Still a Runner

A Blog by Mary Lou Harris

Archive for Capital Area Greenbelt

Congratulations Mother Earth on a Resilient 2016

In spite of everything we throw at her, Mother Earth finds a way to cope and thrive. Regardless of how disappointing we humans can be in our actions, getting outdoors never fails to regenerate hope. Here are a few examples that popped up before my eyes during 2016.

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January hikers on the Appalachian Trail (AT) enthralled with the view of morning mist over the farm fields below.

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A clear February sky over the iced Susquehanna River.

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A March day along the Capital Area Greenbelt with fresh buds on cherry trees.

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April brings the strains of jazz murmuring through the trees as the ensemble waits the arrival of the Capital 10-Miler runners along this wooded stretch of Greenbelt.

In June, the Rhinebeck Marathon included some miles on a heritage trail. On a smaller scale, the baby turtles began making their treks out of hiding along Wildwood Lake.

 

A July run down a country road brings into view a fisherman knee deep in waders. The stone building abutting the bubbling creek demonstrates its own resilience having stood strong for over a couple of centuries.

In August, nature brings us a spider web glistening in the morning sun. While the web may not be resilient, its creator is.  A run brought me to an ambling creek flowing by temporarily abandoned lawn chairs.

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A September view of the River Thames. Over the thousands of years it has flowed, the course has been altered by time and by humans.

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Not as old as the Thames, this grape vine growing at Hampton Court is more than 230 years old. Alas, I arrived too late in September to purchase jelly from its abundant crop.

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October took me to the banks of the Chicago River where it flows into Lake Michigan, a lake that was formed billions of years ago. It will outlast the concrete buildings and bridges surrounding it.

 

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A November breakfast at a café in the 540 million year old Laurentian Mountains was enjoyed on the warm side of this window.

What have I found to be resilient in December? That we have made it through a trying year with one day to go may be the best description of resilient. Mother Earth is still holding her own and so should we.

If you would like to see the perspective of other writers and photographers, take a look at these ideas on the meaning of resilient.

 

 

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We’re all 1/2 (Marathon) Crazy

It’s the absence of the stifling humidity that has us giddy. And it’s that season. You see a leaf or two falling to the sidewalk, breathe that air with a barely distinguishable hint of autumn, and runners go 1/2 marathon crazy. Regardless of experience or pace, the half-marathon calls us. We’re helpless against its siren songuntitled.

We rationalize the usual explanations. It is a perfect tune-up for impending full marathons. The half is a great introduction to a longer distance for runners moving up from 5K and 10K distances. But really, we just want to be part of autumn and half marathons.

The Harrisburg Half Marathon has my first 1/2 and continues to be one of my favorites. It is convenient, mostly flat and mostly shaded. Still, after a summer of disappointing results in shorter races and in training, I held off signing up this year.

Has it been the humidity, the air quality, possibly age? Summer running and racing have been difficult. During my last 5K I felt like I was breathing through a mask. The legs felt strong, not so the lungs.

But the fever still strikes. On a hot sultry Saturday before race day while volunteering for packet pick-up, the energy and enthusiasm among runners pouring in for race bibs was palpable. I kept hearing the weather would change overnight, humidity would lift and we would have a cloud-covered cool(er) day.

Rivers Runners pre-race start

Rivers Runners pre-race start. Photo credit: Bekah Rundall

I bit. At the end of my volunteer shift and just before late registration closed for the day, hand went to wallet, signed waiver, picked up shirt and committed the rest of my body to a 13.1 race the following morning.

Overnight, the humidity did indeed clear out, but the cloud cover did not move in. Still, with temperatures in the ’60s and ’70s and those wonderful trees along the Susquehanna Riverfront, it was a beautiful day for a race.

I started near the back of the pack, unsure of what my pace would be. After the first two miles,  from City Island and south through Shipoke to the Greenbelt, runners finally spread out and I was able to move comfortably to an 8:55 pace.

Around miles 11/12, unshaded but great scenery. Photo courtesy Stacey Cleary

Staying on pace miles 11/12, unshaded but great scenery. Photo credit: Stacey Cleary

Surprisingly, the tight breathing experienced over the summer wasn’t a problem. I stayed on pace until Mile 13 where I drifted off by 20 seconds.

A solid finish coming in at 2 hours, 0 minutes, and 23 seconds, this pleasantly surprised runner was just over two minutes off PR placing second in age group.

Photo credit: Lind Brain Beck

Photo credit: Lind Brain Beck

The other pleasant surprise was the relatively large number of women in the 65+ age group. With a field of nine women, first place in AG went to a strong competitor from Virginia with a 1:55 time.

With a beautiful home course and well organized 1/2 in Harrisburg behind me, have I stymied the 1/2 marathon craziness? No. Next stop for me is the Runner’s World Half in October.

Looking at race calendars, over the next month there are roughly 15 scheduled 1/2’s within a two-hour drive. I expect wherever you are, race calendars are similar.answer-girl2

So, who else out there is 1/2 crazy? Raise your hand.

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!