Still a Runner

A Blog by Mary Lou Harris

Archive for September, 2018

A Rainy Harrisburg Half-Marathon

If it’s not one storm it’s another. Last weekend, the winds of Tropical Storm Gordon  let us know inland what was happening along the coast – and it was coming our way.  Fortunately, with my mishap at the Sasquatch yesterday, I had earlier decided to volunteer at the Harrisburg Half rather than running it this year.


My friend and bride-to-be Jenn stopped at my monitor station for a hello and a wet hug

I had a great course monitor spot located a couple of miles into the race. After my experience at Boston this year, I feel like an expert in dressing for heavy cold rains. A long sleeve merino shirt and my trusty North Face rain jacket, Helly Hanson waterproof pants (a staple in my  athletic gear drawer for going on 20 years) over my light running warmups. And let’s not forget that ridiculous yellow hat that does a superb job of keeping the rain falling several inches in front of my face instead of on it.

The overall winning time was Jason Ayr at 1:10:48, a 5:24 pace. First female and third runner overall was Emily Hume with a time of 1:19:25 and a 6:04 pace. Congratulations in order for both.

If you haven’t volunteered for a race, try volunteering as a course monitor. It’s a good way to see all the runners, from the elites flying by to the mid-pack to those in the back of the pack pushing forward with smiles on their faces.

It’s also a good way  to see and cheer on your friends who have trained hard for the race. Yesterday was a bit tough but most folks took it in stride. In Harrisburg., we run through sleet, snow, rain, and occasionally a day of sunshine.


Most t-shirts were hidden under rain gear on Sunday. Sarah made sure we knew she was wearing her 2014 Capital 10-Miler shirt. That shirt has become the symbol for completing a wicked race with weather conditions moving in faster than forecast, including blinding rain, wind, sleet and snow. The shirt conveys “I am a bad _ _ _ runner!”



Finding Sasquatch – A Preservation Trail Run 5 & 10K

A week of high temperatures and humidity gave way to an evening of downpours that continued through Saturday’s Sasquatch Preservation Trail Run 5K and 10K. The run is billed as an adventure run – and definitely is. It begins at North Branch Farms and benefits the Farm & Natural Lands Trust of York County.



Sasquatch did appear. I’m sure there must have been more than one, since I saw him (or her?) several times on the trails. The mixture of terrain was good, with some open pasture land, some horse trails through the woods, and at least five or six horse jumps to find our way over by whatever means, followed by short but steep ups and downs. Then near the end of mile 5 came the stream crossing.

With the intense rain the night before Codorus Creek was running high and fast, more than waist-high for me. A couple of burly volunteers were stationed in the creek to ensure none of us was swept downstream. 

It was when I emerged from the stream that I realized that from a quick fall – down and back up again in a second – that I had blood running from my knee. I reached the finish line at 1:27:30. Friends who had finished much earlier were there cheering. Seeing my bloody knee, they flagged down a gator. I hopped in for  a ride back to my car, pulled out my first aid kit, and with the help of the volunteer cleaned out and bandaged my knee  well enough to get to urgent care.

With only a light breakfast hours before and 10K of trail under my belt, I decided just a bit of nourishment was needed to keep from getting lightheaded. At the McDonald’s nearest to the highway, I pulled up at the drive-through. Creek-wet from the waist-down and blood dripping from my knee, I wasn’t suitable for even the interior of a McDonald’s. My order?  Apple pie and coffee, please. Calories and caffeine.

Back on the highway to urgent care, I was seen quickly.  As expected, stitches were in order. Not a great ending to a scenic run, but for my many miles of trail runs and hiking, this was my first experience with stitches. Bumps, bruises, scratches and a few insect bites, yes, but never stitches until now. A small price to pay for many wonderful experiences in the outdoors.

How was your weekend run? Hopefully less eventful than mine.







Kipona Weekend

My capital city celebrates each Labor Day with activities around our beautiful sparkling waters of the Susquehanna River, our Kipona Festival.

Here you will find hand-made art items, musical performances and food, lots and lots of food.

While all that is wonderful, my early arrival on City Island was designed to get in a few miles before joining running friends Todd and Jen as they hosted a River Runners group run to celebrate their upcoming marriage. Todd and Jen met at a group run years ago so it was only fitting to host a run and finish it off with post-race snacks. Group runners began at different paces, making our way up river through food and performance tents not yet occupied by vendors and visitors.

Runners congregated post-run to chat and munch. I saved my snack for later as I had more miles on my schedule. On my last lap around City Island, I stopped at the Pow-Wow Festival and listened a bit to the haunting sound of a wood flute while I picked up a Fry Bread Taco. Delicious and far too big for me to finish.

While running down river earlier, I saw that wires were being set up for a tightrope walker scheduled for later in the day. Given the gusts of wind coming across the water, I expected the walk would be cancelled. Not so, as my friend Jennifer caught in this photo.



Not a water walking nymph as the eye might have us believe, but a graceful tightrope walker probably 40 feet or so above the water.

Overall a relaxing weekend, ending with an out-and-back six-mile hike on the Appalachian Trail, 93 degrees at the start but feeling cooler on the trail, Our return trek took us into dusk, ending with a dark trail alight with the beam of our headlamps.

The end of summer heat and humidity did nothing to dampen my appreciation of the  bountiful beauty of this region. Never forget those who labor to protect our environment so that we can enjoy it.

I will end this post with another view of our sparkling Susquehanna, this one from atop Peter’s Mountain, taken during the hike, a scenic close to a beautiful weekend.


Power lines can be an eyesore along some trails. In this case, our hike leader Mark captured the view as the sun was about to take that last shred of pink beneath the horizon, the lines having the look of architecture, drawing our eye down into the valley below.