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.
In training for each of my previous marathons, I’ve developed a minor injury as the mileage climbs – typically around week 13 or 14. I’d been wondering if that will happen again, but this is different: I fell full-length (even hit my chin!) just a minute after starting my Sunday long run. I tripped over nothing as I was adjusting a strap on my Camelbak. I hadn’t warmed up yet and in fact I was probably extra-stiff because it was a cold bike ride (5:15am, 50-ish degrees – I wore gloves). I scraped my knees and palms and bruised my thumb enough that it’s a little swollen and still somewhat painful four days later – and of course I was shaken up and annoyed with myself. But I was so lucky! A big advantage of being short and slow is I don’t have as far to fall and can’t build up as much momentum. If I were six feet tall I’d probably be out of commission for a while. A few years ago I fell on a steep downhill and hurt my hand badly enough that I had to stop running for at least a month – just short of a fracture, thank goodness, but the whole arm was painful.
It makes me extra-appreciate a bunch of things: how amazing it is that the body heals itself – and so quickly! – how much health and ability are matters of luck, how fortunate that I could finish that 11-mile run and get back to my normal training. But it also makes me wonder if we are the only creature than can damage ourselves by tripping – as opposed to falling from a height, or while jumping. Just a few years ago I learned the terms “committed biped” (ie humans, who always walk on two limbs) and “facultative biped” (creatures who can walk on two limbs sometimes, like gorillas and bears, but typically don’t). Facultative bipeds would just land back on all fours where they belong. We have this potential energy of a heavy head way up in the air on a body that can turn into a lever. I guess it must be so evolutionarily advantageous to be upright that it’s worth effectively living on a small cliff – just like it’s worth it for mountain goats to risk falling. And we are remarkably sure-footed – I’ve caught myself when tripping the vast majority of times.
If something else happens and I do have to drop out of the marathon, it would be sad but fine. I wanted to enjoy the training process itself, and I am! Highlights of this week:
I met a Sphynx cat (or part-Sphynx, as it had patches of fur) on a weekday run. I won’t say where just in case (petnappers do exist), but it was friendly and encouraged me to pet it. The wrinkled skin was as soft as it looked.
Northampton has so many beautiful neighborhoods. The Round Hill area gardens are delighting me.
A slightly weird thing: the biggest development I ran through has signs for both “Carillon Circle” (the correct name) and “Carrilon Circle” (the typo). I figured they couldn’t be two different streets, but it’s a long road that intersects itself so I did wonder.
I was really lucky to stumble across Wonky Owl Farm a few weeks ago – it no longer exists! The sign is gone and the roadside furniture was being given away. I’m glad I noticed it when I did!