Tuesday, May 8, 2018

First bike ride of the season

I almost forgot. I tend to zero in on running and ignore the cool blue bike that sits in my garage waiting for a passenger. But not today. It was a day I had planned to run but then I got an invitation to go for a bike ride. I’m so glad I said yes.

The weather was perfect and the Power Trail leading south from Fort Collins to Loveland is a treat. Miles and miles of traffic-free cruising with lake and mountain views and the occasional hill to make it interesting. Just a tiny spring breeze to make a long-sleeved shirt comfortable. A nice wide path making it possible to visit much of the time. Early enough on a weekday that there was very little biking or walking traffic. Enough twists and turns to make it just a bit challenging if you didn’t know exactly where to go.

The world is green again and now in all its glory. Weeds have not had a chance to become overgrown and enormous. Fruit trees are in full and gorgeous bloom.

A few campers had settled in to spots around Boyd Lake. Maintenance crews were out trimming weeds along the trail and repairing a roadway here and there making a couple of detours necessary.

We did a 35-mile round trip which seemed plenty for the first ride of any distance for the season. In a week or so, I’d like to ride the trail again just to see if having done it once, it might seem  easier than it did today.

Just to make sure we knew it was a bike trail, one inventive soul had created a wall of old bikes along the trail. A much better solution than relegating them to the junkyard, I thought.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

A memorable photo

In the course of putting together a little book I’m calling Still Running, I spent a few hours yesterday looking through most of the 7,000 photos on my computer in search of a few specific ones that I needed. My task was made tedious because I had failed to name most of them—in fact didn’t even know how to do that until a few months ago.

It was a long and boring job punctuated by some bright moments when I ran across memorable pix. One of those moments was when I came upon Marcia and Rui Benfica’s son and daughter hanging out in the hot tub in my backyard. I got to know Marcia when she had done her best to teach me some Portuguese when I was in Mozambique more than a decade ago. 

A few years after I was back home, my good friend, Hope Cassidy, organized a fundraising effort in Greeley, Colorado for a school in Mozambique and Marcia, then living in the U.S., came to Colorado to help promote it. We had a fun visit. The school got built.

I couldn’t resist sending the photo to Marcia. I got an immediate reply. She enjoyed reliving that memory and reported that the kids are now teenagers attending high school in North Potomac, Maryland. Rui, who has a Ph.D in agricultural economics from Michigan State, now works as an international development economist in Washington, DC.

Marcia’s exciting news is that along with her husband and three friends, she is spearheading Mozambique Orphans Charity, a new non-profit organization whose mission is to provide education, job training and meet the medical, emotional and spiritual needs of orphans in Mozambique. I remember how many orphans there were in the country when I was there, many as a result of the AIDS crisis.

“I’m so happy and very motivated doing this. It’s a dream come true,” Marcia wrote. On Friday, May 4 she will speak about the organization on the Voice of America radio. The first fundraising event is scheduled for June 16.

Marcia comes by her passion quite naturally. Her dad was an Anglican pastor. She has worked in expat relocation for the World Bank and was an active Rotary Club volunteer in Maputo.

The website is beautifully done. Check it out at: http://www.mozambiqueorphanscharity.org/

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Creatures of the Culture

I am on fairly intimate terms with a certain group of young people, ages 20 to 29. It is my continuing pleasure to see them growing up, getting educated, making friends, travelling the world, interacting with each other and beginning to settle into the world of work. They are in many different stages right now. But one thing they have in common: They are creatures of their generation.

Seems to me we all are. Many college kids in the 1950s, when I went to school, tended to pair up early, go through the dating, “pinning,” and engagement process and then marry shortly after graduation. Of course not everyone followed that scenario, but it was a common trend that I bought into without giving it a second thought.

I started dating my husband-to-be in October of my senior year, got pinned in January, engaged shortly after that and married in August, two months after graduation. I taught school for a year, then had my first child in July. By age 28 I had four children. It wasn’t until my husband died when I was 55 that I experienced real independence. That included holding down a job, buying a house, a car, having my own bank account and deciding for myself where I wanted to travel and how I wanted to live my life.

I see these young people I know doing things the other way around. After seven years as a partner with his wonderful girlfriend, the 29 year-old will marry this fall. The 27-year-old has found herself a challenging career and is moving up the ladder fast. No permanent relationship in sight. Age 25 has spent two extended periods abroad, worked in an office setting for a year and will soon set off for a Fulbright year before entering graduate school. No permanent relationship in sight. Age 25 #2 has one more year in law school. One past relationship. No permanent relationship in sight.

Age 24. Living the life of the young finance person in NYC. One past relationship. No permanent relationship in sight. Age 23. Living the same NYC life as age 24. In a very nice relationship. No future plans in sight. Age 23, still getting educated. No permanent relationship in sight. Age 22, still in school, in long-time relationship. Future plans unknown. Two 20 year-olds, in school, both playing the field. Age 20, still in school, in long-time relationship.

It is too soon to see if my theory will apply to those at the younger end of this group. Still, I think it is interesting to reflect on how times have changed. These young people will have a world of experience behind them if and when they decide to “settle down” with a permanent partner.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Old Lady Running

I was asked to write a piece for an "Aging Gracefully" newsletter and this with what I said.

I always said that when I turned 70 I would quit running. But then I turned 70 and I was having so much fun running that I decided to keep doing it for a while. During the eleven-and-a-half years since then I have been continually entertained by the world of masters running and I’ve learned a whole lot.

I’ve had to admit to myself that I am addicted to this business of putting one foot in front of the other, inserting a little bit of a bounce to turn it into a run. Walking is great and I do lots of it, but it is not the same as running.

I’ve had to concede that I am getting slower and that I can’t run as far as I once did. At the same time, I’m so grateful that I can still participate. These days I have to dress warmly. I run more slowly so I don’t warm up the way I once did.
I’m getting used to having few competitors in my age group—sometimes none, which was the case in a recent USATF 8k Masters Championship in Virginia Beach on St. Patrick’s Day. I was the only woman, but there were two men in my age group. I did that race a little faster than they did. That was pretty much fun.

The older one is, the better their chances of winning the “age-graded” award, determined by a mathematical formula that combines a runner’s time with their age. In Virginia Beach I won that award with a 99% score which came with a check for $600. The race took me almost 43 minutes—not a bad rate of pay!

The Fort Collins Coloradoan took note when I won a world age-group record for the 5k a couple of months after I turned 80. But when the same thing happened in a much more difficult 15k race in Tulsa, Oklahoma three weeks later, no one noticed.

I’ve discovered that Grandview Cemetery down the street from where I live is a great place to run. The surface is dirt, flat and traffic-free. Lots of others runners and walkers have discovered it too. Reading gravestones can be quite interesting. I’m getting to know some of those people. I like it that none of them comment on my pathetic pace. They just let me do my own thing.

I just signed up to do the fortieth running of the Bolder Boulder. The following weekend I’m going to Albany, New York to do the fortieth running of Freihofer’s Race for Women. Both these races have become an annual tradition for me and I intend to keep on doing them for as long as I can.

I guess I must be addicted.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Running for pig socks

I did it! Last night I let loose of the manuscript I’m calling Still Running? I’m not at all sure that it was ready to pay a visit to a prospective publisher, but I was ready to say goodbye to it for a while. I had massaged it to the point where I had to stop. A few kind friends had read it and shared some extremely helpful suggestions for which I am grateful.

The publisher I sent it to said that it gets so many submissions that I should be prepared to wait for eight to ten weeks. Then, if they have an interest in it, they will let me know. If they are not interested, well I’m on my own to check the calendar and then move on to the next step.

From the day when I started this project I have been planning to go the self-publishing route. I’ve done it four times in the past and it works well for me. But just on a whim, I decided to send it out into the big bad world and see what might happen.

It consists of sixty short pieces covering many aspects of running from the people I’ve met, the places running has taken me, the role it has played in my life and reflections about the sport as it has grown and changed over time.

Last Sunday, I made the Still Running? title true by running in the Flying Pig 5k, a fundraiser for Foothills Gateway, an organization that serves those with disabilities in Fort Collins. The wind was blowing like crazy, as it usually does during this mid-April race. Four hundred souls turned out to walk or run and support FG. They all went home with a T-shirt, zippered bag containing some goodies and an evergreen tree, ready for planting. Afterwards they were treated to hot drinks and bacon bagels.

I was lucky enough to walk away with a pair of socks covered with flying pigs that have already taken their place as favorites.

Stayed tuned. I’m looking forward to seeing my thoughts about my favorite sport see the light of day. Meanwhile, I’ll keep on running.