Still a Runner

A Blog by Mary Lou Harris

Archive for Boston Marathon

Sketched-Out Running Plans on a Frigid Morning

As expected, dawn on this last day of January brought single digit temps, drifting snow and a windchill well below zero, I’ve rescheduled my long run and taken to the keyboard. It’s about time, since the draft version of my 2015 running plan is stale and outdated.

With the nagging ache of a 2-year old ski injury, I’ve taken a few pie-in-the-sky running adventures off the table for this year in order to concentrate on strengthening my knee and working on alignment, doing what I need to do now to assure that I can continue to say that I am still a runner.

So, what is left for the year? I plan to honor the races I have already registered for, but run them simply as training and enjoyment without a concern for time. By mid-year, I expect to be back full-throttle. In the meantime, here is a scaled back list of possibilities:

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Lakeside Trail Pinchot Park January 2015

February: First up is the Squirrely Tail Twail Wun, a 1/2 Marathon in the woods. I impulsively registered after a January trail run/walk tagging along behind a fellow race director and his cohorts mapping out the HARRC in the Park fall 15K trail race on some of the same trails. Conditions for Squirrely Tail were notoriously bad last year and this year will likely not resemble the snowy but reasonably passable trail of January. This may be a scratch.

March:

Lower Potomac River Marathon, a low-key, low cost Maryland marathon limited to 200 runners. I selected it as an antidote after running New York, the largest marathon in the world, a few months ago. Originally, I also selected it for the likelihood of a good finish time. Now, I’m planning to just take it easy and make it through.

Capital 10-Miler – a run for the Arts On March 29, I will be race directing the race but I love the course through the Greenbelt and across the Susquehanna bridges and will be running it with race committee members a number of times before race date.

Capital 10-Miler, mile 6 along the Susquehanna

Capital 10-Miler, mile 6 along the Susquehanna

 April:

Hmm, seems to be a drought here. A good time to continue working on corrections and rest. I will likely pick up a few 5K’s and 10K’s and find some trail runs or hikes in preparation for ……

May:

Dirty German 50K (really) I signed up for my first ultra, a well-established run and the course is a figure 8. If I decide a 50K is beyond my ability, this may be downgraded to the 25K. We’ll see.

June:

My big plans for June are scuttled by better judgment, with hope for that adventure next year. I’m sure I will find something to fill this space.

July:

National Senior Games in Minneapolis, MN. I will be racing the 10K on July 4 and the 5K on July 6. Qualification for national games is at the state level in even-numbered years. If you’re interested, take a look at your state – or surrounding states – for the competition schedule in 2016. This is a great opportunity to meet and watch some outstanding senior athletes in action. With a minimum age of 50 years, there will be 12,000 athletes attending and competition in more than 20 different sports.

Running with the big dogs. In 1st place on the AG podium is Jeannie Rice, fastest 66 yr. old Female marathoner in US, with Nancy Rollins, a decorated masters runner who placed 2nd in AG at Boston this year. Keep looking to the right, to the right - and there I am in 7th place just proud to be in the top 10.

2013 Senior Games 5K in Cleveland and running with the big dogs.1st place on the 65-69 AG podium is Jeannie Rice, fastest 66 yr. old Female marathoner in US, 2nd place Nancy Rollins, a decorated masters runner who placed 2nd in AG at 2014 Boston. Keep looking to the right, to the right – and there I am in 7th place just pleased to be in the top 10 of the outstanding field of women.

My last trip to Minneapolis was to a conference where my time in the beautiful city was mostly spent in meeting rooms. This time, I plan to enjoy family, the outdoors and some of the many arts venues.

August/September/October:

Nothing big planned here, so a great time to get in distance training and throw in a couple of half-marathons. Wild card – I may throw my name in the Chicago Marathon lottery, another opportunity to tie running in with a visit to the Midwest.

November:

Harrisburg Marathon In spite of tempting e-mails from the NYC Marathon warning me I have only xxx weeks left to claim my guaranteed entry before the February 15 deadline, with only a week between the New York and Harrisburg Marathons, I’m saying no. It has been several years since I ran the full Harrisburg Marathon and I want to get at least one in while in the F65-69 AG. This is a wonderfully organized marathon with miles of scenic riverside and neighborhood running.

Harrisburg Marathon, my first marathon, 2003, on the only non-scenic mile of the course.

Harrisburg Marathon, my first marathon, 2003, on the only non-scenic mile of the course.

When I’m not running the full Harrisburg, I volunteer and/or run with a senior relay team, all great alternatives. So, NYC, I’ll see you again another year.

December:

It depends – on where or if I’m traveling. Who knows what the future holds?

Well now, I see sunshine flowing in the window and temps have moved into the high teens. Maybe I’ll get in a mile or two.  Gotta run…………

 

 

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The Figure 5 & a Capital 10-miler 5th Anniversary

When the calendar says January and the thermometer says 10℉ what is a runner to do? Well, most of us sign up for an early spring race, which then motivates us to get out in the cold (or in the worst of circumstances grab a treadmill). 

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‘I Saw the Figure 5 in Gold’ 1928 Precisionist poster portrait created by Charles Demuth. credit: williambeebe.com

Then, others of us decide to build and direct an early spring race. And while we’re at it, let’s use our passion for running to feed another passion – we make that race a benefit for some local arts organizations. Let’s call it the Capital 10-Miler – a run for the arts.

Perfecting a 10-mile course requires running it numerous times with other runners just to ensure we have it right. Through ice, snow and bone-chilling cold, that course becomes one of the distance training runs for you and many others. Running the 10-mile course through the winter with winds whipping down the Susquehanna River prepares us for our spring marathons. It becomes an annual ritual.

photo credit: Rachel Jones Wiliams

photo credit: Rachel Jones Wiliams

Then suddenly, it’s five years later and you’re still directing that 10-mile race and raising funds for nonprofit arts organizations. So, on this frigid morning, I’m thinking of our upcoming fifth race and the number 5 appears as an arts image, the Figure 5 in Gold. And why not? The artist Charles Demuth was a local guy from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania – just down the road. He made his mark and many friends in the exciting New York art world of the 1920’s.

But back to 2015 Harrisburg and back to that 5th Annual Race. The Capital 10-miler – a run for the arts – has some talented and tough runners from the Northeast and across Pennsylvania, most returning every spring. We run it as a tune-up for Boston, as a challenge for runners moving up from the 10K distance, and we run and walk it to raise funds to support the talented arts groups that bring refreshing productions to us during our gray winter days and all year long.

Photo Credit: Bill Bonney

Photo Credit: Bill Bonney Photography

Capital 10-miler runners had to be tough to finish last year’s race when sheets of cold rain and high winds drove them to the finish line.

So this year, we’re hoping for a break on Sunday, March 29, with March going out like a lamb, mild temperatures and sunshine. It could happen. If not, we will be there for you at the finish with hot coffee, broth, lots of healthy goodies and good company. Get motivated. Come join us for a 10-mile early spring race with a mostly flat course free of traffic, interesting scenery, dedicated runners and service at our water stops by arts volunteers.

As a final note, since my inspiration today comes from the work of Demuth, I’ll share his inspiration for the work, the poetry of his friend, William Carlos Williams:

The Great Figure

BY WILLIAM CARLOS WILLIAMS
Among the rain
and lights
I saw the figure 5
in gold
on a red
firetruck
moving
tense
unheeded
to gong clangs
siren howls
and wheels rumbling
through the dark city.

 

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Photo Credit: Bill Bonney Photography

With that vision, Williams could have been with me on one of my early morning training runs through Riverfront Park along the Susquehanna.

What inspires you? If it’s a spring 10-miler, you can find us on Active.com.

Stocking Stuffers for Runners

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Credit: funny.pictures.picphotos.net

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are past and I see a stream of discount ads for running items flood my inbox. With all that, my annual suggestions for apparel shopping for your running family and friends has hit a standstill.

Looking at my post from last year, running shoes aside, it was clear I haven’t purchased any significant items in a year or two.

 

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2010 Harrisburg Mile: Apparel – navy shorts, blue piping.

My frugal nature demands I take care of what I have, and purchase only when necessary.

 

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2014 Boston Maraton – Apparel: Same navy shorts, blue piping. Maybe it is time for a holiday purchase update.

Wardrobe aside, here are a couple of items I’ve begun using that would make great stocking stuffers, or a host(ess) gift when visiting runner-friendly households through the season.

Local Craft Fairs and Farmers Markets

– If you’re looking to buy local, every craft fair I attend has products made of locally-accessed materials and farmers markets provide options of runner healthy gift food items and – one of my favorites – soap from a local goat farmer that is great for chapped hands after a frigid run.

Crafty Running Friends

– You likely have these as well in your running club and training groups. I have running friends who make and sell those crafty stretchy headbands that keep wisps of hair off my face during races. Trail running friends buy their gators from a fellow trail runner who makes them and donates proceeds to a cause. Check out your sources.

Your Fellow Bloggers

– There are a number of running bloggers who occasionally share their creations on posts and some sell as well. I’m impressed with their creativity and ability to produce what they do amid running schedules, family and work.

Fresh Wave Natural Odor Eliminator

I use their products almost everywhere, but particularly the laundry, my car and my gym locker.IMG_1044 I have a sports gel tucked under the backseat of the car and make sure there is a fresh gel when I’m doing day trips to races or doing long runs where sweaty running clothes may be stashed in the vehicle for several hours. I see they now have a sports spray and I will include that with my next order. This is a product made in the USA with headquarters in the Midwest.

 

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Sun & Earth Products

I received a sample of their hand soap and cleaner at the Runner’s World 1/2 Marathon. I’ve used the hand soap to hand wash some running clothes and it does a great job. I see on their website they have a laundry product as well. This product is again made in the USA, in Eastern Pennsylvania.

 

 

Check out your sources. How do you gift? Do you have local sources for your running and active living supplies? Let us know as it’s the season to share.

Pacing (OK, Chasing) Amby

 

I’m feeling a bit like that retro cartoon character, Mr. Magoo.

Credit: www.gopixpic.com Gonzales Pacon

Credit: Gonzalo Pacori

How is it possible to be in the running vicinity of a celebrated runner and not see him – twice? 

We’re talking about Amby Burfoot, a man who won the Boston Marathon in 1968 at the young age of 21 years. Since then, he has authored several books. I’ve seen his photos over the decades appearing with his columns offering advice and education on all things running for runners at every level. You would think I would recognize him.

My first known close encounter with Amby was at the 2014 Boston Marathon. It came to my attention after the race that we had been assigned the same corral. Granted, we’re talking hundreds of people in that corral, so yes, that I didn’t see him is understandable. Our finish times weren’t close, about four minutes apart. Still, we were likely in the same vicinity at the same time somewhere along that 26.2 mile stretch. But, I did not see Amby.

Less understandable is the near miss siting a few weekends ago at the Runner’s World Half Marathon. Upon approaching ArtsQuest the morning of the race, I saw the aging stacks of Bethlehem’s steelmaking past lighting up in the pre-dawn sky.

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Bethlehem PA pre-dawn skyline

But, I did not see Amby.

I did see a number of neighborhoods and a number of challenging hills. A beautiful long downhill at mile 12 let me stretch my legs for the best mile pace of the race.

I can attribute part of my lack of spotting other runners, be they friends or those who fit in the celebrity category, to a tunnelvision sort of focus  that automatically occurs as I run. 

That was the case when Keith, a Runner’s World staffer, pulled up beside me about a mile from the finish. I recall asking if we would be in before the 2 hour mark. He talked me through that final windy mile, pointing out the 2-Hour Pacer just ahead. My clock time was 1:59 39, chip time 1:58:49.

After the finish, I enjoyed the post-race festivities with my husband, chatting with other runners we met throughout the morning. Still, I did not see Amby.IMG_0976

Upon returning home, a friend emailed with a question. Did I realize Amby Burfoot finished six seconds ahead of me? Well, I did after looking at the results. Comparing clock times and chip times, surely we were again in the same vicinity at the start, probably near the runner who did a terrific job as the 2:00 Pacer. But, I did not see Amby.

When the race photo email arrived, I took a look through the selections for my bib number. The photo company watermarks made it difficult to see detail, but I guessed and finally took a flyer, ordering the magazine-style finish and hoping for the best. That’s me, third yellow shirt to the rear, wind jacket around my waist.13521552_1

I expect if we both continue to run,  (I’ll hold up my end to the best of my ability) my path may again (almost) cross with Amby Burfoot. My powers of observation are unlikely to improve and although I may not know it at the time, I will still be chasing, not pacing, Amby.

 

 

Blog Break – Words of Wisdom from the East

This week’s quote comes from Maine native Joan Benoit Samuelson, a gold medal olympian and multiple marathon winner setting records along the way.2f53a6cb8d1bda7f3d66365bf81c5048_0

When I first started running, I was so embarrassed I’d walk when cars passed me. I’d pretend I was looking at the flowers!

 

Now a speaker and author, Samuelson continues to set records. Her time of 2:50:29 in the 2013 Boston Marathon is the fastest marathon ever run by a woman in the 55-59 age group.

Blog Break – Words of Wisdom from the West

I’m taking a deep breath with a blog break, but leaving you with some words of wisdom from the woman who once again placed first in my age group (AG65-69) at the Boston Marathon in April, Blondie Vucich of Vail, Colorado.  Her words of wisdom:

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Photo Credit: KUSA

Not to give in to the thought that just because you’re getting older you know you can’t compete, you can’t compete on a high level or you can’t compete on any level. It really is amazing when you set goals for yourself and you go after them, and it’s kind of fun to keep chalking up the years.

Although Blondie’s advice is directed to older runners, it can apply to so many aspects of life. I’m pondering that on my break.

 

A Breath of Fresh Air at Local Races

The perfect wind down after the beautiful big-race, big-city Boston Marathon is a local, scenic race. Or two. I rarely schedule two races in a weekend, or a week, but two local runs last weekend were not to be missed. A Saturday race with an 8 a.m. start took me on rural roads over Peter’s Mountain. Signs reading “stay in low gear” are a wake-up call on this winding early morning drive.

Millersburg Ferry

Millersburg Ferry crossing the Susquehanna

Arriving in the town of Millersburg, a turn toward the river takes you there, passing a swinging pedestrian bridge and the ferries, recently added to the National Registry of Historic Sites. The 5K benefits The Millersburg Ferry Boat Association. The Dick Fralick River Run 5K is a  winding loop primarily through a park located along the Susquehanna River. The team of Jeremy and Caryn Hand make this 5K a success with Jeremy organizing and directing and Caryn baking up a storm to provide delicious dessert door prizes photoand selling perfect-for-running hair band creations that stylishly hold back rebellious locks. My 25:54 finish gave me a first in AG 60+ and a $15 gift certificate to the Armstrong Valley Winery.

Post-race with AG friend Joy

With  AG friend Joy post-race

This calls for another trip over Peter’s Mountain to check out the winery and redeem my certificate.

 

 

Sunday brought the second not to be missed race, the Harrisburg Area Road Runners Club (HARRC) 40th Anniversary Celebration 5K/10K. 10341664_10203637338075484_3556217530479668456_nHARRC was created at the beginning of the running boom and has been there through the waxing and waning of interest in running. HARRC originated the Harrisburg Marathon and has held a club run, open to members and nonmembers, every Sunday for 40 years. Along with organizing it’s own races, HARRC continues to help other organizations raise funds by providing volunteers and has timed other races beyond count.

Under the direction of Kelly Spreha, it was a cool windy morning run on a loop of hilly tree-lined lanes on the former State Hospital Grounds  and through portions of the Capital Area Greenbelt. I chose the 10K and finished with a 53:33. The race  which raised funds for Owen’s Foundation had a strong turnout, good media coverage, great food plus a wonderful opportunity to see friends.

Happy Anniversary, HARRC

Happy Anniversary, HARRC

Some participants were charter members of HARRC and others weren’t yet born when the organization was founded but play an integral role in continuing its success and service to the running community. Here’s to another 40!