2021 NYC Marathon Training: Week 9

In a 17-week training block, week 9 is the halfway point.

This means I am halfway through my training block for the NYC Marathon.

[gulp]

Week 9 of training consisted of four days of running: two easy days of 4.5 miles and 6 miles, an 8-mile day I’m calling a Mini Tempo (2 miles were a little faster, about 8:30 pace), and culminated in the 5th Avenue Mile (plus 13 other miles that day). About 33 miles for the week.

Ideally, I’d be at a higher weekly mileage at this point in marathon training, but with all of the stops and starts my running has had these past few months, this is about right. The last thing I want to do is increase mileage too quickly and get injured.

Sunday was really fun. I wrote all about the 5th Avenue Mile in my race recap, and while the race was great, the time I spent after the race – cheering, taking pictures, socializing, and running another 10 miles – was what made the day. It had been a stressful week, and this was just what I needed.

After about an hour of cheering for runners with the Harriers, I headed into Central Park with a group of other team members, mostly ladies, for some extra miles. Most of us had long runs to do that day. I had already run 4 (and yes, I counted the race) and I wanted to get in another 10, which I did. I’m happy to say that I felt great during the remainder of my run.

Pics by Mirjam!

As a reminder, I’m running this marathon in my dad’s memory, so each week I’m paying tribute to him in some way. I’ve already written about the role teaching played in his life, but he was a great teacher outside the classroom, too.

My dad probably teaching my sister what watermelon was

This hit me recently while on Duolingo, a little hobby of mine I’ve been doing a few minutes every day for the past 1820 days (since September 2016). I love it. Mostly I’ve studied Welsh, but I’ve gotten some French (my high school foreign language), Norwegian, Dutch, and a failed attempt at Chinese in there.

As I was doing a French lesson the other day, I came across the words droite and gauche, meaning right and left. Immediately, I was transported back to my childhood and all of the times I went on walks with my dad and sisters. Nearly every time we were about to turn a corner, my dad would announce “à droite” or “à gauche” like a confident French tour guide, and we’d follow him, turning either right or left.

I should note that our family did not speak French growing up. We were not French. My dad didn’t speak any languages besides English. If anything, I probably thought these were weird English words I’d never heard anywhere else. But they were yet another way my dad loved to teach.

My dad with his grandson

My dad read bedtime stories to us when we were little, but he never read the book straight through. He would pause on each page, pointing things out, asking questions, making observations. Sometimes we’d play “Can you find?” which was just my dad asking us if we could find a specific item on each page’s illustration. He seemed less interested in the story and more interested in making sure we were having an interactive, educational, and fun experience.

Given that he was an English teacher, my father couldn’t help but gently correct us when we made a mistake, but he’d do it in the kindest, most gentle way. Even up to my adulthood. I think I was probably in my mid 30s before I fully grasped the difference between “less than” and “fewer than,” probably after the thousandth time I said something like “I have less dollars in my bank account than before,” and my dad would say, “Oh, you have fewer dollars? Sorry to hear that.” (This exact exchange probably didn’t happen, but it easily could have.)

My dad with his grandsons

When I was a kid, my dad loved pointing things out on walks around our suburban neighborhood, noting different types of birds, insects, trees, and leaves, and making sure we absolutely knew what poison ivy looked like and never to touch it.

He was forever asking questions, even if he knew we didn’t know the answer. We might pause beside a large tree with white bark, my dad tilting his head inquisitively, asking “Now, is this a birch tree?” My sisters and I would shrug our shoulders. What’s a birch tree? If nobody answered, he’d go on to explain what a birch tree was. And then we would know: this is a birch tree.

My dad with his grandson

I learned how to play chess from my dad when I was 6 or 7, and I took to the game immediately. I loved chess. I loved the patience of it, the quiet strategizing, the secret plotting, and the permission to plan moves an adult might not see coming. I loved that he didn’t always let me win. Sometimes I did. I loved to win against him because I knew he was smart, and if I won, maybe that meant I was smart, too.

My dad was a great teacher, evident not only in the ongoing, glowing praise of hundreds, if not thousands, of his past students, but because of the way he taught his daughters, giving us a bonus education at home and a lifetime love of learning.

And here I am today, studying foreign languages on a website every day not for a degree, career, or money, but because I love to learn.

He taught me to love learning.

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