Still a Runner

A Blog by Mary Lou Harris

Archive for September, 2013

A Year of Running and Writing

September of 2012, I touched the “publish” button and with that simple action my first blog post was released.

English: birthday cake

Happy 1st, stillarunner Credit: Wikipedia

My expectations were to make contact with a few senior runners who I could learn from and who may be interested in my quirky training methods, my running travels and attempts at eating well.  The pleasant surprise was readers from 40 different countries and interest of runners from all over the world, and all age groups from beginners to elite runners.

In addition to runners, I’ve found – and been found by – bloggers who are incredible foodies, fashionistas, philosophers, photographers, cyclists, triathloners, every combination thereof, and just really good story tellers.

To celebrate my blog birthday, my gift to readers is a list (12 for 12 months of blogging) that I look forward to seeing appear. Several bloggers opened my eyes to before unknown activities, such as:

Park Runs –  Am I the only runner who hadn’t heard of these?

parkrun logo

parkrun logo

They are 5K runs that take place at the same locations weekly, usually in parks.  Park Runs are timed events, free, and open to everyone of every ability.  They began in the UK in 2004 and have since grown to include runs in seven countries, including the USA.  Thank you Run, Hemingway, Run for the introduction to park runs.

Gravel Grinders – Never heard of them?  Me, either, until a few posts from CultFit, a Midwestern philosopher athlete who broadens my awareness with every post he writes.

Credit: Chris Locke

Credit: Chris Locke

Gravel Grinders are distance bike rides – or races – that take place on gravel roads, generally in the Midwest but spreading to other rural areas.  Reading about the rides with minimal support, minimal traffic – the occasional farm machinery or animals crossing the road, may encourage this just-the-basics, fearful of traffic, timid cyclist the whif of adventure to think she could do this.  It’s on the possibility list for 2014.

Triathlons that include horseback – Hadn’t heard of this either, but now I know.  No, this isn’t on the list for 2014, but it was on the list for Chasing The Blackwood Marathon. This athlete’s writing clearly conveys her love of the outdoors and her beautiful country.

And what more have I learned?

That I can go to Move, Eat, Create and find recipes that are healthy and as delectable to the eye and the taste buds as any food site I have found.

That I am susceptible to being pulled into the triathlon world by Triathlon Obsession, Ashleystri and nonblogging friends who are just as obsessed as these bloggers.

That the reviews of All Seasons Cyclist can be useful for this infrequent cyclist. His blog is a great place to browse if you’re thinking of adding to your gear.

From my blogging friend Red Hen , I learned that humor in writing is a wonderful way to share your running escapades.  I vicariously join her on training runs along the craggy coast near her home.

One of my earliest readers, a strong ultrarunner and the writer of Mind Margins, has reinforced my knowledge that real toughness comes when life throws us stuff that no training plan could contemplate.

And finally, I’ve found – or they found me – three photography blogs that are great for armchair adventure and relaxation after a tough run:

Patrick Latter’s hiking photography,
Sethsnap‘s whimsical photos of mostly rural Ohio, and
Merilee’s haunting black and white photography at thegravelghost.

Thanks for being with me this year and I hope you enjoy some of my reads I’m sharing.



On the Outside of 65+ with Outside advice

We’ve all picked up those magazines with “through the decades” articles.  Whether the topic is personal finance or skin care regimen, they generally begin with advice for each decade of your adult life, through 50 & beyond.  Since moving out of the 50’s decade I admit to taking umbrage with the “and beyond.”  Really, should I have the same plan at 60, 70, or 80 that I had at age 50?  Or, since there fewer of us beyond 60, do we cease to be a large enough part of the readership?

I recently opened the October issue of Outside Magazine and saw a by-the-decades series of articles on living your best life. Warily, I paged through, wondering if there was a decade for me. Starting at 0-20 (been there), on to 20-30 (been there),  30-40 (been there), 40-50 (been there), 50-65 (o.k., stretching those years a bit, been there) and finally, here we arrive at 65+. The + apparently indicates as long as we are sentient beings.

Within the 65+ segment, featured athletes include 79-year old Bill Iffrig (the Boston Marathoner knocked on his butt by shock waves from the bomb who then proceeded to the finish line), 

Bill Iffrig

Bill Iffrig 

80-year old Lew Hollander (a finisher of 50 Ironmans),

Lew Hollander

Lew Hollander

80-year old Yuichiro Miura

Yuichiro Miura

Yuichiro Miura

(the oldest person to climb Mount Everest), and 78-year old Harriet Anderson (a 12-time Kona AG winner).

 Harriet Anderson

Harriet Anderson

I object. Can’t we age 60-70 folks have our own segment where the grueling and impressive feats of those in their 70’s and 80’s don’t overshadow us? No? Well, I’ll go with it, since your recommendations for 65+ reinforce my own personal cobbled-together plan. Those include:

Osteoporosis Testing. Outside warns men they are not exempt from this quiet and debilitating disease.  (Yeah, we women get warnings from every direction and get tested, so this one specifically for men is warranted.)

Adding Resistance Bands to your Weight Lifting plan.

I’m onboard with this, having just replaced some worn bands with a fresh set with varying levels of resistance.images-5 The instructions with my recent purchase advised against using outdoors, but I do when I travel by car. They’re convenient to wrap around a lamp post or a tree in a rest area for a few assisted squats and stretches.  It breaks up a long ride.

Eat more Protein, fewer Carbs. Outside says that dietary guidelines call for at least a third of an ounce of protein per 2.5 pounds of body weight but note some experts think that’s not enough for we Baby Boomers.

I’ve read this in other sources and taken heed. I take in some protein shortly after most workouts, whether its running, weights or swimming.  My go-to protein is a shelf-safe boxed chocolate milk. Another favorite is dry roasted edamame, roughly 14 grams of protein in a small handful.  IMG_1275My current brand is GourmetNut.  Both items are convenient for post-workout and fit in the pocket of my gym bag.


Lots of information on this topic about vitamins and such, although the take-away was to get as much as you can of what you need from quality food loaded with nutrients, like those listed in Outside’s section for 30-40. Had we been eating those items consistently for the last 25 years (yes, I know some of you have) we would have a stronger base now.

The sci-fi blood spinning/youth pill stuff is interesting but it sounds like we in the 65+ group will be out-a-here before most become commonplace or affordable.

Overall, this issue is a good read with current information on how to stay healthy so that we can continue to go out and play.  Though much of the content of Outside is targeted to young men, the high quality of writing and interesting exploration of our natural surroundings appeals to this senior woman as well.  That quality writing includes an article in the October issue penned by 70-something Jim Harrison,images-6 author of books on the outdoors and many other topics that make life worthwhile.

So, Outside, thumbs up, although I’m still hankering for my own decade.  Is 60-70 too much to ask?

Sunshine to Partly Sunny

Sunshine Award

Sunshine Award

There is an appreciative award floating around among running bloggers called the Sunshine Award.  When nominated, a blogger is asked to answer questions and then in turn nominate other bloggers who in turn are given a list of questions to answer. I thank Up & Humming, an active and creative Floridian runner, for recently nominating me.   

I may have failed her though, in that I ran up against a life-long shortcoming, first identified by my elementary teacher many years ago in noting on my assignment:  


Answering the questions that go with the acceptance was not a problem; finding a way to hone questions for some of the beautiful, quirky, and thought-provoking blogs I most admire was.  So, in accepting a Sunshine Award I must grade myself on a curve down to what I will call a Partly Sunny Award.

First, to answer Up & Humming’s questions:

  1. How long have you been running?

    Roughly 40 years on and off. Seriously running, as in actually learning how to train, build distance, etc. – about 15 years.

  2. Why did you start running?

    I love the simplicity – just a good pair of running shoes and you’re off.

  3. Do you use a Garmin, a running app or do you run naked?

    I have run with a Garmin since 2006.  It has traveled with me on three different continents and held up through some nasty weather and tough handling.

  4. What’s your favorite pair of running shoes?

    So glad you asked this question.  Brooks Green Silence.

    Need more of these, please.

    Need more of these, please.

    Brooks recently stopped making this model and I have looked everywhere for an inventory.  If anyone out there has a pair (or two) they purchased and didn’t like, please comment or e-mail me.  I will gladly take them off your hands.

  5. How many days a week do you run on average?

    4-5 days a week for now.

  6. Do you prefer to run alone or with friends?

    I need both sometime during any given week.  Running with friends makes me a stronger runner.

  7. What professional runner do you admire the most and why?

    Joan Benoit Samuelson,

    English: Joan Benoit preparing for 2008 Chicag...

    English: Joan Benoit preparing for 2008 Chicago Marathon. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

    an olympian, a multi-marathon winner, now a senior runner still truly competitive, and a runner who gives back to the community.

  8. What’s your favorite movie?

    Private Benjamin.

    Cover of "Private Benjamin (Full Screen E...

    Cover of Private Benjamin (Full Screen Edition)

    Goldie Hawn is my favorite comedienne. The orange hair scene still cracks me up.

  9. What’s your favorite guilty pleasure?A Turtle Sundae, hot caramel over candied pecans and rich vanilla ice cream.

  10. What would you choose, vanilla or chocolate?Vanilla – see #9 above.

partly sunny

Partly Sunny Award?

Second, the award request I didn’t address: After pondering the questions to ask of my favorite blogs, some with good and serious training advice, some with a strong philosophical bent, some that touch my heart with insight, some with travel/running reports that push the wanderlust button, I realized this interviewer couldn’t find 10 questions that would give readers the essence of each of their blogs.  So, instead I finally added a Community section on my page.

That section is pretty basic now, but I’ll be working to improve it. By presenting me with this award, Up & Humming gave me the inspiration to customize my page and showcase some of my favorite posts from my favorite blogs. I’ll let you know when that is done.  In the meantime, I’m settling for a self-named Partly Sunny Award.

Labor Day Thanksgiving

Labor Day Weekend – it’s time to wrap up summer activity, watch the sun rise a little later and the sun set a little earlier, and firm up autumn schedules. But what about Labor Day? During my Saturday long run, I mused over its meaning. What is Labor Day beyond serving as imagesone of the anchors of our summer season?  Having worked in the labor force for some 40-odd years, I should have something worthwhile to say on the subject.

I am incredibly grateful for every job that I loved (those that were truly a labor of love) and just as grateful for those I didn’t love because there was always something to be learned. From car-hop to white collar, I think I did everything but retail. (Likely, I didn’t have that friendly,outgoing “may I help you” attitude retailers look for.) I had jobs that sounded important but weren’t, jobs that were important but didn’t sound so, jobs that sounded important and were.

I am also grateful for those sometimes-maligned regulations that gave me a safe workplace regardless of the position I held. Through changing careers and jobs, all that labor took place in a safe working environment.  Good for me, because my physical well-being was not compromised. I remain healthy enough as a retiree to go out and run, bike, hike, travel, volunteer, and take on some interesting challenges.

FFLMy running stream of conscience on that long stretch brought me to the conclusion that the time I take to consider where and how my running purchases are manufactured and the safety of the employees who make them is my small payback for the good fortune that was mine, to have a lifetime of workplace safety.

Yes, I’m one of those consumers who hit the “contact” button on the website and fire off a pleasant enough email making inquiries before I buy that ever-so-cute running skirt or the new headlamp.  I’ve learned a lot from the responses.


Sporting our AG awards, tie-dyed shades, with friend and AG contender Patti.

So after such musings on the Saturday long run, a Labor Day Run for the Flag 5K was for fun and good health, to be a small part of a fundraiser, enjoy the outdoors, some post-race watermelon, and time with running friends.

Wishing you a happy end to your Labor Day Weekend.  Enjoy that last summer picnic. I hope your work life, your running and your autumn are all fulfilling and healthy.