Still a Runner

A Blog by Mary Lou Harris

Archive for solstice

When is Black the New Bad?

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About 50 feet away, that’s me holding a safety light reflector (that white speck you see).

Answering my title question upfront: Black is the new bad when worn at night without reflective material anywhere there is vehicular traffic.
I’m saddened by three recent reports of people over the age of 65 killed in pedestrian/auto accidents. Two I knew personally; one a neighbor who power-walked past my home almost daily, the other a former colleague and community volunteer. To my knowledge, none of the three were runners. I don’t know the details of the accidents but I do know under any circumstances vehicles and people are not an even match. 

So why am I telling you this on a blog post primarily about senior runners? Because it dawned on me that I, and I suspect you, don’t take adequate precautions when we are are not in running mode.

Out the door for a run anytime of day or night, we are in safety green or day-glo yellow. At dusk or dawn, we are wearing headlamps, flashing red lights and those bizarre but effective neon circle lights. But dear fellow senior runner, what are you wearing when you step out during the holiday season? Is it that little black dress that you can still get away with because you are a runner and in great shape? Are you out for happy hour in bluejeans, black knee-length boots, maybe a dark fleece jacket to shield you from the evening cold? Black gloves? Uh-huh, I thought so.

At about 30 feet away, look closely, safety light still in hand, I am barely visible.

At about 30 feet away, look closely, safety light still in hand I am barely visible.

Are we as attentive when out in the evening socially as we are when running? On a run, I find I can still do a fast ditch-dive when a vehicle comes too close. My antennae are on alert. Do I have the same level of caution crossing streets when out socially in the evening?  Honestly, no.

When we walk across a dimly-lit parking lot on our way to a holiday concert, to church, to a restaurant to gather with friends, is a driver likely to see us in dark colors – before it is too late?

Probably not the driver on their cell phone, not the driver talking to soothe a tired child, not the driver hurrying to a store before it closes. Even the driver with brilliant attention and quick reflexes may not spot us in time.

About 12 feet away from camera. Would a driver stop in time?

About 12 feet away from camera. Would a driver stop in time?

I’m taking my own advice here and please join me. Black is a great evening color and without it my closet would be nearly bare, but the fatal accidents of late have convinced me that it won’t hurt a bit to keep something lightweight and reflective tucked in my purse or pocket ready to add when in dark areas.

Please be safe out there and when taking in holiday events with family and friends or when crossing a street in the evening. Use the same precautions used when out for a pre-dawn run.

We are approaching the year’s shortest day and longest night, with sunset tonight at 4:43 p.m. 

Just added to my gift list - an amphipod xinglet.  Can be adjusted to fit any size and over any coat.

Just added to my gift list – an amphipod xinglet. Can be adjusted to fit any size and over any coat.

Lighten up!

Stay safe and healthy. Peace. 

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A Brief Jog In the Arctic Circle

The occurrence of summer solstice earlier this week continued the cat and mouse game I have been playing with the sun. During the Iron & Ice Voyage, we bopped back and forth between time zones while continuing north. Daylight hung around way past my bedtime. This was a trip to leave the Vitamin D capsules at home. The most extreme daylight was June 10th with a sunset at 0022 and June 11th with a sunrise of 0150. Then, heading south from Iceland toward Northern Ireland, it seemed odd to see the sun setting near 10 p.m.

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Leaving port at Akureyri

Leaving the Icelandic harbor of Akureyri on the 25th day of our voyage, we were to sail into the Arctic Circle before heading south to Belfast.  Although I had a few days on land early in the trip and many days in port, I still found that 25 days on an ocean voyage had me occupying some odd thoughts. Like, what would my Garmin record if I were running on the sea in the Arctic Circle?

My Garmin has become a hybrid travelogue, something between photos and a travel journal. I don’t bore family and non-running friends with this, but downloads that record the paths, bridges, and coastlines of travel runs and races around the world elicit wonderful memories.

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My mini-track

So, after briefly joining a party raising glasses to our entry into the Arctic Circle, I slipped away to my cabin to retrieve running shoes and Garmin, then made my way to the upper deck. A couple of other passengers enjoyed the quiet there. Even so, I found a sense of personal solitude in the chilly air. In the distance, whales would sporadically surface off the port sideI pushed the power button on the Garmin. It found satellites immediately. Beginning with a fast walk, then a jog out and back on the short area on deck. I glanced at the Garmin. It was registering about a tenth of a mile for my every step. Running on a moving ship was improving my pace significantly.

Returning to my cabin later in the evening, I downloaded the inflated results onto my laptop. The map doesn’t scream “Arctic Circle,” but results do show we were in the Greenland Sea, which is within the Arctic Circle.  

Not from my Garmin download

Not from my Garmin download

If there is a point to this post perhaps it is that runners who are generally obsessive can become more obsessive when at sea.

Are you having summer adventures with equally obscure thoughts? I’d love to hear about them.