Chewing the…Hash

One of the reasons I feel so lucky to be a writer is that I get to share my “world” with so many other folks, readers. These days the blogosphere affords the opportunity to chat up some of the really cool people and stuff I encounter in my “real” world, too.

If you’ve read this far, apparently you’re listening to me, which is a very good thing. πŸ˜‰

Because I am bursting at the seams (no, not that kind of bursting though admittedly I’ve been hitting the Tasti Delite kinda hard) to talk about a great running club I just joined, the New York City Hashers.

Apparently hashing is tres international. It started in Malaysia in the late 1930’s, and there are groups throughout the US as well as the globe. In NY, the Harry’s Hashers chapter draws members mainly from Manhattan. Basically the group leader, called a Hare, chalk marks a trail for the rest of the runners, The Pack, to follow–or not follow. The run begins at a bar (excellent, yes) and the endpoint is yep, you guessed it, another bar. Most of the runners wait until the finish to imbibe. Participants toss about $15, Hash Cash, into the communal till, which covers beer and noshes for the night.

Last night was my first hash, and frankly I can’t wait to go back next week. About 50-60 runners met up outside of Suspenders Bar in Manhattan’s Financial District. Once the run got underway, folks got serious. While the web site gives the impression that the running part of the event provides an excuse to drink and socialize, don’t believe it. Harry’s hashers are seriously fit, with the majority of last night’s group running sub-nine minute miles. There’s also a nice mix of ages (anything from twenty-somethings to sixty-somethings), singles and married couples, backgrounds etc.

The approximately six-mile “trail” wound through the Battery, China Town, the Lower East Side, Alphabet City, and Gramercy. Sweaty but smiling, we ended at Plug Uglies, a gem of a dive bar in the East Village named for the New York street gang immortalized in Martin Scorsese’s GANGS OF NEW YORK. Ironically the present day pub is a popular watering hole for New York’s finest–note the police shields festooning the dark paneled walls–as well as running club friendly.

We hashers basically took over the place. Pitchers of icewater awaited and after downing the requisite rehydrating plastic cupful, most club members were ready for stronger stuff. Later (as in several Stellas later), there was toasting or rather roasting of the hash leaders, the trail, and specific members, including a dalmatian with a purported flatulence problem–or was that her owner? Last but not least for a turn in the spotlight were the hash “virgins” including…yep, you guessed it, Yours Truly, who had to down beer shots while the group cheered and chugged. Afterward, the leaders broke out the food, played shuffle board (a popular bar fixture), told runners’ “war stories” and just generally had a good time.

Whatever your outdoor passion–running, cycling, golfing, walking or even gardening–it’s spring for gosh’s sake, so make like the Nike ad and “Just Do It.”

Happy trails,


The Big “It”

I’m feeling a little bit proud today–and a lotta bit sore. Yesterday I ran the U.S. Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, DC along with about 30,000 other like-minded folks (that’s folks, not fools). It was my third marathon, my second Marine Corps Marathon, and overall just a lovely fall day.

Oh, by the way, yes, I did finish. πŸ™‚

My time, 4:22, isn’t record-setting, but it is respectable. Despite spotty training and a pre-race fall up some concrete steps crossing U.S. Route 50 to the Start point, I shaved off a minute or two from my time thirteen years ago–a particular point-of-pride because well, Girlfriend’s not getting any younger. πŸ˜‰

Though the wonderful spirit of the event is alive and well, a lot of other things have changed since my first marathon. Back in 1994 there were no cell phones on the course. Hooking up with cheering family members and friends at the various mile markers, and yes, finish line, required more ingenuity and a goodly dose of luck. There was also no GPS tracking based on a clever little clicker affixed to one’s shoelaces. Today thanks to technology each runner receives his or her true finish time, no need to guestimate the minutes lost waiting to cross the Start line–and yes, with thousands of runners, you don’t all cross when the gun goes off.

There were a few wheelchair entrants back in ’94, mostly graying Vietnam vets with shorn off legs, massive arm muscles, and shoulders as wide as the proverbial football field. Yesterday, there were a lot more, beautiful young men and women from the current conflict with legs missing but hearts whole. Everytime my aching body suggested it might be okay for me to slow down, to if not quit at least walk it in, one of those brave former soldiers invariably came into my view (when Marines call out “make a hole,” I now know to get to the right or left–fast!), and I knew being a slacker simply wasn’t an option.

Today I’m sore. No, not pleasantly sore, but sore-sore, hopped up on Motrin “as we speak” but in a good mood nonetheless. The pride of accomplishing my goal more than makes up for some stiff limbs and blistered feet. If running 26.2 miles was easy, then everybody would be doing it, right?

What’s your big “It” with a capital “I”? Whether your It is completing your first marathon or one-miler, typing The End on your first manuscript or your fiftieth, wracking up yet another milestone for success or picking yourself up and trying again after the Universe has dealt you that really big, brutal Boot in the Face, if you haven’t already done so, take a moment to brag on yourself, even if the voice saying “You go, girl” is silent except for inside your head.

And in the words of my Strokes of Midnight heroine, Becky Stone, here’s wishing you an autumn filled with “fresh starts and dazzling opportunities.”