Thich Nhat Hanh introduced the notion of the "walking meditation" to the West. My Peace Trot was a variation on a running meditation, in which steady-state, weight-bearing cardio exercise of the body induces an effort to feel, as close to literally as possible, the baggage of stray, anxious, unhelpful cognitions, and discard them along the roadside as the feet keep moving. It was only my third or fourth time running this year, so the going was a bit arduous, and the mental chatter came thick as the humid air. But to keep going, three steps to each inhale, three steps to each exhale, fed by Brooktondale's greenery and wafts of pungent honeysuckle--cumulatively, this might be fairly close to what inner peace, for me at least, looks like on the move. And all the while, Ravel's Bolero played in my head.
Thanks to great preparatory and race day work by Tom, Steve and Joe, I thought that our small group runs in the Cornell Arboretum were a lovely reflection of the first Peace Trot that i enjoyed there years ago: a great mix of children and fast adults as well as runners with lots of years of experience. Of special note was the participation of Nora de Mott Grady, Peter's daughter. Nora maintained the family talent for running well. The weather was outstanding both days. We engaged passersby, explaining that it is an event to promote world peace. I'm sure they enjoyed the happy show we put on as well as the snacks. Steve and Joe did splendid work setting an appropriate pace and providing inflight course guidance on Saturday and Sunday respectively.
First real 5k after starting to run during the pandemic, grateful for the opportunity to explore Ithaca by foot. Sending love to me fellow trotters ❤️
Unlike last year in the thick of COVID when we “trotted together in spirit” (I alone in several segments), this year Connie and I wanted to run in a group, maybe called a “pod” – but certainly not with “runners”. We’ve participated in all but one of the Peter De Mott Peace Trots and it’s been a long time since we even jogged the 5K course. My usual time, back in the day when we wore bibs and were timed, was 55 minutes flat. That was at a brisk walk pace.
Why not join a group at the Opening Ceremony on opening night, we thought, held this year at the Cornell Botanical Gardens? There was the added incentive that Ellen would be videoing the “start” on FaceBook. Tom and Amelia had set out the course. Steve (who is a runner) was going to take up his usual position at The Gong for the Get Ready, Get Set, Bong. All Connie and I had to do was show up!
Well, we spent the first 2K that Friday evening going up and down hills at the arboretum looking for The Gong and the starting line. Eventually, we put in a call to Ellen. (Does Ellen ever answer her cell phone?) She called back. “We’re at The Overlook,” she said, not being very specific. (Does she know how many overlooks there are at the Cornell Botanical Gardens?) Eventually, she figured out where we were, picked us up and drove us back to the starting line. It turned out we weren’t the only ones who got lost looking for The Gong.
Now the Peace Trot could begin. Steve and another runner took off. They were our “rabbits”. They lapped us three times over the next hour or so. The other six of us set off on something considerably less than an 11 minute per kilometer pace, interrupted by stops to talk about what species of oaks we were passing. Those that we could not identify we declared to be “hybrids”. The two of us with Total Knee Replacements compared our “good knees”. Mary Anne reminisced about when the Gradys lived across the street from us on Delaware Avenue, here in Ithaca, and engaged in Christmas night snow ball fights between the Catholics and the Quakers. (Anyone can guess who outnumbered whom!) Connie and I suggested we only had to do 3K since we’d already walked 2K looking for the starting line, but others prevailed and we hung in there and went the distance.
How many kilometers was our 5K Peace Trot this year? We walked until almost dark. That’s how long it was!
Get your t-shirt!
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For folks who have registered and live in the Ithaca area, we will be handing out t-shirts at the Ithaca Catholic Worker house (411 South Plain Street) next week on...
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