In the Shadow of Winter

Shadow9This past weekend, we had planned on running the Groundhog Jog in Punxsutawney, PA. One of the many winter storms that marched through the area made us decide not to chance the 2 hour drive there to run to Gobbler’s Nob and back, We had enjoyed the run a couple of years ago and were really disappointed to not get to run with such great people again.

I doubt anyone is missing my weekly updates like I did last year. I have been running a lot less this winter. My work has sapped my energy and I am taking on as much of it as I can to help pay for my tuition for summer school. Yes, I have committed to going back to school, for a week. This time for the the interest and focus I should have stuck with in the first place, the arts. I will be spending a week in Vermont for an intensive on making comics and cartoons at the Center for Cartoon Studies.

The comics on this page are a few from what I drew on February 1 as part of a challenge to draw a comic every hour you are awake. It is called Hourly Comics Day and I have been wanting to try it for years. I ended up drawing 18 different panels and of course it had to be the day the storm cancelled our trip to Punxsutawney. As you will see at the bottom of the page, we swapped the 4 mile race for a nice 8 miles around the neighborhood as the winter storm set in.

I can say I really enjoy a break from the added commitment of making time to write, it has allowed me to try some new things and shift my focus. Obviously we are still running and one of the new things is a monthly, podcast style recording of running in central Pennsylvania called Run Pennsyltucky. For those of you who are interested, there is a week to still enter our contest that gives away an entry to Harrisburg’s Capital 10-miler. Listen in on our most recent recording as we run along the first half of the course in Harrisburg and describe the race.
We didn’t get to see the groundhog. The next morning Punxsutawney Phil, in the middle of the winter storm, still saw his shadow. Not early spring for us but we will try to make the best of it here in central PA.


Groundhog Jog

A real (unwritten) bucket list moment for me, I met Punxy Phil and his handler John Griffiths!!

A real (unwritten) bucket list moment for me, I met Punxy Phil and his handler John Griffiths!!

Supported by Gingerbread Man Running this year was the Groundhog Jog in Punxsutawney, PA. It was set to be run the day after Groundhog Day and the course had runners actually take a turn through the famous Gobbler’s Knob.

Punxsutawney Phil uncharacteristically predicted an early Spring this year. This was because he didn’t see his shadow in the series of snow storms that have been hitting Pennsylvania this weekend. They were so significant that we almost decided not to go to the race at all since we had attended the festival in years past.

At 7:30 this morning, we saw that we would have a safe window of travel and carefully set out on a 2 hour drive to Punxsutawney. Although there was some snow and wet road conditions all went well and we arrive in town in time to warm up and check out where the cute groundhog makes his home most of the year. We saw him deep within his burrow in the local library. I was happy just to see his eye and continued to get ready.

Punxy Phill and his followers.

Punxy Phil and his followers

Jimmy the Eye shares our good fortune just before the race:

One of the advertised features of this race was having Punxsutawny Phil and his handler, John Griffiths, at the start of the race. I spotted them heading toward the start line as we finished our warmup jog around a couple of nearby blocks. I hustled back to the car to drop off my hearing aids and told Terri I’d be right back to join her. I assumed the handler would be holding onto Phil for a few photos before the run, but as I rounded the corner, I saw Phil standing the handler’s shoulders with his forepaws gripping onto Mr. Griffiths’ top hat! Terri was right beside them the handler shifted a bit to allow us to get some great photos of Phil. That was so very crazy, because Phil was so very comfortable up there, and it reminded me of our cat Birbanto and how he needs to ride up on our shoulders around our home. I assumed that Mr. Griffiths would have had him in a gentle but firm grip the whole time he was outside since Phil is wild animal acclimated to people. What a thrill for the start of the race! Apparently Phil does this trick all the time; I found this photo on NPR.

The run was very cold and the “trek” up to Gobbler’s Knob was quite a hill, much like Struble Hill going up Nittany Mountain.

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This little run in the snow was pretty hard for me today and I may have more energy to update it with our finishing times later. I really wanted to share the photos and what a great time we had. It was pretty in the snow and the 20 some participants were all very pleasant folks. It was an enjoyable race with some terrific swag. No t-shirts but check out the slideshow above to see the great stuff!