Short run, 5 miles, 56:43; splits 11:22, 10:35, 11:01, 12:34, 11:13.

MUCH better weather–on the cool side, drizzly, then wind picking up and clearing the rain but leaving clouds. I took the run really easy because my legs are still stiff and sore (left knee, right thigh especially) and it went well. Long stretches where my breathing was so easy that I couldn’t hear it. A quiet morning, just a few bluejays screeching. Stanley Lake was a beautiful shade of silver gray.

Long run, 16.16 miles, 3:07:20; splits 10:21, 10:44 (1.16), 11:38, 10:04, 11:11, 10:42, 11:25, 11:39, 11:11, 10:57, 11:14, 12:47, 14:27, 12:29, 12:49, 11:58
Miles for the week: 34 (5/8/5/16)
Weight: 117-ish

A VERY difficult run. It was hot and sticky, I think I wasn’t fully recovered from the 18-miles-in-32-hours thing, and hadn’t caught up on sleep. This was definitely the hardest run I’ve had, and it was sort of discouraging–the idea of running another 10 miles, when it was all I could do to run 16, is scary. On the other hand, I’ll be much better rested for the marathon and it won’t be 85 degrees. (I hope!) As aftermath, I’m just noticing that the nail on the middle toe of my left foot is sore and dark pink. It may be heading for that black toenail syndrome…

On Bolton road I saw a dark shape up ahead in the road. It eventually resolved into 3 wild turkeys. With them (on the shoulder) was a young deer. The deer saw me first & then the turkeys started running and the deer followed, so I think they really were kind of hanging out together. That would be a smart thing for a deer to do, because turkeys are so wily and alert. Further along I met a nice tailless Lab cross called Kelly (I know because her owner, who was busy talking on a cell phone, yelled to me “SHE WON’T BITE!” and “Kelly, come!”) At the lake where I saw 2 blue herons last week, there was one flying over the water which landed in a dead tree. My heart lifts when I see one no matter how often it happens–they’re so huge and elegant.

Wildflowers: pale touch-me-not (saw them last week but forgot!), purple-leaved willowherb, beggar ticks, buckwheat. Fruit: apples, acorns (smashing on the road, not sure what kind), dogwood berries.

The one mile that was all downhill was just over 10 minutes, but my overall pace was quite slow (because of the heat/fatigue etc.) Once I’ve done an 18-miler I’ll try to plan my pace for the marathon based on the course profile vs. my run profiles/times. I’ve been estimating 5 and a half hours since the beginning, but it’s becoming clear that it’s certainly *possible* for me to run it in under 5 hours, which would be delightful but I’m not counting on it. I’ve looked at a number of pace charts, many of which (like this one, at an apparently-defunct site called are just insane–no way can a 29:56 5K translate to a 4:13 marathon, can it? That’s a 9:40 pace; if I started that fast I would crash and burn! If I ran a perfect race and expended my energy *just right*…even so, I doubt it.

Today, because I was having such a hard time, I really looked forward to my hydration breaks, which work out to 30-90 seconds of walking every 2 miles. It’s not quite Gallowalking, and since I’m doing fine I’ll stick to it. Jim2 has some convincing articles about Gallowalking; basically, he says that if you’re disciplined enough, you don’t need it to run your best race (and it will detract from your time). But walking through the water stations will be helpful, I’m sure.

There’s stuff going on in my extended family which has been an emotional rollercoaster lately (it’s all working out happily for the best, but it didn’t look that way for a while!) and I’m seriously behind on many things in my life. I still want to keep up the blog but it may be more intermittent. I’m definitely noticing both the great advantage of running in keeping me calm and working out the worries and preoccupations, but also the extent to which mental distraction can detract from my running if I let it. It’s a balance, like everything else! There is still so much to learn. As the mileage has been building towards the big day, just keeping up with the runs is hard enough. I haven’t been thinking about tempo/interval/easy training, or working on my form, or doing special quad exercises (which would be a good idea)–but if I want to run more marathons after this one, I can integrate all those things if I want. For now, enough to get the miles in! Helpful guy Jim2 says that long-distance runners continue improving for 10 years, so I have at least 6 more years of getting faster and better ahead of me.

August 19

Medium run, 7 miles, 1:19:11; splits 10:06, 11:58, 11:47, 9:44, 11:49, 12:36, 11:12.

Good run. About 3 miles in I could see across Stanley Lake (the other side of the loop) and it looked a long way away–cool to think I’d be running there. New wildflower: hog peanut (seems to grow just in one particularly shady wooded stretch).

August 20

Short run, 4 miles, 43:32; splits 10:48, 11:36, 10:55, 10:13.

OK run but one of my toenails had been rubbing against the inside of the next toe. It didn’t particularly hurt but when I got back my sock was bloody! I didn’t notice at first (we got a phone call, so I didn’t stretch first thing) and as it turned out I left red marks on the kitchen floor. Once I got the sock off I realized it wasn’t bad at all, but it was unsettling!

August 23

Long run, 16 miles, 3:02:03; splits 10:34, 10:51, 11:16, 10:16, 11:11, 10:37, 11:22, 11:16, 10:50, 10:56, 10:59, 12:05, 13:33, 12:21, 12:23, 11:15.
Miles for the week: 31 (4/7/4/16) WEEK 9

I wore a band-aid on the toe that bled on Friday, but it worked its way off part-way through the run and I had to take off my shoe and sock to get it out. I’ll try to avoid getting in that situation again!

My first 16 miler–and it was just fine! It is harder and harder to walk up the steps to the front door after a long run, but other than that, not much difference. A nice sunny morning, but turned foggy after I crossed the ridge. That was cool–totally different atmosphere. Approaching 858, the dirt road crosses a small lake/large pond. There was a blue heron on each side–one perched way out on a submerged log, scenic in the fog. Where the road bordered a field, there were dozens of orb-weaver spider webs highlighted with dew drops–I’ve never seen so many. Further along there was a dead sumac tree with a few orb webs at the ends of the branches–very Halloween if it were by itself. Dead green snake in the road–they are so pretty, but I have yet to see one alive (rare dead as well, this is only the second I’ve seen in a decade).

I had the best encounter so far, near home on Moran Road: in procession, a dog, two enormous draft horses pulling a low cart driven by a large man in his early sixties, the cart pulling a gigantic tractor tire full of scrap metal, and bringing up the rear, a brown-and-white goat. The dog was quite friendly but soon tired of me and forged ahead. The man introduced himself as John something (I had a hard time making out everything he said, but I figured out his last name from the mailbox later) and told me he was exercising the horses for an upcoming horse pull competition. The goat was very friendly and let me scratch its head while he talked. He asked me if I knew why he had the goat and I said “To keep the horses company?” (having heard that horses often like goats as friends). Not just that, he said. His exact words: “If the sumbitch horse gets sick, the frigging goat will die.”

Ragweed’s been blooming for a while (it’s hard to tell the difference between the buds and the flowers). I know I’ve missed a few other new wildflowers…

August 25

Short run, 5 miles, 53:03; splits 10:57, 10:13, 10:40, 11:00, 10:14.

Wow–almost a minute and a half faster than my previous best 5 miler! I’ve felt like I was plateauing for a while, but that’s more like it.

August 26

Medium run, 8.05 miles, 1:30:57; splits 10:35, 11:56, 11:54, 11:05, 10:14, 11:27 (1.05), 11:23, 11:50

Good run. The dog I met on Monday’s long run accompanied me for quite a while, which was nice. There’s one cluster of vipers bugloss on Bowbridge Road; I wonder if it was planted by someone? I got goosed by a stone! I felt something fly up from the road and then all of a sudden it felt like something was biting my Achilles’ tendon. I yelped and jumped. When I looked down it turned out a pebble had caught right between my tendon and the lip of the shoe.

August 27

Short run, 5 miles, 54:11. Splits 10:56, 10:13, 10:45, 11:35, 10:42.

A relatively hard run–18 miles within 32 hours adds up, I guess! It was humid, my legs were tired, and I’ve been short on sleep lately. I actually walked for a second on the last hill before home–I didn’t intend to, but I was distracted and my body just went “okay let’s stop.” Kind of weird. I guess that’s why focus is so important!

Behind on entries for a sort of stupid but ultimately fun reason. Chapter 7 of Non-Runner’s Marathon Trainer talks about improving your concentration, and the exercise they recommend is a grid of 100 scrambled numbers you’re supposed to cross off in order. They say to do it every other day (making copies of the one they give you & then creating your own). Well, I thought about how there should be a web application for that but I couldn’t find one. So I spent a crazy amount of time this weekend learning Javascript just so I could write one, and here it is!

I’ve been wanting to learn Javascript anyway, and I rationalized that doing the programming would involve my concentration much more than just doing the exercise. I still don’t fully get JS–I infinitely prefer PHP–but this was certainly a good way to wrap my brain around a lot of it in a hurry (it ended up involving some moderately complex issues, like unique random numbers and remote scripting). But my problem with programming is that I get way overfocused and let everything else fall behind–I can’t put it down, my brain is always worrying at it and saying “just try one more thing!” It’s certainly an example of flow–I love doing it and time flies by–but not of keeping balance in my life…

Anyway, I hope somebody will use it besides me! Doing the 10×10 grid, which is what’s in the book (I added a feature where you can do smaller or larger tables), is harder (& more boring) than I realized. I can see that it takes focus and concentration to do it quickly, but I wonder how much it really applies to running. I think there’s “muscle specificity” in the mental realm as well as the physical. Improving your concentration in anything helps everything to a degree, but if you want to get much better at some mental task, you need to practice that particular task specifically.

August 13

4 miles, 44:11; splits 10:47, 10:23, 12:30, 10:32.

I went 2 miles out & back on Canada Road because we’d gotten a lot of rain (it was still raining steadily) & I wanted to see the maximum of rushing, foaming water. I love following streams when they are running high–the volume and motion of the water is exciting. At about mile 1 1/2 you cross over a stream, and sure enough it was gushing–in fact I noticed a waterfall in the woods which I haven’t seen before.

That was the good part. The bad part was that my left leg, which hadn’t bothered me since those few bad strides about 2 weeks ago, started getting that same weird feeling of landing wrong and hurt quite a bit for most of the run. I think it’s related to doing steep downhills before I’m properly warmed up, and maybe road camber (since I run on the left, it would make sense that my left leg would be affected). I’m trying to run closer to the middle of the road–which is feasible since traffic is so light.

August 15th
Long run, 14 miles, about 2:45:00; splits 10:44, 12:10, 12:15, 10:43, 10:32, 12:35, 13:22, 10:47, [7:59, 3:57!!!], 12:33, 12:42, 11:53, 11:23, plus about 12:00.
Still no Polar watch, so no heart rate data.
Miles for the week: 28 (4/6/4/14) WEEK 8
Weight: 116

I didn’t know I was the equal of Roger Bannister, but apparently my Forerunner thinks so–1 mile in under 4 minutes! And look at these lovely graphs:



Apparently I was running 2000+ feet in the air, until that burst of amazing speed when I was suddenly at sea level. But it’s not the poor Forerunner’s fault, really. What happened is that I went into the garage right before I started running and it lost GPS signals. I should have waited for it to solidly lock on again before starting the time. I’ll know better next time! So I thought I was done suspiciously far from home, and then when I looked back at the splits (I thought I had seen 3 minutes as a split, but I automatically acknowledged it & then thought maybe it was 13, although it was all downhill so that wasn’t plausible…) I realized I needed to run about another mile at least, and luckily I was up for it, even with the last long steep hill included that I thought I was going to miss.

A very good run. My left leg didn’t bother me; I liked the route; I stayed hydrated; the weather was cool and cloudy, then turned clear but didn’t warm up too much. I saw a red fox! That’s a rare treat. Also on this route were a donkey (I love donkeys! and it was on a part of the road that I’ll be running for my 8 mile loop, so I’ll be seeing it again), sheep, and pigs (their field also abuts the road I drive to work, but on this day they were eating corn right up against the fence I ran by). Wildflowers this week: a different goldenrod (flat-topped with rounded flower clusters, instead of the plumy ones that started a while back), milkweed pods, Solomon’s seal berries, elderberries, bull thistle.

When I got back, I did an experiment to see how much ice baths actually help. I soaked my left leg only (since it was bothering me on Friday, I didn’t want to risk it not getting maximum care) in a trash can full of cold water. (It seems to hurt just as much whether there’s ice in it or not–our water is straight from a 200′ well and it’s COLD!) Verdict as of today: no significant difference between recovery of the 2 legs. Maybe I’ll try just ice on my knees next time. It’s the ankles that hurt the most in the ice bath, but they’re not bothering me. I wonder how much of the ice bath “benefit” is just the mental effect of having put oneself through that pain!

When I got back, Jonathan not only clapped and whooped, but even tossed his hat in the air! A while back, he started this wonderful routine of making a fuss when I get back from my long runs. It feels great. I haven’t mentioned before how incredibly supportive he is (about everything, not just running), and what a huge difference it makes. He learned my self-talk paragraph and says it to me (“You are a marathoner! You love to run no matter what the weather’s like…”), and there’s something about hearing it from the one I love that goes right into my subconcious. Thanks for everything, J-Hay!

4 miles, 43:37; splits 10:53, 11:36, 11:00, 10:09.

Clear skies but very foggy; at the top of the hill, I was out of the clouds and looking down, it was a sea of milk where our house is. This is what the Binghamton valley looks like most days from now until frost, which is why I’m glad we don’t live there anymore. (Almost every fall day we wouldn’t see the sun until noon. Depressing!) A good easy run.

Medium run, 6 miles, 1:07:45; splits 10:03, 12:21, 11:16, 10:13, 11:38, 12:15.

Hazy & cloudy with the sun just starting to break through. Nothing remarkable about the run. Afterwards I walked another 5 miles doing my trash pickup, so a high energy-expenditure day.

It’s too bad I’ve gained some weight back–not a big deal and that’s not any part of my goal, but I know that each pound less on marathon day makes a difference. Carrying one pound 26.2 miles takes a certain amount of energy. But my body’s set-point has been 120-125 for so long that it’s really hard to bring it down. I stuck to the no junk food rule faithfully for a while, and I’m still doing well, but it’s hard to avoid eating just a little too much anyway. I am hungrier! But I only burn about 80 calories per mile. The frustrating thing is that 115 seems to be a magic number at which I suddenly feel much better (more energy, more muscle tone). Well, it’ll happen or it won’t–my focus is still just sticking to my schedule and crossing that finish line!

Another catch-up entry, due to the craziness surrounding the Blueberry Festival. I’m physically exhausted, but I’m still on track with my training!

August 5

Medium run, 6 miles, 1:06:15; splits 9:58, 12:09, 10:41, 9:41, 11:33, 12:12.

I was sleepy and don’t remember much except that it was humid. I actually forgot that I had given blood on Tuesday; the first uphill was harder than usual now that I think back on it, but it wasn’t until mile 5 or so (also a hill) that I noticed my fatigue & remembered. Blood donation has really done a number on my running in the past, but I think that’s because during the week I used to do much shorter & therefore faster runs. Running slowly/downhill must not require more oxygen than my depleted red blood cells could carry. It’s also true that I had a particularly easy time (for me–I usually get woozy if I don’t take an extra 10 minutes on the table). I still hope to be sending the message “Make more!” to my bone marrow.

One of the hardest runs I ever did was the Chris Thater 5K route (to familiarize myself with it), which is pretty flat. It was a hot evening after work, I was really pushing, and I had just given blood the day before.

August 6

Short run, 4 miles, 43:24; splits 11:09, 10:24, 10:29, 11:22.

An evening run, since the Blueberry Festival started early in the morning. Pretty tired, but a lovely evening. I stopped & spoke to our neighbor up the hill with the lovely garden, and petted her beautiful Irish setter. It was my normal 4 mile run but I ran it the opposite way to see how much my previous negative splits were due to where the hills are. Yep, that’s why!

August 8

Long run, 12 miles, 2:24:14; splits 10:24, 11:09, 13:12, 13:05, 10:45, 11:13, 12:16, 11:29, 12:04, 12:13, 12:08, 14:17.
WEEK 7; miles for the week, 26 (4/6/4/12).
No heart rate data because I lent the watch to the Festival kids’ games and forgot to ask for it back Saturday!
Weight 118.

An adventure run! I took a road I’ve never been on before, even in a car. I did think of driving it last week just to make sure I knew of any turns, but I’m glad I didn’t. It turns from a road into a track pretty quickly and it would not be kind to a regular car. Wow, what a gorgeous route. Once past the few houses at the beginning of the dirt road, you’re in untouched woods and natural clearings. No traces of human life aside from the road itself and a few Posted signs–no fences, utility poles, agriculture, or anything. Then you come out into fields at the top of a hill with spectacular views. When I came out onto the two-lane highway to head back towards home, I could see the radio tower at the top of the hill we see from our front door, and it looked really far away!

I love love love living here. Even though I grew up in Manhattan, I’ve always wanted to live in the country. As a kid I spent time in North Carolina and in the south of France, but neither of those environments (although I enjoyed exploring them) felt like home. This kind of landscape feels like where I belong. I am so incredibly lucky to be able to head out my driveway and go 5 miles or 10 miles “around the block” in this kind of idyllic scenery, with hardly any traffic and tons of wildlife. I love the solitude. This isn’t getting me ready for the marathon, so the crowds will be extra-distracting (I noticed in Montreal how hard it was for me to stick to my own rhythm when others are running near me), but again I am so lucky to be able to run all by myself for hours. A number of women over the years have mentioned to me how they are afraid of being alone in rural areas; one friend specifically mentioned that she hears the music from Deliverance when she’s walking on a country road by herself. That’s so alien to me, I think because I grew up in the city when crime was at its peak and learned how to walk by myself & feel relatively safe (part of that IMO is just the attitude you project). It’s people who are scary, because they are the only creatures who can be malicious, and they are just so few & far between out here that the chance of running across one of the tiny percentage who are actually bad is infinitesimal. And they’re all in vehicles which you can hear coming from very far away. My dear aunt used to express concern about someone being able to “sneak up” on me when I was out at our land by myself (before we moved here). People just can’t sneak up on you in the country! Anyway, none of this is to say I feel invicible or anything–bad things can happen anywhere–but I do feel relaxed and secure in my solitary running.

Speaking of wildlife, I saw a red squirrel and a doe and fawn. At one of the very few houses on the dirt road section, a HUGE flock of turkeys poured out of the long grass under some locust trees. There were about 5 or 6 adults and maybe 50 youngsters, old enough to fly but still not looking much like turkeys. They buzzed out of the grass in batches; I would think that must be all and another group would take off. Back on 858 (two lane highway), there was a half-grown opossum at the side of the road. I wasn’t sure if it was sick or injured; I chivvied it off the road with a stick and didn’t notice anything obviously wrong, but there wasn’t much I could do. Lots of grasses/sedges/rushes along 858; eventually I hope I’ll learn those too. Wildflowers: teasel, turtlehead, tearthumb, wild mint, water horehound, virgin’s bower, bittersweet nightshade, purple asters, a different white aster (asters and goldenrods I also hope to learn better some day; there are so many different kinds!)

The end of this route was running up the “continental divide” hill, which goes 425+ feet up over 1 mile. That was probably the hardest running I’ve ever done. The only thing that got me up without stopping was repeating “ma-ra-thon-er” in time with my steps/breathing. That took focus and concentration (the emphasis for this week in NRMT!) for the entire 15 minutes or so. I did it!

Another ice bath, shudder. I’m going to try skipping it next week to see if it really makes a difference. Even if it does, I think I’ll just do cold water. I wish I had a lake or pond to swim in, that would be much more pleasant.

Today (August 10th)

Short run, 4 miles, 42:57; splits 10:55, 11:17, 10:47, 9:58.

Hard, tiring run (although my best time yet on this route!) We had to move 398 boxes of books yesterday, after all the heavy lifting Friday and Saturday, so I think cumulative exhaustion is the culprit. Hazy and humid but not too too hot.

Short run, 4 miles, 42:31; splits 10:38, 11:28, 10:33, 9:52.

Despite the ice bath, my legs are feeling quite tired. Not really sore, but accumulated weariness. “But it doesn’t matter!” Humid morning, partly cloudy, and as the days are getting shorter, 6:40am sun is low enough in the sky to have the reddish cast of sunrise, which is pretty. At the low point of the run (swampy), there was some mist which felt like running into a fog machine. I gave blood this afternoon so I know Thursday morning’s run (6 miles) will be hard, but hopefully stimulate the production of lots of extra red blood cells for marathon day!

Long run, 11 miles, 2:09:45; splits 10:21, 11:28, 12:24, 12:05, 10:30, 11:07, 15:47, 11:48, 10:38, 12:05, 11:32. Av HR 153.
WEEK 6; total miles 24 (4/5/4/11).
Weight 116, resting heart rate 48, fitness test 52.

A good run, but man, hills HILLS **HILLS**. The positive aspect is that first of all, I ran them all, and secondly, once I got home and looked at the GPS data, it made Steamtown seem so much more manageable! I ran up and down 6 hills, for a total of 1337 feet of elevation (gained and then lost again). If the info I have about the Forerunner is correct (that it doesn’t take grade into account in its distance calculations, which makes sense), that’s about an extra 1/2 mile! The longest continuous upgrade was 500 feet over less than two miles (that’s the almost 16 minute mile). So when I look at the Steamtown course profile, the few hills look just puny! Not that that makes the long downhills any easier–I definitely need to start doing quad exercises etc.

More good stuff–Gatorade worked out just fine: I weighed myself before and after (first time I’ve done that) and was *exactly* the same, which means I am hydrating perfectly, and I had enough juice left to try taking the last 2 1/2 miles faster (not very noticeable in the splits because there were 2 big hills left). Bad stuff: on the first steep downgrade, I somehow landed wrong on my left foot and felt a spasm of pain through my leg. It happened two more times within a dozen steps but then didn’t happen again, although that leg did start hurting a little bit around mile 9-10. I know that pronation is a shock-absorption method for the legs, and I was braking on that hill because it’s so steep (when perhaps I would have been better off letting gravity run the train), so maybe my motion-control shoes were throwing me off balance? I took an ice bath afterwards, which I had planned on doing anyway, so hopefully that will help with soreness. I chickened out a little bit on the bath, using lukewarm water for the first few inches so it was easier to sit down in, then going to cold tap water and then dumping in only 2 trays of ice cubes (which was all we had anyway). It really does start to feel OK once the initial chill wears off, just like swimming in very cold water.

New wildflowers: pimpernel, a big fragrant pink flower I can’t identify which was probably a garden escapee, and burdock (I never realized before that they actually do have purple flowers, like a thistle). There was a redtailed hawk calling loudly from a telephone pole, echoed by another, and it flew to another pole & then down to a tree while the other one approached. I couldn’t figure out if they were saying “I’m here! Where are you?” or “My territory, stay away!”

It was fun to run roads I normally take to work, because it makes the distance seem more significant somehow! The first part I walk a couple of times a year since it’s my Adopt-a-Highway road, but the rest was new to me on foot. Strange to run past the Tall Pines golf course–it’s such a suburban sight. It seemed like a crazy thing to do, to build a golf course on a dirt road in the middle of nowhere, but they must do a lot of business. I kept waving at cars (which I normally do, in part because it might be someone I know even though I can’t remember/recognize people’s vehicles, in part as a “thanks for sharing the road” gesture) but realized that I was getting funny looks because most of them were probably coming from the Binghamton area where you don’t wave. Once I got down to Route 267, there was actually a decent shoulder to run on. Too many cars to be really relaxed, though, so I was glad to turn back onto a dirt road again.

I added toasted almonds to my recovery Cheerios, because a comment from someone who reads this blog led me to recalculate whether I was actually getting enough grams of protein in the milk (thanks, Ira!) Turns out I was using the 1-cup serving size on the milk carton instead of the 1/2 cup on the Cheerios box. I’m prone to silly mistakes like that (akin to the time I halved a recipe incorrectly and discovered that chocolate chip cookies with twice the butter are really, really good!) I’ve learned a lot from other people’s blogs and now I’m learning from people who read mine (as well as learning from my own experiences as I write them). Reason enough to keep going. One thing I haven’t mentioned, which I got from another blog, is that I bought a RoadID and I’m glad I did. Peace of mind to know that in the unlikely event I were involved in an accident, I wouldn’t end up as a Jane Doe. I had never even thought about it until I visited the RoadID website. If you exercise alone, it’s worth thinking about–not that solution specifically, but carry *something* with your contact info…