Strange Spring

Monday afternoon in this strange spring of 2020

The cat is curled up in my lap right now. She’s 17 years old and we recently discovered she is deaf. This might explain why, after years of being petrified of the vacuum, she now enjoys being vacuumed. The Barefooter is mowing the lawn — second mowing of the year — and the buzz of the electric machine is distinguishable to my ears but not by much. Like most people my age who blasted music through her earbuds at a younger juncture of life, I’ve got a bit of hearing loss, but the thrumming tinnitus has been non-stop for 3 weeks and counting. I’d developed a bad headache on Easter Sunday and while the pain abated after a week or so, I’m still “hearing underwater.” After my almost sleepless night of listening to the imaginary hum of airplanes and slow-moving locomotives, I’m envious of the cat’s ability to sleep when she is tired. (The inability to sleep was last night; now I can barely hold my eyes open!)

The annual Lilac Festival would normally be happening over these next few weeks; yesterday should have been the 12-km Bloomsday run. But nothing is normal during a pandemic. Bloomsday has been rescheduled from May 3rd to September 20th, but I don’t believe it will be possible for nearly 50,000 people to gather and run or walk, or even half that many. No one is willing to acknowledge how very much life has changed and will remain different for the foreseeable time.

Bloomsday 2015

Fifty thousand people took part in a race today. Bloomsday is a 12-km course with some beautiful vistas and challenging hills, including Doomsday Hill.

Determination vs. Doomsday Hill

I like to station myself near the bottom of Doomsday Hill to applaud the athletes and take pictures. Mile post 5 is at the top of this hill (off to the right of where the above photo ends). I’ve run up this hill (back in 1994) but I even in my best days of running I could not make it to the top without dismounting from my bicycle; it feels like the uphill climb goes on forever.


It is a race for all ages. During the time I was stationed near the bottom of the hill, I saw elite racers and some of the faster participants.

Elite runners, Bloomsday

I cheered on racers for about 90 minutes, during which the serious runners mixed in with those who were running for the fun of it.  After all, 50,000 people does tend to bring on a party atmosphere.

Coconut bras and grass skirts didn't slow these guys down.

Coconut bras and grass skirts didn’t slow these guys down.

some older, some colorful, BLOOMSDAY











This little guy and his grandfather made quite the spectator pair in their matching sunglass and Seahawks caps. 

This little guy and his grandfather made quite the spectator pair in their matching sunglass and Seahawks caps.





My guys were participants but I never caught sight of them.
EB said he passed the banana in the first mile, so by this point he had passed me several minutes before I snapped this picture.




Apparently EB, SuperDad, and SnakeMaster all passed by me unnoticed. We didn’t see each other, despite my looking for them. I’ve carefully looked through all of my pictures, but they aren’t there. Oh, well.


In the background, you can see the bridge filling up with runners as they cross the river and approach the bottom of Doomsday Hill.

In the background, you can see the bridge filling up with runners as they cross the river and approach the bottom of Doomsday Hill.

The road does fill up with runners, nearly shoulder to shoulder when the walkers reach this point, but by then I was on my way to church.  As it turns out, so was EB…

EB managed to run Bloomsday and still get to the 10:30am worship service on time, wearing his newly earned t-shirt.

EB managed to run Bloomsday and still get to the 10:30am worship service on time, wearing his newly earned t-shirt.

Happy Bloomsday!

Rockin’ the Run

More Bloomsday Photos

Yesterday, I posted about the race itself and the amazing athletes that are there for the competition. Today, I’d like to share some of the fun.

This man (in photo to the right and below) was the first costumed runner that we saw in the pack of 50,000 people.

I have to admire him. Besides the fact that he rocks the grass skirt, he did not throw off all that could encumber him and slow him down. He knew there was no way he could beat out the 8 Kenyans at the front of the pack, so he dressed up and made it fun!

That was the first man in costume, so we started looking for other “firsts.”

It wasn’t long before we saw a woman dressed as a princess in a pink crown and running shoes.

[click on any pic to embiggen]

The writing on the street in sidewalk chalk was done before the racers arrived. This message reads, “Go Nana!”  🙂

This woman made sure we knew that she was the “Good Witch of the North!” She hollered that as she ran past us.

And the leggings below? They made me smile.  🙂

You will find all ages running Bloomsday. The fastest runners are generally in the 20-40 year age range, but this next runner was breaking that mold — he was our first official “geezer runner” sighting. Color me impressed!

The course itself is 7.46 miles (12km) in length. There are bands scattered along the race course to entertain and encourage the people, and when the race is on residential streets, it is a party atmosphere with folks drinking coffee (or something!), playing music, and cheering everyone along the way. There was a band on the median where the bridge meets the exit to turn up Doomsday Hill that was warming up when we arrived at 8:45am to wait for the first racers, and they continued to rock out for the next 3+ hours.

This man was sitting about 20 yards down the hill from us. He started drumming when the first racer in a wheelchair rounded the corner off the bridge and started up the hill, and he kept steadily drumming the rest of the morning. I regret not getting a photograph of his kindly face.


There were runaway brides, a group of young men in togas, a blue man (and also, if my memory serves me correctly, a red man), and a rather odd-looking man making a fish-face with a fish hat on his head. There were women in pink t-shirts and men in pink knee-high stockings. (I think they were compression hosiery, and if so, I want to get a pair for myself!) We saw a pair of middle-aged women wearing faerie costumes. I’m told that back with the walkers — about 90 minutes behind this crowd — was a guy in a gorilla suit.

But this guy has a special story of dedication. He has run every single Bloomsday, making this his 36th year. The front of his shirt reads “Bloomsday perennial” and the back proudly claims, “I’ve run ’em all!”
He wasn’t the only person I observed wearing a shirt like this but he was the only one I managed to photograph.

I find it especially impressive that he finished the race somewhere between 60 minutes and 90 minutes. By tomorrow, the official times will be posted and if I knew his course number or his name, I could look up his time.  What I do know is that even at my best fitness level, back in 1994, I couldn’t achieve that sort of finish time. My hat is off to you, unknown perennial runner!

Mickey Mouse and the StayPuft Marshmallow Man cheer on 50,000 people.

My Town Monday: The Race is on!

I walked my first Bloomsday in 1988. I carried my second child on the course in 1992 (I was five months pregnant; I didn’t have the option of not carrying him). I ran the entire 12 Kilometers in 1994. But for Bloomsday 2012, my body was in no shape for the race course, and I was feeling rather down about it. Then I read this post about having a positive attitude (Thanks, SmalltownMe!) and changed my thinking.

52-year-old Scott Parsons from San Jose, CA, finished in less than 30 minutes!

Wheelchair racers going up Doomsday Hill

Their feet don’t hurt but some hands might be sore from clapping.

This year, I was able to cheer on the elite wheelchair racers and elite runners. The course is challenging, with a long uphill (“Doomsday Hill”) at mile 5, yet the fastest of these folks complete the 12K race in less than 40 minutes.

[click on any pic to embiggen]

Ethiopian Mammita Daska was the first elite woman runner to pass us on her way up Doomsday Hill. She had a good lead on the other women and went on to win the prize for fastest woman runner.

Here is the pack of elite men starting up the bottom of Doomsday Hill. By the top of the hill, near milepost 5, a leader pulled ahead and 22-year-old Kenyan Allan Kiprono (who had earned a #1 seeding by obliterating the course record in Washington DC at the Cherry Blossom 10-Mile Run this spring) went on to win the men’s runner prize.

Aside from the elite wheelchair racers and elite runners, there are many MANY more people on the Bloomsday course. Many people run, and quite a few walk (whether they want to or not — the year I ran the entire course, I was jogging in place more than moving forward for the first 2 miles). Some of the walkers are pushing strollers or wheelchairs. The elite crowd is probably finished with their race before some folks even cross the starting line!

Running up Doomsday Hill

The race starts and ends downtown. Luckily, each person’s start time begins when he or she actually crosses the starting line, because 50,000 people simply don’t fit in one city block.

The never-ending stream of people crossing the bridge between milepost 4 and milepost 5 on the Bloomsday course at 10am on Sunday morning. An hour later, this crowd would be wall-to-wall people.

This year, my podiatrist and my feet made it clear I was not going to be a participant. And while it was fun to take pictures and cheer on folks whose aging bodies still work properly, I’m hoping that next year, I can be one of those 50,000 people on the race course.

My friend ~A~ wearing her shirt from this year and me wearing my shirt from 20 years ago