Still a Runner

A Blog by Mary Lou Harris

Archive for Riverfront Park

Riverfront Path = My Cheers

Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name. And, sometimes it occurs to you out of the blue,  this is it – your ownUnknown

A strip of running path bordered by grass mediums, trees, picnic tables and sculptures,

photo credit: flikrhivemind.net

photo credit: flikrhivemind.net

the river and a lower running path to my right, and wide one-way Front Street on my left, this is my Cheers.

photo credit: peace.maripo.com

photo credit: peace.maripo.com, this is my Cheers.

 

I hear someone call “Hey, Mar…” and see a waving arm out the window, recognizing the vehicle with marathon placards on the tailgate. Several minutes later a light tap on a horn and a wave, my husband on his way to a meeting or, depending on the day, off to pick up the Sunday NY Times.

Approaching from a block away, another runner is calling out “Mary Lou.” I recognize him by his gait. Moving in opposite directions, briefly we share a few words and we’re off again.IMG_0813 - Version 2

Everybody knows their names: Becky and Carol on a marathon training run.

Everybody knows their names: Becky and Carol on a marathon training run.

A trio of young women emerge up a ramp from the lower path. I’m acquainted with two of them and we exchange information on surface conditions on the path.

The cast of characters on that much loved sitcom covered a wide demographic. Runners at my Cheers include surgeons and mailmen, bureaucrats and politicians, fitness instructors and educators. Although many that I recognize along the path and who recognize me are in their 30’s and 40’s, there are plenty of us much younger and much older.

Not everybody knows my name. Like Cheers, there are the background characters. During a mid-day run, I make my way through a tag game among children and teacher out for recess. On a Sunday morning, a few couples walking arm-in-arm to one of the nearby churches. Almost anytime during the day, I will pass the occasional homeless folk. 

They along with a few downtown workforce taking a bag lunch and a break in the park, are not the main characters but are a backdrop to my Cheers. I know their faces, they know mine. Add to that tourists who flag me to take their photo with the Susquehanna in the background and the stage set to my Cheers is complete.

I didn’t expect a slice of riverside land would weasel itself into the fabric of my life, but there it is. A place where almost everybody knows my name, and I know their name, their gait, their pace and their friendship. IMG_1240 - Version 2Sometimes it takes a frigid winter morning to know you are at your Cheers.

 

And you, where have you found your Unknown

 

 

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.