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.



Head and Heart – another 20 miles

Today was the last “peak” training distance of 20 miles.  I won’t have to run that far again until Nov 17, thank God.

Last weekend, I was in Gettysburg, PA watching my daughter, Ellie, run with her xc team.  This weekend, I was in Groton, MA, watching my other daughter, Lucy, run with hers.  Both girls are inspiring to me as they push themselves.  Yesterday, Lucy was not feeling tip-top health wise, but she managed to kill it on the course and shaved more than a minute off her best time. A big PR day for her!  Here is Lucy taking out a hill and a post-race photo with me  (photo credit, her grandfather, Grumpi):

IMG_1772  lucy and mom Groton race

OK, onto my 20 miler day, which was actually a 20.12 mile day.  Definitely the longest distance I’ve run by .01 miles. (Last 20 miler day was 20.11. 🙂  )

Here is how the day started:

  • 4:00 a.m.  – my alarm goes off.
  • 4:07 a.m. – my second alarm goes off (well planned, I’d say.)
  • 4:20 a.m. –  1/2 cup coffee, banana w/ peanut butter
  • 4:30 a.m. – feed the horses but don’t let out into the pasture because there is *definitely* a skunk skulking around  -do not need skunky anything to deal with at 4:30 a.m.
  • 4:31 a.m. – rush dogs back into house from front lawn morning business to get away from where the skunk might be lurking.
  • 4:32 am. – all living things at Soule household safely behind closed doors and skunk -free-fresh.

And the day continued:

  • 5:40 a.m. – arrive at Janet’s, see that she’s wearing shorts and t-shirt and I’m bundled for winter running (it was 41 degrees.)  I brought other clothes in the car. Quickly changed to shorts and long sleeve tech shirt.
  • 5:45 a.m. – we’re off!  IN THE DARK.
  • 6:30 a.m. – already past 1st water stop – still kinda dark, but enough daylight coming for us to see our feet. Phew.
  • 7:00 a.m. – feet really, really hurt.
  • 7:30 a.m. – we stop talking.  We’re 2 hrs in, starting to separate a bit (Janet leads and tethers me), and we’re just moving along.
  • 8:45 a.m. – I start to fall apart from the waist down – feet pain moving through ankles up to calves, knees ( this is new).  We’re almost there, but we’re hurting.
  • 8:46 a.m. – I think to myself, “no body left – body broken – only thing working to keep me moving is my pumping heart and my head forcing signals to my feet.
  • 8:50 a.m. – really worried – we’re moving at a slow pace, slower than I hope to run the marathon, and I’m breaking down but not quite to 20 miles – how will I add another hour of running on race day?  Answer:  “Head and Heart“.
  • 9:23: – back in Janet’s driveway, 20.12 miles behind, NO walking.  We were slow, but we finished.  Heads and hearts in tact.

Then back to my house for recovery plan:

  • 9:45 a.m. shovel out horse stalls and let horses out (no skunkiness to worry about now)
  • 10:30 a.m – ice bath. I stay in for 12 minutes.  This is the last ice bath until Nov 17. Yeehaw.
  • 10:43 a.m. – hot shower that was environmentally careless because I was probably in there for about 30 minutes, but…  I’m not really sorry about it even though I used up an extraordinary amount of resources to run hot water on my body for that long.
  • 11:30 a.m. – warm, in cozy comfy clothes, and looking to take a quick nap on the couch. But Stella was already on the couch, looking how I felt, so I joined her:


GOOD NEWS – I did NOT have a side stitch today!  I received a lot of advice since last week’s post, but unfortunately, I was stuck between “You’re drinking too much water” and “You’re not drinking enough water” from two equally fast, equally experienced runners.   I went for the mid-way and drank about 2/3 of my normal amount. I switched from Gu Chomps to Power Gel thinking that I might do better with paste version of energy supplement rather than chewing something with gelatin that could bounce around in my tum.   I also did not eat any ice cream last night (to avoid bad effects of fat, if there are any.)  Not sure what mattered most, but I am so happy that there was no stitch.

Tapering starts now – that means that the distances just get shorter from here until the race day. Next weekend’s long run is 12 miles with manageable length mid-week runs.