Still a Runner

A Blog by Mary Lou Harris

Archive for February, 2014

Coping through the Cold

Where I live, we have raised the art of parking lot running to a high art. There was progress through this week.  We are now moving deep snow previously covered in a frozen ice coating compliments of an ice storm preceded by a snowstorm. 1891084_10151970828057945_1734138868_nWhere I live, temperatures finally rose above freezing, sending rivulets of water across the roads and trails only to refreeze, leaving drivers and runners in for unpleasant early morning slippery surprises.

Where I live, long runs have included sidewalks, crusted over roadways and any moderately well-cleared side street that can be found. My reroutes bring me upon some interesting and sometimes quirky sites. IMG_1545The weekend after Valentines Day, I laughed seeing these heart-shaped wrought-iron backed patio chairs, a cut above the usually plastic chairs set out as placeholders in the “I shoveled it out – it’s mine” parking space wars.

Where I live, our brief respite from the frigid temperatures gave residents and municipal services an opportunity to, well, rearrange the snow. As I did a 10-mile MP run, homeowners were out with shovels claiming the pieces of sidewalk and driveway previously sitting under ice sheets several inches thick. I dodged municipal trucks as they cleared out more spaces by moving truckloads of snow to who-knows-where.


Where I live, a sense of humor about the long tough winter is important.

Where I live, many of my boomer buddies have vacated until Spring, taking the opportunity when airports are open to escape to Florida, the Caribbean, Hawaii. I’m sticking it out. The beauty of winter is worth the inconvenience. And this is where I live.IMG_1534

The Case of the Disappearing Road Races

As I look out my window at another mid-February snow, I’m wondering what plants will survive the ice storms and return anew in the Spring.  Was this the last year to enjoy some percentage of them that will now simply become memories?

The Colon Cancer Prevision 5K will not be returning in 2014 - my first 2013 race after 3 months off from injury

A favorite, the  Colon Cancer Prevention 5K will not be returning in 2014

I wonder the same about some of my favorite road races, which leads me to muse. Do road races have a timed-out life expectancy? What happens that well organized races with strong race directors and a loyal following disappear from the current year’s race listings? Is there anything that runners can do to keep their favorites alive?

This year, at least two of my favorite local 5K’s drawing 400 – 600 runners, a good number for our small city area, will not be returning to the race list.

The same is true of two marathons where winter brings news that their doors have closed.


Mile 1 of the former Gansett Marathon

January 24th, the Gansett Marathon race director announced the dreaded news on Facebook. There would not be a 2014 race.  I wrote a post earlier about this wonderful marathon located in Narragansett, Rhode Island. This was a niche race, no fundraising entries, and requiring previous marathon times 5 minutes over the required Boston Marathon times.

I loved this marathon for the fresh sea air, wildlife spottings and beautiful neighborhoods with only a small section through a business/industrial area. Gansett had a loyal following, but apparently not large enough in number meeting the challenge of the required entry times. 

Another winter announcement came from the Mother Road Marathon. An email came to my inbox alerting me to its demise. The MRM website now reads:

We regret to inform you that the Mother Road Marathon has been cancelled indefinitely. The decision was made by the Joplin City Council due to registration declining consistently since the inaugural year. The City of Joplin is the primary funding source for MRM. We have truly enjoyed our runners over the past four years and we thank you for supporting our race.


Galena KS on the route of the former MRM and the original Route 66.

With both Boston and New York on my race list for 2014, I’m thinking my 2015 plans will include a registration and support of some out-of-the-way marathons with a local flare. There are so many beautiful and interesting corners of this country and the world, I want to explore them on foot, and preferably on the run.

I’m thankful I had the opportunity to experience the Mother Road and Gansett Marathons before their cycles of life ended.

IMG_1538I wonder how many other local races are quietly closing their doors and mysteriously disappearing from the upcoming race lists. I’m hoping my shrubbery and all of our remaining favorite races will survive the ravages of winter and time. If you have favorite races that have recently disappeared, let’s hear about them.

Runners Rules to Live By

As we’re making merchandise selections for the Capital 10-Miler, sample shirts styles have been arriving in the mail.

The back of the most recently arrived shirt includes a list of Runners Rules to Live By. Messages like this list usually cross my path for a reason. I feel obliged to share with you, so here is my shirt message:

Run Towards Traffic

Carry ID

Trust Your Instincts

Dress Visibly

Run Defensively

The heading Rules to Live By is appropriate in that they may keep you and me alive.  I do run towards traffic the majority of the time, although on roads with tight turns I move to the opposite 37906156001_2543741097001_marathon-safety-02side where the vehicle behind me has a much better view of me than the vehicle coming out of a blind curve.

I almost always carry ID. Road ID has convenient and reasonably priced products. Even a cell phone that shows my emergency information or a business card tucked in my shoe will do.

Trusting my instincts, yes, yes, yes.  Call it an inner voice, Unknownguardian angel, whatever.  When the message from the universe says to turn away from that street that is usually perfectly safe and I have run down a thousand times, I listen and turn away.

I am more thoughtful lately about dressing visibly. My family reminds me each time I reach for my running shoes.images

Running defensively is more and more important as drivers on cell phones are talking while attempting to turn across traffic. Before crossing in front of a car, I make eye contact or otherwise affirm the driver sees me.

The winter months are particularly difficult in the Northeast where any berm on the side of the road is piled high with rock-hard snow boulders pushed over by the snowplow.  As I see a car in the distance, my run turns into a brief climb to the side PENTAX Imagewhere I feel like a 10-year old playing king of the hill.

Stay safe out there. Spring is coming.