Still a Runner

A Blog by Mary Lou Harris

Archive for The Lost Series

HARRC in the Dark runs under a Sturgeon Moon

Taking full advantage of long, beautiful days, this is the third outdoor event in the summer of full moons. This evening’s activity is payback for all the volunteers that make it possible for me to run races .


Credit: Farmer’s Almanac

Under tonight’s Sturgeon Moon, I am one of the volunteers, spectators, and cheerleaders.

HARRC in the Dark is a 7K race held at 7 p.m., maybe not actually dark but a beautiful sunset at dusk played with colors along the Susquehanna. And, when we finished with awards at the Federal Taphouse it was dark.

Organized by the Harrisburg Area Road Runners Club (HARRC), this 7K has become a staple of summer evening running and socializing. I joined other volunteers from Open Stage of Harrisburg and HARRC at the registration table.IMG_2204 (1).jpg

The race start and finish are on our linear Riverfront Park with the Susquehanna River along the path


and historic buildings across the street.


A smallish race with around 200 runners, participants run the gamut from elites to beginners and ages from under 12’s to 80+. 

Temperatures finally fell out of the 90’s for our race but the humidity still made runners work to get to the finish, conditions as we could expect for a late summer evening. Among old friends and new acquaintances, we ignore that humidity to spend time cheering one another on.

I encourage anyone who races a few local races a year to become more involved with your running community. Take a break from running a race to volunteer. You will learn the working of how a race is put together and likely make some stronger friendships in the process.


The race is run, awards are distributed and volunteers have packed up.

Good night, Sturgeon Moon. No fishing for me tonight, but you did light my way home.

(If you are interested in a bit more about the naming of that Sturgeon Moon hanging in our night sky, I found some interesting background over at cherokeebillie.)


Lost in Amsterdam

To avoid the Capital 10-Miler post-race wrap-up chores, I’m indulging in wanderlust. Helped along in that quest by Cirsten’s blog, My Writers Block, where she explores the history of Amsterdam’s residents and buildings, my memories wander to my own brief exploration.

After my sister and I finished a river cruise through Belgium and The Netherlands, we took an extra day or two to explore Friesland


Heeg Harbor, Friesland

and spend a night on dry land. An option for our last day was to stop in the Van Gogh Museum or the Rijksmuseum down the street from our hotel in Amsterdam. 

I had only managed a couple of brief runs during our cruise (unless you’re counting my many laps around the ship’s upper deck).

Is this the track?

Is this the track?

While my sister enjoyed an early cup of coffee, I opted for the outdoors, letting her know I’d be returning in an hour or so. The front desk directed me down the street to Vondelpark.

Entering the park through a beautiful gate, I ran under an overhead walking bridge and took a look back to identify landmarks for my return. The park path appeared to be a circle, a circle of beautiful old residences, inviting outdoor restaurants, people walking dogs, more people riding bicycles.  Bicycles loaded with children on the handlebars and on extra seats, bicycles with business riders – briefcases stashed in their pannier, bicycles with spandexed riders.

After admiring some of the wildlife in the park,


Blue Heron enjoying breakfast in Vondelpark

I noticed I was seeing the lovely homes and inviting outdoor restaurants a second time. How had I passed my landmark exit with the beautiful gate?  I turned around, backtracking. How does one get lost on a circular path? One more time around and still no gate in view.

O.K. Now the panic begins.  Is my sister looking at her watch wondering why I haven’t returned? Will I find my way out of this beautiful but perplexing piece of land in time to make our flight? Am I feeling a little panicked? Do I pick an exit and hop in a cab back to the hotel?

I spotted a park diagram posted nearby. While trying to identify my exit, an Amsterdam native out for a run and speaking fluent English asked if I needed help. Oh yes, I need help. Please point me to the ornate gate with the park name. We jogged together back to that somehow hidden gate, comparing running histories, families and travel.

Why hadn’t I seen the overhead walkway or the gate? Well, my entrance was not  actually on the circle, but was a dog leg leading to the circle.images

Waiving good bye to the kind stranger, I returned, once again passing under the overhead walking bridge and through those beautiful gates. I returned to find my sister packed up and dressed, relaxed, reading a magazine with no idea that my outing had been a bit adventurous. She looked so calm, it would have been unkind to share.

If you must get lost, Vondelpark is a beautiful place to carry it out. I had eaten up extra time for a museum visit, but sometimes running in a beautiful

Vondelpark gate

Vondelpark gate

park, even in a state of panic, trumps a museum.

Tales of Bostons Past – Lost in the Woods

With Bostonians burrowing out from Nemo this weekend, we’re running through strong headwinds to get our training in for April 15 and comparing notes on Bostons past.

Snowed in

Snowed in (Photo credit: NinJA999)

Although each Boston Marathon is memorable, the post-marathon days turn out to to be worth remembering as well.  Take for instance that beautiful 2009 Tuesday morning in New Hampshire.  Post-marathon night was spent with friends before my scheduled mid-day flight out of Manchester.  After testing out my legs with baby steps down the stairs, I set out for a 30-minute loosen-up morning walk.  My hosts had suggestions for my route.  Although Mrs. Host insisted it would be too muddy, Mr. Host thought I might like the nature trail that intersects about a block from their home.

Opting for what was a lovely trail, I found stream crossings, roots, rocks, and many side trails intersecting, overall a nice soft walking surface. Blame it on my post-marathon addled mind that I didn’t take a cell phone or water, but did walk out the door wearing my Garmin.

Trail Blaze

I made a point of paying close attention to landmarks at the path intersections on what was a planned out and back, but apparently not close enough.   On my return, everything was familiar except the most important landmark: the side path back to my trailhead.  Here I am, directionally challenged in the best of circumstances, the day following a marathon in heavy woods without my cellphone or water.

My attempt to use the Garmin to lead me back was fruitless. A tool is only good if you know how to use it.  Being clear-headed and properly hydrated would have been helpful as well.  I was neither. Just short of total panic setting in, through an  open area in the woods I spotted a house under construction.  There was hope!  I left the trail, cut through the construction site, onto a dirt road that led over a hill and down to a real honest-to-goodness road.  To the right sat a house with an open garage door, a sure sign people were nearby.  A knock on the door brought a  cautious “yes?” from a 60ish (roughly my age) woman with a slightly puzzled but alert expression.

After explaining my confusion on the trail I asked if she could direct me back to my host’s street.  Yes, she could – out her driveway to the left, down the road to the first intersection, turn right and it should (should??) lead me back.

Thanking her profusely, I asked for one more thing.  May I please have a glass of water?  Without moving from her position solidly centered at the screen door, her right hand reached for something out of my view and returned with a cold bottle of Gatorade Rain.

Gatorade Rain bottles lined up on a supermarke...

What a sweet sight!  Unlocking her screen door far enough to hand over the bottle, she immediately closed and relocked it.  Hmmm, maybe I’m not the first lost soul who has come knocking at her door.

Her directions were spot-on.  A mere 4.1 miles and one hour and 27 minutes after I set out, I return to the home of my hosts. This is where you make that promise to yourself never to embark on a new route without some essentials: water,

Water Bottle

a safety whistle,photo a few bucks


 and a cell phone.

English: New Mobile Cell Phone Technology


I didn’t immediately share my misadventure with my hosts, but saved the “lost in your woods”  story for a late summer evening while enjoying their company at a lakeside Adirondacks cabin.  Dawn of the morning following my confession, I hear the sound of loons and quietly slide out the kitchen door to  cover more unfamiliar territory, this time with water bottle in hand and cell phone secured to my body.