Saturday, September 22, 2007

Training for the Chicago Marathon

The Chicago Marathon is coming up on October 7th. My daughter Livia, who lives in Chicago, decided several months ago to do it. She has kept a very rigorous training schedule all summer. I know she just completed a 20-mile training run last weekend. She said it was fun because a large group did this run, and some of the course passed along the shores of Lake Michigan. There was music and food afterwards, but I don't think it would be worth the effort even if there was a lot of chocolate!
I want to show you these photos I shot of Livia when she was Up-North in Michigan with us at the end of August. I know Livia has been training hard, but does anyone have the right to look this good after running 13 miles on hilly, dirt roads in 85 degree heat?
This won't be her first marathon. She did one in the spring of 2004, in Tennessee, I think. And she did another one before that in which I remember the date and location very well. It was in May, in London, in 1982. She was born 5 months later. You don't have to be an obstetrician to figure whose legs hauled her across the 26 miles of cobbled, pub-lined streets of London-town. And if you can't figure this, I will tell you for certain, that those legs never, ever did it again!
But I am forever thankful that they carried her for 9 months, and it is certain that those ol' legs will be dancing a jig in Chicago-land when Livia McCormick crosses the finish line October 7 th.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Paddling Festival

I attended The Hiawatha Paddling Festival last weekend. As I'm just beginning to get into coastal kayaking (ocean and Great Lakes), I thought it would be useful to learn more about it in a fun, safe way. This event was held in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan in Les Cheneaux Islands of Lake Huron. Jessie Hadley, owner of Woods & Water Ecotours, organized the event, and she did a great job. There were very good instructors, a wonderful place to stay on the shore of a bay, good food, and a program packed with learning about gear, first-aid and survival, and fitness exercises for paddlers. The evenings had enjoyable and informative programs about nature and kayak-travel, music, sauna, and campfire.
Hands-on, we learned paddle strokes and rescues. Of course the rescues meant getting in the 57 degree water; even with a neoprene wet suit, it was chilly. Jessie loaned me a sea kayak, 17 feet long and very skinny, much different than my wide, tanky Hobie. So I got to ride waves higher than I'm accustomed to on the small inland lakes and that skinny sea kayak handled them well.

There were more women than men at this event. What intrigues me about this group though, is that the majority of participants chose to camp when the fee for indoor accommodations was only $12 more per night. And we had cold nights, one with frost. I didn't hear any complaining in the mornings; just suiting up to jump in the cold water. Awesome outdoorsy people, this kayaking lot. Guess they know, out is in, even if it's in cold water!

Photos: Jessie Hadley, owner of Woods & Water Ecotours, with her kayak trailer.
Prentiss Bay on Lake Huron where Hiawatha Paddle Festival was held.

Monday, September 10, 2007

A Walk in the Weather

Mary, Peggy, and I were spending some time together Up-North in Michigan. We decided to walk to the site of the eagle's nest which they had never seen. You can drive there by dirt road from the house which would be a 6-mile round trip. We wanted a little more adventure, so we agreed to take the trails through the state forest. Since I don't know my way through the forest, except to lead by compass with a south and easterly bearing, and the maps don't have these trails marked, I could not inform them of what distance to expect. The brave souls still agreed to go.

We walked with several layers of clothing, rain gear, binoculars, raisins and energy bars. The weather got warm, it got cool. It got sunny, it got drenchy. It got calm, it got windy. It even got sunny and rainy and windy and calm all at the same time. We went up-hill, down-hill; we added clothing, took off clothing. We turned right, we turned left (we turned wrong also!). We walked through dry sand and muddy puddles. At one point Mary complimented Peggy on being so positive and non-whiny. Mary admitted to whining because she didn't like walking "aimlessly." I corrected that we weren't aimless; we were heading in a south and easterly direction.
After 3 1/2 hours I finally recognized an intersection of 2 dirt roads. Now, in a pouring rain, we had a decision. Should we continue walking further in a south easterly direction to the nest, or should we take the direct route home? It was Mary who most emphatically wanted to continue, since we weren't aimlessly "lost" any longer!
I had seen the eagle's nest three times in the last year, and it was always active with adults and young. Guess what......this time there were no eagles; there was only a skeleton of a nest. You could still see the framework of it's original 10 ft. span in the crown of a dead tree perched high above the surrounded forest, meadow, and wetlands. What I like about Mary and Peggy, is that they weren't disappointed, but appreciative of the remaining stick structure, advantageous site, and remote location.
Tired and ready to return home, we turned north-westerly and took the shortest route. We were nearly home when we saw an eagle fly over. We laughed. We could have stayed home, sipping "tea" on the covered porch, with our dry feet propped up, our heads and backs supported by hammocks, casually gazing into the sky and maybe, maybe notice the eagle fly over. But NO outdoorsy women would do that. Outdoorsy women walk 5 hours and 12 miles through 3 seasons of weather on a September afternoon and bring back wet feet, tired bodies, and experiential memories to know what, you may ask? To know that the eagle flew over the cuckoo's nest!

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Mackinac Bridge Walk

Fifty-seven thousand people, myself included, walked across the Mackinac Bridge last Monday, Labor Day. Labor Day is the only day each year in which walkers are allowed on the bridge. We start at the north end of the 5 mile bridge span in St. Ignace, Michigan and walk to the south terminal in Mackinaw City. Even though it is up-hill the first half of the walk, and down-hill the second, you don't notice the change much as it is amusing to watch all the people......big and little, young and old, abled and disabled. What I was most excited about though, were the 50 swimmers which were allowed this year, one for each year since the bridge was built in 1957. The 5 mile distance and cold water are grand considerations, but I don't imagine they expected such a current. Even though the Straits (water area between Lake Michigan and Lake Huron) was relatively calm, the swimmers were stroking at a diagonal in order to swim parallel to the bridge. It was amazing to watch them come in. Congratulations to all walkers and swimmers!