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Category Archives: Utica

Boilermaker Butterflies

Subtitle: 15Ks Is The Least Of My Worries.

I am using today’s Friday Lame Post to vent my nerves regarding the upcoming Boilermaker road race, to be run (in my case, shuffled) Sunday, July 8 in Utica, NY (I realized I keep mentioning the Boilermaker but never said when or where it was. I do know these things).

As my subtitle says, the actual act of moving my feet for 15 kilometers, even in sweltering heat, does not particularly worry me. Oh, I realize I will probably get a crappy time. I will probably look ridiculous when I do it. It may very well suck. However, I know from experience that I can keep going through almost any amount of suck for just about as long as I decide to. I have shuffled along with the mantra repeating in my head, “Just don’t stop,” many times. It’s not my favorite way to run, but I can do it, and the rewards afterward are undeniable.

I quite frankly do not expect to spend a large portion of the Boilermaker in that stage. The support is great, and the route is interesting. As I said, that is not what worries me.

What worries me is 13,999 other runners. Where are we all going to run? Any given street is only so wide. How mushed will we be in the starter bin? Will we have to run in lock-step or be trampled? What if some people are bad-tempered? Will I become a victim of Runner’s Rage?

These things, I suppose, will sort themselves out, at least by the third mile or so. I’m also a bit concerned by where to go before that. The first year I ran, I had no idea where to park. Somebody had told me how to get to the starting line with the Culver Avenue exit closed, but I looked in vain for big signs that said, “Runners park here!” I did, of course, find a place to park eventually. I’m thinking it was the wrong place, because no other cars were parked there when I returned to my truck, but I did not get a ticket, so that was all right.

After the run, things can get even more complicated. I never did get my lunch that first year. I got it the second year, because I had a run buddy who knew where to go. I seem to remember finding the shuttles back to the starting place without too much difficulty.

I really don’t know what I’m so worried about. All these problems, if they even arise, are not insoluble. Now I’m a little afraid to publish this. I can just hear some readers saying, “Oh, quit your bellyaching! Nobody asked you to run the Boilermaker! Just shut up and run!”

Well, it’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to. Or, rather, my blog and I’ll complain if I want to. For heavens’ sake, what miracles of erudition do you want from me on Lame Post Friday? And on July 8, I will run, but I will not shut up. Would you expect less?

Running My Mouth

After the DARE 5K I thought I might try the Falling Leaves road race on September 25. The Falling Leaves is a scenic run beginning and ending in Utica. I really don’t know much about it, but I have a Falling Leaves shirt I bought at a garage sale a few years ago.

This was the first year I ran the Boilermaker. Shortly after the Boilermaker I kind of crashed and burned, running-wise. I wanted to start up again and thought the shirt might inspire me. The following week I ran into a fellow wearing a different Falling Leaves shirt.

“Oh, the Falling Leaves,” I said. “I was going to run that.”

“It’s not too late,” the guy said. The race was some two days hence. “You can register on the day.”

“It’s too late for me to be running every day and be in shape for it,” I confessed.

Well, I did not crash and burn this year. I had nothing to crash and burn from. I’ve been hovering around 5K shape and sort of looking at the Falling Leaves out of the corner of one eye.

Here’s the problem. I had it in my head that Falling Leaves was a 10K. One of the fun things about running is that just because a run is twice as far does not mean it is twice as hard. When you run like I do, just for fun, a long run is the way to go. Nobody cares if you run slow, and you get kudos just for finishing. When you get right down to it, distance running is easy. You just don’t stop.

I started to feel pretty good about my Falling Leaves plan. So good I went to a friend’s Facebook page, a young athletic guy I met in National Guard who I knew was planning to run the Falling Leaves, and wrote on his wall, “Maybe I can rock the Falling Leaves.”

Then I went to the Utica Roadrunners website for more information, and the whole thing came to a grinding halt. It’s not a 10K. It’s a 14K! That’s only one K less than the Boilermaker! It took me almost two hours to run the Boilermaker (1:46:32, if you really want to know). Who am I kidding with these little 30 minute runs I’ve been doing? Just don’t stop, indeed.

Well, let this be a lesson to me: research before you boast. Anyone wanting more information on the Falling Leaves road race can go to the Utica Roadrunners website,

From Artsy to Elegant

Fountain Elms is a beautiful Victorian home located next to the Munson Williams Proctor Art Institute (MWPAI). It is the ancestral home of the institute’s founders, and it is open to the public as a museum. You can get to Fountain Elms from MWPAI by way of a basement hallway, which is what Steven and I did last Saturday.

A lady was showing some other visitors around, telling them things about the rooms and the family that lived there. We did not take advantage of the guide this visit, but we have on previous visits. The people that work there are very knowledgeable and patient about answering questions.

The downstairs rooms are furnished and decorated as they would have been in the 1850s. You can only walk into them so far, which is a good thing, because the decorating style of the time was a bit crowded. I probably would have fit right in, because I tend to fill my rooms with a lot of stuff, too. Of course, my stuff is not elegant, but different times, different stuff.

Upstairs there are paintings, accessories and artifacts behind glass, and a beautiful vintage doll house. I think I sent a post card of the doll house to my sister, when she was at home recuperating from an operation.

I was quite interested in the paintings, which included portraits painted at various times. Some were identified, some not. What struck me was the different levels of realism. How can I put it? Some of the artists had the proportions wrong, or the figures looked stiff and unnatural. Others from similar years looked as if they might turn and speak to you. I really ought to take an art class, so I would know more about these things. Was the stiffness the style of the time or of that particular artist? I know portraits are usually commissioned works, bought and paid for the way we pay professional photographers for family portraits today (well, Steven and I have never done such a thing). And I remember reading in period fiction how people wanted to hire the fashionable painter of the time to do their portrait. But I don’t know why you wouldn’t hire somebody that made you look real. Or is that a silly thing to say, and readers who know about art history are rolling their eyes. Oh well, I’ve been rolled at before.

We enjoyed our visit to Fountain Elm. We went back through MWPAI and made our way to our car, to once again brave the Genesee Street detour, in search of further Mohawk Valley adventures.

Artsy Me

My real Mohawk Valley bloggable activity Saturday was to go to the Munson Williams Proctor Art Institute (MWPAI), 310 Genesee St., Utica. The select few who read every post know I blogged about a restaurant and two craft stores I went to Saturday, but these were merely en route. I really wanted to blog about the art museum.

I remember in Basic Training one of my drill sergeants speaking disparagingly about “culture” as something his wife forced him to do. It was then that I realized, I like culture. I like museums, libraries, plays and symphony concerts. I think they are fun. Sometimes I imagine I should be more of a hoity toity person than I am. I should eat and drink with one pinky in the air. I should make scholarly observations such as, “I thought the adaptation was more literary than cinematic” (that was a line from a movie which I believe was intended to show the speaker as pretentious). Well I’m not and I don’t. I went to the museum because I like to look at the pictures.

We had a little adventure getting there, because there was a detour on Genesee Street. Luckily Steven was driving. We were soon parking and ready to view some art.

The regular exhibit at MWPAI is a good mix of styles. I would say more about this if I had ever taken an art class and knew how to properly apply the labels: modern, abstract, surrealism. This goes back to what I said earlier about scholarly observations. I got nothing.

When I was admiring a large Jackson Pollock, I remembered a conversation I overheard years ago with Roland Gibson and a college student. Roland Gibson was a prominent art collector who allowed many of his pieces to be displayed at SUNY Potsdam. By all accounts he was a shrewd judge of these things, and his collection was quite valuable. I was working in the dining hall when Mr. Gibson came in with a college student (I’m guessing) helping him carry a painting to be hung. The student was apparently not an art student, because he confessed to not understanding the attraction of abstract art.

“I mean, I could do that,” he said, repeating the cliche criticism that has been leveled against non-realistic paintings for many years.

Mr. Gibson told him that when we view a piece of art, we are viewing “the inspiration of the artist.”

“You say you could do that. I say, ‘But you didn’t.'”

I’m probably paraphrasing, but I’ve always remembered the sentiment. I didn’t think to splatter paint on canvas. Pollock thought of it. I don’t always like the results of the inspiration of the artist, and I’m sure there are artists who in fact are trying to get away with something. I like to think most of them have inspiration. If I don’t like the results, well it didn’t hurt me to look.

We made a quick stop at the gift shop before we left. I bought a few postcards. I think I’ll send one to a soldier I know in Afghanistan. He could use a little culture.