Archive for May, 2011

Do You Run?

So I have been running for nearly 25 years. I started logging serious miles while attending college in New Haven, CT. Little did I know how long I would continue and how far my feet would take me. It was not until a few weeks ago that I actually reflected on my running history, as well as contemplating the future.

For most, running is a solitary endeavor that requires a bit of persistence and planning. No treadmill workouts here, but rather traversing trails, roads and sidewalks in order to feel satisfied with the run of any given day. You can find the seasonal runners, plugged into their iPods, carrying water bottles and fashionably dressed in snazzy spandex. Others you might never see, unless you have to catch an early boat or you yourself fall into the category of a diehard runner.

I fancy myself a member of the latter, having trained in blizzards, driving rain with gale force winds, and used a head lamp to see in the dark, just to log the miles I felt I needed. There are a number of us onMartha’s Vineyard. We live here year round. Usually we see each other out there on the road or at local races, discussing mileage, splits, and what pace we’re looking at running.

The summer road races onMartha’s Vineyarddraw a motley crew of tourists, diehards, and locals. Everyone loves to talk about the Chilmark Road Race in August. Great, have fun and get a T-shirt to wear back in whatever city you live in. Scoops, Murdick’s, Run the Chop and the numerous races, both past and present, are all great races that are a part of the island’s charm.

However, the races run in the off-season bring out the serious runners that have the heart to brave the elements and test their mettle against whatever the island throws at them. The annual 20 miler in February would be the consummate example of just such a race. Rain, snow, wind or even a perfectly calm day with bright blue skies could greet you the morning of the race. What is guaranteed is that you will not be running it alone. That is a testament to the devotion of a dedicated runner.

My faster days are behind me now. I was able to run the nearly 10 mile loop from Our Market to the Triangle in Edgartown and back in about an hour when I first ‘washed ashore’ more than 12 years ago. I never ran a sub-three hour marathon, but instead peaked at3:08and change. I did run Boston in 2000, with more than 25,000 other runners. I still get up before the sun and enjoy the ritual of it all. I can tell you where run for any number of distances all over the island. Need to train on some hills? Yup, there are a bunch of hidden, little used trails. The island proved to be the place where I excelled in both times and distances, as it has everything a runner needs to train and improve.  I have been working with the next generation of athletes at the high school. The cross country and track teams keep me training and I help them learn from my experiences. In return, they improve and mature in an environment that I feel good about being a part of. Fair enough…

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Running Is A Process

As I compose this blog, it is Sunday morning. Although is not yet 8AM, I have already been up for nearly four hours. I was in the middle of a seven mile run as I watched the sunrise over Vineyard Haven harbor. This Sunday ritual has become ingrained into a part of my life that I take solace in. I am not alone, for the usual cadre of runners and cyclists are also out there, enjoying all the natural beauty thatMartha’s Vineyardhas to offer.

My usual loop takes me through West Chop, downtown Vineyard Haven, and sometimes past the Tisbury Water Works. The pace and route may vary, through the seasons and as time might allow, but running holds a multi-faceted purpose for me, as it does with many runners I know.

Beyond the aspect of fitness, running holds the opportunity to clear the mind and sift through the stresses of daily life. While I run with a GPS computer, mostly to track my progress, I have never run with music. No walkmans, iPods, or the like, as I find them to be more a distraction or buffer between one’s self and the surroundings.

Having run in urban and rural settings, I never want to be too disconnected from the environment where I am. In cities, it is important to hear approaching cars and emergency vehicles, but running on the Vineyard holds something else. Running here, whether it is around West Chop or through a Land Bank Trail, I want to hear the rustle of the wildlife around me. Sure, I want to avoid the skunks that warrant caution, but I also enjoy catching the flash of white as a deer bounds away.

This morning held woodpeckers banging away along upperMain Street, a rooster of note sounding his call, and more than a few squirrels chattering their disapproval of my presence. Other mornings the Nobska fog horn can be heard sounding off, the steamships might be chugging around the chop, or the wind may howl at me in what seems to be a headwind Whether you run or walk, get out there and enjoy all that surrounds you. Leave your cell phone, iPods, and the like at home. Spend some quality time with the island, its offerings, and even with your own thoughts. You might be pleasantly surprised on what you discover.

no matter which way I turn.

Still, there are times that beyond all other sounds, I hear the thoughts in my head. Running provides me time to think with a clear head. I find my cadence and the thought process begins. Perhaps I need to respond to correspondence from an individual, or there a project requires a certain something that I have not yet figured out. Then again, I could compose a blog post, as I did this morning.

Often the distance I run is dictated by physical or time constraints. Other times, I will go just a little farther, just to filter through something that I have been contemplating for some while but just have not yet figured out. That’s where my running has kept me fit, both physically and mentally. Running is my process.

Whether you run or walk, get out there and enjoy all that surrounds you. Leave your cell phone, iPods, and the like at home. Spend some quality time with the island, its offerings, and even with your own thoughts. You might be pleasantly surprised on what you discover.

running is a process

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