Still a Runner

A Blog by Mary Lou Harris

Archive for May, 2013

Travel Theme: Pathways


Parc Linéaire Le P’tit Train du Nord

A road trip mixing business and recreation brought interesting scenery and a desire to get back into the run.  A post by fellow blogger Ailsa at Where’s My Backpack led me to think of  the trip as a pathway to travel and also a pathway to full-blown running in recovery.


After leaving Ontario by crossing the  Ottawa River on the ferry, I’m soon into the Quebec countryside.

Exiting the four-lane highway, there are signs of fresh crops and late Spring.  The farms along this route provide wonderful scenery and grow healthy food, reminding me that the areas farmers markets will soon be opening.

Ferme la Macédoine

Ferme la Macédoine  The link has several photos of additional asparagus sculptures.

I first pass an asparagus farm, then come upon beef cattle grazing in the pasture of an organic farm  I make a mental note to stop in if and when I’m this way again.

Ferme Picardier

Ferme Picardier also has chickens and sells many organically grown items

The route through the countryside and small towns brought me to my destination. I made a beeline to the out of doors as soon as my appointed duties were taken care of.  The region is awash with cyclists.  After a few adjustments with some help from the friendly folks at Jo Velo, I joined the frey. After several days of cycling and walking, I concluded it was time to return to running.  Not the walk, then run a half mile, then walk again I was using to dip my toes back into running.  No, I had been gently easing my legs and recovering joint back into the rhythm of the run. Swimming and cycling had been reasonable alternatives to stay active, but avoid impact.  

Now I was ready, a little frightened but clearly ready. A positive email from my running friend Patty was the final trigger I needed to get back out there. Waiting for me was a nearby pathway with a relatively smooth surface and a sandy soil base, perfect for a debut post-injury run.

My last real run had been on a cold February day, logging ten miles at marathon pace, bookended by a combined three miles of warm-up and cool-down. This day’s return to my post-recovery running premier was four miles, and nowhere near marathon pace. It was the beginning of a journey from where I am today.  A slow but sure return is the route I’m taking, and I chose just the right pathway.

What is your pathway for the next scary step in your life?

What is waiting around the bend for you?

What is waiting around the bend for you?

What to see that you don’t see on the 5-Boro Bike Ride

New York City is a great exception to that penchant of mine for driving to races in scenic places.  For races, runs and rides in NYC, I leave personal transport behind and navigate the public transit system.  This option will be even easier when the bike share program is up and running, pending the ruckus about the appearance of the bike stands.

We are fortunate to have Amtrak service into New York City.

NY Penn Station Amtrak Terminal

The train is quick, comfy and easy, rolling into Penn Station  where we connected with the metro system and our specific destination.  With few exceptions, this group of senior cyclists/runners continued to either use public transportation or to hoof it throughout the stay.

On arrival, we found our way to the Bike Expo on South Street.  In addition to picking up packets and ogling nifty cycling products, we walked the pier area, seeing the remains of the devastation left by Hurricane Sandy as well as the progress made in rebuilding.

Having taken care of business for the Sunday ride, we had downtime to do some exploring. To ward off nerves about the upcoming ride, what to see and do?

Brooklyn Flea Market:  Our friend Janis led us through

Brooklyn Gardena tree-lined street of brown- stones to the this wonderful market referred to locally as the Flea.   It has a sizable selection of vintage products,Brooklyn Flee Market original art work,The Flee   and an eclectic blend  of food choices.IMG_0963

Battery Park area:  As I finished up my Sunday volunteer stint (5 a.m. through mid-morning) at the start of the 40-mile ride, I knew my friends would have hours to go before we would meet.  With little familiarity of Battery Park,

English: New York City skyline with Battery Pa...

English: New York City skyline with Battery Park – seen from the Staten Island Ferry Deutsch: New York City Skyline mit Battery Park – von der Staten Island Fähre (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I  knew a few landmarks and stayed within easy walking distance of the Staten Island Ferry, the finish point for the 5-boro ride.

World Trade Center – Upon my release from volunteer duties on Sunday morning, I simply began walking the area and found myself around the World Trade Center.  On this cool damp morning, nothing could have prepared me for the palpable sense of loss. Frozen in place, I stood before the lengthy list of photographs and names of police and firemen lost.  A stop in a cozy coffee shop helped me warm up and sift through my thoughts.

National Museum of the American Indian  The museum was conveniently located a few blocks from the ferry, allowing me (or so I thought) several hours to browse and learn. Wandering through several exhibits, I was drawn to the sight and sound in a room showing a documentary on American Indian contributions in blues, jazz and rock music. After a 4:30 a.m. trip to my volunteer stint, I was particularly enjoying sitting down in a plush chair in a viewing room with a fantastic sound system. The filmed commentary and the music were wonderful. Then, a quick end to my comfortable lounge chair as the cell vibration alerted me.  Three of the five friends out on the course were swept and loaded on a bus somewhere past 20 miles. Details on this are in my earlier post on the 5-boro bike ride.  

Museum time was over for now. Reconnaissance and retrieval time began. 

English: New York City - Staten Island Ferry D...

English: New York City – Staten Island Ferry Deutsch: New York City – Staten Island Ferry (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Five Boro (give or take a boro) Bike Ride

It all started during a leisurely November breakfast with friends. Glen mentioned he wanted to do the New York City Five Boro Bike Ride.  We impetuously agreed to train and join him.  A short six months later, six friends gathered in New York for the May 5th event – five riders and one volunteer as this was yet another event quashed by my late winter injury. 5-Boro Start I drew a 5 a.m. shift at a VIP area set up two blocks from the start. Tasked with keeping tables cleared as one set of riders replaced another, I chatted with charity riders.

This gilled, green-haired gentleman rode for Clean Water

This gilled, green-haired gentleman rode for Clean Water

Arriving bicycles included a mix of state-of-the-art road bikes, recumbents and ellipticals.

This bicycle built-for-2 model works well for a mother-daughter team riding for the Michael J. Fox Foundation

Their bicycle built-for-2 model works well for a mother-daughter team riding for the Michael J. Fox Foundation

I had a view of 32,000 cyclists off for the 40-mile ride. My team was in the first wave, departing at 7:45, but somehow I missed seeing them.

The DDL Team is there somewhere.

The DDL Team is there somewhere.

Several hours later, I received a text that three of our 5-person team had passed the 20-mile mark before they were swept from the course and loaded on a bus. I quickly made my way to the Staten Island Ferry, not knowing I would be waiting three to four hours before they arrived at the finish. My team on the bus showed a great deal of patience.  I did not. When I knew they were close, I left the terminal to locate the bike rental drop.  The rental bike staff were loading up their trucks, so I alerted them that at least three rental bikes were still out on the course. To no avail. After some vague comment about leaving one truck, they suddenly pulled away with no signs of returning.  Minutes later, I spotted my group along with several other riders approaching on their bikes. After a call to Bike ‘n Roll, they instructed that bikes now must be returned to the Battery Park location.

A cool, windy trip on the ferry.

A cool, windy trip on the ferry.

 So, rather than drop their rental bikes on Staten Island as prearranged, then warming up in the terminal, riders now had to wait in the cold to load with their bikes on the lower level of the ferry.

On the Staten Island Ferry, we were very cold, but somewhat merry.

On the Staten Island Ferry, we were very cold, but somewhat merry.

And what of the two additional friends in our group? They had a fantastic day finishing the course. Aside from a temporary holdup leaving the festival at mile 36, and the expected period of time waiting in the bike line to board the ferry, they had a smooth and scenic ride. We didn’t say a proper good-bye since they had left their hotel and were having pizza with friends in Connecticut before we returned to Manhattan.  Oh, well.

We learned so much through this experience. The 5-Boro Bike Ride raises funds for biking education. Additionally, NYC has a bike share program that is about to begin and the City has been very aggressive in expanding bike lanes.

I also concluded that large rides are likely not for me.  As a runner, I can’t imagine being swept on a distance run, then sitting on a bus for hours before arriving at a point where I could get to the finish line or another destination.  But then, I don’t run with a bike in tow.  I’ll stick with running (for now).

Since this senior runner always incorporates food and exploration in any travel,  look for more NYC in a subsequent post.