Getting to Know Seattle: Elite Athletes

The Winter Olympics are on, and we can see elite athletes at the top of their game in many winter sports. But you don’t have to be glued to TV or travel to South Korea to see elite athletes. You can check out your local 10K race, this one around Green Lake in Seattle.

Most people who run 10k races are ordinary weekend sports enthusiasts or fitness buffs. But there are always a handful of runners who make me sigh with envy. They have lean, wiry bodies, not too tall. How much weight a runner has to carry matters. NFL offensive linemen, those guys who weigh 300+ pounds, can run surprisingly fast for very short distances, say 20 yards. But nobody can lug that kind of weight around very fast for very long, nor will the hip, knee, and ankle joints tolerate it. Elite runners are light on their feet; you hardly hear one of them coming up behind you. They glide along with their feet only inches above the ground; all of their momentum is forward, not up and down. Their arms move rhythmically with their stride; they don’t pump their arms wildly. Arms are not where the momentum comes from.

I know how to be an elite runner; I just don’t have the body for it. Have you heard of very many elite runners with Irish peasant woman bodies: broad shoulders, hardly any indentation at the waist, good legs? Nah. Elite runners come in numbers from Kenya, or Ethiopia — occasionally, with the right genes, from the U.S..

I’m an endurance kind of gal, not a fast one. An elite runner will leave me in the dust going twice around Green Lake. But we’ll both finish in the end. 🙂

Getting to Know Seattle: Strange Sights

We had a building just exactly like this in Rochester, NY, and I always thought that one looked a little precariously balanced too.

Someone is excavating the entire shopping plaza around this office building in downtown Seattle, while leaving the building untouched and presumably as stable as ever. I think it looks as if a good shove, or earthquakey-shake of the ground would send it toppling over, but I know zero about construction, and apparently that’s the appearance but not the actual case.

Getting to Know Seattle: Gorgeous Winter Day

Seattle weather from May through October is spectacular: lots of sun, low 70’s, light breezes, no mosquitoes, barely a drop of rain. But in the winter, we are pretty soggy. Every so often, winter Seattle pulls out a gorgeous day. Sunday was mid-50’s, sunny, and this was the view along Puget Sound where I walk. A day like this is a gift, and I spent much of it outside.

Andrew Wyeth and Christina

The Andrew Wyeth traveling exhibit at the Seattle Art Museum is leaving soon, right after I leave for Panama. Louise and I went, she for the first time and I for the second, and the display gallery was packed with rapt visitors not wanting to miss out.

I took another photo of a Wyeth painting of Christina Olsen. Most of you probably know his iconic “Christina’s World”, which lives in New York. I think this portrait of Christina is easily as powerful.

Christina, who was Wyeth’s neighbor in Maine, had undiagnosed polio, which left her with withered limbs and without the use of her legs. I think you can see that here. In “Christina’s World” she is on the grass in a field in front of this house, leaning toward the sea, longing — one imagines — to move toward the water. Here she is more tranquil, in repose. At peace, do you think? I’m not sure.

Getting to Know Seattle: New Year’s Day at Green Lake

While we’re on the topic of wintry weather, I happened to be at Green Lake on New Year’s day just at the time a group of hardy swimmers were about to do a polar plunge. Green Lake is cold even in the summer; serious swimmers who cross the lake usually wear wetsuits. The air temps here were in the mid-30’s, and I have no idea how cold the lake water is. But in the hardy crew went.  Happy New Year celebrations take many forms. 🙂