2021 NYC Marathon Training: Week 17

I did it. I finished the training block. I ran the 2021 NYC Marathon.

I’ll keep this one short. I’ve been wonderfully busy lately – a good thing, but it’s left me with little time to devote to this blog. This post is supposed to be short anyway. It’s the race recap that will take me some time, and I’d love to get that out before long.

So, week 17. This was the final week of marathon training. I ran 5 days but kept everything very light: Monday, my normal day off from running, I ran a very easy 1.5 miles with my friend Ann, who is doing a 5K program. That run was so easy I almost don’t count it as a running day. Tuesday was 4 easy miles. Wednesday was 4 miles of two moderately-paced Harlem Hill repeats, Friday was 5 miles with one of those at marathon pace, and Saturday was 2 easy miles plus quite a bit of walking – perhaps not the best strategy for race day, but I’m a photographer and sometimes have to walk for work, so ’twas what ’twas.

All in all, a very easy week as it should have been. I felt good. I ate light. I cut out vegetables two days before the race. I upped white rice and sweet potatoes. I drank electrolytes. I tried my best to get more sleep and probably came up a bit short in that category.

Here I am halfway between my 2 easy miles the day before the race: finally cold enough for a long-sleeved shirt. I purposely wore my shirt from the 2019 NJ Marathon. Not in a superstitious way, more in a “good marathon vibes” way.

This post took me a while to write, partly due to my hectic schedule lately, partly because, truthfully, I knew it would be difficult to summarize this 17-week series featuring stories about my dad. How do you sum up a lifetime spanning three quarters of a century? I’m still not sure what I’m about to write. I don’t know that this post necessarily needs a theme or even a story. Maybe the story isn’t finished. Maybe there is more to tell.

I was a passenger in a car the other day on a work trip out to Long Island. We drove down highways that made me think of my dad and all the times he picked me up from the airport after a flight from L.A., stopped by my NYC apartment on his way back from upstate to take me to my mom’s for a holiday dinner, picked me up from a train station on Long Island, or any of the other numerous times he spared me the cost of a cab.

I always loved driving with him. As a teenager (and maybe even younger?), he would often let me steer from the passenger seat. He was careful to do this on long, straight stretches of road, his hands lingering mere inches away lest he had to grab the wheel. This was great fun; it made me feel like he trusted me.

As I got older and the thrill of steering from the passenger seat dissipated, I loved our driving conversations about school, work, family, music, psychology, his house upstate, or whatever was happening in the news. I also loved the periods of silence that fell in between.

My dad never made these drives seem like a burden to him. If anything, he would emphasize how much he loved doing this; that he loved driving and he loved spending time with us. He always made it clear how happy he was to take us places.

Our last conversation took place in his car, only this time, I was the driver and he was the passenger – too sick to drive himself, but strong enough to speak. We didn’t talk much, as each time he did he would have a coughing fit. As I pulled into the parking space next to the emergency room that afternoon in March 2020, I jokingly asked him if I had passed the driving test.

He laughed and said yes.

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