Monday, June 5, 2017

A great way to kick off June: A Race, A Festival, and Hockey

I'm really not very good at this, blogging. Right now I have three posts started that I haven't finished for various reasons. They are posts from what proved to be a very very very busy May. Since I can't finish them at the moment I will say June is looking like a great follow up for May; and now we have made several plans for July; and August has the Eclipse; and this is turning into one of the busiest summers I can remember. I think I may be at the point where I have to stop making the joke: "I have no life".

This also feels like the fastest year I have ever experienced. And I know it's not just me. Meg and I spent first few days of June at our town's city hall volunteering to get ready for the Coopertown 5 mile run and Barrel festival. And there were several times where, "I can't believe it is June already" was exclaimed... I know I said it when I ran over to re-register my car because the tags expired in June and the end of May surprised me.

Meg and I had volunteered to help with packet pick-up for the race last year and we knew that we wanted to do more. I want to be involved in my town. I am invested. This is my home, my house; and I am not going anywhere. Even though I am horrible at facial recognition I look forward to going places and recognizing people and really having that small town feeling that I have always heard of or seen in movies and from people. This year we did get to do more and we learned for next year and will be able to do even more then too.

Another thing we knew we were going to do again was run the race. Last year leading up to the race we started running/walking to prepare for the 5 miles.  This year we were unfortunately unable to do that; so that was a bit of a concern but since we routinely hustle several miles at work every day I was feeling confident we would be ok. After all we only had two goals. The first was the same as last year and that was to finish. The second goal was to beat our time. The morning of the race we arrived at town hall early to help with the last minute pick up and registration. The weather was perfect with sun and temps that would be around 63 at the start of the race and 74 at the end. And as we hoped that forecast brought in a lot of late registrants. I don't know the final count but I do know it put us near or a bit over the number of runners from the previous year. About 7 minutes before the race Meg and I made our way over to the start line to get ready to run.

Much like last year we started out running by picking a spot in the distance to run to and then switching between running and walking as we felt ready. Also like last year it isn't my legs that get tired it is struggling to breathe and I know that means I need to focus on my cardio and technique while running but I haven't figured out everything. I have already learned that on early attempts I swung my arms too much and by consciously keeping my arms closer to my sides (you know looking like a t-rex) I could help increase how long I could run. The other technique I need to work at is just taking better deeper breaths.

Well I am proud to say we met both of our goals.

from and app

Along with the official time keeper from the TN racing commission I used an app on my phone called Runtatsic. Since I just have the basic free version it keeps track of distance/time and elevation changes. My time was actually faster but I went over to the booth to get my printed time from the TN racing guy before I remembered to turn off my app, according to the print out I finished at 1:23. Either way last year I finished at 1:28. I'm feeling like next year the goal should be to finish with under a 15 minute mile.

There are two really neat things about the race. The first is that we run on part of the historic path of the Trail of Tears. Just like I can look back on decisions I have made and realize now that they were bad or wrong decisions (whether they were decisions, actions, or words) that I am not proud of they are still mine. I do better to remember them than forget that they happened. In my opinion running on or walking or marking out for all to see where the Trail of Tears is represents a way for my town, county, and country to remember what happened and that it should not have. Sometime this week I believe bicycle riders from the Cherokee Nation will be coming over that same path as they ride the entire length of the Trail. People from our city hall and other residents will be waiting for them to pass and acknowledge what happened to their people. Hopefully this year I will be able to attend as well.

The second neat thing about the race is that when runners sign up they are given the chance to donate to a great cause that helps families in Coopertown and across Robertson County. This year the run raised 170$ for the Back Pack program which sends food home with children who have been recognized as having little or nothing to eat over the weekend: Back pack lunch. I have included the link because if you are reading this and have the money or a moment please consider following this link and learning more and possibly donating to a great local cause.

After the race it was on to the festival. Now you may be surprised to learn this :-) but on August 21st there is going to be a Total Eclipse of the Sun and the path to view Totality stretches from coast to coast across America. If you know me at all then you have only heard that once a week for the past... year and a half? Since Coopertown is right in the path and a great viewing spot I made a poster giving info about the eclipse and included two hand outs. One was a 'save the date' with the date, time, and important info and the other was an eye safety flyer that explained how best to view the partial phase of the eclipse. Included on the poster was some important information like terms that have become common vocabulary to me but may not be to others who are just learning about the eclipse. I also included websites that have been essential to my own research and preparation for this event.

1.  A website featuring maps and all kinds of useful information for planning a trip to the area or just understanding the eclipse better.  I included this map of TN on my poster especially because it includes my small town on it!

2. This is the website for Dr. Kate Russo a psychologist and eclipse expert whose particular interest is in the experience of the eclipse. I have used her information for community planning to try and understand better how to prepare and what to expect.

3. A website by Fred Espenak and a great resource for those looking for information about photographing the eclipse. The USPS will be featuring one of his photos on a new forever stamp that will be heat sensitive to show the change in the sun and mimic the eclipse on it. Preorder is available now for the stamp at the USPS website and will be released on June 20th.

4. This website is run by Jay Anderson and Jennifer West and is a great resource for those who will be traveling to the path. I am anchored at my home but if you are along the path or outside and haven't picked a location check this site out. Look for the locations with the highest chance of clear skies and plan to travel early. You will want to be in place the day before especially if you are traveling a long distance. Check my first listed site for the maps of how many visitors are expected to each state.

5. The last site is the Nightsky Network a great resource for handouts, lesson ideas, and any other info to help spread an interest and understanding of celestial events.

The poster was placed at the North entrance which is the busier of the two entrances to the festival which I appreciate greatly. There were over 5000 people to walk the festival and if even 1/10th of them stopped to look at the poster or take a hand out then that is perhaps way more people than knew before.

It was informative for many, I messed up the drawing in the center but I think it was enough to make the point. I should have connected all the lines before drawing the moon. Basically I realized while making this that my poster making skills have not improved since roughly the 5th grade.

I am excited about this event I can't express that enough and I look forward to enjoying this day with family, friends, and neighbors. Actually right now if you went to my town's website and clicked on the "what's going on link" a poster would come up directing people to email me for more info. So far no one from the town has taken me up on that but I do know neighbors from my subdivision are coming.

I have a go fund me page to help with the cost of the party. I'll include the link but if you are thinking about donating please consider the back pack lunch program first. Share my link but if you want to donate and can only choose one choose the kid's lunches.

Solar Eclipse Party

By the way at this point there are 77 days to the eclipse.

I went back and checked on my poster a few times to make sure it still had handouts and did a few small tasks for the festival but spent most of my time at the Historical Commission booth. This year the Commission had a goal to find unknown or unmarked cemeteries in Coopertown. We had a large map of Coopertown that had all the known cemeteries plotted out. As people walked by we asked them if while hiking, or hunting, or anything had they ever come across graves in woods or fields. Some were found. I had wanted to try and tape record stories of people but my tape recorder had technical difficulties.

And then because a 5 mile race and the festival weren't enough for one day Meg and I headed into Nashville to meet up with our Mom and go downtown to watch the Nashville Predators beat the Penguins. We knew the Predators were going to win that game because P.K. Subban had guaranteed a win and I believed him.

Originally we were going to take the bus down town but it must have been seriously delayed so we jumped in a cab. He was headed to pick up another passenger but we were on his way. As he was driving he held up the water bottle in his cup holder and took a sip. He said he drinks all day. We nodded and said that was good since it was very hot. He smiled. And said yes tequila. We laughed at his unexpected joke but then said no it should be gin or vodka and spent the rest of the ride discussing how different liquors make different drunks. He said that explained many of his passengers at night. We wished him a safe day as we got out and he u-turned to get his passenger waiting at one of the hotels along Broadway.

We went to Bridgestone and slipped into the plaza to watch the game on the big screen in the plaza. After game 2 they had announced that the NHL would be broadcasting from there. They encouraged fans to return for game 3 and show the country what Nashville and its fans were all about. The fans did not disappoint. They packed the streets, the plaza, the honky-tonks, and the bars. As one young man headed to the stadium he proudly held up a catfish AKA "Instrument of Crime". I'm sure he wasn't the only one either. My mom told us the fish store that she purchased fish from for Christmas and New Years Eve had bought 80 extra catfish and was giving them away for free to anyone with a ticket to the game.

I'd like to thank the NHL and Pittsburg for making a quirky Nashville stunt into a heroic gesture of loyalty.

We found a great spot with a good view of the screen then with the puck about to be dropped something really surprising and disappointing happened. They turned the screen off and announced due to technical difficulties they would not be able to show the game. They told us to head to Broadway to watch on the large screens that had been set up on either end of the street. However with the puck about to drop there was no way anyone of us would be getting a good spot. Now at least we had only been there for 5 minutes. Some of those people had been camped out all afternoon, buying food and drinks secure in the fact hat they had gotten there early to pick the best spot they could. Now their preparation was cancelled out by this late announcement. I had no doubt it was not technical difficulties. I was sure it was security and safety reasons. However what I did doubt was that they only learned about the issue two minutes before game time.

We weren't going to let this ruin our viewing. Rather than head to Broadway where thousands of fans were already standing shoulder to shoulder we headed to Demonbreun Ave and the bars that were there. We stopped outside of The Diner, a multi-floor bar and restaurant with different themes on every floor (including a coffee shop (first floor), sports bar (second floor), and sushi bar (sixth floor)). As stated the second floor was a sports bar and from across the street we could see the giant TV screens. We waited there and cheered from the street as the Preds played the first period. Along the street people in yellow and gold tee shirts walked by looking for spots to settle and watch the game.

During the period break we tried to go to another spot that my Mom had eaten at and said was delicious, Martin's Barbecue Joint. However the line was out the door and since everyone was looking to watch the game I didn't see that clearing up any time soon. We went over to the Omni Hotel which was only two blocks away to see if we could get into the sports bar there and watch the game. Even Kitchen Notes the upscale restaurant in the hotel had the game on. But we wanted a more raucous crowd and continued on to Barnotes. There was standing room only but we found a nice spot and, surrounded by fellow fans, we watched as the Predators played a strong game. Rinne was at the top of his game and the defense showed why it was #1 in scoring. With each goal the fans got louder and louder: we cheered, we slapped five, we screamed as if the team could hear us. The entire city had a buzz about it. Nashville was not going away. The fans showed what they were made of and so did the team. None of us were deterred. We trust each other. Tonight is game 4. I wish I could be downtown for this one but I have work. I know the fans who do gather there will be some of the best.

Good luck Predators! Good show Nashville!

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