I went through my longest run of the year this week. The plan was to attempt the 20 mile run on Sunday, which I set out to do, but I got through about 17 and change before stopping. Surprisingly, and foolishly, it is the longest run that I’ve ever done while training for a marathon. During my first marathon, I did a 16 mile run and for the second, I think my longest run was about 13 or 14 miles. So though I did not make the full 20, I was proud of that accomplishment.
During the 17 miler, I decided to try for two goals: 1. To practice my marathon pacing plan and 2. To practice my nutrition and hydration. I felt like I got enough data to refine both. For the marathon pacing, I’ve decided to go for a PR, which would be faster than 4:32:04. So, my goal time for this race is 4:30:00 or under. For now, I’m thinking that my pacing plan will be as follows:
|Mile||Pace (min/mile)||Project finish (hours)|
I might tweak this, but basically, the plan is to get through 20 miles in about 3 hours and 20 minutes and then just go at as fast a pace as possible for the last 6.
For the nutrition and hydration, I took gels every 45 minutes and a salt tab on the hour, every hour. The problem was on the hydration piece, which I guess will be resolved at the marathon with the water and Gatorade stations. My running water bottle isn’t big enough to hold more than 16 ounces, so I had to stop at about mile 13 to buy some more. When I finally threw in the towel at mile 17, I was near a concession stand at the Jefferson Memorial, and I bought some Gatorade and quickly downed it. So I’d rate my nutrition plan at a 5 out of 7, hydration at a 3 out of 7.
Other than the long 17 mile run, I had two other medium-ish runs. A seven and a half mile run in Baltimore after work one day, and a 8+ mile run the morning before the long run. Both runs were fun, since I kind of didn’t know where I was going. At least not entirely. In Baltimore, I ran down to the Inner Harbor and then looked for a path to run to loop the 7ish miles. For the 8 mile run in DC, I decided to detour from my typical Monument-to-Jefferson-to-FDR-to-MLK-to-Lincoln route and ran down to Nats Stadium and back along the SW waterfront. Cool to see the construction. I took these pictures:
So all together 32.99 miles over three runs.
GOALS FOR NEXT WEEK
Next week includes the last long run before tapering. The schedule calls for 20, and I’m going to attempt that again. Let’s see how it goes. Man, it’d feel good psychologically to get one of those in. Jess and I are taking a mini vacation with Mini, trip to a cabin in the mountains, so I’ll either have to find time to run there, or do it when I get back to DC.
TWIR (This Week In Running)
I’ve found that I’m relying more and more on this section to try and catalog big milestones for Mini. Over the past week, she’s become so much more interactive. It’s like a huge jump from how she was engaging with us before to how she is now. She’s in full on cute-mode. She smiles so big every time she sees me. It’s the best part of my day for sure. When I come home from work, I go straight to her, and she looks at me, pauses for a second or two, and then gives me the cutest, most bashful smile in the world. It really just captures my heart, seeing her like that every day. She’s even starting to laugh more. There’s this zebra above her changing table (“Mr. Zebra”) and man, she loves that guy. She can go from zero to sixty when she sees it, from a full on crying meltdown to nonstop giggle, as soon as she sees that zebra.
Mini is firmly in her “fourth leap” according to this wonder weeks app that I have on my phone. She’s going to start recognizing and adapting to sequences and events a lot more, where all five of her senses analyze the world around her more coherently. It’s really cool to watch her grow into that.
In other news, I’ve been taking the train into and out of work more often, and doing so, I have more reading time on my hands. I’m wrapping up a biography on William Henry Harrison, 9th President of the United States.
Much more interesting, however, was an article I read in Runner’s World magazine. Here is the article, and hopefully the link works long after I post it. It’s about this woman, Amy Frohnmayer Winn who had this affliction called Fanconi anemia (FA), which is a very rare inherited anemia occuring in about 1 in 350,000 births. People with FA develop low blood counts and their chance of getting leukemia is very high. Amy was born with FA, as were two of her sisters. The median age of survival is 33 years old. I won’t give away all the details of the article, because it is incredibly well written and, fully recognizing the hyperbole of the following statements, it really is probably one of the most inspiring things I have ever read. Both of Amy’s sisters died of FA, and she was born with it, and would eventually die from it. The article is about Amy’s acceptance of who she was, her fate in this world, and her ability to overcome all of that and live this life with presence. The article is written through the lens of her running, which serves as the vehicle to tell the story of this courageous young woman, who probably lived more meaningful days in her short life than most people do through old age. At one point, the article mentions how when Amy was a student at Stanford, she stopped in between classes to observe a cloud formation overhead, and then wrote home to her father about it, acknowledging that there was this beauty in the world that so many people just idly passed by. I’m going to copy and paste the end of this article, because it resonates so strongly with me:
“In the annals of distance running, of people struggling with cancer and other fatal diseases, and of distance runners engaged with those maladies, the case of Amy Frohnmayer Winn would likely rank well down the all-time lists.
She never set a record, never won a race, never qualified for Boston, and never made a grand heroic gesture in the manner of Terry Fox, who in 1980, while dying from cancer, ran more than halfway across Canada on a prosthetic leg to raise money for cancer research.
Rather than the marathon, ultramarathon, or transcontinental consciousness-and fund-raising trek, Amy’s metier was the humble daily run. She raced but didn’t worry where she finished, and many of her best and truest runs were logged solo. But Amy ran no less passionately than Terry Fox, and her contribution, as an inspiration, is just as significant.
No matter how long or faithfully we run, there inevitably comes a moment of doubt, a spasm of existential worry that all the time out on the road, or running around a track, or laboring to whittle a PR, or busting to get from Point A to Point B in front of the next person—all of that is meaningless, a reassuring fiction we tell ourselves, precious moments of life packed down the rathole, just another one of the infinite ways that human beings have concocted to deny the fact of our mortality.
The moment soon passes and out of self-preserving habit and denial—I am going to live forever—we keep running. But that nagging wiggle of doubt will inexorably return, and when it does the doubt can be faced down by recalling the Promethean example of a Terry Fox or some other titan.
Or our footsteps can be settled by recalling a young woman who placed running near the center of her life but never grew obsessed by it; who nonetheless covered each mile, each step, as if it were her last. We can remember Amy Frohnmayer Winn, who never enjoyed—or never was blinded by—the luxury of denying her death; who knew from the earliest possible age that she possessed a meted stock of moments on this planet.
Amy decided to live inside her moments. Amy chose to run.”
What a beautiful story.
I happened to finish the article right as I got to my train stop at BWI Airport. Fresh off the perspective in the article, I walked by a young family, a mom with her daughter sitting on a bench waiting for a taxi or a bus. The daughter, who must have been 3 or 4 years old had her mom’s phone in her hand, with a calculator app opened up. She exclaimed with such joy: “mom, when you add 6 to 20, it becomes 26! 6 plus 20 is 26!”
I don’t know if I was channeling Amy’s spirit there, but for some reason, I thought that was such a beautiful moment. Something I would have passed by before, and possibly have passed by since, but just hearing that excitement in that young girl’s voice, about discovering a mundane operation of math and marveling that it was something that was true, genuinely and verifiably true, that 6 + 20 = 26, that’s the beauty in the world that we should try to see every single day. That’s the kind of impact that Amy’s life will have on me, someone who she never met, but is inspired by her example to live in the moments.