Keeping Track of 2016

This is a conversation I have with myself every January while browsing the paper goods section of a store. (See here, 2012.) Maybe I should start a planner for 2016. That one would be perfect. Maybe I’ll keep it up this year. It’d be a good time capsule. I love looking at my planners. Such memories. Though, for the past few years, I can’t manage to maintain a planner.

Yup, every year. I haven’t kept a true planner since graduate school. It makes more sense for school because of all the assignments and exams and scheduling. I haven’t kept a hand-written diary in a few years. Everything is digital now. I have my outlook calendar for work and my google and apple calendars. Everything is linked to my phone. However, I miss the satisfaction of crossing off items on my to-do list, jotting down a to-do list, and flipping through pages to see what this year has brought. I’ve yet to find a satisfying app for a to-do list.

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The iPhone calendar.

I didn’t realize the impermanent nature of digital calendars until I switched jobs last April. My work calendar of the previous 5 years was gone because I no longer had that email address. Meetings, days in the field, all of it vanished. It seems minor, but I like remembering what I did on a certain day in a particular year. It’s how my brain pieces together memories. Suddenly, a digital calendar seemed helpful, but not a reliable record of my life.

Naturally, I flipped through calendars and planners in all of the stationery sections of all of the stores as 2015 came to a close. I can’t help it. And then I found one that I adored. A weekly/monthly planner for 2016 with an aesthetic that spoke to me. I know planner addicts know what I mean.

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This planner spoke to me.

What will I do with this planner? Good question. So far, I’m using it to jot down plans with friends, appointments, events, and to make a note about each day – such as “cooked dinner at home,” “xc skiing with friends,” “slept in,” “long run with the girls,” “trip to IKEA” or something mundane that I just want to record so I can remember how the days pass. That’s as important to my soul as the bigger events.

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Good aesthetic, pink ribbon, perfect amount of space.

While we’re talking digital v. paper, running jumps into the conversation. I run with a Garmin, which records all of my runs and routes and distances, etc. It uploads nicely into the Garmin website and an iphone app, too. I love it. But, this year, I fell in love with the Believe journal designed by pro-runners for runners. Most runners love to obsess about training and mileage. I am one of them. There is something gratifying about writing down my workouts and goals and keeping track, tallying up results, and flipping through a beautiful book about running.

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Running journal, I’ve been waiting for you.

 

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Example of the running journal. 2016 goal: injury free and enjoy it!

Thus, this year, my goal is to use my planner and my running journal for the entire year. Maybe it’s a bit of duplication from my digital life, but it’s completely enjoyable.

How are you keeping track of 2016? How do you feel about long term digital life?

Running into Fall

Evening running in the fall means I take to the streets and enjoy the neighborhoods instead of the bike path.

Last night was the first evening run for which I wore my reflective running vest (affectionately called the highlighter vest). Gone are my evening runs along Burlington’s bike path, overlooking Lake Champlain and the Adirondack Mountains of New York State. That route will have to be reserved for weekends. Gone are the simplistic evenings that require nothing more than shorts, a top, sneakers, and the Garmin for a run. Instead, I take to the streets of Burlington with my highlighter vest and another layer or two.

Over the past few summer months, I had forgotten how charming fall can be. The city streets bustle with college students back at school and tourists visiting for fall foliage season. The transitional weather means style will do, as long as you’ve brought along a few layers. Church Street remains busy, but not too crowded for a runner trying to squeeze in between the shoppers and restaurant-goers.

And the streets. I had forgotten how much I love running through the neighborhoods. The bike path might be my favorite place to run, but the dense streets always have a story. The sidewalks are less crowded and the setting is quieter. Now is the time to re-learn the hills, the good and troublesome sidewalks. With the evening setting in earlier, all of the houses glow with a warm, cozy aura. (It is also easiest to note which houses needed lighting overhauls. Lighting makes all the difference.)

Running in the dark is when I reacquaint myself with my favorite routes, favorite houses, and the idiosyncrasies of each street. It’s how I get to know and love Burlington so well. The crisp air is always refreshing and takes me back to cross-country memories, which I hold close to my heart.

Fortunately, fall provides a buffer between humid summer running and bitter cold winter running. While it feels like an end, it also feels like another beginning. New projects, new focus, new goals, new adventures. Bring it on, fall. You are the best running season, even when all of my weekday runs are in the dark.

What do you love about fall? Are you a runner?

Boston Marathon Day

Today is Patriots Day in Massachusetts, which commemorates the first battle of the American Revolution. Today is also known as the day of the Boston Marathon to us runners. Boston in an important race, this year more so than others due to the tragic events of the 2013 race. Some are running for those killed, those injured, in support of Boston and runners everywhere, and for countless other reasons. To many runners, Boston is THE race. Since you have to qualify based on time and age, it’s often a personal triumph to marathoners. The spirit of the Boston Marathon is contagious. Having not run Boston myself (maybe some day), I’m cheering on a few dear runner friends today, wishing them the absolute best experience.

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A few Boston facts for you.

  • The first Boston Marathon was held in 1897, though it was only 24.5 miles as opposed to the full 26.2 miles that we know today.
  • Why the Boston Marathon? The 1896 Olympic Games in Athens included a marathon race, which was based on Pheidippides’ fabled run from Marathon to Athens. When the Boston Athletic Association wanted a race in 1897 of similar style for the New Patriots Day, they chose a route from the Revolutionary War. (See more in this article from The Atlantic).
  • The race begins in Hopkinton and ends on Boylston Street in Boston (see map).
  • Heartbreak Hill is at mile 20.5. While it’s not the worst hill by itself, any hill at mile 20 is not welcome (at least the uphill part). And since mile 20 is often referred to as “the wall,” this hill packs an extra punch.
  • Women were not allowed to run in the marathon until 1972 (no joke!). From the History Channel: Roberta “Bobbi” Gibb couldn’t wait: In 1966, she became the first woman to run the entire Boston Marathon, but had to hide in the bushes near the start until the race began. In 1967, Kathrine Switzer, who had registered as “K. V. Switzer”, was the first woman to run with a race number. Switzer finished even though officials tried to physically remove her from the race after she was identified as a woman.
  • There are approximately 36,000 people racing Boston today. 

Are you watching? Have fun!

Where Are the Running Preservationists?

Are you a historic preservationist and a runner? If so, raise your hand high! Recently a friend pointed out to me that most of my friends here in Vermont are (a) lawyers – specifically environmental lawyers – and (b) runners. More specifically, they are running lawyers. Is there a connection between being a lawyer and a runner? The lawyers say that it’s Type A personality and the need for stress relief that drive them to run. And I started to wonder: where are the running-preservationists?

Running-preservationists, you must be around somewhere. I’m thinking you’re in the south, mostly, based on the 5K races I could find. This year was the 8th Annual Race for Preservation, hosted by the Historic Savannah Foundation. And the National Trust has just announced that a team of PresNation folks will be running in the Savannah Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon/Half Marathon/Relay on November 8, the Saturday before this year’s Preservation Conference.

A few others I’ve found:

Do you have any others? Are you a runner?

I’m a runner and a preservationist, two of the first ways I’ll describe myself. Both are deeply rooted in my soul. The two go hand-in-hand. I love running in new places; it’s the best form of sight-seeing because it’s faster than walking, more adventurous, and safer than biking or driving. Running is the easiest way to get to know a place, to learn street names and landmarks, to observe it, to study it. When you run, you see place in all of its forms: waking up in the morning, in the afternoon glow, or settling in for the night, in all sorts of weather – good and terrible. You move swiftly through neighborhoods and blocks, almost unseen, though you see so much. When I run, it’s my time with my town or city and I get to understand how the streets wind together. I memorize which sidewalks are uneven, which houses have barking dogs, and other nuances.

I know I’m not the only runner-preservationist (or would you prefer running-preservationist). Speak up! Let’s get together for a city running tour, especially at the next conference.

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Brand new running sneakers. I know you’re not surprised that they are pink. I did not choose them for their color, seriously!

p.s. more running + preservation posts: Running in the Evening Light,Running Notes, Historic Running Tours, Sounds Beneath Your Feet & Old Memories, New Memories: The Evolution of My Favorite Place.

Sounds Beneath Your Feet

In winter, the world tends to be quiet as blankets of snow soften the air, and bring peace to an otherwise bustling life. Fewer people venture outside, doors and windows remain closed, and only the intrepid souls dare spend more time outside than necessary. Running is my intrepid winter outdoor activity. (However, don’t be fooled. I do not handle the cold well and my toes are always cold from November – May.) Running gets me outside and it forces me to make peace with this northern, chilly quiet. It’s a good season for observation, providing views that do not exist with leafy trees.

Beyond observing with my eyes; I’ve been listening, for more than just cars or other runners. The wind howls sometimes, through the barren, icy branches and across the frozen lake. At other moments it’s still. I hear the familiar rustle of my running outfit and most noticeably the crunch of the snow beneath the treads of my sneakers, or the grit of the sand and salt on the pavement. The boardwalk by the waterfront creaks sharply in the cold as I run over it. Running allows me the chance to constantly hear the ground surface. The new snow is lighter, quieter.

When talking about historical accuracy, we do mention sounds of the environment: horses, cars, music, electronics, fans – the differences between the decades and centuries and how it affects your experience or visit to a historic site. How often do we discuss the ground surface, aside from flooring inside a house? Dirt, cobblestones, bricks, cork, wood, concrete, asphalt: what do these materials bring to mind? If you’re walking through a historic district, do you consider if a dirt road, concrete street or asphalt paved road is more appropriate? What if there are horses on the street? Do you expect to hear a certain clomp of the horseshoes, for example?

What sounds do you notice in the winter that you might not in the busy summer months?

The ice and snow of the lake have the sound of crunching ice and water rushing beneath it (a bit unnerving if you're unaccustomed to it). This makes for treacherous winter walking.

The ice and snow of the lake have the sound of crunching ice and water rushing beneath it (a bit unnerving if you’re unaccustomed to it). This makes for treacherous winter walking.

Running in the Evening Light

In the wintertime I wrote about running in the cold, dark evenings: quiet, solitary spans of time that allowed me to catch glimpses of the interiors of the beloved historic houses. The yellow glow of lights provided that cozy feeling; each house seemed loved. It is a good reason for loving dark winter nights.

But the cold eventually grows tiresome and I have been more than happy to welcome the fair spring weather. Evenings are still a good time for neighborhood explorations as the sun is not in my eyes and the sidewalk traffic is less. Yesterday while running I realized just how much of the built environment details I have been missing in the winter months. For those months my eyes watched the ground ahead carefully for roots, ice and frost heaves. My eyes were drawn to the parts of buildings that I could see; hence, the interiors and fenestration. But now with all of this daylight and the dry roads and sidewalks my eyes can finally wander again. I can mix up my routes, whereas I had been running on trusted routes – where I knew what was beneath my feet.

I noticed patterned slate roofs, including one I had never before seen. I noticed a beautiful Queen Anne house painted in all brown, desperate for some color. Fences have been painted, trees have been trimmed. Wood storm windows are still in place on many houses, probably until Memorial Day. Tulips are blooming. People are outside enjoying their yards, tending gardens and tackling the ever existing tasks of home ownership.

Thank goodness for the season changes. Every time a new one turns, a different facet of the built environment is highlighted and provides new adventures, stories and thoughts.

Why Preservationists Should Love Winter

I love the winter season and the cold, and not just for the holiday season. I don’t know how to ski, snowboard, or do any other type of winter sport (ok, I can ice skate), but I still love to be outside in winter. Call me crazy, but six years in the hot weather of Virginia and North Carolina was enough for me (it was hardly ever cold or snowing). Now, a day above 80 degrees is getting to be too warm for me. What’s that? How am I connecting my love for winter to historic preservation? Like so:

As a preservationist, one of my favorite things to do is sight-seeing, whether by car or by foot. But when the trees and flowers are in full bloom, they obscure so many houses and views. Frequently, while driving in winter, I’ll notice a beautiful new view on the road. This might be across the lake, between two houses, down a hill, or from my living room window. Winter gives us a chance for entirely new visual experiences. And, of course, a pretty white snowfall makes everything look magical. Best of all, those bare trees of winter no longer hide the abandoned, neglected houses that intrigue me so much: two of which are on my usual route to work.

As far as being outside and not in my car, I love to run at night. Fewer people are out and about, which gives me greater reign of the sidewalks. People are home and cozy, and the glow of the lights makes each house seem happy. And, not to sound like a stalker, but I love that architectural details and built-ins really pop in the house glow. Don’t you like to know what the insides of houses look like? Yes. Running on a winter night is quiet and peaceful. Views from the higher points in city show the shining lights of the neighborhood and the sky is generally clear. It’s nice one-on-one time with the streets of the city.

See? Winter is a wonderful season to be a preservationist.

Old Memories, New Memories: The Evolution of My Favorite Place

I grew up in a beach town.  My mother pulled me in the wagon to the beach and we played on any sunny day in any season.  My father held me under a crashing wave before I knew how to swim.  My uncle taught me how to ride the waves (body surf) and I have a beautiful scar on my shoulder from that incident, getting trashed by the waves.  My cousin taught me what little I know about actual surfing.  My sisters and I lived for the beach.  I have salt water in my veins and salty air in my lungs.

 

As children we spent hours on the beach digging holes, just digging. Hands, shovels, buckets, shells: anything could become a useful digging tool. Our efforts often attracted jealous attention of nearby children who marveled at a hole so wide and deep that four sisters could sit comfortably.  We guarded our hole with pride and asked our parents to not let anyone cave it in while we ran to the water to rinse off our sandy bodies.  Waves kept us in the chilly water for hours at a time.  We ran along the breaking waves and turned cartwheels.  We rode wave after wave after wave, perfecting our body surfing techniques.  Sometimes the waves tossed and turned us under water, pulled us from the surface, and dropped us from our place on top with no warning.  The waves never scared us; we thrived on the excitement.  Our father and his brother stayed with us after the lifeguards had gone home at six.  We’d occasionally use a boogie board, but that never seemed as true as body surfing.  The afternoon and evening brought warm water and an easy sunny sky.

 

Now, years later, I do not live near the beach.  Here, it is hours to any beach and people take vacations to the beach.  I never fathomed such a thing.  I miss the beach and try to take my vacations in the summer to go home and return to the beach with my sisters.

 

Playtime on the beach is different.  We dig fewer holes and tolerate the cold water just slightly less than our younger selves.  We love the beauty of the sand and the ocean, but some things changes.  Recently, I have felt guilty and suddenly too old.  How could I not want to play like that 10 year old girl I used to be?  This is when I realized that our favorite places can evolve with ourselves.  My memories never leave; I love everything about the beach and the games my sisters and I would play. 

 

As we’ve grown, I’ve adapted myself to the beach. Instead of running from the beach blanket to the waves and back, I run miles on the beach.  On these miles, barefoot and in the water, I show my love for the beach.  There is no place I’d rather run and no place that I’m happier to run.  When I run on the beach, it feels like I’m playing.  They are always my favorite runs with stops in the middle to jump in the waves.  I’ve never appreciated cold water more than during a sunny run. 

 

Now I have a melding of my childhood and myself.  We still ride the waves and turn cartwheels and jump off lifeguard stands. Digging holes may have to wait another generation.  But, I have added an older version of myself and my activities to the beach.  Without this, the beach (or any favorite place) risks fading memories.  Every time I run I remember.  Every time I run on the beach I’m adding to those memories. 

 

Memory and use are funny things: combining them makes the place stronger and more meaningful.  People and communities should consider what they love (buildings, landscapes, open space, etc) and when it’s out of date, find new ways to keep the past and the present connected, assuring life for the future.  It’s the basic foundation for human existence; our memories, our lives, are connected by the past, present, and future.  We wouldn’t want to let any of that go, so why should we forget our surroundings?