Posts Tagged ‘Heartland Road Runner’

Hale-Bopp.  Mmm Bop.  See the difference?

Hale-Bopp. Mmm Bop. See the difference?

As regular readers will know, I’ve often got my eye to the sky for backyard astronomy. In fact, my most popular post of last year was my eloquently titled,  “The Adventure foot Guide to Not Burning Up Your Retinas or Going Blind While Simultaneously Viewing the June 2012 Transit of Venus Across the Sun for the Last Time Until 2117…or How to Make a Pinhole Viewer.”  That post, not to brag, (but totally to brag), was even ranked #1 on Google’s search results for 3 days.  So cool.

But ya know, watching the Transit of Venus or some of the other cool celestial goings-on sometimes takes a lot of preparation or complicated directions on how to view the event.

Not so with the Comets of 2013!

There are 2 great opportunities to view comets this year and one is TONIGHT (or tomorrow… or anytime through the 18th) All you need to do is:

  1. Follow your Adventure Foot out the door just a little while after sunset. 30 minutes should do.

  2. Locate the crescent moon low on the horizon (If you’ve got a lot of obstructions like trees and houses, you might need to find another location. It’s low in the sky.)

  3. Look at the comet right next to it.  It’s the bright red-ish star…with a tail.

Ta-da!  That little 2.5 mile wide hunk of rock and ice is named Comet Pan-Starrs.  It was discovered in June 2011 by a team of astronomers using the Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System (or PAN-STARRS), a telescope in Hawaii. Personally, I would have named her Dottie.

Artist's (my) approximation of comets. They casually cruise the solar system with boom boxes playing Monster Ballads from the 80's.  I bet you didn't know that.

Artist’s (my) approximation of comets. They casually cruise the solar system wearing aviators and carrying boom boxes playing Monster Ballads from the 80’s. I bet you didn’t know that.

Pan-Starrs is on a lazy 100-million year orbit around the sun and is the brightest comet to whiz by earth since Hale-Bopp in 1998 (astute readers will also remember this as the “Mmm Bop” era, but that’s unrelated.)

On the off chance that any of my South American friends might be reading today- there’s another comet visible in your sky tonight called Comet Lemmon, hereafter known as Comet Liz Lemmon.

Viewing guide. Credit Science@nasa from space.com

Viewing guide. Credit Science@nasa from space.com

If cloudy skies thwart your comet viewing this week, do not fret!  Another hunk of icy space junk will be blazing through the sky in November.  It’s called Comet ISON and it’s making a close pass by the sun in November.  This solar pass is either going to cause it to melt slowly and have a huge and spectacularly long tail… or possibly cause it to melt real quickly and be a bust.  Guess we’ll just have to see.

By the by- did you know that comets and asteroids are both space debris from the earliest part of our solar system?  They were formed around 4.5 billion years ago out of the left-over stuff floating about.  The main difference between the two is their composition: comets are mostly ice, frozen gas and some rocky material, while asteroids are metal, rock and minerals.  The ice/frozen gas on a comet are what melts and creates its distinctive tail.

Please also check out one of my favorite astronomy related blogs, also from last year.  Click here! 

AND if you’re a Heartland Road Runner (or if you want to be a Heartland Road Runner): Come to Kelly’s at 6:15 tonight, run 3 miles with me, then I’ll point out the comet for you!


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Adventure Foot is so happy to share a race report from Cindy Spake, who just ran for the first time in the Boston Marathon.  You may have heard in the news last week, but this Boston event  was one of the hottest on record and has earned the nickname, “Boston Baked 2012.”  Cindy had a great showing at the event despite the heat, and her race report gives you a great idea of how the event looked at ground level.  Huge congratulations to Cindy for this milestone accomplishment!

Cindy Spake at the 2012 Boston Marathon

Boston Baked by Cindy Spake

On April 16th, 2012, I participated in the 116th Boston Marathon. The marathon has been renamed the “baked”marathon due to the 87-90 degree heat that the runners had to negotiate through the 26.2 historic course.

3800 participants did not even pick up their numbers which is typical to have no shows for various reasons. 427/22853 participants chose the option to defer to next year’s race that was offered by the Boston Athletic Association (BAA). Finally, over 940 participants who started the event were unable to complete it and 152 went to the hospital according to Boston news reports.

My DSH ( affectionally referred to as my devoted sweet husband) and my 18 year old son accompanied me on the trip. We spent Sat., the 14th at the expo and participated in a research study put on by Hartford Hospital. My husband and I were awarded $50 each for an hour of our time. Not bad…

We headed back to our hotel, got the car and went to an Italian neighborhood to enjoy a great meal at Marios. The neighborhood was so much like The Hill in St. Louis. I certainly was not disappointed with the quality meal and homey atmosphere. I slept really well that evening.

The day before the race began with a long morning sleep in. We went to an afternoon ballgame at Fenway Park which the Red Sox won against Tampa, had an early evening meal after and achieved our goal to get back to the hotel early. It was a beautiful day to spend with my family and to celebrate my son’s 18th birthday. Boston is an American treasure. If you get an opportunity, check it out! The sites and pubs are extraordinary. We did some more sightseeing after the marathon.

It took a while for me to fall asleep but I think I got 5-6 hours of quality sleep before I woke at 5:00 to ready myself for the journey on the train system into the city towards a place called The Boston Commons. My DSH accompanied me to this destination. The buses were lined up around this green, park-like setting and there were over 15,000 runners who passed through this area to get to the start line. I was grateful to use the portapotties there because the ride took nearly an hour and 15 minutes. I said my goodbyes to my DSH with the promise to survive and race smart. I could see the look of deep concern in his beautiful green eyes which made my eyes swell with tears as he turned and walked away. I was reminded of how truly devoted we are to one another and how preparing for a marathon affects the family like other lofty goals and personal dreams.

Photo Credit USA Today Online

In this staging area I met a 70 years young man named Phil Pearce who had run the Boston 26 times. I just wanted to take a picture which he obliged and I sent it immediately to The Dougster. Phil is president of his running club located in Maine called the over 65 running club. I had the good fortune to sit next to him on the bus. We were also in the same corral and qualified with the same time at 4:11. He told me several stories about his Boston experiences and adviced me on the course itself. When we arrived at Hopkinton HS, we made final preparations to ready ourselves for our start time. Phil invited me to go to a relative’s home walking distance from the start line. I was truly grateful to be out of the heat and to have this opportunity to meet another New Englander. This 85 year old lady was so kind and gracious. We had a short visit and then we went to our corral.

The start line is up a hill next to a korean church where the elite stay until they start according to Phil. When we entered our area, it was obvious to Phil that many had deferred the race because it wasn’t crowded at all, not even as crowded as St. Louis Rock and Roll. Several all star runners came up to Phil as he point out who this runner was and that runner, all ranked New England runners according to my newly found friend. The BAA asked the runners to help one another on the course if it appeared one of us was in trouble from a medical point of view and the next thing I knew, I was crossing over the start line on my way to Boston.

I tried to stay with Phil and managed for four miles but then settled in to a nice 9:15 pace and turned my attention inward to ” run my race.” I admit, I loved the downhill start! I held on to every piece of advice Phil gave about the start and tried to pull back, conserving and running slow and even. There were shady areas and I stayed to my right seeking shade wherever it could be found.

As Phil described, the first 13 miles were easy compared to the second half. Everything you read about the crowds for Boston are true. The hoses were out, the oranges, ice, Ice bags, water and more water. The tunnel of love was the tunnel of love with Wellsley students screaming for a kiss. Occasionally a very sweaty guy would stop and spend a great amount of time kissing passionately one of the girls. It was hysterical and it gave all of us a lift as the temperatures continued to climb. This was only mile 12.

As we passed through the half way point, I was feeling good about my pace, a bout a 9:30-9:40. People were struggling from about the 10k mark and it became more noticeable as the race progressed. The “cooling huts”, usually located near a fire station, were the greatest invention of the day…ice cold mist through a tunnel. People were standing in them. Many spectators were hosing us down but that made our shoes very wet. I was surprised I did not have blisters. The soles of my feet felt like they were on fire from about mile 7. Those elite runners just burnt up the course apparently!

Joshua Cassidy broke the Wheel Chair Record at Boston this year. Photo Credit CBS News (click on picture for link)

I walked through almost every water station, ate a lot of oranges, a few banana pieces, pretzel pieces, a chocolate kiss, an Oreo, 3 advils, a small cup of ice cold beer ( I just couldn’t resist), diluted Gatorade and water of course. I ran most of the race with a group that became familiar after a few miles. There were charity runners, students, a couple from Denmark, athena clad yogis and vegan natural runners according to their outfits. We didn’t talk much trying to conserve energy but looked after one another. One guy gave me an ice bag that I put behind my neck held by my very wet bandana. It stayed with me for several miles surprisingly and very helpful.

My family greeting me just about mile 20/21. That’s where I was sipping that ice cold beer and my son reminded me that I was never going to “win” with poor choices like that! That cracked me up. I stopped a few minutes to be with them and so grateful to see them. This was also the start of Heartbreak Hill, the final hill of the Newton Hills. There are four hills but I swear there were more than that! And Newton, the rich and famous live in Newton which was obvious by the beautiful homes there. Great events/ parties goin on too. After all, no school, no work, it was a state holiday, Patriots Day.

My goal was to run Heartbreak Hill and I did that. Then the next mile, 22, the backside of Heartbreak Hill, which is known as ” the haunted mile” was a welcomed downhill grade. Haunted mile is named for a cemetery we pass during this mile in the course just before Boston College. Unfortunately, something very serious happened here. A runner was staggering about 20 feet ahead then collapsed as we caught up to her. The runner next to me caught her and I stopped. She had a seizure and then went completely limp. The runner who caught her, took a pulse, told me to get help and ice. I said a prayer to save her as I ran to some spectators, got ice, they called an ambulance. Took the ice to the scene, took instruction from the other runner who was in full control of the situation who then told me to run to a red cross station for help. Red cross also called an ambulance, they could not leave because they had a full station of runners needing help. I ran back to the scene. The runner was breathing and semi conscious. The runner who caught her turned out to be an anesthesiologist and continued to monitor her until the ambulance arrived 15 minutes later. A spectator nurse was also there to assist by then. I walked away, overcome with emotion.

It took a while, quarter mile maybe, and then I started to feel some good energy again from those incredible Boston College students who embraced me, encouraged me and pushed me through to the famous Boston landmark, the Citco sign by Fenway Park. I used Galloway method of run 4 minutes/ walk 1 minute until mile 25. I also used the crowd by going to the side lines, thanked them for a great experience and lots of high fives. That helped to pull me through the human carnage those last few miles.Then I ran it in.

Photo Credit USA Today Online

Thanks for tracking me. And most of all, thank you for helping me raise nearly $1200 for The Sammy Fund, for our disadvantaged youth right here in our community. You were my rock when the going got tough. There were some great moments. I am honored to have experienced a marathon like no other on our planet.

Good luck Illinois half/marathoners on the 28th. It’s QHS prom for Noah so I’ll hang back in Q town awaiting the reports. Safe travels, safe run, Gods Speed…

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