“You Are Fast!”

Funny Story:

Part 1:  Last Sunday, I ran 16 miles.  During the week, I was supposed to run a 2mi day, then a 6 mile day embedded with 4 miles of “speedwork.”    The day that I set out for 2 miles, I got lost and had 5 miles on the books by the time I made it home (and late for work.)  So, the next run, I thought I’d just do 3 miles and do “speedwork” – which, according to the training plan, is back to back miles at a rate faster than  I’ve run before.  I hadn’t gotten close to that pace yet, and I hadn’t even really tried. On “speed” days, I was just running faster than I normally do.

Part 2: One of the guys who joined the College last year as a Senior VP is a very fit guy. He’s run a couple marathons and I think has established some pretty nice finishes at triathalons.  Now that I’ve moved, I live within a couple miles of his house.  I’ve seen him and his wife (also a very fit individual) go by on their bikes from time to time and they are not just “cruising.” They are racing.   I met him a social event last year before the marathon and he graciously gave me some good tips and lots of encouragement.  Now that we work at the same place, we bump into each other occasionally and he’s always inquired about my running plans and goals, which is very nice.

Collision Parts 1 & 2:  So, since I covered 5 miles earlier in the week, I started out on Thursday morning to try a short speed distance.  My goal – 3 miles as fast as I could go. I was determined and focused and was trying to run as efficiently and fast as possible to see how fast I could really be. (I have never tried this before – EVER.)  So, I had one mile left and I was really moving – I was actually running at the training plan goal pace. I was thinking to myself, “Wow – too bad I’m alone when this is happening!”  Next thing I know, a guy goes by on his bike and yells out “Hey Whit!” but he’s past me before I get a good look.


Later that morning, I get this email headline in my inbox – no message included – just a subject:


You Are Fast


HILARIOUS.  I have never been that fast before in my whole life and then when this elite athlete and colleague happens to see me, HE THINKS I’M A FAST RUNNER!  I’m still laughing.  (And I hope he never, ever, sees me running again.)

Today, I was aiming for 18 miles.  Janet and I had a plan to break the mileage into loops and a friend from work, Kat, planned to join in for final 8 mile loop. Janet and I had a really nice 10 miles at a nice pace where we could actually chat with each other for the first 7 miles, and tried a new road on the route that was really, really pretty! Kat kicked in at mile 1o to pace me for the next 8 miles, which was great. I was already tired, but she was just getting started, so she had good energy and stayed with me, also chatting, making the mileage easier to take.

My daughter, Lucy, drove by in the car at mile 14 to check on us, see if anyone needed a ride home, and offer ice water. I assured her I could make it home, gulped the water, and waved her off.  At mile 14.5, my left knee got mad and stopped doing its part. It was complaining non-stop, causing a left-listing shuffle that then caused a side-stitch on the right.  Lucy was long gone. I had 3.5 miles left.  Kat switched up the route to get us onto a dirt road instead of pavement, but I was still hurting.  All in all, I made it to 16.93 miles.  Not 18. Not quite the 17, but close enough that I’m putting “17” in my training log. And I don’t think I could have gotten that far on my own. This is why friends are so great! When things get tough, friends can make it feel less tough, and even figure out a way to lessen the challenge. Friends are awesome.

Here we are in my driveway (Kat -left, me -right.) Phew.

Kat and Whit in driveway



Also, here is an update on Margaret’s training in Lancaster, PA.  I don’t know what she does *every* day for training, but it’s probably better that I don’t know because I would feel weak and lazy in comparison. Especially because last I heard from her, she said, “Yeah, I didn’t run much but I did stadium steps.”  STADIUM STEPS. Do you know that that means? That means she is running UP the stairs of a football stadium, and back down. And back up. And back down.  Yesterday, she ran in a half-marathon. For the past two years, she has tried to get Janet and me to sign up and we are both squarely in the “No Way” category. Hot, humid, central PA, in Amish territory (aka HILLS). But the highlight of the race is running alongside the Amish and that the finisher medal is a hand forged horse shoe. She really wanted that horse shoe.  Here was her text yesterday,

Margaret's text2

Yep. She probably won her age-group, too.



2 week countdown -and a chance meeting

So, I was in NYC for work this weekend and my hotel, and every other hotel, eating establishment, subway train, and crosswalk was full of marathoners – many of them speaking languages other than English.  Very cool!  And it made NYC look like a city full of *exceptionally* fit individuals if you didn’t know the marathon was happening.   I was excited to maybe watch part of the NYC marathon Sunday morning before I’d have to get to the airport. I have three friends running the NYC marathon and it would have been fun to get a glimpse and let out a loud “YOU GO!” for good cheering. Then it occurred to me that if the marathon was underway, there was NO way I’d be able to get out of the city and make my flight. So, sadly, I switched to a 10:45 pm flight out of New York on Sat evening.

BUT – as I was sitting in the airport catching up on Breaking Bad (thanks, Neflix!) – I saw Seth – The Guy- from my local running store, Maine Running Company.  Seth has counseled me on shoes, gear, socks, and most recently, on water amounts and Power Gel to kick my cramps.  He’s an elite marathoner. He’s also a professional rep for Mizuno, so he had been in NYC working at the Expo.    I said hello and it took him a second to recognize me out of the context of my whiney visits to his store, but then he smiled and sat down next to me.

I like Seth, but really, the best part of our chance meeting and shared waiting time is that he has run the Philly Marathon (more than once, I think) and had lots of good information. This is *exactly* what I’ve been craving.  I need detailsWhere’s a good place for my daughter to cheer?  How will I get the food that I want to eat in advance when I don’t have a car or a place to cook and I don’t want fancy, saucy, restaurant food?  Where are the hills? How dark is the start? Etc.

I like to prepare. It’s my personality. I can hold a lot of details in my head and knit together a good problem solving plan.  I have been woefully short on Philadelphia Marathon details.  The website hasn’t changed in months. No email updates. No tasty nuggets of new info.  Basically, I know it’s 26.2 miles and my hotel is 1 mile away from the start, the race will provide water, Gatorade and Clif Gel.

I did NOT ask if this marathon has done the right math on how many porta-potties are needed to get 30,000 runners relieved before take off… and also placed at key intervals along the way because runners like me, who will be at it for 4+ hours, may need a pit stop.  As I said, I like Seth, but I was careful not to cross the line, so I kept quiet about my porta-pottie concerns. He also runs a marathon in about 2.5 hrs, so I’m pretty sure he’s never stopped for anything.   (And, how cool is it that his name is Seth Hasty? Hasty.)

According to my training plan, I am officially “tapering” for two weeks. This means that my last really long run was the 20 miler last weekend.  Mid week runs were 3-4 miles with 12 miles as the long run this weekend.   You might think that after 20, 18, 15, 18, 20 milers that 12 would be a breeze.  Nope.   Twelve miles is still 12 miles.  It’s a long way.   But, as I look ahead to the weekdays my runs are only 3 miles each. That is pretty breezy compared to the long stuff, so I’m pretty happy about that.

Since I won’t be torching 600-2000 calories every time I lace up now, I need to really think about my food intake over the next couple of weeks to be sure that is efficient, healthy, and in line my caloric storage needs without overdoing it.  In other words, I can’t have the whole pint of Ben&Jerry’s New York Super Fudge Chunk for dessert. At least not all in one sitting.  Discipline. Breaking Bad is the only binging allowed between now and race day.

Today’s project was making lots of “Confetti Chili” (I made up the name) that is full of healthy stuff, including cumin, turmeric, and touch of cinnamon – all of which are supposed to have healing and anti-inflammatory powers.  It’s also colorful, which makes me happy:



Plus, the other good thing about this meal is that, because it’s chili, I’m not likely to overdo it with 2nds and 3rds.  A chili meal is a one serving meal – always.

The combo of the NYC marathon and tapering makes me want to just get to Philly already.  The challenge will be to divert the energy I’ve been leaving on the pavement to other productive things in the meantime. Chances are, my house will be REALLY clean.



Rain Running

Today, I ran in the rain – alone – for 15 miles.

But first, let me report in on the runs earlier in the week.  I ran short but fast and hilly runs on Mon/Tue.  On Wednesday, I flew to Toronto so really didn’t have the time to squeeze in a useful run that day.  Thursday, I ran 7 miles around the city of Toronto (which is beautiful, by the way.)  Since I have trouble with getting lost and the city is under major construction with all sorts of sidewalks and roads closed… I had to give up the route I scoped out on mapmyrun.com and just stay close to where I started. So, I left my hotel and ran a couple of miles up to the campus of University of Toronto, looped a couple times around Queens’ Garden, and then did, actually, manage get lost in the U of T campus, but found my way back to Queen’s Garden, looped 2 more times, then safely back to the hotel in time to shower and get to my work commitments on time. (Also, on the return, discovered a Starbucks that was near the hotel, but not obvious to all the 5,000 other conference attendees, so I was able avoid the 20 min Starbucks line near the convention center and show up with my Venti without delay. Score!)

Also, though this is not about running, I had the great fortune to have dinner with a colleague, who just happens to be cousins with my roommate from 1983, who just happens to live in Toronto, and joined us. GREAT times.  Here is a photo of us catching up!  (I’m on the left, my roommate, Carol, then my friend and colleague, Ali.)


OK – back to run details.  Saturday was a travel day with an early, early departure from the hotel, so no running.  Janet ran her long run yesterday.  I knew I was going to have go alone for mine.  I could also tell from the evening news that I would have to do mine in the rain. I was discouraged. Who wants to run in the rain – ever? And who wants to have to do it for a long time – alone? And, because it would be raining, I couldn’t even plan to strap my phone on and listen to podcasts or music. It would be hours of listening to myself breathe and hit the pavement. Alone.

Today, when I was getting ready to take off, the news said I had an hour before the showers hit the mid-coast area. I figured that would be OK since I’d get almost half way into my run by then and would be warmed up, and besides, finishing in the rain wouldn’t be as bad as starting in it.

I planned a route in Brunswick that wouldn’t be as hilly as any route I’d take if I departed from my house.  I parked. Got out of the car, and started on my way.  About 2 minutes later, the rain LET GO. I mean, all the water in the clouds came down at once. I thought, “This can’t last, I’ll just keep going.”  About 1.5 miles later, it was worse, and the roads were so flooded that the sidewalks were flooded. I was ankle deep in water. I had so much water in my clothes that my shorts felt like a full diaper.  The pocket of my hand-held water bottle had filled with rain, so my Gu Chomps had started to liquify, leaving the pocket full of Gu goo.  I can be bulldoggish when I have a plan,  so it probably doesn’t surprise people who know me that I have a bulldog and that I would keep running in ridiculous rain.

And then… thunder.

So, I turned around and started to head back to the car. This was the kind of rain – windy sheets of pelting rain – that makes cars pull over because their wipers can’t go fast enough. Drivers are staring at me like I’m an idiot.  I want to scream at all of them, “I. KNOW. I am running lickety-split to safety, as FAST AS I CAN.”  So, on the way back to the car, I’m praying there is no lightening because the water is still over my feet on most steps. I figured this run is finished and I’d just go back out later in the day when it’s not as likely that I could get killed.  But, as I get back near my car,  it lightens up to just steady rain. So, I keep going. And going. And going.

All the way to 15 miles!

Wee Bit of Bad News:

1. I learned that when your skin is very, very wet in your shoes, it becomes very soft, and shreds easily. Not sure what to do about that – am open to suggestions.

2. When it’s raining hard, any energy chews or food you bring with you will liquify.  Only Gu paste will work.

3. It stopped raining and turned SUNNY as I was driving my tired self back home after the run.

4. No matter how slick you make your skin with silicone, your wet clothes will rub you raw.  If you don’t notice when you are undressing, you will DEFINITELY notice when you get in the shower.

Good News:

1. Because I had turned back from my initial route plan, I ended up completing the remaining miles in sets of loops around town. That was good.

2. I learned that I can run a long way in the rain.

3. I completed my weekly run goal, alone, in terrible conditions, and I actually felt physically better than expected.

4. I did the whole 15 miles at pretty fast clip! Race-pace!  I want to give myself credit for really killing it, but it’s possible I was faster since I essentially swam the first three miles. 🙂

TEAM UPDATE:  I’ve been whining about running 15 miles alone, but Janet ran 19.5 miles – alone – yesterday.  She blows my mind with her will and ability.  Margaret is feeling better and getting back into some cross training, which includes biking and trail running this week. She’s a toughie.  Impressive women leading me to race day, for sure.