thwarted the possibility of a towed vehicle, I took 30 seconds to text family with an update, then off I went.

The reality wasn’t as sweet as the daydream.  Once on the trail, I realized  the bike path is a good three feet below the grade of the road bed. IMG_0629  The view of the island-dotted river when looking out the windshield of a truck, is significantly more expansive than the view of this below-grade path runner.  Oh, well.  I did find the view on the road side of the path had other merits.  There are homes on the bluff overlooking the river, a few local shops tucked into side roads off the path, as well as the occasional properly dressed hiker, walking stick in hand, emerging from one of the hiking trail access points.  The occasional bicyclist and locals out for a walk give me a nod or a wave.  The wind off that wide, frigid river is a bellowing wake up call as it keeps my senses as sharp as the cool breeze sneaking in under my ear warmer.

Sailboat moored midway between parkway and  island cottage.

Planned training runs are necessary and confidence-building.  Races are challenging and inspiring. Neither can match the spontaneity of bolting from my vehicle to follow a trail calling to me at a given moment. It is a treasured experience and one of the reasons this senior runner is still running.

Are you still running?

Garmin signals ‘Wrap-up the Old’

Dear Garmin: The political, professional and personal end-of-year wrap-ups were overwhelming. Journalists, analysts and bloggers endlessly trolled through their 2012 calendars.  I became a bit of a curmudgeon with no intention of joining in the fray.

But you, Garmin, thought otherwise.

Garmin Forerunner 305

Garmin Forerunner 305 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

December 30, as I volunteered for a Resolution 5K we did an early course run to place mile markers.  Along with your beep to indicate the first mile, you sent a message that your database was full – please delete some data.  I ignored you.  Usually, I can squeeze in another 10 or 12 runs before you are actually full.

December 31 during speedwork, the delete data message returned.  I gave in.  This was your  timely and clear message to me to join in the year-end review.

What would the stored information locked in your casing reveal about 2012? Your data and my notes held the secrets of my personal bests and personal worsts, training breakthroughs, and training mistakes.   My added notes spoke to all the ways running enriched my life this year, with notes of friends and family support at the finish line, vacation runs, and solo explorations.  It’s all there in the log: travel, food, injuries, health, training with friends, and the new opportunities to learn and challenge myself that popped up sporadically.  All of this finds me one year older but a stronger runner, and hopefully wiser all around.  It’s there in tersely noted entries that accompany the numbers.

Thank you, Garmin. You have been my consistent companion through 2012, beeping on queue, tolerating the wind, rain, dust, heat and cold, traveling with me this year across two oceans, visiting three countries and accurately measuring 1,400 miles of running plus more in bike mileage.  I complain  when your battery is suddenly low a few miles into a run, when it is I who forgot to set up a recharge. You are forgiving and quickly show a “charge complete” when given the opportunity.

Then, on December 31 you send the message to delete this year, to clear the table for what is to come. Who am I to argue with the impeccable timing of such a steadfast piece of equipment?  After ensuring a copy of all notes and data are secured in my laptop, I hit the “delete all” button.

Garmin, you and me, here we come in 2013! I’m still running and you, amongst all my wonderful running buddies, are still my most frequent and reliable running partner (but don’t tell the others).

River Runners 13K run NY day 2013

River Runners 13K run New Year’s Day 2013

So, we’re off to a first run of the year with River Runners, a great group to be with any time of the year, but particularly on a cold and overcast January day.  They make every run a special event. 

Riverfront Park