I just had my final post-donation check-up at Baystate. It was nostalgic to make the drive and see the offices one last time – I spent so much time there in 2020! My numbers are even better, so it’s really like I never donated, and I forget about it for weeks at a time. Joyce, the donor coordinator who guided me through the whole process, has retired, but she happened to be in the office working per-diem so I gave her another farewell hug. Nancy, the current coordinator, is another sweetheart, and she emphasized that I can reach out at any time if I have any questions or complications. But I doubt I will. Best of all, the donated kidney is still working well, and Chris says she’s only taking one anti-rejection drug, which is great!
Protein, urine (mg/dl)
Urine creatinine (mg/dl)
I had thought Hartford would be my last marathon because I was getting so slow. But when I resumed regular blood donation, I got deferred for low iron a few times in a row, and it turns out I was anemic! I’ve been vegetarian forever, but probably between age and dietary changes (no more breakfast cereal) it tipped over into a deficiency. I’ve been taking supplemental iron and B12 and my levels are normal now. I can donate blood again (maybe not as frequently – playing that by ear!), but also my running speed is back up.
I’m still a little slower than I was 5 or 10 years ago, but I won’t shut the door on another marathon. I might want to do New York again… But until then, this blog goes back into mothballs!
It’s been more than a year since my donation, so I had my next-to-last follow-up at Baystate (one more at 2 years and then they officially stop tracking). The Captain, my solo right kidney, has really stepped up. My values are all back in the normal range for someone with both kidneys. We have excess capacity to start with, and the remaining kidney grows to make up for the loss, but I didn’t expect it would get this far… amazing to see all the results turn green in the patient portal! And Chris is doing well. I’m so so glad I embarked on this adventure and recorded at least parts of it. For something that took up so much of my time and energy for several years, it recedes into the distant past surprisingly quickly.
Protein, urine (mg/dl)
Urine creatinine (mg/dl)
I still haven’t gotten back to finish the actual marathon reports, but I will backdate if/when. I finished and enjoyed it overall, but it was the hardest of the four I’ve done. I blame aging and not kidney donation. Next time I’ll do the Hartford half marathon – it’s the same beautiful course and the celebrations are still going when they get back…
Wow, tapering already – which means my only injury was my fall at the beginning of August, ie no overuse injuries! That’s a great first. It must help that I’ve been doing my mini-Pilates routine every single morning, to keep my core strong, and most days I’ve also kept up with the NYTimes 7-minute workout (as well as plenty of walking, biking, and hiking). My fitness is probably the most balanced it’s been maybe ever. The right thumb I sprained (or whatever) in my fall is still a little weaker and larger than the left, nine weeks later, but I’m sure it will continue to heal. Yay almost-57 me!
No problems with blisters or chafing either. Modern clothes technology is great – I run in yoga shorts that have no seams, super-comfortable with pockets.
We visited my dear mother-in-law in Rochester, NY this week so I got to add some streets there. But the city is HUGE and I’m still under 3% despite having run 50+ streets. So much beautiful architecture – I explored the Corn Hill neighborhood, new to me, and discovered that’s it’s a location on the Mississippi Blues Trail because Son House lived there for many years.
My Sunday run in Easthampton finally got me to 1st place with 94.22%. I’m posting this on 10/31/2021 without any Easthampton photos because I’m doing NaNoWriMo in November and all my writing time will be devoted to that. I may come back and finish these posts at some point, but just want to get something up now!
Avg pace/fastest split
Tue 9/21 (52°F/100%)
Wed 9/22 (65°F/95%)
Rochester, lots of map checking and traffic lights
Thu 9/23 (62°F/94%)
158/209 (can’t be right – error because of moisture???)
I swapped distances on the weekday runs because I got overheated and overtired on what was supposed to be 8 miles through the Meadows – nice to be able to cut it short. I did get to see an airplane landing.
I finally moved into second place in Easthampton with my last very long run, but I neglected to note the exact percentage (I completed a record 48 streets in one go, so it would be over 90%) . It was an extra-exciting one because friends who live on one of the downtown streets I’d saved for last came out to greet me. I gave them the window when I expected to be there, and they had to be up early anyway. What a lift to see friendly faces and hear encouraging cheers! I ran through a lot of older neighborhoods, more interesting than the cookie-cutter developments.
On the hydration/fuel front, I think I’m finally at the point where I notice my body’s responses well enough to play it by ear. That’s one of the reasons to keep chasing big physical goals like this; it fine-tunes my sense of where my limits are and what’s changing with age. I ended up with usually 5-6 gulps of water every 2 miles, a Medjool date every 3 to 5, and a salt cap every 8 to 10. I’ll bring enough for the marathon so I can up the frequency if necessary, but I’m confident I’ll recognize the signs and won’t have to rely so much on a schedule.
Finished 10/4 and backposted – I hope to catch up before the marathon!!!
Weekday runs – Northampton
Long run – Easthampton
Avg pace/fastest split
Tue 9/14 (58°F/91%)
Wed 9/15 (75°F/95%)
Bad run – supposed to be 8 but cut it short and swapped days
Because of the 10-mile race on Sunday, I did my first 18-miler on a weekday. I finished 76.59% of Easthampton and moved into third place (less than 5% more to get to second place, so that’s within reach in week 13!) I lost the record of half of River Street and all of Old Stagecoach in a Runkeeper crash; I could mark them manually complete but I also like to see those purple lines replacing the white! The route including going basically straight up to the Mt Tom state park on Reservation Road, as the elevation map helpfully shows. It was a foggy day and many of the photos didn’t come out very well. Not shown: a van shouting “Eat Greatly at the Whately” (ad for the Whately Inn but parked in Easthampton); a mannequin torso in a yard (thankfully evoked Greek sculpture more than sheer creepiness).
Thursday photos – Easthampton
Black Birch 10 Miler, Sunday September 12, 2021
It was so incredibly exciting to run an in-person race again – my first since December 2019, I think. Impact Racing puts on some of my favorite local events, but this was one I hadn’t done before. The course is out-and-back, from Black Birch Vineyard in Hatfield up into Whately along some scenic hilly dirt roads. I plan to wear my KDA shirt for races from now on, so this was its first outing. It’s so thin that RaceDots, my impulse buy from the NYC Marathon expo in 2018, actually worked properly for the first time, and will actually protect it.
Super-duper exciting: my recipient Chris, her husband Barry, and their new dog (sweet 7-year-old dalmatian Rhoda) came and cheered me on at the start and the finish! I wish I had gotten a photo of us when we hung out after, but we were busy swatting away the zillions of mosquitos.
I was certainly slow (2:06:23, 22/25 F50-59, 137/153 total), partly because it was on the hot side, but it was so much fun. The organizers encouraged bringing your own hydration, which was good practice for the marathon anyway, and I started out with a date every couple of miles but soon felt like that wasn’t working for me. Some great playful banter with a 60-ish dad running with his daughter; we’d already had a teasing exchange when I passed them, and they caught up when I stopped to take a photo of a “Toad Valley” sign. I explained my rule was to stop for photos and saying hi to dogs – “You’re right on that last one!” We passed each other back and forth several times, the fake-competition escalating. I finished first and said “So close!” as they approached the finish line, so he’s got his eyes on me for the next time. A yummy glass of white wine (the Epic maybe?) and a delicious vegan burrito with guacamole at the finish completed the experience. Hurray for races! I had two more 5Ks before the marathon, but the Hospice Meadows Run for 9/25 went virtual and I decided to apply my entry fee to next year’s in-person. So I only have the Fort Hill 5K to look forward to before the marathon itself. Very soon, since I finished writing this 10/3!
I’m behind on this again – posting 9/30/2021 for the week ending 9/5 – hey, at least it’s the same month! I am discovering that as I age, I lose not only physical stamina but also attentional stamina. There’s been a bunch of work stuff going on that’s soaked up way more of my energy than I’d ideally let it. Always learning, always trying to grow…
On the medium (8-mile) run through the Meadows in Northampton, I spotted an old apple tree, on a semi-abandoned verge, with an abundance of very large windfalls. My sample tasted much juicier and sweeter than typical wild-reverted apples, so one of these years I’ll fetch some to make a pie. Then near the airfield I think I saw maturing chestnuts. So much to forage if one pays attention!
The long run took me to 70.52% of Easthampton – stuck at #3 – but I dipped into Southampton to complete part of the western edge and I SAW A BEAR! Always super-exciting. Just over the city line on Glendale Road, I heard crashing in the brush and it emerged onto the road. Before I could get to the camera on my phone it noticed me, did almost a cartoon double-take, and rushed across the road.
The other notable aspect of the long run was adding in fuel – specifically Deglet Noor dates to try something different taste-wise from the Medjool I’d used the last time. They don’t have as many calories and I was aiming for 100-120/hour, but reaching that would have meant pretty much bringing the whole container. Instead I just stuffed a bunch into a baggie and ate 2 every two miles, cutting down to one at a time near the end. I’m not sure it made much difference. My body is well-accustomed to burning whatever’s on hand, glycogen or no glycogen. Thank you, fat-adapted metabolism (if that’s what’s going on)!
I’m so happy to be able to give blood again after my kidney donation, but it’s become logistically more difficult – Baystate has suspended their program entirely, and the Red Cross only has one location in Western Mass. It’s in an industrial suburb of Springfield, about half an hour away for me, so it could be worse but I’m bummed to have to drive there! I gave Tuesday afternoon and had a full day’s rest before the 8-mile run on Thursday morning, but I still noticed the effects.
I started out with intervals, which went OK, but then I didn’t have much left for the run itself. Whenever I felt like I just had to stop running, I would check my Fitbit and see my heart rate at 168, so it was consistent (exactly 3 times my age, but more likely the reason is it’s about 3x my resting HR). Then I would walk for a while, my chance to pull off more of the hundreds of tick-trefoil burs I picked up in one second of dodging a puddle. I see that they are called Stick-Tight (Desmodium sp.) and ranked among the hardest to remove from one’s socks! Deep fog gave way to sun where there are banks of wild tansy (I put some in my bandana to sniff) and sunflowers, picking up the rays. From the Meadows I ran to the Connecticut River bike bridge, where I watched a rowing team put their crew boat in – lifting above their heads and pivoting to the river in one smooth move, very balletic.
I was still easily winded for Friday’s five miles, so it was great to accompany Jonathan’s walk for the first few. Sunday’s long run (16 miles) also maxed out my energy. I moved up to 63.58% of Easthampton, still 3rd place, but was able to improve all CityStriders’ experience by fixing two streets on Open Street Map – Scout Road, a dirt road which doesn’t even exist on Google Maps and ends in a maze of ruts before the last node, and part of Paul Street which was closed/abandoned when The Commons development was built. I got a few photos, not great quality, but alas the flying pig weathervane didn’t come out at all. Finishing this up 9/8, so now only a week and half behind…
I’m getting behind on blogging again, but not as badly as during the NYC training when I did four weeks in one post, so I’ll keep them separate for now – this was posted 9/4 and backdated, so “only” 2 weeks behind and still fairly vivid in my memory. The main event from this week was the Frozen Yogurt 5K. Alas, I just realized that I didn’t post my results in time to be on RaceWire, which is very annoying. I did order a shirt so I hope I’ll still get all the swag. This is the fourth time for this race, the second time by myself. I run the actual course and really do my best to treat it like a race, and the conditions were good, so to be 50 seconds slower than last year is a little sobering. Oh well – comparison chart below. I treated myself to real GoBerry because it’s so so so much better than the Yasso coupon I may get (if my delay doesn’t screw it up).
Other highlight of the week included running 7 miles in the leftovers of Tropical Storm Fred – looks like 2 inches of rain fell while I was out. It’s fun to run in a downpour once in a while. I had been out on the Connecticut River the day before, enjoying the water patterns made by the kayak paddle and thinking I should take that opportunity more; I got it in spades! For the second short run Jonathan walked very fast while I ran slowly for the first three miles; he can walk up to a 13.5 minute mile without looking like he’s race-walking, which is quite amazing.
The long run was my first 16-miler, the morning that Tropical Storm Henri was coming through. The plan to get out early worked perfectly; it rained a bit off and on but the real storm held off until I got home. I moved to 4th place in Easthampton at 58.38%! I continue to tweak hydration, settling on 5 gulps of water per mile plus a salt cap every 5 miles (at 4 I feel too salted-up).
Pictures that weren’t interesting enough to post: whale and dog weathervanes; over-the-top year-round Halloween yard with creepy dolls in an office chair, and a gnome with a T-rex head growing out of its red cap
A good week with not much to report. Fourteen miles is a bit of a psychological hurdle, but it went really well and I was very happy with the pace! I’m glad I take photos even when they don’t come out well, because they are memory triggers: the friendly black cat with a white mustache I met at the beginning of the long run, the yellow lab in a window which looked like a cutout until it moved, the fake owl side-by-side with a real squirrel, and a couple of weathervanes (typical rooster but perched on a mini dovecote, owl that looked like terracotta but was presumably fresh copper). In order to cover the south edge of Easthampton—I’m up to 49.13%!—I ran up Mountain Road/141 to Southampton Street in Holyoke, which I’ve driven many times. It’s always different on foot! From there I took a side street I’d never noticed (Line Road), which turned into a different Mountain Road, a steep dirt road across the very edge of Southampton with a few surprisingly huge houses (reminded me of back roads in Susquehanna County).
I don’t have an overall theme this week, but it was a good one. This training plan works so well every single time – the mileage ramps up at just the right pace. The week’s total is now marathon distance, and I was realizing that for the next six weeks every long run will exceed a half-marathon. Right now that seems a little intimidating, when 12 miles was about as far as I could go on Sunday, but I know when I get there I’ll be ready. Highlights of the week:
42.2% of Easthampton – I’m adding more than 5% a week, successfully balancing completing short streets with plugging away on the long ones. Easthampton is easier to manage than Northampton was – fewer total streets (346 vs 539) and also much smaller (14 vs 36 square miles). The person in first place has a private profile so I can’t see if they’ve been running recently, but I don’t think they’ve changed from 92.49%. I’d love to complete Easthampton first!
Expanding my range in Northampton to other beautiful neighborhoods like Village Hill. I’m taking more photos here as well so I’ll have two galleries on this post.
I picked some mint gone wild at the edge of the Northampton community gardens and crushed it in the bandana I carry. Wow, why did I not think of scent as an extra enjoyment that way? I do stop to smell flowers, enjoy woodsmoke etc., but bringing something with me to sniff… so many possibilities!
I realized I’ve been expanding my intangible collections (sightings/photographs) – for years I’ve kept an eye out for interesting weathervanes, but now I’m also looking for Little Libraries and cool mailboxes. So many fun things to enjoy but not have to own!
A delightful experience on East Street: as I approached four or five cattle in a pasture, a pickup truck approached from the other side. The cows started mooing and heading for the corner gate even before it pulled into the driveway – they clearly recognized the engine, just like dogs do. Cross-species excitement!
Less delightful but interesting: I picked up a huge cloud of gnats about an hour in, which followed me for several miles despite my attempts to whisk them off with flailing arms and my bandana. The little black dots dancing around my head were like wearing one of those black veils with dots, or a fringed hat.
I covered most of East Street, which runs along the flank of the traprock ridge connecting Mount Nonotuck to Mount Tom – several miles of great views.
I’d heard about the Treehouse Community in Easthampton but had never seen it – what a lovely place with a great mission.