Friday, October 27, 2006

Into The Woods

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Fall Woods

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Fall Colors

This morning as I started running it was still quite dark – the first mile or so I ran into branches and tripped over stones and branches hidden by leaf litter. But I have the trail etched in memory and so navigated the twists and turns pretty easily. Then the dawn light began – at first it was a steel gray light but briefly the clouds parted and as I ran on the edge of the woods, a treeless marsh to my right, the sky became this wonderful red purple. All around me there is the yellow and orange of fall. It is far too beautiful for a short run so I stretch out the route to take me on a wider arc.

Why I wonder does fall foliage so resonate with us? After all it is the harbinger of winter. And fall is a melancholic time compared with spring. Yet the most recent Runners World has a poll indicating that for a majority of runners (52%) fall is their favorite running season. I was a city kid so it’s not like I have childhood associations with fall and I doubt if my Irish ancestors in the west of Ireland had this kind of fall so it is not a genetic memory.

I just know that I found this morning achingly beautiful. Even though it is hunting season, twice I got quite close to small groups of deer. I stopped more than once to take in the views. Tomorrow they are predicting heavy rain and wind so it is quite possibly that next week trees will be quite bare.

For the Japanese the cherry blossom symbolizes the brevity of life but for me it is this profusion of autumnal color that says cherish the moment.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Jordan Pond Acadia National Park

Carriage Road Bridge - Acadia National Park

Tuesday, October 24, 2006


It has been a busy month – this has to be one of my favorite running seasons. Cool temps and beautiful foliage make every run a joy.

I ran a local 5K on September 29th. The Eagle Bank 5K is actually a race for Delaware County Community Hospital Cancer Center and besides the good cause I feel compelled to race because the Hospital is a major sponsor for Haverford Township Day.

Nice course that begins at the Hospital but is mainly run thru a pleasant but very hilly neighborhood. I was talking to an acquaintance whom I hadn’t seen for many years and actually missed the start. Fortunately, I was able to thread my way thru the crowd without much effort. Ran well and finished just under 24 minutes (23:59)

Then the 7th was Haverford Township Day. Weather is always a big concern since we have no rain day. The 5K itself went well – despite wet windy weather 185 runners showed up. Well under our peak numbers from last year’s perfect weather but not bad. Our breakdown between pre-registered and same day is that almost 2/3’s are same day. Another race director told me that is not unusual but I wonder why – especially for something like a small hometown race or is that why. I guess people wait to see if anything else it happening or if the weather is to their liking since they can get to the race without much hassle or worry. Still it is nerve racking and makes it difficult to start on time. Is this common?

I was pleased with the race timer, police, public works people and volunteers who did an outstanding job and thought we gave a good experience to the runners who did come.

The rest of the day went well. I had some trepidations that this being an election year the politicians would be obnoxious but actually everyone was well behaved and courteous and the parade and subsequent events went great.

The very next day I drove to Maine – no races this year but a very enjoyable week. I spent one day biking in Acadia National Park on the carriage trails. What a beautiful place. One day I spent a couple of hours running in the Bangor City Forest. Very interesting because it is a working forest with different sections cut in different ways (despite its name it is a private enterprise and not owned by the city).

On the 14th (Saturday) we went to the opening of the Penobscot Narrows Bridge (I think there is still some controversy about the name but I believe this is correct.) It replaces the Waldo Hancock Bridge. The bridge isn't quite finished but they allowed the public to walk over the bridge. Great weather and more fantastic views. Although not yet open a 420 foot Observation Tower in one of the bridge piers should become quite a tourist attraction.

This Saturday I ran another small 5K. This one was for First Responders and took place in Nether Providence. Because I had been in Maine I missed the Hero Scholarship Run so I thought I would do this run to honor the County’s first responders.

Another neighborhood/family oriented event with a nice course through a pleasant suburban neighborhood. Ran a little faster that two weeks ago but this was a mostly flat course. I was running alone with the nearest runners being a couple of hundreds yards in front of me. At mile 2 I heard someone say first women. It turned out that the lead woman was just behind me with a half mile to go she passed me and I couldn’t muster enough kick to stay with her. After the race she thank me for pacing her but I wish I could have pushed a little more at the end. Still it was kind of neat to be with a leader – don’t think that has ever happen before. By the way I was surprised when I looked at the results to see what an old crowd this was. There were a lot of 40 and 50 runners and not many 20s but lots of kids. Maybe because it was family oriented. A quick glance at the results showed (I think) that I was the oldest one running. Too bad there was no award for that (I’m stuck in the 50-59 group for another couple of weeks).

So that’s it for October – next weekend I have family obligations but come November I will be doing the Ben Franklin Bridge Run. I do love bridges.