Today I completed my fourth 5K run/walk event in four weeks. It was the first time that I have ever done back-to-back 5K events. This 5K started at 8:00 a.m. and is about 5 miles away. I concede that I’m getting older when I have to hustle to get out the door to be prompt instead of just going at my own pace!
“A happy soul may come from happy soles.“
I wish I could take credit for this subheading, but it was The News-Herald reporter Colin Maloney’s recent headline in a story promoting the 10th Annual Happy Soles 5K at Taylor’s Heritage Park. This is just one of many fundraisers held to benefit the Fish & Loaves Community Food Pantry, which supplies about 1.6 million pounds of food to hungry people in the Downriver communities of Southeast Michigan every year.
Just as in the past, today’s event was held at lovely Heritage Park in Taylor and you know it is one of my favorite places to walk and take pictures. You’ll recall the venue as the quaint and historic village with its little red schoolhouse, old mill, beautiful Coan Lake and lots of ducks.
The morning was quite overcast, warm and humid, and I even took a backpack where I stuffed my umbrella and a poncho inside because rain was predicted for early afternoon. The gloomy sky suggested rain was imminent. When I walked in this same event last June 10th, I kept saying to other walkers that it would rain before we finished. I just passed under the finish line hoop when the first rain splats landed on my glasses and it began pouring in earnest in a matter of minutes.
The event began at 8:00 a.m. and I was there by 7:35 to pick up my packet. There was much consternation amongst all the registered runners/walkers as they ran out of shirts in most sizes and so you were offered one of last year’s shirts or a different size shirt. The race organizers realized this was a big faux pas and will mail out the correctly sized shirts. So, instead of a sea of rust-colored shirts meandering along the course, there are many powder blue shirts in the scenes as well.
The event organizers had everything else together though, including a huge pre-and-post race snack table. Volunteers bustled around stacking the bottled water into coolers.
I don’t know how many people attended today’s event. The course began at Sheridan Center’s Open Air Pavilion, then the walking path that encircles the park, through two residential districts, then a heavily wooded area on the outskirts of the park, and finally through the historical village and to our starting point. Let me take you along with me.
On your mark, get set … go!
We began to assemble at the starting point, which doubles as the finish line. Captain America, (a moniker he has chosen for himself), and whom I’m sure you’ll recognize wearing the patriotic shorts and hat, shouted to ask if anyone wanted to race alongside him. I don’t know if there were any volunteers, but it looked like the guy standing next to him in the second picture might have been up for the challenge to step off with the ol’ Captain.
After the National Anthem, a horn blared and we were off by 8:01; the contingent of runners were far ahead of us walkers in just a few minute’s time.
We headed along the outer part of the perimeter path and passed a series of signs. These signs each represent winning countries in the Junior League World Series held at Heritage Park for one week every August. You’ll see, for example, that Puerto Rico won the championship back in 1999.
We chugged up the hill, then down again into the first residential neighborhood. Unlike yesterday, where dogs barked and homeowners waved and cheered us on, not a single person or dog heralded our arrival all the way down Katherine Street.
By now all the runners were out of view and it was just the walkers and we chattered about the weather and would the rain hold off and shot occasional glances to the gray sky. We turned onto busy Goddard Road …
… then made a right-hand turn onto William Street and at Mile Marker #1, we found ourselves in another residential neighborhood.
Aretha would be proud of this baby.
As we continued through the ‘hood, our little group all stopped to check out this pink Cadillac that was sitting in a homeowner’s driveway. I speculated that there must have been a classic cruise of some sort, as this beauty with the classic fins and pale pink paint job was parked in front of an AMC Gremlin, a popular compact car from the ‘70s. Our area has classic car cruises nearly every weekend in the nicer weather … our City will participate in one on June 29th.
Afterward, as I walked along, I mused to myself as to whether the pink Caddy belonged to a Mary Kay saleswoman, or, if it once belonged to one of two famous singers who made millions singing about pink Caddies, the likes of Aretha Franklin or Bruce Springsteen. It didn’t belong to Elvis Presley; even though his Caddy was also pink and white; it was destroyed many years ago. When I was picking through my photos, I enlarged the license plate, but you can’t see the year on the plate, but on the trunk was the word “Aretha” so I’ll bet this was one of the cars in the Queen of Soul’s funeral procession last August. There were about 100 pink Cadillacs on that day.
We tooled along in the neighborhood, glad for the markers which signaled our progress. A few people cheered as we got to Mile Marker #2.
I was getting warm and wished I’d stuffed that too-small shirt into my backpack instead of layering it over my other shirt. Soon we were out of the ‘hood and headed back to Heritage Park’s perimeter path.
There was much police presence and all the officers waved at us or sometimes clapped at the various spots they were stationed along the event course. These officers were a little more subdued.
Next, into the deep dark forest.
There is a wooded area that veers off the perimeter path and in moments you are in a wooded area. I had walked past this woods many times before last year’s event, and never knew about this pathway. A sign directed us to head to the woods.
The ticks and mosquitoes are bad this year and the DNR advises to be mindful of ticks if you go into any wooded area. I had planned to wear pants and long sleeves, but it was too warm. So, I figured I’d just be diligent and check my clothes for ticks after the race was done.
However, I didn’t count on the mosquitoes being so bad – those little buggers were eating me alive and I spent most of my time in the woodsy area swatting at these blood sucking creatures. You know me – I operate with both hands as I’ll feed the squirrels and take photos simultaneously, so I snapped pictures of the woods with one hand and swatted those *&^% mosquitoes with the other.
No wonder there were mosquitoes because there were swampy areas in the woods and the trail was a little muddy, even though we’ve not had any rain since Wednesday.
Whew, I was glad to leave there and get back on the asphalt track, but a few mosquitoes followed me. Hmm – perhaps I am sweeter than I thought?!
There were wild daisies growing along the side of the perimeter path …
… and plenty of cottonwood fuzz.
Finally … over yonder was the historical village.
Across the field and around the bend was the village you’ve all come to know from previous posts.
By now I was really straggling behind the others after my mosquito-swatting-and-picture-taking-foray in the woods. A police officer asked if I was the last one and I smiled and said I usually am as I take pictures for my blog about walking. He gave me a big smile … perhaps he is a blogger too?
I scoped out the gosling family to check on their growth. No goslings or geese to be found, but I saw a heron perched on the Coan Lake seawall, so had to wander over to the water’s edge to check him out.
A few mallards were milling about. No ducklings – they’ve all grown up. When I returned to the course, there was Mile Marker #3.
A volunteer pointed and said “that-away” then added “only two more turns and you’ll be there” so I said that he would not believe that I had a walking regimen and didn’t usually poke along like I was now. (I thought maybe I looked too pooped to participate?) And, then I recognized that man behind the shades and said “I remember you – you feed the ducks the cracked corn every morning and you and I had a long conversation last Summer and I took some photos of you for that day’s blog post – do you remember me?” Yes he did and I asked how many ducklings I had missed and told him I was there a few weeks ago for a “duckling fix” and there were no ducks, let alone ducklings. He said there were a few families – one had 12 and another one 14 ducklings. I said I’d try again next year, then I said goodbye and was off again on the last leg of my journey.
I was not the last participant to walk under that “Finish Hoop” … I did get my time recorded; surprisingly not all that awful, considering all the swatting and picture-taking done along the way.
I had more steps to get done today to reach six miles, and the sky still looked iffy, so I headed back to the car which I parked at the other side of the park to get more steps. I finished off my six miles at the aisles of Meijer doing my grocery shopping, then scurried home before the rain, lest I might melt since the mosquitoes found me so darn sweet!