Runners Notes
By Heather Cass Erie Times-News staff blogger
If you want to know anything about the local running scene, ask Heather Cass. A member of the Erie Runners Club for 10-plus years, she is immersed in the local fitness culture, and she's taking your questions.   Read more about this blog.
Posts tagged ‘Just Write’
Posted: February 5th, 2013

It’s 11 degrees and the wind is blowing snow into my face. I have to squint to see the half a dozen runners ahead of me and I need to keep them in sight because I have no idea where I am.

I’m glad I wore my ice cleats. I wish I’d grabbed a scarf.

We turn the corner and run uphill. And up. And up. And up. She warned us not to hold this route against her. No avoiding hills in McKean.

“I remember the first time I ran this,” Patrick says as we keep chugging up the grinder. “I thought, ‘OK, I just need to get to that crest,’ but there’s more hill beyond that.”

“Are. You. Kidding. Me?” I manage to gasp.

He wasn’t kidding. There was more hill.

Despite the peer pressure of running with a group, the hill breaks me. I walk for a few seconds to catch my breath.

We turn the corner and head downhill. Thank God. The wind is at our backs. We’re running rolling hills. It’s almost pleasant now, and we can actually talk again.  I wouldn’t mind running this route again on a warmer day–one above freezing. The hills are a challenge. What doesn’t kill you, right?  Now I see where the Rachel  gets her speed.

The weather makes us cut the run short–just 4.5 miles–very short for a Saturday long run group that typically logs double-digits.  But, today, breakfast awaits at Rachel’s place. Quiche, French toast strata, bacon, and strong, hot coffee, espresso and tea.

We warm up, we eat, and we talk about work, kids, coffee,… but mostly about running — past races, PRs, training strategies, mutual running friends, goals, future races. Then we go our separate ways to be who we are, bodies, souls and bellies nourished once again.

 

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About Just Write
“What ends up revealing itself when free writing is that everything has meaning. That is a magnificent gift of writing. If we write from a free heart-gut place, our souls start speaking.”

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: January 29th, 2013

The local wineries have put up signposts that point out the direction and distance to nearby wineries. (Don’t you love how they work together for the good of all? See, we can all get along in this world.)

A running friend who happens to live near one of these wineries saw a challenge in the posted distances: Run to each winery on the sign. She issued this invitation:

FINAL PLANS FOR WINERY RUN #1: Meet at 6 Mile Cellars at 7:45 am on Sunday, January 27th. We will run to Burch Farms. The sign says it is 5.1. Let’s hope that means road miles and not by how the crow flies.

I had just run long the day before and my calves were already angry at me for doing 10 miles in ice cleats on soft snow, so I didn’t commit to anything. I knew we’d be running a slower pace, but miles on snow are still miles on snow.  I figured I’d just see how I felt in the morning.

I woke at 7:18 a.m.  If I wanted to join them, I needed to leave in 8 minutes or less … and first I had to figure out how I was going to get a ride back home from Birch Farms in order to make it to church by 10 a.m.  I didn’t want to make any of the group have to hurry their post-run fun and ferry me back to the start.  As I hemmed and hawed, Dan said, “Well, I’ll come pick you up at 8:45 if you want to go.”  (I love being married to a runner.)

Decision made, I raced through the house gathering my gear.

I sped off to Harborcreek and slowed only as I turned the corner onto Firman Road, fully expecting to see runners ahead. They were not to the bend yet.  Good. When I crested the hill, I saw them heading across the street to the winery to start—a mass of black tights, shades of pink, and long hair peeking out from under winter hats.

I know only three of them by name, but no matter, we’ll get to know each other along the way.

“OK, I’m going to give each of you a dog bone,” Eloise says. “There are dogs at the end of the road that you can’t just run by. They are mean and I’d feel better if everyone had a bone.”

She didn’t mention the dogs on the invite. I’m afraid of dogs, but there is safety in numbers. I carry the Milkbone in my left hand (Why in all my years of running have I never thought to tuck a few dog bones in my pocket for loose dogs?) and deliberately stay on the right side of the group, farthest from the farmhouse on the left with the Blue Heelers from hell.

The dogs must have slept in. We pass by.  After a half mile, I tuck the bone into my pocket.

The 5-mile route to Birch’s is via Depot Road — a twisty, turn-y road with virtually no birm that’s too dangerous for a gaggle of chattering girls to run, even at 8 a.m. on a Sunday.

For safety reasons, we choose McHill McGill Road and encounter this:

The rumbling, scraping approach of a 4 ton (?) Pennsylvania snow-belt snowplow is a sound that strikes fear in the heart of this runner, second only to sound of jangling dog tags. Fortunately, it was light out. No doubt the driver saw us. He’d have to be blind not to. Still, we give him wide berth.

The group morphs over miles, constantly reshaping into smaller groups of two or three, sometimes four. We run side by side. Until a car comes and we’re forced to pause conversation and get in line.

As we approach Birch Farms, we run by more and more vineyards with gnarled brown vines tied to supports. We get a glimpse of the lake, down the hill, several miles north.

Dan is just pulling up as we finish. Perfect timing. We take a group photo to commemorate the Winery Run No. 1 before we go inside to shop (Burch’s opens at 7 a.m.!). Dan and I pick up butternut squash, apples, an Amish-made leather belt, and a homemade pecan pie.

When we get in the car, Dan asks who all the women were. Sadly, I know only one more of their names than I did when we started and that’s mostly because she has the same name as another woman in the group.  We were all introduced; I just suck at remembering names.

No matter. I can just call them all “friend” now.

And there will be more winery runs — longer ones — and time to learn names and forge deeper friendships, sharing common ground—figuratively and literally.

 

 

____________________________
About Just Write
“What ends up revealing itself when free writing is that everything has meaning. That is a magnificent gift of writing. If we write from a free heart-gut place, our souls start speaking.”

Posted: January 22nd, 2013

The wind wakes me. It sounds like a freight train outside the window above my head. I roll over, reaching for the cell phone on my nightstand. 5:38 a.m. I check to be sure my alarm is set and fall back asleep.

When the alarm goes off 45 minutes later, the wind is still roaring. I check my cell. No text messages, so I get up and go out to get the paper. Despite the wind, it’s pretty warm for January.

I check my phone again. Still no messages, so I get ready to go.

“You’re running?” Dan says incredulously.

“Nobody else canceled, and I’m not going to be the one to call off,” I say.

I pull into the gym at 7:02 a.m., the only car in the lot. While I wait, gusts rock my car.

We run into the wind the first half mile, but once we get below the gym, the wind disappears. Or maybe it doesn’t. Maybe it’s just lost, forgotten, as we run side-by-side, groaning our way up hills, talking our way through miles that rush by faster than the wind.

____________________________
About Just Write
“What ends up revealing itself when free writing is that everything has meaning. That is a magnificent gift of writing. If we write from a free heart-gut place, our souls start speaking.”

Posted in: Uncategorized

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