Posted tagged ‘running’

UMKC Virtual 5K ~ race recap

September 25, 2021

For as many years as my alma mater, the University of Missouri – Kansas City, has held a 5K, I have participated in it. (I even got an age-group placement medal one year, but that was long ago.) In recent years, and for obvious reasons, their 5K has been virtual, as was the case this year. I signed up for the event as soon as I knew about it, and then I ran it on the first day (of the week permitted) when I could. I had mapped a 3.1 mile course on the streets and trails in my neighborhood, so I could leave home and return home without needing a ride.

I am only recently trying to get back into the sport of running. I am certainly out of shape, and my performance on this run is a sure indicator of that. But one of the things I especially liked about running is how egalitarian it is. Runners of all skill levels are welcomed, encouraged, and praised. Thus, if my run this year involved more walking than running, it still counted. (The event was even promoted as a run/walk.)

I left the house about an hour before dawn and started the stopwatch on my phone. Then I took off. The first mile of my route was along a busy road with street lamps every hundred feet or so, but because I would detour onto the Indian Creek Trail, which is not lighted, I had strapped on my headlamp. I know this trail very well, but there are some places deeper in the woods where it can get too dark to see safely. A fallen branch or a walnut could easily turn my ankle. That’s when I expected to use my headlamp, but it happened that some of the sprinklers were on along that busy road at the start, and rather than get my skimpy plastic clothing wet in 56 degree temps, I ran in the street along there. And I switched on my headlamp when I was in the street (though no cars passed me during the time I was there). I did use my headlamp a few times along the trail itself, but by then — I was about half way — the sky was light enuf to see the trail. It was along here that I met up with more runners and riders than I would have expected at that time of day. Everyone was courteous and announced themselves well before reaching or passing me, and I like to think there is a kind of community among the trail users.

My route took me back into my neighborhood, and it was here that I left the trail and got on a sidewalk. As I said, I had mapped out my 5K course earlier, so I knew when I reached 3.1 miles, and when I did I stopped the timer on my phone to get my time.

The race organizers asked us to report our time, in part because that’s what you do in racing and in part because they were giving out prizes for age-group best times. I had no ambition to compete for an age-group placement, and at this point I’m not even trying to improve my time. But when I looked at my stopwatch I saw that I had completed the 5K a couple of minutes faster than I had at the Rotary Club 5K a few weeks ago. (And that was with a Kenyan running at my side!)

There were no medals or shirts or other bling for this event. All of the funds raised from the entry fees were donated to the UMKC Food Pantry. I did get a race bib that I have added to my collection. And I think there will be some random prizes, so I may get something like that. (Last year I got a cooling towel.)

As I said, I’m a long way from racing fitness, but there is a 5K on Thanksgiving Day that I’m eyeing. My Kenyan daughter-in-law will be in town then, and maybe together we can improve my time again.

“Magic for Beantown” finds a home

May 22, 2019

This must be the good news week of the pendulum’s swing. I just learned that my story “Magic for Beantown” has been accepted by Aethlon and will appear in their next issue.

This is the story I’ve mentioned that may or may not have a leprechaun in it, and it’s the one that the editor had sent back to me twice for rewrites. (Another editor I know told me that the second request was a sign that he really wanted to use the story if he could get it in the shape he wanted.)

I have to format the story to the publication’s standards, which won’t be a problem, then send it back one last time.

I don’t know when the issue will come out, and it will be print only when it does. This is my third appearance in Aethlon, which kind of gives me warm fuzzies.

runaway writing

May 6, 2013

Last summer, when I ran my first 5K, I knew (as I was plodding along, surprised at myself) that I would somehow incorporate running into one of my Fathers and Sons stories. I wasn’t sure just how at the time, but I realized that this sport was going to take up a large part of my life, and I figured I ought to put the experience to work.

Fast forward to April. I completed the Trolley Run in Kansas City last month, and I finally felt I was ready to begin that running story. Now, there are a couple of things you need to know. First, unless a plot bursts fully formed in my mind (and I’m not sure that has ever happened), I tend to “accumulate” a story in pieces. Images present themselves. Bits of dialog. A theme that seems worthy of developing. I collect these bits and copy them into a file that seems suitable until the story itself begins to gel. When I reach some intangible tipping point, I generally start writing the first draft of the story, knowing that it will evolve from there, sometimes in far different directions than I ever imagined.

The second point is that the Trolley Run was a watershed for me in many ways. When I first began trotting around the dog park with my Border Collie a year ago, I couldn’t conceive the notion that I could run a quarter mile, much less the 3.1 miles of an entire 5K. But I thought that if I stuck with it, pushed myself farther, and kept my eyes on a goal, maybe, just maybe, I could do it. I set the Trolley Run this year as my goal. (I didn’t know at the time that it was 4 miles long, longer than a regular 5K.)

The running story continued to accumulate, and the general outline of the plot revealed itself to me. Basically, a son it taking up running, which is an activity his father doesn’t share, and though this is a good thing in general, it becomes another thing that divides the two. (My working title right now is “Runaway” with multiple possible meanings, of course.) I thought that the Trolley Run, which is an annual event of some renown here in Kansas City, would be a good setting for my running story. Thus I had to wait until I had done the Trolley Run before I began the story in earnest.

Well, I completed the Trolley Run, and last weekend I started on the story. Even though I’ve done a half dozen 5Ks and three 10Ks, and even though my afternoon runs are generally far longer than 4 miles, the Trolley Run had become my psychological barrier. Because it was the goal I had set for myself a year ago, it was far more meaningful for me to complete than any of the other runs I’ve done. Well, I burst through that barrier (at a pretty decent pace for my ability, even setting a PR), and while I’m not sure that’s given me any insight to my story, it’s given me the raw, real-world material I needed.

I had reached the tipping point. As I said, I started on “Runaway” over the weekend, and I think I made pretty good progress on it. I’ve mentioned here before that I really need to devote some effort to working out the timeline of these stories. Three generations of men, spanning a lot of years, but so many of the stories are particular moments in their lives, not sweeping themes. How old is the central character in each story? When was he born? When does it have to take place so that subsequent (and prior) moments fall in line properly? Does it make sense that he is this or that age when this or that happens? And so on.

Right now, I can write most of these stories without obsessing too much over that. But someone needs to tell me to buckle down and work out the timeline.

(I’m training now to run a half marathon in October. It’s my new psychological barrier. Yikes!)