For fifteen of the twenty one Springs I’ve lived in the East, I’ve ventured an hour and a bit south to take part in the HAT 50K. The trails that wend through the Maryland countryside, in and out of Susquehanna State Park, dip close to the River as it starts to widen en route to the Chesapeake Bay; the rivalries and friendships, laughter and misery, experiences shared in heat and cold, deluges and mud; the unflagging generosity and selflessness of race organizers, volunteers; and my ever-present other half, always there with a sangwich, Clif shot, fresh bottle, words of motivation, love , encouragement, support. I wrote about HAT a couple of years ago in Trail Runner; you can download a pdf version of the article here: Hat Run Trail Runner Mag
There’s nothing quite like the HAT to signal the start of the season. And there’s nothing like knowing it’s coming up to get one’s ass into gear when the weather’s the shits. This year I knew I wasn’t entered, though, so my winter seemed a little bit slack. (Admittedly, I was teaching my PureCycling classes on Saturday and Sunday mornings and usually managed a semi long run before Saturday’s session, but nevertheless…) The 2011 race had reached capacity in less than a week when it started accepting entries way back in the fall, and though I knew I could pull some strings or make way in via the wait list, I kept procrastinating and eventually decided to give it a miss.
It turned out that I couldn’t have run anyway–a “work thing” loomed large in the form of NTC (NTen‘s annual Nonprofit Technology Conference); it was taking place at the same time as the race. The combination of a ridiculously low attendance fee and the fact that it was just down the road in DC made it a must-do for the Executive Director of a communications focused non-profit group trying to stay ahead of the curve.
I ventured to DC on Thursday; the weather was the best of the year. After registration, a session on Google’s new program to support nonprofits, and wandering the vendor booths at the trade show, I changed and caught a quick run down past the White House, around the Lincoln Memorial, and back through the heavy foot traffic to my boutique Hotel. Ever heard of the Klimpton Hotel chain? Check ‘em out: the Helix in DC was clean, great value, super location, staffed by an exceptionally friendly and flexible team. Showered, caught a highly motivating reception at the Case Foundation for the release of StartSomeGood.com — many exciting things will grow out of this incubator, make yourself a note to keep tabs — and grabbed a far too short dinner with long lost friends who a year earlier had moved to DC. Willard Whitson is an amazing creative genius who is also one of the few genuinely sweet guys left in the world; he was recruited to steer the exhibits for soon to be built National Children’s Museum from concept to public release. His partner, Susan Arthur Whitson, is an equally gifted artist whose medium is photography and whose images, in my mind at least, reflect her personality: playful and brimming with joy, yet layered with an unpretentious complexity — and always rather profound.
Friday was a whirlwind of learning, followed by a nice dinner with Lisa, our good friend Janet, and her son Michael; Lisa and Janet had driven down to Columbia where Michael lives and the three of them planned to tour DC on Saturday while I did the last day of my Conference gig. I tend to become overwhelmed in these things, and by day three I generally lose my ability to absorb anymore. NTC was no exception, especially since much of the talk around Social Media, new models for marketing and fundraising, and the endless array of back-end solutions for customer relationship management was somewhat new. Though I’d struggled throughout because the weather was so perfect, as the conference wound down, I found my mind wandering constantly, nagging that I should be active, moving, breathing heavily from exertion, out there, OUTSIDE. Running, racing, like I did every year, through those Maryland trails.
Funny thing. On the drive home, Lisa asked if my Droid had reception. Sure does, I said. What are you looking for?
HAT, she said.
I wonder what happened at HAT?