Month: July 2021

2021 NYC Marathon Training: Week 2

2021 NYC Marathon Training: Week 2

Week 2 of training was good! It was also my highest mileage week in over a year: 34 miles.

That might not sound like much to some (or to me from two years ago), but considering the last 12 months looked like this…

…34 miles ain’t bad.

For anyone wondering, an explanation of my gaps:

I’m hoping all of this foot nonsense is behind me. I’m so tired of needing to take breaks from running because my mechanics are off, or I’m stubbornly pushing myself, or I’m not doing enough single leg work / drills / foam rolling / sleeping / praying / chanting / witchcraft spells.

Fortunately, each time I’ve gotten a “thing,” I’ve taken steps to do some kind of strength or mobility work that I probably should have been doing all along.

Week 2 saw five days of running – the most days I’ve run in a week in a while – consisting of two easy days of about 4 miles each, speed and tempo workouts of about 7.5-8 miles each, and an extremely pleasant 10-mile long run.

I was nervous about the long run because the last two attempts at 10 miles resulted in two of those gaps. This time, I kept it nice and slow, and all was well. It was also wonderfully overcast with a chance of light rain that never came, so I didn’t have to deal with feeling like a roasted chicken for once.

I realized just today that this summer marks 50 years since my parents first met.

I’ve been writing about my dad here, but I think to better understand my dad is to understand the relationship he had with my mom. Or, at least, the part I will write about now, which is the very beginning of it.

Both spent their early childhoods in NYC before their families moved them out to the greener pastures of 1950s suburban Long Island. In the summer of 1971, they were in their mid 20s and living in Northport – my dad a young English teacher at the junior high and my mom, I’m actually not sure what she was doing for work, but she had grown up there and I think lived with her mother at the time.

They met through a mutual friend. I think a morning sailing trip was somehow involved, followed by a backyard barbecue later that day. Decades later, once they had four daughters and four grandsons, my dad recounted the story of when he first saw my mom across the yard. “That was it,” he said to me. Indeed, that was it.

Their early 1970s, pre-kids days seemed to consist of dogs, taking photos, going on walks, laughing, and hanging out with friends. My mom was a serious hobbyist photographer, and I have many a contact sheet of the two of them playing around with cameras.

They were married in September 1973 at a local Lutheran church. Neither was Lutheran or even religious. I think everyone just got married in churches back then. If it were today, I feel like they would have just gotten married in someone’s backyard. In fact, the reception that followed was at my grandmother’s house.

My mom wore a white blouse and a blue velvet skirt and beret, because she never did things the standard, predictable, boring way. (Many years later, when accepting her Masters degree, she refused to wear the cap and gown, instead collecting her diploma in a smart blouse, blazer, and skirt.)

My parents were alike in a lot of ways – avid readers, lovers of language, smart, witty, open-minded, inclusive, and kind. They were also polar opposites: my mom outspoken, funny, teasing, a little messy; my dad soft-spoken, gentle, organized, supremely neat.

Here’s a good example of how different they were: this photo was given to me last year by our family’s longtime friend Lynne and taken at her wedding reception. These are the outfits my parents each chose to wear that day:

Their marriage would last just ten years, but their friendship that followed – which, admittedly, took years to develop – would last decades, up until my mother’s death in 2017.

They may have had their differences, but they were both incredible parents: warm, creative, supportive, encouraging. All the things parents are supposed to be. They were that. And I’m so glad they were mine.

2021 NYC Marathon Training: Week 1

2021 NYC Marathon Training: Week 1

Oh, hello again

Hi, it’s me. I am going to write about marathon training now. It’s strange to be writing about marathon training again. While I’m at it, it’s strange to be writing again.

I’ve had a very quiet few months in terms of my online output. I blame everything from a renewed focus on my photography career, more time devoted to running again, a general malaise and uncertainty about life, direction, and what the hell I’m doing with my remaining time on Earth – the usual.

But I am finding that not writing is causing a glut of tangled cobwebs to form inside my little brain, not even something running is able to fix, so this seemed like a good time to get back into it.

As the title of this post would suggest, I’ve signed up to run the 2021 NYC Marathon, something I did not foresee happening this year, but I got myself a bib so I’m going to do this thing. Not sure how well I will do this thing, but the thing will be done to the best of my ability, such that it is.

I want to approach these weekly summaries a little differently than before, which is not to go into a ton of detail about my specific training plan – it doesn’t matter, it doesn’t really help anyone, and it’s a lot of numbers to type. I’ll mention my training generally, just maybe not list every workout in detail.

Instead, I’ll summarize each week and use this space to write stories about my dad, as I plan to run this marathon in his memory. I’m not raising money or asking for donations to be made in his name or anything, although you are always free to do that.

I just want to remember, and remind people of, him more often.

This week’s training

I’m not exactly where I’d like to be for week one of marathon training – my personalized plan, courtesy of my awesome running club the New York Harriers, has me running a 14-mile long run this week. I haven’t run farther than 10 miles in a long time, and the last time I got anywhere near 10 (about 5 weeks ago), my right ankle/foot started aching for seemingly no reason and derailed me for a couple of weeks.

I’m modifying the plan as I go to meet me where I am, so that meant this first week was four days of running: one easy 3-miler, a day of speed work, a day of tempo, and an 8-mile long run up to the Little Red Lighthouse and back. Easy stuff with a few faster paces thrown in. Nothing crazy. My foot is feeling better each day I run to the point where I barely notice it now.

I also included two upper body strength training workouts and some lower body stuff: single leg moves, balance board work, ankle strengthening, foam rolling. I’m not supposed to be doing much strength training during marathon training, but I have cut down my weekly upper body workouts from three to two, at least.

The great outdoors

I credit both of my parents with teaching me about being active, which eventually led to my interest in running at a young age. My mom was more of the workout fiend – although never a runner – constantly trying out new fitness trends: Jane Fonda tapes, the ThighMaster® (apparently still going strong), ab rollers, step aerobics, barbells, free weights, ankle weights, yoga balls, and a stationary bike.

My dad was concerned with health but less into organized exercise, although I do remember him having a silver 10-speed bicycle when I was a kid. But he liked to be active. I associate outdoor activities with him: going to the beach, going camping, going pumpkin picking, seeing baseball games – we really only stayed home if it was raining, and then we’d rent movies from Blockbuster we’d already seen dozens of times before, likely starring Bette Midler or John Candy.

My dad, sisters, and I making sandcastles at what was probably Jones Beach

My earliest memories of being athletic were with my dad. One of our favorite pastimes was to go to a nearby sports field behind the local high school and try to catch a large rubber ball he would kick up into the air. He would shout “Ball!” and then kick it as high as he could, as my sisters and I fought to be the first to catch it. I probably beat them out more often than not, mostly due to the fact that I was the tallest.

He also taught me how to ride a bike. I was determined to learn how to ride without training wheels, so I would eat my dinner as fast as I could just to get outside with him afterwards, my dad holding the back of my flowered banana seat, me wanting so badly to ride on my own while still loving the feeling that he was there to catch me if I fell.

I don’t remember him ever complaining about having to do this or feeling like he was too busy. He always made time. I think he enjoyed it, too. This might sound silly, but I think he genuinely loved being a dad.