Running for Your Life: Important Correction

If Oak Park, Illinois, is America’s Tree City then Park Slope, Brooklyn, is America’s Discarded  Plastic Bag City; in Park Slope, Black, is, decidedly, a minority plastic.

Next: Running for Your Life: When Training Isn’t the Goal

Running for Your Life: So You Want to Live in Park Slope Dept.

If Oak Park, Illinois, is America’s Tree City then Park Slope, Brooklyn, is America’s Discarded Black Plastic Bag City.

Overheard while walking home with two black plastic bags filled with fresh fruit, a “mother” reading in a singsong voice to a rapt toddler from what looks like either a fussy greeting card, the ones with multiple hard-board pages, or a pocket children’s book, the kind that flies out the door from the cash counter at independent bookstores, “His favorite place was Starbucks . . .”

Next: Running for Your Life: When Training Isn’t the Goal

Running for Your Life: So You Want to Live in Park Slope Dept.

Overheard near the entrance to Fourth Avenue, Union Street subway entrance, man dressed in beachwear, flip flops, fanny pack! cargo shorts, casual-est T, “Tell me, what are we going to do with the outlets in Switzerland.”

Overheard during run in Prospect Park, “state-of-the-art barn …” (Somehow I don’t think the woman was talking about cow milking machines or the latest in latrine technology.)

Overheard at Fifth Avenue, Eighth Street Citibank branch, Caucasian man in oversized bike helmet, frumpy athletic clothes, in a loud, angry voice to an African-American bank clerk, “Fix it today or I’ll be handing over my Citi gold card!”  

Next: Running for Your Life: When Training Isn’t the Goal

Running for Your Life: Nova Scotia Mood, Part Four or Whirligig Wonder

Only racers go to motel breakfasts at 6 a.m. Sundays; it has to be funny to see us all come in, skinny legs and all

It was a good thing K and I had been to the Barrington Rec Center the day before. No way in hell we could’ve found it before race time at 8 a.m. Sunday

Oh yes, the car’s dipstick is still showing full, not a sliver lower than at the auto show at Woodstock  

Ten minutes before the 8 a.m. start no one is standing under the banner; we are among the first to line up, the fulls, the halfs, and the 10Ks –  eventually the 10Ks are told to split up and go about a football field away where at one point the starter asks through the public address system if anyone in the 10K group can hear her. No one says a word in reply. She asks the question again, slightly louder, and a man in front (there are more than one hundred of them in the group) gingerly raises his hand

After On Your Mark, Get Set, Go! we trundle off; eighty-four marathoners, double that for halfs. K urges me to run ahead and I do, Go Dado! she says with a “Boston” look in her eye

It’s quite cool at the start but not at the finish, which is still as the Bayou. Along the way, few signs are out, not a lot of roadside cheers. “Half-Marathoners Are Only Half-Crazy,” and in front of a church beyond the twenty-mile mark, “Remember Why You’re Out Here!” (I couldn’t and stopped and walked for a spell)

The best bit: Under the burning sun at the 16-mile mark, with a hard-to-fathom 10.2 miles to go, I see along the roadside a row of handmade wooden signlets with first names printed in black block letters. There’s a slew of them and when I see the name LARRY I tell myself that they have been placed there by the Nova Scotia Marathon organizers to honor the runners, which certainly helps salve the sting of the motorist who flipped me the bird at the 9-mile mark in response to my smiling wave to him

At the 12 miles I’m making good time and begin to pace ahead of a guy I’d been running with when the fella cries to me, “See you at the hills!” “What hills?” I reply       

Finally the finish line is in sight. More than four hours, twenty-five minutes since that 8 a.m. start. I’ll have finished six of eight marathons, but this will be my slowest. K is there, though, as I manage a final kick. During the last 400 meters I make my best time of the race. There’s a medal, chocolate mile and a sweaty hug from K

She’d done OK in the half! Ran all the way, that’s my girl!

Before heading on to Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, and the ferry to Portland (an 11-hour trip with 5,000 Muzakian versions of “Farewell to Nova Scotia.” Word of caution: Bring earplugs!) K and I head back for an afternoon in Shelburne, our new favorite place, where on a fence-top I see it. The steely-eyed lobsterman, his wooden arms wheeling a mile a minute in the never-let-up breeze, where ten years ago the ultimately unwatchable “Scarlett Letter” starring Demi Moore was being filmed, the locals never tire of telling us, there are two lobster pots in the back of my hero’s whirligig skiff, and K and I are hooked, we later learn there is a whirligig festival in Shelburne every year and standing before the work-obsessed face of the lobsterdude we make our pledge to come back to this place, not to run a marathon, but to conceive, design and build our own whirligigs and fly them in the 16th annual festival in Shelburne, Nova Scotia, in September 2015!

Next: Running for Your Life: When Training Isn’t the Goal

Running for Your Life: Nova Scotia Mood, Part Three

Just folks live with majestic Fundy Bay views above ferryside Saint John, New Brunswick, where towheads learn to skip stones from their pops; one father throws a sinker, then recovers, skims a seven

I try to rest on the ferry but no dice. I’ve parked the car on an incline and have visions of the deck floor being covered with slick oil from the diagnosed terminal leak and elder Yanks, South Asian families and lifetime fishermen slipping and falling on the treacherous floor surface as they try to go to their cars at the end of the trip

But no. When we go to the car as we enter the darling port of Digby, Nova Scotia, I again check the oil. The level, mysteriously and unbelievably, is still holding firm

We’re directed off the highway to the historic Acadia way where we make two memorable stops

1/ At a pier walk farmers’ market, the stalls are plank-empty and there’s nothing to buy, a toilet with paper and places to sit along the shore wall, sights of crabs scuttling in the low tide mud, rivulets pulling back to the sea, the power of nature in a thimble of water, and sandpipers, not by the dozens but enough, and KILLDEER! I forget the name but then it comes to me, like a shot to the heart

 2/ Behind a lighthouse along the coast where on a clear day you can see the spit of land where the whales come, K and I walk down to a ledge, the wind with shards of ice in late July, mind you, and covering the shore rocks like a wench’s hair is massive tresses of kelp with not a seal or a sea lion or an otter in sight

Landmark churches of Acadia, French Canada, doilies on the sofas, tea for breakfast, poutine for lunch. Even the gas bars shout stay away

The English rule in Barrington, though, where we arrive as late as is deemed prudent, 7 p.m., credential closing time for the 44th edition of the Nova Scotia Marathon, a manila folder with our orange-hued public warning to be aware of morning drivers, a T-shirt that’s shriek-loud orange, and a raffle. We put in our names, and not even a loonie is demanded, and I wonder out loud if the medium-dog-sized rosy-red toy lobster, the marathon mascot, is the prize, and the bored teen who is alone manning the desk at the Barrington Recreation Center doesn’t miss a beat. “Just take it. Please. No questions asked

In Shelburne, Nova Scotia, we put our things in the motel room. And go to the one place where you can still get dinner at 9 p.m. on a summer Saturday night. The Sea Dog Saloon. With a red ale they call Boxing Rock

For dinner we sit by the harbor, one of the oldest on the eastern seaboard. There’s a skiff anchored with a Jolly Roger flying, and in the distance a lone mansion in the woods. K smiles under the most beautiful sunset I’ve seen outside of the Rockies and says, D, that’ll be my summer house, indicating the skiff bobbing on the gentle waves, and beyond, the house in the bush, my winter one.

Next: Running for Your Life: Nova Scotia Mood, Part Four