2021 NYC Marathon Training: Week 12

Getting caught up! Not like I have much time left. Eek.

Week 12 of my 17-week training block for the NYC Marathon was a higher mileage week, about 43 miles, and culminated in NYRR’s 18M Training Run. I actually ran 20 miles that day, my only 20-miler of this buildup (which is fine).

Ideally, I’m not sure you’re supposed to run almost half your weekly mileage in a single day, but that’s just the way this week worked out.

The 18M was set up similarly to NYRR’s training runs of the past: runners get chipped bibs, there’s a start and finish, and pacers are available – but it’s not officially a “race,” even though there are “results” and a “winner” and an “order of how runners finished” and all of the other things that make it look and feel like a race.

I am not going to write a race recap for the training run, but suffice to say it went great. I chose not to run it at goal marathon pace until the last four miles. After a short run to the start (which I included as part of the day’s 20 miles), I comfortably stuck with the very nice 9:20 pacer until my watch hit mile 16, at which point I bid him farewell and cranked it up to 8:30-8:40 pace for the next four miles. It was a huge confidence boost to know that I could run a relaxed (but not sluggish) effort for 16 miles and then speed up.

A few photos from that morning:

Photo by Sam LaFata

Other than that, I ran in Central Park for the remainder of the week, trying my best to get as much hill work in between now and the race.

Last week I wrote about my Dad’s 1992 trip to Wuhan, where he spent the summer teaching English to Chinese students (mostly adults). My dad fell in love with China, so much so that he returned to the country in 1999 to spend an entire school year teaching English. This time, he went to Chengdu.

I’ll spend the next couple of posts featuring my dad’s writing and photos from this trip.

In trying to recall details about my dad’s trip to Chengdu, I am once again struck by how often since my parents’ deaths I’ve wished I had asked them questions I currently don’t have answers to.

Fortunately, my desire to learn HTML in the early 2000s resulted in a (now-defunct) website I created for my dad for which he wrote several blog posts about his Chengdu trip. I still have these posts. I guess my dad, like me, enjoyed documenting his experiences through writing.

My dad’s posts about Chengdu are great, but my gut tells me they’re too long for the purposes of this blog. So I’ll post excerpts. Perhaps at some point I will post them in their entirety elsewhere.

The accompanying photos (and his captions) were separate from his blog posts; I’m just piecing things together based on what I have.

August 1999

I began my first class today, so I naturally thought of how you are doing back at the Gulag. Things are moving along well here, despite the Dickensian hallways and classrooms of U.E.S.T.C. (University of Electronic Science and Technology of China). Where else, one would think, in the heart of the People’s Republic? Of Omaha?

I have 14 hours of instruction, including office hours, so the schedule isn’t bad. My official teaching day ends at 11:25 a.m. I have Thursdays off, as well as weekends. Classes consist of undergrads, grads, and post grads–everything from basic paragraphing to research writing. The students are eager and intelligent–just like home, eh? Their writing shows the typical ESL problems, but their listening and speaking are quite good, better than my Mandarin.

The city was opened only in ’92, so I am often greeted with a start–not like in cosmopolitan Beijing or Shanghai, which have sizeable populations of foreigners. The university staff here has been wonderful, and I am anticipating a great year. Where else can you go cross-town for a twenty-minute taxi ride for 15 yuan? That’s $1.81 American. I can order a sumptuous meal for a few bucks. My apartment is air-conditioned, and I have my personal email account at my apartment. Only a few years ago, you couldn’t place a phone call out of China without having to go to some bureau. There were no phone books then–phone numbers were considered state secrets. Today in Chengdu, thousands of Chinese use cell phones and beepers.

I plan on seeing some of the outlying areas when my classes settle. Sichuan is home to Emei Shan (3,099 meters or 10,165 feet), sacred mountain of Buddhism. It is from here in China that you are closest for travel to the Himalayas. Chengdu is the stepping off place to Tibet.

I look forward to meeting my other new students this week. If they are anything like my first undergraduate class, I will have a challenging and delightful semester.

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