Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Runner's Hall of Fame

So the numbers from the NASCAR Hall of Fame are in and they aren't good. This did surprise me as I really thought the scores of people who move to Charlotte to either get a job at NASCAR or to live in a city where they might see Jeff Gordon at a PF Chang's would attend the HOF regularly. Maybe if they added a bar?

I have no interest in visiting the NASCAR HOF, but it got me thinking about other hall of fames that I might be interested in. Football, Baseball, Country Music? Nah, nah, nope. But what if the sport that I not only love, but actually participate in had a hall of fame? A runner's hall of fame. Where would that even be? Boston? New York City? Oregon? Maybe it should exist online. Where everyone involved in the sport could visit!

Then I did a quick Google and found out that there is a National Distance Running Hall of Fame! In Utica, NY. Yeah. Utica. The only explanation given on the website as to why a city in the middle of New York was chosen was this:
"Utica, N.Y. is the home of The Boilermaker 15K Road Race, the largest 15K in the nation with nearly 10,000 runners. Though located in a small city, The Boilermaker consistently ranks as one of Runner's World's Top 100 Races."

Interesting. A 15K that draws 10,000 runners is such a big deal that the National "Distance" Running Hall of Fame should be located in the same location. Though most big city MARATHONS draw way more than 10,000 runners (ex. Chicago registers 45,000 every year), this race was such the big deal that the HOF is now located in Utica. Well, yeah, because the hall was created in 1998. In the mid-90s running started to take off as a sport. Between 1999 and 2009, the number of people running road races increased by 3 million. Had the hall been built today a different location may have been chosen.

So now I know that there is a Hall of Fame for running and it's in Utica, NY, which is small but in the same time zone and easily accessible from I-90. I have no desire to visit. I love this sport. I love going to races and cheering on my friends or people who look like they're struggling and can use some words of encouragement. But do I want to go and read about people I don't know? No, not really. I think running is a very personal sport. I care about how I perform and how that stacks up against how I performed in the last race. Isn't that the idea behind a PR (Personal Record)? I'm happy when my friends set a new PR or finish a milestone race or even place. But care about Ryan Hall breaking a world record or Kara Goucher qualifying for this or that. Not so much. Adam cares. He reads magazines, watches replays of races and can tell me who ran what at which race this past weekend. So maybe it's a guy thing.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Staying Green

Besides the number of strip malls and churches in Charlotte, many visitors to the area comment on how green Charlotte is. Not how energy, eco-conscious we are, but how many trees there are in Charlotte. Today's photo is a good example of some of the most common trees in Charlotte's landscape: a Magnolia tree and three Crape Myrtle trees. Magnolia trees are somewhat of a symbol of the South and Charlotte is a city in the South. Crape Myrtle trees in every color are planted in many yards in Charlotte as well as many shopping centers. They add color to the landscape starting in late spring and continuing through the summer.
However, Charlotte's people population growth (which is continuing even during the recession) is encroaching on our green population. If you've lived here long enough, you've noticed the decline. A recent article in the Charlotte Observer shared statistics on how much we've lost.

"Between 2002 and 2008, the analysis found, Mecklenburg lost 9,475 acres, or 3 percent, of its trees as the population rose 21 percent. At that rate, the county would lose an additional 20,500 acres - more than the combined acreage of all county parks - by 2015." Read more: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2010/05/19/1444305/city-tree-canopy-continues-to.html#ixzz0wmMablSe
There is some hope for Charlotte's trees. The city counsel recently voted for new regulations forcing developers to keep more existing trees than in the past and they approved planting more trees along city streets over the next year.
This is good news to landscapers who charge a small fortune for tree trimming services, their insurance companies who in turn charge them for a policy protecting them from hospitals who benefit from injuries during such services. Let's not forget plumbing companies who benefit from tree roots encroaching on pipes. That's the true green cycle of Charlotte!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Charlotte Criterium 2010

Saturday night a section of downtown Charlotte was blocked off for the Charlotte Criterium bike race. Per Wikipedia: "A criterium, or crit, is a bike race held on a short course (usually less than 5 km), often run on closed-off city center streets." For Charlotte the course distance was 1.2 miles and the male cyclers travel it 50 times. The male winner receives $50,000, which is apparently a large purse for criteriums. (We didn't get there early to watch the female cyclers. They competed 25 miles for $25,000) Elite cyclers must be invited to participate.

Adam, me and 3 of our friends set up chairs at 4th & Tryon near the 24 HOB tent to watch. We brought a cooler with a six pack and sandwiches from HT. From our spot we could see the racers every half mile. They were going at speeds between 2:48-2:50 minutes per mile. It took roughly an hour and 50 minutes for the cyclers to complete the 50 miles. When they were pushing to finish, you could smell the rubber from their tires burning on the asphalt! There must have been something to gain for all of them to push to the finish but I haven't found any information on what that is.

We didn't see any of the wrecks, but we heard an announcer speak about two of them. We learned that the cyclers involved in a wreck have to be checked out by medical personnel, on standby, before they can return to the course. For that reason, if a cycler is involved in a wreck and is ok to return, he's not penalized a lap and starts behind the other cyclers on the same lap that they are completing. This made perfect sense to me as they couldn't possible catch up at those speeds! It's not like NASCAR where they pull into pits for a break giving someone the chance to get a lap back. We saw a couple of cyclers walking their bikes or riding them slowly down the sidewalk after the wrecks. They were pretty beat up and bloodied. We heard from friends who saw one victim close up that said he had a few teeth missing!

It's a nice event and there were quite a few people (more than 35,000 were expected) there to watch. While the entire course was lined with people it didn't seem to be more than one person deep. I'd like to see Charlotte do more events like this. It was fun, exciting, and promoted a healthy sport that is also good for the environment.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Audra's Photos of Charlotte

"I'll just tell them...that I have nothing to say." Pedro Sanchez 'Napoleon Dynamite'

I haven't posted in while. Partly because I've been super busy and partly because of the thought behind the line above. Other than complaining about how hot it is and how lousy my training is going because of the heat, what else can I say. Yeah, I've been busy, but it's not really interesting enough to blog about. Now I've been having fun, it's just the kind of fun you have to be there to enjoy. So in thinking of something else to write about I started thinking of things I've already discussed. That reminded me of my trip to Northern California which always reminds me of Willits. Willits, CA is a tiny town along the coast of Northern California where we stopped and got the best burrito I've ever had. I can't stop thinking about Willits, CA so I googled it. I found a blog called "Photos of Willits, CA."

And that is the inspiration for a new angle for this blog "Audra's Photos of Charlotte." I've personalized it because I'm sure there's a blog out there called "Photos of Charlotte" but I'm too lazy to confirm that. On to the first photo.

South Tryon in South Charlotte

I begin with this photo of the strip mall where Adam and I had lunch today. This picture of this seemingly insignificant strip mall in Charlotte is actually indicative of Charlotte whose catch phrase could be 'The Land of the Strip Malls." On nearly every corner in Charlotte, if there isn't a church, there's a strip mall. Many visitors believe that all we do in Charlotte is shop, eat and go to church. That isn't ALL we do. Just most of the time.