Autism 5k

25 May, 2014             Autism 5k


Yesterday was the 12th Annual Autism 5k, held this year at the Innsbrook Pavillion in Glen Allen, VA. I did it the first year with my old buddy Skye, back in 2002, and I’ve done it intermittently since. Last year I did it with my friend David and we had such a great time we decided to return this year. We were well rewarded; it was even better. Last year there were over 1,600 people in the race. I haven’t heard the final tally but I suspect this year’s turnout was even larger. The weather was beyond compare.


The light’s been beautiful nearly every day this week, but my photography hasn’t been brilliant. I’ll put a few pictures in. The cliff swallows near Brown’s Island are coming along but I haven’t gotten any pictures I’ve loved. Perhaps this swallow was scolding me for my other-than-stellar effort:

Whatever this Cliff Swallow is saying, it doesn't look polite.

Whatever this Cliff Swallow is saying, it doesn’t look polite.

One good thing about being in that area was seeing my first privet of the year, rounding out (with multiflora rose and of course honeysuckle) what I consider the “big three” of fragrant spring flowers in central Virginia. The link I provided above was to an NC State web site about urban landscaping and it notes that “Many small, white, and fragrant flowers appear in April to June.” Please please please smell some privet if you have the opportunity. It will 100% put a smile on your face, and that can only be a good thing. Here’s what to look for:

So  rich and so delicious and so fragrant

So rich and so delicious and so fragrant

That bush is at the edge of the train tracks, not fifty feet from the cliff swallow nests. You can smell flowers and watch cliff swallows and trains too! How could you possibly have more fun? You can even see the river from there!

My buddy and I were walking along the path beside the railroad tracks and a rabbit hopped out of the bushes maybe a hundred yards in front of us. Luckily I had a zoom lens and was able to take this picture. Because the rabbit took a few steps and lay down. I didn’t know rabbits even did that. I think it was sunning itself or just rolling in the sand. Because a few minutes later it got up and walk/hopped across the trail:

Isn't that unusual? I never even knew rabbits did this. Look at those big ears and big eyes.

Isn’t that unusual? I never even knew rabbits did this. Look at those big ears and big eyes.

While I’m putting up pictures of fragrant flowers, I can’t skip magnolia. Though it’s not as ubiquitous as privet. This magnolia drops leaves on our cars in the driveway:

Extravagant + lush

Extravagant + lush

I looked up the dragonflies I posted last week. They are “Common Whitetail Skimmers,” or “Long-tailed Skimmers,” (Plathemis lydia). The male is the one with the white tail, the other one is a female. I never knew.

Male Whitetail Skimmer

Male Whitetail Skimmer


Female Whitetail Skimmer

Female Whitetail Skimmer

Dragonfly larvae (I’m learning) hatch from eggs and become nymphs. They have gills and live underwater. Damselflies are similar and they are prolific at Pony Pasture and I’ve put a few photos of them in previous posts. When damselfly eggs hatch they’re called naiads. I digress. Here’s the fascinating blurb I read about dragonfly nymphs in wikipedia: “The nymphs… feed on aquatic invertebrates such as tadpoles… Because of their abundance, [they] are in turn an important food source for various… frogs…” Isn’t that amazing? Before they turn into dragonflies they live in the water and they’re “nymphs.” As nymphs, they eat tadpoles. The tadpoles that survive climb out of the water and become frogs. Then, as frogs – stay with me here – they go back to the water and eat the nymphs. That were trying to eat them when they were tadpoles. What a life cycle. Everything eats everything and is eaten by everything. Human beings are the only animal that chooses to be a vegetarian. As Joseph Campbell said, “life lives on life.” It is a free for all out there.

This has been a slender blog post – more next week, hopefully. Until then, have a great week,


PS I don’t take pictures at the Autism 5k – I’m too busy doing other stuff and I don’t photograph people well. But they took some great pictures. As of this moment, there are only pictures from the 2008 through 2013 races on this site but I’m sure they’ll get this year’s pictures up within the next day or so. Click on this link if you’d like to see some fantastic photography from one of my favorite sporting events anywhere: Autism 5k photo page

About Jay McLaughlin

I am a rehabilitation counselor. I have many friends with autism and traumatic brain injuries. They help me learn new things constantly. I hike with dogs at the James River in Richmond - a lot. I've completed an Iron distance triathlon a year for 11 years. My most recent was in Wilmington, NC in November, 2013. I currently compete in mid-distance triathlons. And work and hike and take pictures and write and eat.
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8 Responses to Autism 5k

  1. Clare T says:

    Happy Memorial Day to you as well! i can’t believe the weather RVA has been having this Spring! not the usual, and i for one am enjoying it. Loved the write up about “the cycle of life” compliments of the frogs & dragonflies – i am just so much more “learned” because of these blogs 🙂

    Becka (pup) and I are still working on the socialization thing – right now, she will only go to Forest Hill Park and avoids eye contact with other pups & humans 😦 i’m hoping with time this will change – so we keep going and keep running into pups & humans and one day maybe it just won’t be a big deal anymore. (Big Smile)

    Almost June – almost time to start a new woodpile for the winter! 🙂 LOL


    • Hi Clare!
      We’ve been hoping to see you and Becka at PP. It takes a while for some dogs to relax. She’s a sweet little girl. And I’m glad you’re enjoying this Spring – I think we all are here in central VA, especially this stunning Memorial Day weekend. And as far as woodpiles – mine’s ready to go! I think we’ve got a few warm months before we’ll need it…

      Have a great day, thanks for the note, hope to see you and Becka at the river soon,


  2. Andrew W. Meiller says:

    Hope you are having a good Memorial Day!

    • I had an EXCELLENT Memorial Day, thank you! And thank you also for the pictures, looks like you and Drew had a fantastic weekend too. Talk with you soon,


  3. Cappy says:

    Great photos and great post! Loved the bit about the dragonflies/damselflies!

    • Hi Cappy!
      Glad you enjoyed it! I LOVE your picture of the colorful dragonfly on the colorful material – just amazing! I keep finding out cool stuff like that dragonfly info while researching for my blog posts. Like, and this will be on my next post, the chain leading up to this, that tidy human beings lead to an increase in crow nest predation by raccoons. All sorts of crazy stuff. Although compared to what you’re learning in Africa it’s small change! All best, have a great day,



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