Monday, September 14, 2015

Race Report: Shoreline Half Marathon

Until further notice, this'll be my last detailed race report for a while. They seem mostly redundant at this point, so I'll probably start using them more as reviews and less as stream-of-consciousness replays of my races.

Embedded in this race report are some clues as to what made this half marathon special. If you think you've solved the mystery, feel free to leave a comment on this blog post, but please refrain from making any comments on other social media outlets.

Way back in July, Laura and I ran the Shoreline Half Marathon. We like to run a race when we travel, and Laura's got this goal of running a half marathon in every state, so we picked this one as part of an extended road trip from Washington D.C. to Niagra Falls, Canada, over to Hamlin Beach State Park in New York, and back to D.C.

 On the shore of Lake Ontario before the race
 The marathon started on the shore of Lake Ontario. Before the race I had been dealing with a pretty miserable cold that ended up turning into an ear infection. Really, I shouldn't have been the one dealing with sickness--that should have been Laura's department.

Up until the night before the race, I was considering switching to the 5k. My last run in Niagra Falls was only two miles--I'd set out to run four or five, but my cold had me so exhausted I ended up running one and then run/walking back to the hotel.

A break during out run in Niagra Falls, ON

Fortunately, I slept really well that night in Niagra Falls, and took several naps in the hotel and in the car ride over to Hamlin State Park. That night at the state park, I slept great--despite a thunderstorm that woke us up with driving rain and lightning, I probably slept a solid nine hours. Unfortunately, Laura was a little nervous and didn't sleep as well. Besides huddling down in severe weather safety position, she also had to use the bathroom in the middle of the night--a more common occurrence lately.

The next morning I woke up feeling the best I'd felt in days. This turned out to be a mixed blessing. It was hot and humid, but my newfound feeling of well-being gave me a false confidence in my ability to run a fast race.

The first two miles of the race were by far my fastest. The rest of the race was about survival. The course was mainly through the rural area surrounding the state park, and unfortunately I was so miserable during the last two miles that I wasn't able to enjoy the section of the course along Lake Ontario.

Laura fared better than me. She ran the race for fun, taking her time and soaking up the scenery.

Since it was a small race, I somehow managed to win my age group by finishing under an hour and thirty minutes.

Although Laura didn't win an official award, she did manage to set a PR if you consider the fractional aspect of her time.

After the race we enjoyed some post race refreshment, and I received a nice trophy-looking thing along with a jar of delicious, organic, natural peanut butter. Then we dipped our legs into the chilly Lake Ontario water.

I'm going to go have me some of that peanut butter right now. Leave a comment below (not on Facebook) if you think you've solved the embedded clue.

Run well.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Pied Beauty

On a run yesterday, a poem popped into my head. I wrote an explication of "Pied Beauty" for my capstone class for English Literature. Enjoy:

"Pied Beauty"
Glory be to God for dappled things –
   For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow; 
      For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim; 
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;
   Landscape plotted and pieced – fold, fallow, and plough;
      And áll trádes, their gear and tackle and trim.

All things counter, original, spare, strange;
   Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
      With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
                                Praise him.

       by: Gerald Manley Hopkins

I love this poem. Listen to a recording at the Poetry Foundation website.

"Pied Beauty" popped into my head because of all the variance of color and diversity of life I saw as I ran along the Minnesota River.

I've been into reading and listening to poetry a lot more the past couple years, and after teaching poetry to middle and high school students for the last four years, I'm getting more confidence in sharing some poems I've written. I decided to try writing a poem similar to "Pied Beauty" in that I used a similar theme and the same meter and rhyme pattern.

"River Trail Run"

Concrete and steel arching overhead 
   below bronze and olive stained, dark flowing water
onto hard-packed paths by puddles punctuated,
           whose surfaces reflect crimson red.
All fauna and flora each Creator's daughter
    seemed by day and season elated. 

Riveted rust-stained beams, repaired, replaced,  
  joined the sound of men's work and of their laughter.
Watching workers, I hesitated 
    desiring more time, I have now raced

Obviously I'm far less talented of a poet than the late Mr. Hopkins. Still, imitation is the highest form of flattery, so I'm hoping Mr. Hopkins isn't rolling in his grave or planning on haunting me until I take this poem off my blog.

 Run well.