On everyone’s minds

Two weeks ago, I got three comments while running home from work. It’s not unusual: friends passing might hail hello; would-be wits and jerks in general offer more inflammatory fare, often from a passing car’s window. One of the comments that day came from an addled homeless lady sitting spread-eagle in the middle of the sidewalk outside a warehouse down my street: “Did you just get off a fire engine?” she squawked. No, ma’am, I assure you: I did not. I am to firemen what Steve Rogers, pre-Super Soldier Serum, is to Captain America.

The other two comments were the same, hurled heartily from speeding vehicles on North Avenue, a east-west artery of rolling hills, several lanes, and one speed: fast. It was while I was huffing up said hills that the aforementioned comments came, both of them, “Go, Boston!”

Scrotum graffiti is an eyesore, but hearts are welcome.

Scrotum graffiti is an eyesore, but hearts are welcome.

Then I spied this on a viaduct not much further on that passes over North Avenue, and pulled up short to consider. That structure carries on its shoulders the BeltLine Eastside Trail, a spiffed-up rail-trail that is Atlanta’s shiny new thing, universally adored by the city’s yuppies (and, for some reason, parents who think such a busy multi-use trail is an ideal environment for their kids to learn to bicycle). On one side of the viaduct, Murder Kroger, a grocery store that perfectly ties together all qualities and characters of North Avenue’s parallel thoroughfare, Ponce de Leon Avenue. On the other side, the Masquerade, a music venue-nee-cotton mill outside which suburban teens, greasers, Nth generation punks, emo kids, goths, and Hall queue to see their favorite bands.

One side of the viaduct has a colorful, well-crafted mural touting the BeltLine. This side, though, is a scratch pad for aspiring taggers, their handles like Crass, Squeak, Squeal, Queequeg, and Hall — seldom, if ever, seen again — snippets of bad teen poetry and the proclamations of self-fancied philosophers. Quite the contrast.

But the area is changing; North Avenue is changing. Developments like Ponce City Market, Historic 4th Ward Park, and the BeltLine are gradually, inexorably altering the areas in which they are situated. I saw Tuesday morning bags of trash piled high along that side of the viaduct that formerly served as taggers’ collective scratch pad. Weeds were pulled. Dirt was swept away. And the wall was painted that Eastern Bloc gray-blue color that is rolled over all permutations of “Queequeg was here,” and denotes that graffiti was there.

IMG_7519

Except this. The entire length of the wall: gray-blue, then, bam: preserved with painstaking care, “Boston On My Mind” remained. And I hope it remains there for a long, long while. Community immersion is a benefit of run commuting, and running in general. Similarly, the marathon has been called the most democratic of sporting events, as it offers the least barrier between spectators and athletes, a minimum separation between those who cheer and those cheered on — including the former’s entrance to that athletic endeavor.

Perhaps drivers that day spied this, inspiring them to call, “Go, Boston!” as I huffed over those hills, rather than something derogatory or deflating, or nothing at all. I enjoy when strangers shout encouragement. I enjoy that they engaged me, as a member of the neighborhood, as a fellow citizen and person, despite the odds that we will never know one another or even again cross paths.

Perhaps passersby of all kinds, everyone, will take note, keep those barriers down, and keep the literal and figurative Boston on their minds and in their hearts.

By |2016-10-22T20:26:45-04:00May 1st, 2013|Categories: News, General|Tags: , , , , |0 Comments

Mike: family man, marathon man

DeKalb Avenue is off my typical run commute route, but the morning was foggy and DeKalb offers a wonderful view of the skyline’s sentinels huddled in their wooly blankets. It also allowed me to meet Mike, another run commuter!

run commuter

Two miles out, two miles home daily = 20 miles during the work week.

I spied Mike’s florescent orange shirt from several blocks back and hot-heeled it after him, grabbing for my camera. I caught him at Georgia State University’s campus, and we huffed out a bit of exchange over the next two blocks.

Mike shared that he started run commuting about two or three months ago, while training for the March 17, 2013, Georgia Marathon. His kids’ needs and schedules sometimes precludes longer runs prior to or following work, so he began running two miles to the train station in the morning, and two miles home from it after work. That round-trip train ride also affords Mike 45 minutes in which to read, to his delight. Mike’s family lately scaled back to being a one-car family; this multi-modal run commute helps make that easier. It is something with which Josh’s family has experience, having gone from one car to being car-free (eventually going back to one car, after Ben joined their family). But that is how Josh came to run commuting, too.

Running light -- and bright! -- though a hip or waist strap would reduce bag sway.

Running light — and bright! — though a hip or waist strap would reduce bag sway.

Mike and I had about as many minutes as blocks in which to speak before our paths parted, so I neglected to advise him about improvising a waist strap. As you can see, above, his backpack lacks that feature; I could see from blocks away that it changed his form significantly, and swayed visibly back and forth. Many options to allay this: a bungee cord, preferably one of the flat kind; some string; a web belt, of the Army surplus type; an old bike tire: limitless options.

Mike, if you read this and would like to add anything, or more likely, if I botched some info, comment or contact us! The question we all have: what was your time in the marathon??

By |2016-10-22T20:26:45-04:00April 30th, 2013|Categories: News, General|Tags: , , , , , |2 Comments

Noisy Backpacks

Do you mind the sound of keys jingling?  No?  I bet you would after you heard them make that noise over 5,000 times in 45 minutes.  That’s how many times the loose keys in your backpack could make noise on a 45-minute run to work.  How’s that for some early morning ear candy?

Well, fellow run commuters, we’re going to show you how to silence your commute.  No more key jingle.  No more water sloshing.  No more tink-tink-tink sounds from your zippers – just a nice, quiet pack for your run to work.  Let’s tackle them in the order of annoyance:

Top Noise Makers

  1. Keys
  2. Belt Buckles
  3. Zippers
  4. Hydration Bladder/Liquid
  5. Loose Items/Food

Solutions

 

1.  Keys

I have a lot of locks to open, so I have a lot of keys on my key ring.  And, key ring cards.  And, doodads.  All of those together make for a baseball-sized bundle of noise.  I’ve found that there are two ways to effectively silence keys.

Camera Case

I had one of these lying around unused, so I tried it out one day and found it worked very well.  As a bonus, it has a small zippered pouch that my metal watch fits into nicely.  You can easily find one that will fit your keys, no matter what size they may be. Simply go to a camera case display at any store and try it out with your own keys to find the best fit.

Key SilencerRubber Band

For the especially frugal or minimalist run commuter, you can use a rubber band.  The one pictured here was holding some store-bought vegetables together (either asparagus or broccoli).  It’s wide, short and durable, making it an ideal combination to bind your keys together.

 

Belt Buckle Silencer2.  Belt Buckles

There is one particular type of buckle that will annoy the crap out of you when you’re running – the web belt buckle.  There is a little metal bar inside the metal buckle that will bounce around clanging and jingling, almost like the sound coins in a cup make.  For this solution, we turn to our old friend rubber band.

Once again, it does the trick.  Just be certain to pin the metal bar down under the rubber band or it won’t work.  You can also secure the entire belt by wrapping part of the rubber band around the coiled belt and buckle.

3.  Zippers

These pics should be self-explanatory.  There are probably a few more techniques I missed, but these are the main ones (and pretty simple and low-cost.)

 

Add a Zipper Pull

Use Some String/Cord

String Monkey Fist

Tie whatever works – just remember to burn the ends of the string so the ends don’t come unraveled.

Wrap Them With Tape

Tape Zipper

I used easy-to-remove painter’s tape here, because, hey – you might want to hear that noise again and don’t want to hassle with a difficult removal. (Note: the blue tape was used for the pic – choice tape is electrical or the king of tapes…DUCT TAPE.)

4.  Hydration Bladders

This one is pretty simple.  Turn the bladder upside down and suck out all of the air.

5.  Loose Food/Items

This one is sort of simple, too.  The key is to eliminate the empty space.

Loose Food

Loose Items

The first thing you can do is to ensure that the items in your pack are arranged properly.  One of our favorite companies, Osprey, created a handy graphic that shows you how to pack items based on weight.

Osprey Packs - "How to Pack Your Pack" http://www.ospreypacks.com/en/web/how_to_pack_your_pack

Osprey Packs – “How to Pack Your Pack”

When run commuting, however, we don’t always run with a full load.  So no matter how well you arrange things inside, there may still be plenty of empty space for things to bounce around.  That’s why we recommend a pack with compression straps:

Stratos Compression Straps

Top and Bottom Compression Straps

Compression straps allow you to change the size of your pack by squeezing the outside layer of material closer to your back, which in turn pulls items inside together tightly.  No more bounce!

———

Hopefully you found some of these tips useful.  If you have any other suggestions, let us know!

What has TRC been up to lately?

Hey Run Commuters,

We just wanted to let you know what’s been going on in the land of run commuting over these past few weeks.

Atlanta Streets Alive!

Run Commuter Marathon Relay

On October 7th, TRC organized a marathon relay along the Streets Alive route (we were #62 on the map).

We had a lot of fun with this.  Many people stopped by and inquired about run commuting, or told us about their own run commutes.  The sports editor of Urban China magazine (who wrote about us in one of their issues) even stopped by!  She’s now pursuing a post-grad degree at Georgia Tech.

(more…)

By |2016-10-22T20:26:47-04:00October 20th, 2012|Categories: News|Tags: , , , , , |Comments Off on What has TRC been up to lately?

Surgical Swagger: I Can Run – Part 2 SA, TX Run Commuter

One of the things I do now is work with children having cognitive skills deficiencies such as Autism and Asperger syndrome.  The center where I help out is perfectly placed at a manageable 7 miles one way.

I only mention I work with children because for me it has significance to my story.  Doing the type of work I did in the past; I only did it for the money – period.  There’s no kicking it around and I won’t kid myself or you by attempting to make it something it was not.  I had a longtime fear of never having enough money so I did everything I could to make sure I was never without it.  That ‘mindset’ cost me dearly in all aspects of my life especially where health was concerned.

I would never have run commute to any one of my past employments.  There were many times I didn’t even want to get out of bed much less contemplate the thought of getting up earlier and challenging myself physically to get there.  Even though I was very good at what I did, I did not enjoy it and the work relationship(s) were definitely one-sided.  Therefore, transitioning to do things which provided me real satisfaction, joy, excitement and which were in-line with a newly defined purpose of health and happiness drastically changed my outlook.  I began to contemplate taking on a run commute endeavor.

Firstly, it’s hot here – real hot.  The children I dedicate time to all come in the midafternoon and early evening so running in 100 degree temperatures was/is something I just have to deal with.  I wasn’t crazy about running in those temperatures and I wasn’t willing to destroy my body for the run commute.  I went ahead and bought a bus pass so if I felt like I was going to drop out I could at least haul my limping carcass onto an air conditioned transport for some of the way.

I have taken mass transit systems in the U.S., Japan, Korea, etc., but I honestly had never taken the bus in San Antonio.  I was excited to learn though.  I hopped on a bus just to see how to navigate my way through stops and pickups.  I was happy and rode with a smile.  I will comment that it seemed like I was pretty much the only one enthusiastic about riding the bus.  Even though I was beaming with excitement, none of my smiles were returned to me.  As a matter of fact, one guy’s look made me almost want to pin my lips over my teeth all together.

I didn’t even know how to exit the bus.  This fact was graciously, but aggressively, pointed out to me from a large burly fellow who yelled, “Push the door open!”  I told myself, “No sir, you’re not going to steal my sunshine” as I skipped off the bus steps.  Obviously, I am kidding there.  But, it really didn’t shift my mood all that much.  What I was doing was for me.  It was something I wanted to do so my want of doing so squashed any bad feelings which would have risen up and gotten out of control.  Besides, after being to a variety of places around the nation where people tend to interact with you more antagonistically, this guy with his sparkling attitude seemed rather charming.

I am a first time run commuter.  I mean sure I had been on long hikes, camping trips which required me to haul a lot of gear, ran with a hydration pack, – I won’t go into the entire minutia of activities.  But, I had never run to environment where I had to look presentable and then instead of relaxing, refueling and cleaning up, transition straight into performing a task.

So naturally my first time run commuting I over-packed and over-prepared.  I packed all the things I thought I might need: extra food, toothbrush, tooth paste, night lamp, extra socks, sunblock, water bottle, reading material, bus route maps, air tight food bags, dry clothes bags, wet clothes bags, and on and on.  I had an insane amount of stuff on top of the things I would actually need like my dress clothes, shoes, belt, lunch, snacks and drinks.  It was like I was going on a three day excursion! Needless to say, I stuffed all my items into an old dilapidated North Face backpack which I had modified (i.e. disassembled for makeshift parts).

Utah Gecko

The elastic side-mesh pockets were all stretched out and did not function anymore to hold items.  There is only one center holding area with its failing zipper system.  The center synch bungee on the back didn’t really do anything but roll the bottom of the backpack up away from my body.  There is no waist belt because I cut it away years ago to be used on something else which I cannot remember.  It does however, have a sweet Utah gecko patch from an old Moab trip, so that pretty much alone spits coolness and makes the bag a keeper.  Okay, maybe not, but it is what I have so I use it and I am grateful for it.

Am I getting a new pack?  Yes, eventually.  My outlook was/is I want to learn from the run commuter experience(s) so I get exactly what I really need.  I think this is important because only I know everything I really need on a daily basis.  There are the basics items you want to have with you of course.  I won’t go through the items I take/use right now but definitely check out the posts Josh’s Gear, Kyle’s Gear, and Sophie’s Gear for some great gear information and also the ‘How To Get Started’ section under the contributor’s block starting here.

“You don’t have to have everything all figured out.  Just get moving…”

By |2016-10-22T20:26:48-04:00August 31st, 2012|Categories: News|Tags: , , , , |0 Comments

Small Numbers Really Add Up – Stephanie’s Dec-2011 Run Commuter Stats

December was my first month run commuting and I logged plenty of miles doing it.  Check out this image of my month-long mileage log below.  Add the total 47.81-miles of run commuting to some long weekend runs (not listed, but included a 10K and half-marathon race) and it’s clearly possible to keep up running skills over the winter months.  Look at that Total Calories number – 4,751 calories burned.  Pass the butter, please!  With numbers like these, a runner can enjoy the outdoors while running and the indoor indulgences of tasty food.

If you breakdown the large monthly mileage into the individual runs, the small numbers really accumulate.  The shortest run, 1.62-miles on December-16, helped add to a 4.17-mile day and a 9.08-mile week.  That’s no small task when you think of all the holiday shopping and get-togethers we attend throughout December, a characteristically chaotic month.

To track these numbers, I use the iPhone iMapMyRUN app and that image was lifted from the MapMyRun website.  The app’s GPS locates quickly in the morning, I drop the phone in my pocket, and I’m off running.   On the weekends, I use a Garmin Forerunner 305 to track my running.  TRC’s Josh uses a 305 too; check out his gear post.  The 305 easily tracks heart-rate, pace, splits, grade, mileage, and probably other things I can’t remember right now.  However, it can take 5 or so minutes to locate the GPS satellites.  In the morning, when I have limited time or it’s just too cold, I don’t want to stand outside before a run and wait.  So the app is really my go-to run commuter mileage tracker.  It doesn’t track pace as easily as I would like and doesn’t log heart-rate, but I have found the simplicity of using the app works best for me during my daily grind.  And here’s the outcome:

Here’s to logging even more run commuter miles in January-2012!

Traffic Report

Terry:   “Now we turn to Stephanie, our W-TRC traffic reporter. How’s it look out there, Stephanie?”

Stephanie:   “It’s a pretty typical commute out here, Terry. We’ll start with the roads. Drivers, we have delays due to a crash and car fire on the inner loop of the beltway and a resulting gaper delay on the outer loop. The Thruway is jammed due to a jackknifed tractor-trailer. Authorities are on their way and only the shoulder is getting by at the moment. Expect delays on the interstate as the tolls increased today by 50¢ and the fast-toll lanes are malfunctioning. A tech is on the scene. Watch out as the cross-connector highway is running slowly in both directions; kind of strange for this time of day. Finally, everyone is scrambling over to the local roads due to troubled highways, so the overflow is making them slow.

“On the City Transit Trains there are delays on the North-South line due to unscheduled track maintenance. The East-West lines are also slow due to a water-main break near the tracks. The drivers have turned off the auto-driver program through the wet area, so manual driving is causing delays. And there’s a cracked rail outside the City Center station; they are single-tracking it through there. Riders should also check the City Transit website for a large number of escalator and elevator outages.

“Finally, Bike and Run Commuters, it’s all clear for you. Go get out there.”

Getting Started – Part 3: Gear and Transporting it to the Office

This is my favorite thing to write about! I’m always interested in trying out new gear to see how well it will work for run commuting and over the years, I’ve really fine-tuned what I carry into a nice, reliable system.

There are three basic types of run commuting and your gear/equipment may vary depending upon which one you choose:

1) Morning commute only

2) Evening commute only

3) Morning and evening commute

One other factor that will alter your list is weather. (more…)

When cross-type commutes cross paths

Today was a bike commute day, as Lo-town and I are taking a birthday friend to dinner tonight. Run commuting is achievable with planning and timing, even in 90-degree Georgia heat; however, run commuting to a social engagement can be a boggy matter, especially in 90-degree Georgia heat. We will touch on that topic in the coming weeks.

A mile and a half from work, whom do I see? Why, Josh Woiderski, run commuter!

Run commuting in ACTION. Run commuting IS action!

Our morning mirth was dampened soon after, though, when we encountered one of my nemeses. (more…)

By |2016-10-22T20:27:01-04:00June 8th, 2011|Categories: General|Tags: , , , , |0 Comments