My journey as a long distance runner who started the sport later in life.
Now that the June 2015 RunChat Hunt is over it is time to blog about it to earn that bonus point! In all seriousness, I had been thinking about a blog post anyway because I was able to run in three different countries during this challenge and it got me to pondering how some items that are so common in one geographic area end up being scarce as hens’ teeth in another geographic area.
“Something unique to your city/town” is a no-brainer, but I saved it for last and got it today. I had lots of options no matter where I was, but I chose a structure in my hometown: Peterborough, Ontario, Canada. I hadn’t been holding my breath for a “garden gnome,” especially not in Mexico, but I managed to find one in Canada yesterday, the second last day of the challenge. Now I know I can count on an upscale north end neighborhood near a university; the kind with large lots, mature trees, and two car garages, to find those little guys. I had my heart set on the Otonabee River for my body of water picture, as it puts Monterrey, Mexico’s Rio Santa Catarina to shame, and so I snapped that picture on my first Canadian run, on the third last day of the challenge. These three items conclude my Canadian RunChat Hunt accomplishments.
I had an opportunity for some professional development via Advanced Placement Biology training at the University of Texas at Arlington. I knew that I could get an “American flag” picture during my time there, so I waited for my chance to do that instead of opting for a Mexican or Canadian flag. It certainly got me out and running in Arlington, and for that I am grateful. My bed and breakfast had Old Glory out front upon my arrival, but wouldn’t you know it, on the day of my first run they had taken it down, most likely for cleaning. On I ran to a university commemorative plaque and flag display to get my picture. I was totally spaced out too, because on that same run I ran right by a parked car with a bumper sticker that said, “I Run for Color.” I ran two more times in Arlington, both along the same route, but I never saw that car again, and the garden gnomes were nowhere to be seen. I guess they aren’t plentiful in all upscale north end neighborhoods near universities.
That leaves me with Mexico, where I spend most of my time. Monterrey is located in the north central part of Mexico in the midst of a semi-desert climate. So much for big rivers. And all of the best gardens, undoubtedly with all the best gnomes, are ensconced behind ten foot cement privacy walls. When I started the challenge the garden gnomes seemed to me to be a very remote and unlikely find, as did “a statue.” While the centro of Monterrey itself has many statues of historic and/or cultural significance, the routes I can run directly from my door don’t have any at all. Still, my husband thought he remembered a statue somewhere in our neighborhood, and sure enough, I followed his directions and found it on the very first day of the RunChat Hunt!
I was not worried in the slightest about finding “home construction” for the challenge. The houses in our neighborhood are aging, the concrete crumbling, and a lot of people buy the properties as “tear downs,” the land itself is so valuable. On my second run the “home construction” was Plan B in case Plan A didn’t pan out for me: “soda or beer can.” There is no curbside recycling program where we live, so aluminum cans are thrown out with the regular trash. They don’t remain there long, however, because people rummage through the trash to take them; they have value as a re-use item. I was less than certain I would find a stray can as litter. Litter abounds on the streets of Monterrey, but just not soda or beer cans, they are simply too valuable. I ran up a very swanky boulevard, and I definitely wasn’t holding my breath. I was happy to find a sunset vantage point (which I didn’t use in the end), but it was too late for that. Up I went, thinking it was “home construction” time. Lo and behold, there on the sidewalk in the midst of this swanky neighborhood was “beer can.” After I snapped a few pictures of home construction I settled on this one, and all of the construction workers were there on the roof, watching me and wondering, “Que hace la gringa alli?”
I knew I was leaving soon for my trip, and then right on the heels of that would come the 3,500 km drive to Canada, so I was running out of time to get the rest of the items that I knew I could get in Monterrey. My two usual “running buddies” were out of commission, one with a house sale and the other with an infection, so I wasn’t sure how I would swing that particular item. I certainly didn’t have any running buddies at all in the USA or Canada. I settled for what turned out to be a pretty great “sunset” while I pondered how I would get the rest of the items. Then some running buddies from Fall 2014 resurfaced and there it was, a “selfie with friends.” I had hoped for a few more before all the travel ensued, but it was good enough.
The one item that eluded me: “race/running bumper sticker.” Had I gone running at work before everyone left for vacation I could have gotten a colleague’s 13.1 bumper sticker, but without lacing up and actually running I just couldn’t take the picture and pretend that I ran by it later. Those stickers aren’t that plentiful in Monterrey, possibly because it too easily identifies cars and their owners. Monterrey is certainly full of runners, but nobody advertises it using their car. I was sure that Arlington, Texas would offer up more opportunities, but aside from that one I ran by whilst clueless I only saw one other, rapidly speeding away at an intersection while we were rapidly speeding to The Cheesecake Factory to stuff our faces, so that didn’t seem right either. I never did see a race or running bumper sticker in Canada, but to be fair, I only ran here three times whilst seeking such an item.
Thanks for the fun, fitness, and contemplation, RunChat!