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Blog Entries posted by Dave

  1. Dave
    Not feeling fast or particularly good, but I'm grinding along, putting in the time. 6-7 miles a day, mostly moderate paces. 40 miles each of the last two weeks and 50-ish this. Pretty much on schedule for an early April marathon if it comes to that. Of course, now Mrs. Dave is asking about something in March.
    Although, I decided the legs were ready for a tempo run and did 5 pushing it during Monday's 7. Between a potty stop at the gas station and traffic lights it was almost more an interval workout than a tempo, but I'm calling it anyway. There was a little stretch in Sammy the Hammy, but wasn't too bad. 8:16, 8:19, 7:59, 8:24, 7:55. Works out to 8:11 average, which is actually about where I want to be, although keep in mind that was only 5 miles.
    Saturday's long run was a dreadmill torture session. I broke it up into 3-4 sections because it was just too awful. Watched a couple of weird movies on Prime. The first one was called Scorched Earth. Post-apocalyptic bounty hunter thing with guns, explosions and stuff. Then there was Dark Valley, an English-dubbed Swiss film. It was basically a western set in the Alps. Horses, guns, a Clint Eastwood character out for revenge on the bad guys who terrorized the small town. Obviously, I had finished The Man in the High Castle earlier in the week.
    This week's weather has been much better. Cold, but the sun is out and the roads are clear, so I've been outside every day.
    T-Rex is obsessed with the Masked Singer. It's completely ridiculous, but I am interested in who they have on. And I wonder how in the world the audience votes off Chaka Khan before Gronkowski.
    This list started going around facebook this week.
    * Favorite pie? apple (duh)
    * How old are you? 61
    * How many tattoos: 0
    * Ever hit a deer? two - once in Provo Canyon, once somewhere in Wyoming
    * Rode in an ambulance? does life flight helicopter count? (funny story)
    * Ice skated: yes
    * Rode a motorcycle: yes
    * Stayed in hospital: a few times
    * Last cell phone call: Mrs. Dave
    * Last text from: Mrs. Dave
    * Watched someone die: no
    * Pepsi or Coke: if I had to choose, Pepsi
    * Favorite season: Fall - best running weather
    * Broken bones: ankle, thumb, finger
    * Favorite color: green
    * Sunrise or Sunset: Sunrise
    * Ocean or Mountains: Mountains
  2. Dave
    Every day it seems there's something that reminds me that I'm past the stage of "getting older." I'm the old guy. I've been with my company longer than most of the newer employees have been alive. 3 of my 4 children are older than many of the people I work with.
    There's sadness but no longer shock when someone from my high school class shows up in a death notice. Young to be dying, but also not so out of the ordinary. Heart attacks, cancer. People should die when they're 80 or 90, not 60, but better than 20-30-40, or even younger. We've had a life, married, raised children, seen a few grandchildren even. While it's a little early to be jumping off the merry-go-round, at least we had several turns. Grabbed at that brass ring a few times. Sadness, sure. But not the sense of tragedy and outrage of the young losing all their opportunities to learn and grow and experience this life and all its beauty.
    I miss feeling light and fast and strong. I miss pushing my body and mind to its limits, wondering where those limits were. I miss the feeling of invincibility. Never thinking that I was one step away from something breaking, stretching, tearing.
    It's winter. It's cold. It's overcast. There is snow and ice everywhere. The wind bites. The uneven, slippery ground makes that one step away from injury that much closer and more likely.
    And yet...
    I ran 40 miles last week. Sure, 16 of those were on the dreadmill - the instrument of torture that now sits in the corner of the family room, taunting and beckoning me at the same time. It's safe and warm. It's mind-numbing and painful. How many runs - days, weeks, months - does it take to like this? Ever? Is there a way to begin to embrace it? As a young man whenever I complained of something being too hard or boring, my dad would remind me that it "builds character." I feel like my character is built by now, so what can I tell myself now to get through these mechanical sessions? Running in my 60s is hard enough. What happens when I've finished the final season of The Man in the High Castle? (5 episodes to go).
    Outside for the first 3 days this week. Still at 6 miles and no speedwork, although I did go after the nominal hills on Wednesday a little bit, but the distance finally seems reasonable and the pace is starting to improve.
    Holding off mortality just a bit longer.
  3. Dave
    For one day, at least. That's apparently all winter had to offer.
    It was on Monday, I think. And it was 50o. I ran in shorts. I'm in the grind it out, put in the miles phase of training so I won't say it was glorious and left me feeling amazing. But it was certainly a high point of 2020 so far.
    Then it was cold and overcast again, and yesterday we got a couple of inches of snow. The heavier stuff went to the north and we ended up with not much.
    Dreadmilled for an hour yesterday to another episode of Castle. Wanted to stop at almost every step. I've been trying to embrace the whole idea, psyching myself up all day that it's better than slip-sliding away in a snowstorm, not to mention safer, but... TV helped a little. Today's run (in or out) is up in the air. Don't know if I can do two of those in a row.
    Should be at 40 miles this week, which is where I'd hoped to be after getting Sammy fixed. Behind for an early April race, but good enough to finish. And almost on schedule if we decide to wait until mid-May.
    That's running.
    Not much happening around the house. Put in some stair treads going down to the basement. They've been bare since I tore out the old icky carpet that was there when we moved in 22 years ago. Mrs. Dave decided on the color for the new curtains on the family room to go with the new furniture. Need to raise the bar since they are a couple of inches longer than the old ones. Decided to go ahead with the remodel of the powder room. Small job. Mostly just picking tile and a new vanity. And a door.
  4. Dave
    I'd sure like to see the sun.
    The other day I saw two friends while I was out for 5.
    The first was Janet (not her real name), walking her dog. I was surprised because it was in front of the high school, almost two miles from her house. I didn't think she exercised at all and her dog has been sick so going that far was quite a feat, seemed to me.
    Then going by a little strip mall with a jewelry store, takeout Chinese and a Papa John's, Mary (not her real name), was walking across the parking lot. I actually stopped and talked for a few minutes with her. She and her husband are runners. He's getting over hernia surgery and just got cleared to run again. I had the same back in '01 and it was probably a good thing I wasn't really running back then. I'd have likely done too much too soon and done some damage.
    Three weeks of solid training now. Most of the time it feels like Sammy the Hammy is fine, but every once in a while if I try to push things he whines a little. So, we'll stay slow for now. 30 miles last week and on track for 35. No speed.
    I was pretty upset when Amazon Prime lost (free) Doctor Who. I bought one season and T-Rex gave me one for my birthday. She also found a way to stream the current season, so she's my favorite. 
    Anyone watch Man in the High Castle? Started out as an interesting view of the world if Germany/Japan had won WWII, but has gotten weird after the first season. I can't stop watching it, though.
  5. Dave
    I'd have to race first.
    Unless anyone's interested in that one I did in 2004.
    Did my longest run in over a month, since the hamstring thing. That was Friday, out to the Chili's on Eight Mile and back. Nothing to be especially proud of, but just running is good. Since it was my 61st birthday, I ran ... wait for it! ... 6.1 miles. You heard about the guy who ran 70 miles for his 70th birthday? Yeah, I'm not doing that. Call me lazy if you want.
    Missed Saturday, also because I'm lazy. Mrs. Dave and I met some friends for lunch at a dinner theater (they have a matinee on Saturdays). It had snowed 6 inches the night before, then started raining about noon. I thought several times throughout the day about treadmilling it, but just couldn't get there. I did shovel snow twice, so there's that.
    Even so, it was 22 miles for the week, running 5 days in a row with no complaints from Sammy. Planning 30-ish this week.
    Since the rain on Saturday, it's been in the teens and 20s. Everything is ice. Good news it that when there's a good storm in winter, most folks get out and clear the walks. Especially if it's a weekend. So I have been outside both days this weeks so far. There are hazards of course, and the overall pace is awfully slow, what with nearly walking over the stretches that didn't get proper attention, mostly businesses. I could feel some soreness in different spots the day after, a sign that I'd worked different muscles climbing over and around the icy patches. Took a better route yesterday that had less ice and more running. Today it's supposed to get above freezing for an hour or so.
    What else?
    Got two puzzles for Christmas. Did the easy one last week in two evenings. It was a 500 piece round one of a Thomas Kinkaid work. Some old church building in the woods with a stream and a bridge. Now I'm working on a much harder, 1000 piece that Big Mac brought back from Amsterdam. MC Escher's "Balcony." This one is taking a might longer.

  6. Dave
    You know how you have a pain that's real and feels likely to put you on IR for a long time and really mess up your training plans?
    I never worried about this before I started running marathons. Running for fun means you can just stop whenever you want or whenever you don't feel like it or whenever something hurts. Then you can start again a week or two or ten later after you're all healed up.
    Of course, planning the months long investment into marathon training sort of makes me antsy now about missing more than a day or two.
    After that test run on Sammy went so poorly (20-30 yards?), I was afraid he was going to send me to another 2016 Rehoboth - under trained and in pain. I gave him another little test last Thursday and he did OK while we shuffled along at 10 minutes per mile. A day off was followed by 40 minutes on the dreadmill that was slower but also good.
    This week he seems to be 100%, although I've yet to do anything fast that might stress him at all. But I have run every day this week. 4, 3, 5, and 4 miles at my normal easy 9 minute pace. All signs point to him being good to go.
    Being as far behind schedule as I am, the new plan is to slowly but steadily ramp up the mileage until I'm about even with the training calendar. Once I get there, I'll add back in the speed work and we'll see what happens as we move towards April (or May, which is plan B).
    Bought new family room furniture. We'd gone out looking for a sofa for the living room, but sort of got side tracked. Married 37 years and this is the first time we've bought a set of furniture from a furniture store. That stuff is crazy expensive. We bought stuff from the outlet area, so better than it could have been. Not to mention, everything else was twice as big as would fit in our house and it's all powered now with USB and whatever else they can thing of. Signs of age, right? I'm not interested in my chair giving me a massage or plugging my laptop into it. Just give me a place to sit and watch TV, OK?
  7. Dave
    Apple Pie asked me about intervals. I've run plenty of them, obviously. Like everything else in this world, intervals have become increasingly complicated. I've never had the patience or memory or even ability to focus long enough on the numbers or the science to know what they all mean. I know that stressing your system just enough will help you get stronger and faster. Do I really need to know all the rest? Maybe I'd be the next Yoshihisa Hosaka if I did. But I'm just Dave, so...
    I do remember a couple of things like when I stumbled on an old RW article with the Hansons Brothers, discussing intervals. They posted a few examples of some workouts they'd developed. At the time (2014) I was putting together a plan for my first serious run at BQ-ing, so I took those ideas and their Intermediate training schedule (modified to fit my life) and made what I call the Marshall Plan (homage to the former Secretary of State - look him up and treat yourself to a little history lesson), since I was going to see if this crazy idea of nearly doubling my mileage would work in Huntington, WV that fall. I figured I didn't have anything to lose. It wasn't going to be my last marathon and what I'd done before hadn't really gotten me very close. Either I'd get to Boston or I'd blow up trying.
    Of course it worked. Of course I use the same basic plan now every time, assuming I have time for a full 18 week schedule, not counting whatever I need to build up mileage for the start of the program, since it starts with 37 miles in Week 1.
    Over the 18 weeks, I divide the intervals into 4 blocks, 2 blocks of 5 weeks focusing on speed and 2 blocks of 4 weeks for strength. Speed workouts are shorter and faster and come first on the schedule. The difference between two Speed blocks (1 & 2) is simply the distances of the reps. Same with the two Strength blocks (3 & 4).
    How fast? Depends.
    Generally, Speed workouts are done at current 5K pace. Of course you need to have an idea of what that is. A recent 5K time that you're happy with is great, but if you want to use a VO2max calculator to verify the numbers, that's good, too. Whatever you use to start with, it needs to be a speed that you can maintain for the whole workout. If you're running 7:00 pace for the first few reps and run out of gas, then you're going too fast. And don't use your goal pace to determine your workout splits. Chances are you won't be ready to run that fast in the early weeks. Straining after interval paces will only discourage you, burn you out or get you injured. Just being in the neighborhood is fine.
    For the Strength workouts, you'll be going farther but not as fast. Plan on 10 seconds faster than goal pace. Again, though, you have to: #1, be able to finish the reps at the same pace you started; and 2#, be able to run the recovery miles next day. Those runs are supposed to be slow anyway. There's a fine line, like with everything, but in my experience, if you can blow through a recovery run at GMP or faster, then you didn't do the previous workout hard enough. OTOH, if you can't even run those 5-10 easy miles on the plan, then you went too hard. Be smart.
    Anyway, I'm risking going through my whole training plan and this was just supposed to be about intervals. So, here are the workouts I try to do. Normally, I'll do 400-800s on the track, but the longer stuff I'll program into my watch and do it on the roads. Don't know if that matters.
    SPEED BLOCK (1):
    2 miles w/u, 3 x 1200 w/ 400 jogging recoveries, 2 miles c/d - 7 total 1.5 miles w/u, 20 x 400, alternating fast/easy, 1.5 miles c/d - 7.75 total 1.5 miles w/u, 6 x 800 w/ 400 jogging recoveries (Yassos), 1.5 miles c/d - 6.25 total 1.5 miles w/u, 3 x 1600 w/ 600 jogging recoveries, 1.5 miles c/d - 6 total 1.5 miles w/u, 400-800-1200-1600-1200-800-400 ladder w/ 200 jogging recoveries, 1.5 miles c/d - 7.5 total SPEED BLOCK (2):
    1.5 miles w/u, 4 x 1200 w/ 400 jogging recoveries, 1.5 miles c/d - 7.75 total 1.5 miles w/u, 24 x 400, alternating fast/easy, 1.5 miles c/d - 7.75 total 1.0 miles w/u, 8 x 800 w/ 400 jogging recoveries (Yassos), 1.0 miles c/d - 7.75 total 1.5 miles w/u, 4 x 1600 w/ 600 jogging recoveries, 1.5 miles c/d - 7 total 1.5 miles w/u, 800-1200-1600-2400-1600-1200-800 ladder w/ 400 jogging recoveries, 1.5 miles c/d - 7.5 total STRENGTH BLOCK (3):
    2.0 miles w/u, 4 x 2400 w/ 800 jogging recoveries, 2.0 miles c/d - 12 total 1.5 miles w/u, 10 x 800 w/ 400 jogging recoveries (Yassos), 1.5 miles c/d - 9.25 total 1.5 miles w/u, 6 x 1600 w/ 600 jogging recoveries, 1.5 miles c/d - 12 total 1.5 miles w/u, 3 x 3200 w/ 1600 jogging recoveries, 1.5 miles c/d - 11 total STRENGTH BLOCK (4):
    1.5 miles w/u, 5 x 2400 w/ 600 jogging recoveries, 1.5 miles c/d - 12 total 1.5 miles w/u, 12 x 800 w/ 400 jogging recoveries (Yassos w/ the Marshall Twist*), 1.5 miles c/d - 12 total 1.5 miles w/u, 2 x 3200 w/ 1600 jogging recoveries, 1.5 miles c/d - 7.75 total 1.5 miles w/u, 2 x 2400 w/ 800 jogging recoveries, 1.5 miles c/d - 6.5 total * - The Marshall Twist: each 4th 800 done faster than the other 3.
  8. Dave
    My philosophy towards marital bliss is simple. I'm a simple guy, so I figure there's no need to make being married anymore complicated than anything else. The first rule is: make sure Mrs. Dave is happy. Of course I'm not 100% on that, but there are enough hits vs. misses that she's kept me around for going on 39 years now.
    Things get more difficult when Rule #1 contradicts some other aspect of life. Like training for a marathon. The older I get, the more I feel like I need a full recovery from a race, then a reasonable down period of easy running before building mileage up again and then starting a training schedule. 18 weeks.
    Been thinking about my spring race - when and where. Ideally from last week this would be in the middle of May. I'd rather not go into May. But, since it's spring and not a serious race, I can shorten my 18 weeks to 15-16 and still be confident I can get to the starting line ready for 26.2.
    The other day Mrs. Dave says out of the blue, "We need to find the right weekend for your next marathon." At first I'm very excited because normally I get the eye roll (you know the one) when I talk about running marathons. Not marathoning in general - she likes that, and likes bragging to her friends that I run marathons - but specific plans for specific marathons. They cost money and upset her schedule and take my vacation time.
    Then she tells me that there are two weekends that, "would be good." One of them is the middle of May - that's OK (see paragraph above). The other - her preferred date - is the first weekend of April.
    April. 13 weeks away. An abbreviated abbreviated training window.
    Except last Friday, a mile into another of my easy 4 milers in weather so nice I was wearing shorts (in January!), when Sammy the Hammy decided he wasn't in the mood. This problem goes back to Thanksgiving football. Thought I'd gotten over that but apparently not. I slowed way down (not that I was going fast), and jogged another mile before giving in completely and walking back to the house. So much for the early build up. Took Saturday off and gave him a test run on Monday. 50 yards down the street and ... nope. Walked a couple of miles instead. Walked a couple more last night. Guess that'll have to do for another week.
    And the countdown to April keeps going. Rats.
    But, Mrs. Dave is happy.
  9. Dave
    It might not be fair to say I've been putting this off for the last week. I've been off work since the 17th, just coming back today. This holiday time off may be my favorite part of working where I work. After careers in retail and transportation, it's pretty chill to have two weeks of retirement practice every Christmas. But not working has the effect of letting time sort of slip away. Before I knew it, I had so much that should have been written down that it's now at an intimidating level. I'm in danger of having the year-end and new beginning thoughts drift away.
    Anyway, here we go.
    First, the numbers.
    Races - 3 (Vermont City and New Hampshire, and Hell) Marathons - 2 (Vermont City and New Hampshire) States - 2 (Vermont City and New Hampshire) Mileage - 1,653 (new annual record!) What can I say? Everyone knows I'm a race hound.😆😆
    Vermont started late with a t-storm and then got warm and humid. Crashed and burned to a 4:19 finish. But after ZERO marathons in 2018, I didn't care so much. New Hampshire was a hilly beast, following a brutal summer where almost every run felt like I was dying. But that day was perfect and I finished strong in 3:56, my first time under 4 hours since (believe this!) Marshall.
    And all those miles! I really had no clue until I went into the spreadsheet one day in December to do a quick update and make sure I was ready for the end of the year and saw that the 1,625 miles I had run was a tie for the most ever. And I still had a couple of weeks to go. Two months in NH training (Aug & Sep) were over 200 miles. Maybe I was subconsciously trying to make up for 2018 (or as I like to call it, the Year of the Meniscus). Lots of running in the first year of my 60s. Almost half of what Sara ran, so I feel pretty good about that.
    As for 2020, I'm hoping for about the same. No clue what marathons I'm going to run, yet. Should have an idea this week for spring. That will be a short training cycle, no pressure race just to check another state off the list. Then another run at a BQ in the fall. Haven't looked into where or when yet.
    Now, what's happened since I was here on the 17th? The 16th was my last run before Christmas.
    Flew out to Idaho Falls where Dad picked me up that night. T-Rex drove her roomie to the airport the next morning and swung by Dad's place to get me. We went to my Ironman brother's house to borrow his truck, then to her apartment to load and transfer it all to bruh's basement until April. Good to have friends in low places. After that I helped her clean the kitchen for the cleaning deposit. We had dinner with Dad and stayed to watch the finale of her favorite show, The Masked Singer.
    Also, BTW, T-Rex finished AND passed all her classes this semester. First time that's happened so we're all pretty excited about that. She was officially granted an Associates Degree and only needs to get one more pre-req done while she's home to get into her Medical Assisting program in the fall. HUGE accomplishment for her.
    Up at 4 the next morning and on the road home. There was a storm coming in, but we were out ahead of it and had perfect weather all the way back. One really long day (16 hours)(stayed the night in Council Bluffs) and a medium long day (11 hours) driving, and we made it back just a few hours after Big Mac and Big Ben (SIL) flew in for Christmas. 
    I'd promised myself not to run when the kids were in town. Mrs. Dave gets anxious if I "abandon" her when we're entertaining. So we enjoyed them for the five days, had a great and peaceful Christmas. Ran Thursday, Friday and Saturday, then took a few more off and only ran yesterday. Now that things are normal again, I can get back into more regular mileage and start building for whatever that spring marathon turns out to be.
    Spent the last two days mounting the new TV (Xmas) over the mantel. Not an easy job since it's all brick. A full brick interior wall. Sometimes I wonder what possessed builders in the 60s.
  10. Dave
    Headed out to Idaho again. Although I hope it won't be much of an adventure. Driving across Wyoming and Nebraska in December can be so nasty. Good news is that so far the forecast is for clear skies.
    After three years, T-Rex will be changing apartment complexes, so we have to move all her stuff into an alternate storage site until April. Fortunately, I have two brothers who live in the neighborhood. Free truck and free storage.
    We spent most of last week getting her ready for finals. Reviewing. Quizing. Validating. Encouraging. Talking her down from the edge of the cliff. "I'm going to fail! I don't know anything!" She made it through the lab final on Friday, but today is the big one - microbiology. Frankly I know more about disease transmission and reservoirs than I ever did before, but she really knows it. The only real question will be if her anxiety will let her remember any of it at test time.
    Mrs. Dave (and I) decided that our Christmas presents this year are new phones. We did get a new TV, but that hardly counts. It's not big enough to cost very much, although it's a decent upgrade to our current screen. I wasn't even planning to wait until Christmas to get it out, but haven't had time. It's still in the box on the hearth, waiting. I finally put a bow on top of it and we'll call it a Christmas present.
    Oh yeah, phones. We got iPhone 11s. Since our previous models were the 5 (mine) and 6S (hers), it seemed like it was about time. Although, if both of them hadn't been acting up for the last few months (randomly dying, freezing, softkeys and assorted apps not working), we probably would have kept them until the network upgrades rendered them useless. I liked the smaller size. Not to mention the $1,500 we just spent, which I would much rather use for, say, flying to Idaho to bring my daughter back for Christmas. Oh yeah, doing that anyway. Having worked with the new machine for a few days now, I do like it. Suppose I'll get used to the bigger size eventually. It was nice watching Drew Brees break the career TD pass record last night on it.
    Since I was able to get back on the marathon wagon in 2019, I added two more medals to the map display and two more pictures to the Marathon Shrine. Things were getting pretty crowded on those shelves, so I've been thinking of adding a new one. That would involve finding one the right size, then drilling a new series of holes. Went to Home Depot to check out what's available. Only $6 for a shelf that I could trim to fit. Plus the screws to match what's there. Call it $10 total, plus a few hours to do the work. I wondered if IKEA had replacement shelves for it. Then I'd eliminate the need to trim the new shelf. Nope. But I could buy a whole new matching bookcase for $20. Slam dunk.

    Running for the last week. Despite the holiday schedule, I have time to run mostly whenever I want. Glad not to be training for anything right now, though. Still dealing with Sammy the Hammy. He's mostly OK, but I'm discovering that he has limits. The stomach issues I was having seem to have passed (if you know what I mean), and my energy is back to normal.
    Couple of easy 4 milers around the middle school loop. On Saturday I did 7 miles and 6-1/2 of them were great. During mile 6 Sammy decided he didn't like the 8:15 pace we'd moved into for the last mile or two, so we finished at 9:00. Still, a nice, medium length run. The weather's been pretty nice, too. 30-40, some days windier than others, but not terrible. There's even been a little bit of sun some days. Good for winter. We'll see what happens in January and February.
    Not planning to run on the trip. Big Mac and SIL are coming for Christmas. They arrive on Friday afternoon. T-Rex and I are hoping to make it back not long after that. Means we need to get her moved out and ready for the drive back early Thursday AM, then two long days on the road. At least it'll be a downwind and (mostly) downhill drive.
    If I don't get the chance before the 25th, I hope you all have a very merry Christmas with friends and family. Cherish these precious moments with the ones you love, whether you share the holiday with Christians or just enjoy the festive spirits and goodwill of the rest of the world at this time. Reflect on the wonderful life you have and the people in it.
    And running, of course.
  11. Dave
    Not that I was ramping up for anything.
    That hamstring was a little worse than I thought. Went out for a test run on Monday (last) and got less than a half mile before I realized it wasn't ready. Gave it another try on Friday. Not 100% but good enough for an easy 4.
    Those 4 felt pretty terrible though. Either because I was going slow and running slow is hard, or it's related to this bug or whatever thing that showed up after Thanksgiving. Pain in the upper abdomen and some other issues I won't talk about in public because TMI.
    Getting Christmas prep finished has eaten into running time anyway, so it's just as well I'm not doing much of it. May have missed the best weather I'll see until spring.
    So, Christmas. Tree is up. Lights on the house. Decorations are out. Gifts are bought. I was going to make some personalized plates for some of the kids but decided not to add that workload. Finished the mint chocolate dipped Oreos on Sunday. Still need to wrap and ship the ones that didn't come from Amazon for the out-of-towners. That will be tonight. 
    Some of that has taken longer than expected because we're helping T-Rex get through the last two weeks of the semester. She called in a panic last week, afraid that she couldn't remember anything from class and she was going to fail microbiology. Keep in mind, this isn't the normal kind of nervous anticipation college students get before finals. So we halted some of the things we had planned for Saturday and spent four hours going through the study guide, after an hour just talking her down from the edge of the cliff. One test was yesterday (thought she did OK - still waiting to see), the scariest one is tomorrow (another two hours with her on Skype Sunday), and the last one next Tuesday. Fingers crossed, prayers ongoing.
    Connor got moved into his apartment in Tacoma yesterday. Had the ex-SIL's, his sister and a couple of new work friends to help, so they were done sooner than expected.
    Think I'm going to pass on Atlanta. I've been thinking about it for what - a month? two? - and I just can't get excited about it. Hilly course, very early (still winter, in fact) race date. Not really looking forward to winter training for the second year in a row. And with the hamstring along with this gastrointestinal whatever, I'm not up to reasonable mileage to start a marathon plan this week - and that would be an abbreviated schedule. Not feeling it.
    Other options for spring then?
    April 18 - Garmin (in the land of Oz), Olathe KS - Not excited about the elevation profile, which is down 200 from the start to about mile 11, then mostly up on the way to the finish. But, it's a spring marathon so not a PR or BQ race anyway. April 26 - Glass City, Toledo, OH - Pretty darn flat. Within an hour from my front door. Tempting. April 26 - Pro Football Hall of Fame, Canton, OH - Not quite as flat as Glass City. Not quite as close to home. April 26 - New Jersey - Long Branch, NJ - Pancake Flat. And there's a bunch in May:
    3 - Ft. Collins, CO 3 - Carderock, MD 3 - Lincoln, NE 3 - The Flying Pig 3 - Providence, RI 17 - Colfax in Denver 17 - Sugarloaf in Maine Maybe I'll lay out a schedule first and pick the right weekend with Mrs. Dave. That's probably a good idea.
  12. Dave
    After that dreadmill run I had three fun ones, since the weather got decent for a few days. An easy 5.5 out and back on the Target path, a slow uphill (150 feet) out and quick downhill (150 feet) back on Seven Mile. They've extended the walkway along the road for another half mile past Haggerty Road. Someday they're supposed to complete a walking/biking park all the way to Northville Road (2 miles), but this is at least better than it used to be. Fun to see a 7 in the pace - first one of those in a while. Had another one the next day running along the bike path loop to the south.
    Then it was cold, windy and rainy so there was another dreadmill run. 4 miles. Mrs. Dave appreciates that the machine I bought for her is getting some use.
    I hemmed and hawed the week before Thanksgiving about running a turkey trot or playing football. For awhile it looked like there wasn't going to be a game, so I checked out several in the area and found a 5K that wasn't too far for a quick morning race and had almost decided to register when I got an email about the football game. Spent the next day hemming and hawing about it again, and finally decided to go play. I'd run from the house to the field (3.5 miles), play for a couple of hours and then run home. That's a great way to build up a good turkey and stuffing appetite, no?
    The run down was good. I packed my cleats, a towel and some gloves I could catch with in an backpack and trotted out. It was about 35o with a brisk wind. Good for running or playing football on a Thanksgiving morning. There were only five guys at the field, but that was enough to have some fun, and a couple more showed up later, so 4 on 5 with an abbreviated playing field. Our first play was a short pace I caught, juked a couple of attempted tackles and ran in for a score. Good start. A couple of hours later, I'd caught a couple more TDs and was getting ready to think about calling it a game. I caught a short pass and ran across the first down marker towards the sidelines and my right hamstring decided we were done for the day. Wouldn't you know it? It wasn't too bad, but I knew I was finished and might have trouble running the 3.5 back to the house.
    Sat around a few minutes, changed shoes and packed the rest of my stuff, then started at a slow jog. It wasn't long before Sammy the Hammy said he didn't want to go any faster than a walk, so I called Mrs. Dave for the rescue wagon.
    I've took the rest of the long weekend off and think Sammy and I are up for a few slow miles this afternoon. We'll see what he says.
    74 miles for November, most of them pretty easy. Depending on how things go today, I'll be ramping up through December and getting back on the training wagon. I'm sort of hankering for some Loopster company, so I may just have to try getting ready for Atlanta. I keep asking Mrs. Dave, which she says is a sign that I want to do it. She's probably right. She usually is.
    I've very much enjoyed the extra bloops the past couple of weeks. Many thanks to garbo for the contest. If I knew anything about marketing, it'd be great to have some new runners to join us and build up our group again. Remember when there wasn't time to read everything that was written on the Loop? Heady days.
    I fully intend to provide pie to everyone who posted. Let me know when you're coming by.
    Made a couple of extra pies for the neighbors who helped with the snow the week I was in WA. Mrs. Dave delivered one to the psycho neighbors and they accepted graciously, seeming to indicate they were harboring less ill feelings. Perhaps I should have made them a pie sooner. Perhaps they've finally accepted our story that there is no dog. Will I have to stop calling them the psycho neighbors?
  13. Dave
    Every day this week I wanted to sit down and chronicle this last trip. Don't know that I'd call it an epic adventure, but there were plenty of highlights and interesting new experiences.
    Where to start.
    I'll go back all the way for review, in case anyone needs a refresher. Connor, my #2, finished his masters in Public Health last spring and had been trying to get work in the field ever since. Those who have or who know someone who has been in the job market understands how discouraging that can me. He had a few interviews, but not much more than that. Finally, he had a really good Skype meeting with a small non-profit in Tacoma, WA. Then a second the next week, and in the end they made him an offer. To us (that parents), it seemed like a pretty small amount for someone with a master's degree, but apparently that's the nature of his business. And it's a foot in the door as well as a way out of Kentucky. Not that the Bluegrass State is a bad place, but there's some baggage in Louisville that we's all just as soon leave behind. and the PNW is about as far as he can get, so ...
    Fortunately, his possessions are fairly minimal, since he's been in school and working for Home Depot for the last few years and med school before that. We made a reasonable guess and rented a 10' UHaul for his move. I took a week off work to help driving, apartment hunting and moral support. Mrs. Dave was in DC the week before, for one of those old high school girlfriends' things. Plan was for me to drive down, help load the truck and put his car on a tow dolly. Then she would fly over at the end of her play week and drive home while we headed west. I worked a couple of hours every day that week so I could leave early on Friday without burning more vacation time. Since Mrs. Dave was gone, there was no reason for me to be home anyway, except maybe to run before it got dark now that we're on Standard Time. I find it hilarious every fall when the memes about hating DST come out because it gets dark earlier.
    We didn't know back when Connor got married how quickly and badly that would end. Nor could we have guessed that our sort-term in-laws would turn out to be literal saviors to him in a number of amazing ways. They stayed in contact with him (and us), helped and mentored him through the divorce, his return to grad school, and even dog sat for Ollie on many occasions. When they heard we were coming down to help with the move and would be sleeping on an airbed in the empty apartment for two nights, they insisted we stay in their home. Then they came and spent several hours cleaning the apartment with us. Truly, these people are saints. And it gets better. In the last few years, two of their daughters have married and relocated to (wait for it) the Seattle area, both within 20-40 minutes of his office. Both of them offered a place to stay until Connor was able to move into an apartment. Our other option was grandma's house, two hours north.
    We were loaded on Friday but he had some commitments with his D&D group both Saturday and Sunday, so I went for a run on Saturday. 6 miles through a big nice, hilly neighborhood. This was the maiden run of my new DynaFlyte3 shoes. They seem to fit a touch bigger than my old Cumulus, but they also weigh less. Not sure I love them. The reason for the switch is that I'm increasingly disappointed in the tread wear I'm getting with the Cumulus. The last two pair have wore through the outer layer at the ball of my left foot. No doubt I've developed a new shuffle on that side, so it's my fault, but I'd be interested to find something that will last longer. Suggestions for something with a uber-durable sole?
    With that question no longer hanging over us, we hitched up the car and hit the road. I've rented trucks before for moving, but never towed a car behind one. We had to watch our speed and be extra cautious for any and every change in direction, but it wasn't terrible. There were a few times with the wind in KS and the mountains in CO where I could feel the trailer trying to swing us off course, and that was a little hair raising. We got a solid 10 miles to the gallon - about $700 just in gas from KY to WA - only lost a few hours from the expected travel time vs. google maps. There was just enough space for Ollie's bed between the two seats. He was a great traveler, and our 2 hours shifts gave all three of us regular walk and potty breaks.
    Plan A was driving pretty much straight through, with just a couple of stops for visits. Mrs. Dave and I have employed a 2 hours driving shift strategy for these cross-country drives that's worked well, so that's what we did here, too. That and enough (Diet) Dr. Pepper to last 1600 miles. Before the trip the weather had looked mostly clear all the way, but a winter storm blew across the plains that first night. Fortunately, it blew mostly around us, and while there was some snow, it was a fast moving storm with not a lot of accumulation, so we didn't have much trouble. As as we got closer to Denver and started to get splashback from the other cars and trucks, I saw that the wiper blades on our truck were in sad shape. Any more weather and we'd have real visibility issues, so we stopped at a UHaul dealer that happened to be just off the freeway and asked if they'd replaced them. It's their truck after all. That took all of five minutes (that's UHaul) and we were back on the road. Just in time, too, because things got real messy right after that.

    Once we were through the Eisenhower Tunnel, the sun was out and the rest of that day was great traveling weather. We stopped in Glenwood Springs for just a few gallons of gas because it's crazy expensive there and filled up in Grand Junction before crossing the desert and entering UT. It was just past sundown when we exited Spanish Fork Canyon into Utah Valley. So many memories of high school and college there. Even though I've been back many times, this was my first look of the whole valley at night and I was amazed that the lights covered all of it. What happened to my little Happy Valley? So many people.
    We had decided to stay the night in UT with our best friends the Batemans so our timing for the next day would work better. We first met Brent and Terri the week we moved to MI in '95. It was a sad day when they left for UT, but with kids going to college at BYU since 2002, we've been able to stay close and we stay there whenever we pass through. My sister lives just a few miles from them now, so that was an obligation to fulfill. We did that the next morning and after that, made a detour to Idaho Falls to see my dad and T-Rex. She drove over from school to see the dog mostly. Then I washed the truck and the car.
    In the meantime, there was a big nasty storm in the midwest. You may have seen it on the news. Poor Mrs. Dave was stuck with 8 inches of heavy white stuff followed by near single digit temps. Since this hadn't been in the forecast when I left, I'd made no preparations for the snowblower to be ready and she had to clear things out by herself. by hand. Fortunately, a couple of our neighbors helped out with their machines and she was spared the worst of it. Of course, it was all my fault.

    She was not amused.

    The last leg was a night drive across ID and OR, then north from Portland on I-5 to Tacoma.
    More kudos to UHaul. Joe and his crew were very helpful and informative for us rookies. Because of the timing, there was none of our PNW connections to help with the truck, but the two of us were able to transfer everything from the truck into a couple of storage pods in about an hour. Storage for the first month is free, so no worries while he gets into a place to park permanently. And it wasn't raining while we worked.
    We drove from UHaul right to downtown and Connor went into the office to let them know he'd made it into town. They had a desk all ready for him to start on Monday and were excited to have him. So it was really happening. We spent the next few hours just puttering around the city, looking at neighborhoods and checking out the exteriors of a few of the apartments he'd researched in advance, deciding on priorities for the next day. Even though he had a place to crash for as long as he needed, he was keen to get into somewhere alone and settle in.
    Big Mac and her DH drove down from the north side and had dinner with us. They're excited to have Connor in the area and will be coming to help get him into his apartment when he moves in. One of the former SIL's had a 3 bedroom house near the military base. It was farther out, but we had beds and plenty of room. Plus, they were out of town for the week, so it was all ours. Since we were still on Eastern Standard Time, it was easy to get to sleep, not so easy to stay asleep the next morning. I was up at 4, and that was about as long as I felt like staying in bed.
    We quickly noticed that Tacoma (and really, the whole area around there) had tons more apartments than our little corner of the midwest. Space is at a premium along the south and east of Puget Sound, folks. Explains why my MIL's dinky little ranch in Shoreline appraises for nearly $700K. Connor's new salary upgrades him from his Louisville place, but he still had to be budget conscious. There was a sweet spot in the rental rates that let him look at some decent complexes where he was comfortable. We had a dozen or so that were worth looking at up close. Just a $100 less put us in some real ghetto looking areas. Much more would be out of his price range.
    The last place we went to was in Lakewood/Steilacoom, not far from the water (of course, almost everywhere is not far from the water). He really liked the layout and the fact that it was on the first floor. And the price was better than most of the others. One problem was the commute. He didn't know if he was ready to make the jump from 10 minutes to Home Depot to 30-40 minutes in good traffic. And Seattle isn't known for having good traffic every day. This would require some thinking, but we were encouraged after the first day. That night we drove up to Grandma's house for dinner, stopping at one of the former SIL's to drop off the dog. They have one and thought the two would get along famously. There was an accident (surprise!) on I-5, so we took a detour that I think saved us some time. Stopped for gas at a Costco that I swear was twice as large as any I've ever seen.
    Next morning we decided to get some laundry done. I'd stay at our free airbnb and he'd check out the commute time from the place he liked from the day before, then look at a few more places. We had planned on me taking a bus or train up in the afternoon, but the travel time and logistics from where I was to where he was turned out to hardly be worth the effort, so I hung out at the house all day, just being available if he needed anything. There was one point when his brakes (2008 Accord) started making a terrible screeching noise. An Uber was the only way I could get there, and it was far enough to be prohibitively expensive. Well, I'm not ashamed to say I prayed. It was quick and silent but 100% sincere. He was at an apartment building off the street. He jacked up the offending wheel, turned it a few times freely, trying to determine exactly what was making the noise. At first it was constant, then isolated to one spot on the rotor, then it stopped altogether. Prayer answered.
    It took him an hour that afternoon to get back to the house. His commute experiment from the other apartment took over a half hour. He decided he's not ready for a long commute yet, so the #1 apartment became #5 or #6. Also, the two dogs decided they didn't like each other after all, so Connor had to spend another two hours on the road bringing him back.
    Now it was Saturday, and the apartment question was still unanswered. The night before, he'd thought he had a place, but they had an income requirement that he was just short of with his new, master's degree level salary. We understood that I could co-sign the lease, but that turned out to be a misunderstanding and we were jointly rejected. So, we went with choice #2. It was a little more expensive, but he actually liked it better - just not better enough for the price difference. Since option #1 was no longer available, this one moved up and he signed up. They had a special discount if you had a piece of Seattle Seahawks clothing or decoration, so we stopped at Target and bought a pair of socks. $8 and it saved him over $200 on his lease papers. Mission accomplished.
    There was a little window finally for me to get a run in, so I went out for 5. I ran out one road until I ran out of sidewalk. On the way back, I passed a woman in a US Army sweat shirt running in the other direction, and then a guy came onto my route from a side street. He stopped to check his watch or music and started up again just as I was passing him. Being a friendly runner, I offered to run together for a mile or two, as long as our routes were aligned. So we stayed together. I figured since he was a fair bit younger than me, I'd let him lead and try to stay with him as long as it wasn't too uncomfortable. It wasn't long before he seemed to pick up the pace bit by bit. I looked over surreptitiously, wondering to myself if he was playing me, testing me, or maybe showing off. Couldn't tell. But I could feel the speed continuing to increase. We were getting down to what felt like 5K pace to me. I knew I could run that fast for a couple of miles, but it wasn't going to be a relaxed, friendly little run. After about a quarter mile at 7:00 pace (checked the Garmin/Strava data later), he abruptly pulled up, saying, "This is faster than I usually run." What? I swear I was just following. I dropped back to 9:00 pace again, then stopped to check a text from Mrs. Dave who has the most uncanny ability to call or text whenever I'm least able to respond. The speedster came up behind me, introduced himself as Justin and took off again before I could finish dealing with my text. Strange encounter. Anyway, since I'd had to turn around before my planned point, I added some extra mileage down another street. I was getting ready to turn back when I saw a sign that said, "Entering Olympia," not far ahead, so I kept going so I could say I ran to the capital of Washington, which I hadn't done before. I'd thought about doing a race while I was there, and even found one not far away that had 5K/10K/HM that weekend, but since we spent the morning still apartment hunting, had to let that idea go.
    There was one friend who hadn't been able to get to Mrs. Dave's DC week and she lives a couple of hours west of where we were, in a tiny little retirement/tourist place right on the coast. She invited the two of us out for dinner. Connor had never been to the Pacific Ocean, so we went. We got there just at sunset, which would have been beautiful if it hadn't been all PNW-cloudy. It was still quite a sight. I love the northwest coast of America.
    I had a 5:55 AM flight the next morning, and the airport was an hour away, making for a really short night. But 4 AM is a good time to go through security I must say. Long flight from SEA to BWI (yes, I flew from Seattle to Baltimore before going to Detroit - don't ask me how that makes sense), then a shorter one to DTW, where I landed back home 8 hours later.
    Took me until yesterday to get back on Eastern Time. 5:30AM is my normal wake up time, and 3 hours before that is no joke. Got short runs in Monday and Tuesday, but skipped Wednesday. Had to blow some more leaves before rain on yesterday and I was just too beat. Took a nap from 5:30-7:00 and was still ready for bed at 10. The rain and wind chased me inside yesterday for 6 on the dreadmill. Listened to the last half hour of my latest Daniel Silva book and then watched the news. Gosh I hate that dreadmill, but I'm working on my mental toughness. Today is colder but no rain.
    Still haven't decided what to so about my spring marathon. Do I spring for another Loopfest and go to Atlanta? March 1 is just so early.  I probably would have to start training today or a couple of weeks ago. Guess I can do an abbreviated schedule and keep expectations low. IDK.

  14. Dave
    I started keeping a journal when I was 19. I wrote almost every day for the two years of my LDS mission, and about every week or so for several years after that. Sort of like my running, there were some pretty significant gaps from then until ten years ago when I started this marathon thing and found the Loop. Since then I substituted my bloops for most of what I would have written in the journal. The vast majority of that writing is about running, and not so much about the rest of my life. But the point of journal writing is to leave a record of yourself, and that's a big part of me, even in this, my advanced stage of life.
    One of the things that drove me to be so prolific (I went months of writing every single day of marathon training) was the positive response from the Loop for it. Sharing my new experience of running and racing marathons with a supportive community was exciting and validating. I'd spend a good portion of my runs thinking about what I was going to post. It made for a heightened awareness of my efforts in training as well as the sights and sounds of the world around me. I have a fair level of (although not professionally diagnosed, Dr. Google seems pretty clear) ADHD, and knowing I was about to "report" on those miles helped me stay much more focused.
    No lament here about the death of the Loop as it was, or nostalgia about the way it used to be. But there's no doubt that seeing just a few posts here and there besides my own has reduced the incentive to put it all out there, as it were. If no one but me is interested, why go to the effort? A big part of the fun was the post-posting interaction. Did I write something funny? Who laughed? Was I going through a tough stretch and got some much needed encouragement from runners who were going through the same or had gone through it? Did a workout or a race go especially well and dozens of comrades gave me kudos? And that's just about the running. The good will, condolences, virtual hugs, tension-relieving jokes, cheers and advice extend to whatever part of my life I cared to share.
    Those are all still there and appreciated just as much, just from a much, much smaller group of friends on this forum nowadays.
    But, it's been ten years since I started here. Since I'm old already, things don't change for me as quickly any more. And I no longer have things like searching for romance, expecting and raising children, buying that first home, new jobs, finishing my education, and all those other things that shift our circle of acquaintance and the activities that fill the days of a lot of my old friends from the Loop. It's been joyful to watch your lives unfold. Great memories for me. My rotating desktop picture right now is a shot of ten people, most of whom had never met before the day it was taken. But you'd never know it looking at the smiles, shoulders leaning into one another with familiarity, arms congenially on shoulders, a few glasses raised in a spontaneous toast to friendship. A couple of them I've never physically seen again, but count each one as a warm and good friend. I've seen them gain friends, spouses, children, grandchildren. I've shared joy and heartache, triumph and defeat. We created something very special on the Loop.
    Anyway, where was I?
    Oh yeah. Since most of them (unlike myself) have moved on to Crossfit and/or babies and/or world traveling, or just receded away from online blogging, our little corner of the internet has gone kind of quiet. I'm not complaining (OK, maybe a little). Nor am I announcing my own departure from the Loop. Just reminiscing.
    The point is, if there is one, I'm still here. I plan to keep writing here and leaving this bit of myself as a record that, "Hey, world, I existed." Thanks for reading.
    I'm enjoying a well-deserved break from marathon training at the moment. Still need to decide on a spring race. Still thinking about Atlanta since there will be Loopsters there. And the Olympic Trials. But it's March 1, which makes for a tough training environment here in the frozen tundra. Not that Michigan is the worst place in the country to run in the winter, but it can be messy. Of course, I have a treadmill in the house now, so ...  Anyway, then next fall will be another BQ attempt. I'll try to pick an easier course next time.
    Think I mentioned the local 5K that I often run in November. I have a string of AG wins there and it supports the school where the boys ran. Then Connor got this new job and he starts in a week and a half and I'm helping him move 1600 miles to Tacoma, WA. Leaving on Friday to load the truck and drive it west. That's the day before the 5K, so I'm a scratch for 2019. Now I'm thinking about finding a race in the PNW while I'm there, because running.

  15. Dave
    After NH, I planned to hold my base and gear up for a 5K on the 9th next month.
    Then Connor got a job. It's with a small, non-profit in Tacoma, WA. This gives us two children in the PNW, so my secret plan to retire out that way is slowly coming together. Anyway, he starts on the 18th, and dear old Dad is helping to get him and his stuff out there, which involves me being in Louisville on the 9th.
    So, there went my plans for a fast 5K on the back of all that hard fought for summer training. I also have to sacrifice my string of AG wins for this race. But that's what Dad's do, right? And I love road trips, even if I don't get to stop and take in all the sights, and even if it's in the middle of November with the possibility of nasty weather looming. We do have plans to see my Dad and T-Rex on the way through ID, plus Big Mac is in Seattle, so I'll be able to see her as well. It'll be fun.
    Ten runs since New Hampshire. The first one was the Wednesday after. An easy three that wasn't very easy, telling me that I needed a few more days of rest. Then there were a few 4 milers that went better, with more rest and better (cooler) fall weather.
    I was planning 6-7 for the Saturday after that, but talking to a friend (yes, I have real life friends, too) we decided to run together and he was going 10, so we did 10. And he wanted to go early in the morning, so we started about 6:00 in the dark. I like to see where I'm going nowadays, but it was fine. I took him over the Power Road Footbridge, which has a fair amount of street lights on the way. By the time we finished, the sun was up, it was a beautiful fall morning and 10 miles of fun were behind us.
    Last Monday it was cold and wet, so I dreadmilled it for 4. Will I ever not hate it?
    On Tuesday I was still sort of hoping that Connor's schedule would let me run that 5K before driving down, so I ran 6-1/2 miles with 5 x 800 @ 7:00 pace. Felt like I was close to fitness for a 5K at that pace. Another couple of weeks and it would have been a good morning.
    Skipped Wednesday to help Mrs. Dave get ready for dinner guests, then did another 6-1/2 the next day. This is longer than I'd typically run on a weekday so soon after a marathon, but I don't feel like wasting the gorgeous fall weather we've been having around here. Four easy ones on Friday and then skipped Saturday because I spent most of the day getting the lawn ready for winter. By the time I was done, I didn't feel like doing anything except lay on the couch, so that's what I did for a couple of hours until the church Halloween party. This was more interesting than usual because there was a new guy who wanted to talk about running. He's got some PF and had no clue what it was. If there's one thing I know about, it's PF.
    Celebrated my ten year Marathon-iversary on the 16th. Ten years, twenty marathons, and one Boston. What a ride. I only wish I'd started sooner.

  16. Dave
    Still deciding which was harder.
    Didn't do the Baconator Awards last winter. I suppose they'd run their course and it was time to move on. As for myself, I wasn't anxious to repeat the previous winter's torn meniscus so I skipped doing any runs that might have been bacon-worthy. I'll probably do the same this year. Since I bought that dreadmill for Mrs. Dave, she hasn't used it, despite getting all the way through a Couch-to-5-K program over the summer. Not that there was any "anti-D" pressure from me. Really.
    With the New Hampshire Marathon on Saturday, our travel plans had us leaving Thursday afternoon, as soon as I could get home from a half day at work. So, Wednesday's intervals would be my last before race day. It was wet. Rain. Cool. Not "almost snowing and totally miserable" rain and cool, but you know what? I don't have anything to prove. I can run whenever, wherever and however I want. I've run in all kinds of conditions and will do so again, when I feel like it. This week, I didn't.
    That's how Wednesday's intervals also became my very first treadmill intervals. As part of the family room decor, it sits in a corner facing a blank wall. Not much of a view. But I can mount an iPad if I want to watch something. I've been listening to a Daniel Silva book, so I blue toothed my phone to a speaker and listened while I ran. Not sure I trust this thing 100%, either, but I used the numbers that were there. Easy jog for 1.5, then 2 x 1.5 @ 7:30 pace. The run was good. The book (House of Spies) is excellent.
    We drove through Ontario and stopped for the night in Syracuse at a Tru hotel. I'd only seen a couple of things about this place, but they're by Hilton, and new, so we figured it'd at least be clean. I walked in the front door and my first thought was, "Disney!" They were missing Mickey and all the other characters, but the layout and color scheme was exactly what I'd expect to see in the Magic Kingdom. Mrs. Dave had gone ahead while I parked the car, and when I opened the door to the room, she said, "Disney!" But, it was new, clean, nice and had the normal sort of hotel breakfast in the morning. We'd stay there again.
    It was five and a half more hours to our hotel for the next night, in Tilton, NH, about 20 miles south of Bristol. Once you get to Albany, you leave the interstate and it's smaller roads most of the rest of the way. Driving through the Green Mountain National Forest was fun. The colors at the higher altitude were amazing. I'd have taken pictures but I was driving. We listened to the new Malcolm Gladwell book, Talking to Strangers. Highly recommend all of his stuff. Makes you think differently about your whole life and the world we live in.
    After we checked into the hotel (Super 8 - quite a bit older than the Tru, but good enough and the most reasonable place within 50 miles) we drove the 20 miles to check out the course, pick up my bib and eat. If you're into big city marathons, this isn't for you. There were 160 finishers this year. The "expo" is in the basement of the local middle school and isn't an expo at all. They have registration tables, shirts and generic bibs from RoadID (not even the name of the race on them). That's it. But the volunteers are all friendly and know what they're doing. There were some travel mugs fr swag, but I don't need a travel mug.
    We drove the course, which reminded me of how tough things were going to be. This is not an easy marathon (if any of them are easy). The elevation change from the start to the highest point is only 286 feet, but almost none of it is flat. 1,100 feet total, some of it really steep.

    I'd looked at a pacing plan from findmymarathon.com, but it was too complicated. On top of that, I've made no secret of the fact that this summer has really messed with my head as far as training goes. The early October race date meant no 3-4 weeks of cooler fall weather to give me confidence at then end of all the miles. Race day weather was going to be perfect - 40o at the 9:00 AM start and 60o at the finish, with lots of shade. I had no idea what kind of effort I could sustain over 26 miles. I'd 2, maybe 3 runs in decent conditions. So, I decided to run on effort - I've done a few marathons before, so I think I know what "too fast" is by now, since I most often start out exactly like that - and see what happened when I got to the top of the hill at the half. A good plan if I could execute it.
    I will also say that if you're looking for a beautiful time and place to run a marathon, Bristol, NH in early October should be near the top of your list.
    We paid the $8 each for the pasta dinner, sponsored by the local Masons. I'm not one myself, but despite all the conspiracy theory based books I've read and History Channel specials, I have no issues with them. This group seemed pretty harmless and they put together a nice spread of spaghetti and 15-20 different sauces, plus bread and salad, with cookies and cake for dessert. We talked to a few of the other runners and then went back to Tilton for the night.
    Tried to go to bed early, but couldn't sleep. So I did an extra crossword and finally turned off the lights at 11:00. Then I spent the next four hours tossing and turning - I assume from nerves, no matter how I tried to convinced myself that I've done this too many times to be anxious about running a marathon, I couldn't get more than a few minutes of dozing at a time. Seriously, what was wrong with me? I did manage to stay in bed until 6:30, so even though it wasn't a good night's sleep, I was at least physically rested. I hoped, anyway.
    Bagel with PB and a banana for breakfast, then off to Bristol.
    As forecast, the sky was clear, there was a gentle breeze and it was just under 40 degrees. Cool. With Mrs. Dave as my private gear checker, I stripped down to just my shorts and t-shirt and waited for the nation anthem to finish. There was one guy in a catsup bottle costume. I hate costumed runners because they always seem to beat me. There was a banana guy at New York and for the first 8 miles all I heard was, "Go, Banana!" Then he dropped me and I felt annoyed for 18 miles.
    They had B-tags for timing, but no starting map, so timing was based on the starting gun. Not really an issue with 160 marathoners. There was also a 10K that started with us, but there was no crowding and I never had to weave around anyone. And the 10Kers turned around at 3.1, so things got really spread out after that.
    Mile by mile:
    Mile 1. 76 feet of climb. 8:48. Running through a small New England town for a half mile and then you're pretty much in the country. No pressure. Easy to start. Don't get excited. Don't work. Also, no cheering crowds except for the few volunteers at the two intersections we passed.
    Mile 2. 87 feet of climb. 8:44. What looked like a 10 year old brother and sister pair about 30-40 yards ahead made me think for a second I should be going faster, but then I remembered my normal crash and burn marathons and stayed with the easy effort. We hadn't gotten to the hard part yet. The first few miles are supposed to be easy.
    Mile 3. 51 feet down followed by 81 up, then 50 more down. 9:00. This was a pattern I'd see a lot. 7:30 pace on the down, but close to 10:00 going up. Newfound Lake to my left was beautiful in the morning sun. The wind from it was pretty chilly, but not enough to make me regret leaving the gloves with Mrs. Dave. The 10K leaders were heading back our way. They were pretty spread out, too (only 99 runners). The first woman was in 3rd place overall (she ended up 5th OA). Impressive.
    Mile 4. 89 feet up. 9:15. I was pretty glad to see the end of that first 4 mile long sustained climb. I had my eye on a couple of guys in front of me, but it was too hard and way too early to try catching them. Maybe I'd have something left in the tank for the second half.
    Mile 5. 90 feet down. 8:24. Hammer Gel #1. There must have been someone behind me also named Dave, because there was a SUV with 3-4 people all shouting, "Go, Dave!" I didn't have my name on my bib or my shirt and I didn't recognize any of them. They leap-frogged around the whole course, yelling for Dave. Eventually, I'd still see them but they were waiting instead of cheering, so I must have left the other Dave behind.
    Mile 6. 8 up, zero down. 8:51. I think I was a little disappointed with that. I knew I hadn't done nearly enough hill work over the summer, since hills are sort of hard to come by in L-town, but I had hoped to get farther than Mile 5 before I felt it in my quads this much. But I also remembered that my plan was ultra conservative on the front end, so this mile was really still a recovery from the first 4. I've learned that this is WAY too early for me to push the pace, even if I don't like it.
    Mile 7. Up 12 and down 9. 8:40. Did I mention that the road was open? Not much traffic and not many runners. No need, really. One of the two guys I'd been following had come back to me. He walked through the water table at Mile 6 and stayed with me for just the next half mile or so.
    Mile 8. Up 21, no down. 9:08. The other guy I'd been following made a pit stop in Mile 8 and I went past him. I knew there was a big hill coming near the end of this mile.
    Mile 9. 110 feet climbing, 122 feet falling. 9:23. The hill at the end of Mile 8 and the beginning of 9 was pretty nasty, but Mrs. Dave had driven around and was cheering there. She'd also apparently recruited the course volunteers to cheer with her, because the whole group was yelling for me. One of those downs that doesn't feel good, either. One where you have to spend more energy trying to slow down and not fall flat on your face. Pit stop guy caught back up to me as we made a sharp left and fell off the edge of the cliff. We ran together for just a little bit. Enough to find out he was there with his wife and they were from Florida. He was having as much trouble with the hills as I was. He thought maybe he'd have to drop back and run with his wife later. I lost him on the next big hill, which came immediately after reached the bottom of that one. He was about 6'3-4" with really long legs. When I slowed to maintain my effort level (that turned out to be barely a fast walk by the top), I lost him.
    Mile 10. 129 up and 119 down. 10:27. I've run 10 and a half minutes miles in marathons before, usually most of the last 6-10 miles because I've gone out faster than I should have. Mile 10 was a new thing. Made me reconsider my life choices. There's always some point in a race where I wonder if I'm really cut out for this marathon thing. At least this time I had a legitimate outside reason for it. This was the steepest and highest climb of the day. I ran until it didn't seem wise to do that, then I speed walked until that was too much, then had a final stretch of power walking to the crest. Holy moly, I was so happy to have that done.
    Mile 11. 25 up, 31 down. 8:45. This restored my self esteem. 8:45 was pretty close to what I had wanted to do for the first half of the race anyway, and being able to do this after the first 10 was reassuring. If we thought Bristol was small, Mile 11 ended in the town of Hebron (pop. 602 if you include East Hebron). Mrs. Dave had made it there and I got another little boost. She's an incredibly enthusiastic cheerleader.
    Mile 12. Up 46, down 49. 8:47. With a pair of reasonably flat miles together, it seemed like I might finally get into a little groove. Mile 11 started a 6 mile out and back section that included the half way point. Saw the leaders start coming back, so they were about 5 miles ahead of me. There were a few quiet shouts of encouragement back and forth along this part, but most people seemed to be feeling like I was - not much energy to make any noise. A slight nod, a barely audible, "Good job," was the most we could manage.
    Mile 13. Up 30, down 12. 8:43. Groove gotten into. I mis-remembered where the turnaround was, though. I thought it was right after the half (no mat or sign or anything, btw), but it wasn't. This was good news and bad news. Good news in that after I got to the final climb at the turnaround, there would only be 12 miles to go instead of 13 and also that I had 3 solid miles of not climbing very much. The bad news was that I had another 100+ foot climb before I could turn around for those last 12. 
    Mile 14. 19 feet descending, 112 feet ascending. 9:41. With no marker for the half, I glanced at my watch (I really need a name for this thing) and saw I was at just a few seconds over 1:58. Not exactly on target, but if I could make it through this last pull, I had an outside chance at my A goal (BQ of course), and a solid shot at B (sub-4). So I worked a little more than on some of the others, although there was a short section near the top where I had to go to the speed walk. I was still feeling pretty good, and figured if the worst I did was 9:41 the rest of the way, it would be a good day. I was not going to do the math, though.
    Mile 15. 18 up and 107 down. 8:08. If only I could do that for the next 12 miles. Sadly, while the bulk of the ups were over, there were still a few nasty little climbs to go, and no more triple digit descents. Maybe one day I'll do one of those Revel runs that drop a few thousand feet from start to finish. It was also nice to see that there were people behind me. I wasn't DFL! Just kidding. I was working hard enough, but really felt pretty good for 15 miles into a marathon. And I was running downhill mostly and that was awesome.
    Mile 16. 13 up and 42 down. 8:34. I will admit I was a little disappointed that this mile wasn't closer to 8:00, but that was just the mileage talking. While the weather was perfect for a marathon (still sunny and beautiful and in the 40's at that point) and I'd had a good summer of work, I wasn't ready for all those hills. Even if it was downhill the rest of the way, the next 10 miles were going to take all I had.
    Mile 17. 58 feet climbing, 46 falling. 9:00. Those 58 feet came all in a really, really short distance and took all the wind I'd gathered in the previous 2 miles out of my sails. Still, it could have been worse. And 9:00 miles were certain to keep me under 4 hours. Came back through Hebron and got more cheers from Mrs. Dave, et. al. I'd been thinking about making a pit stop for a few miles, but it hadn't reached the point of urgency (all gas), so I kept skipping the POPs, including this one. But I did have to think about where the next one might be, and that was distracting.
    Mile 18. 74 feet climbing, 49 going down. 10:02. This was a stretch of 2 miles with the hardest hills since the half. And Mile 18 is a terrible time for a serious climb. I seem to remember the Kentucky Derby Festival Marathon having it's most serious climb at about Mile 18. That was an awful race. I hadn't planned on needing to drop to the walk strategy up this one, but it was a lot steeper than I'd expected. A woman who'd been in my running neighborhood for a fair amount of the race came up behind me going up one of the hills. I'd catcher her going down, but when I slowed on the next one, she'd power up and pass me again.
    Mile 19. 51 feet up, 36 down. 9:32. One. More. Hill. That wasn't entirely the case but there was a drop down to the lake shore and things were pretty flat for the next four miles. Running right next to the lake I spent most of my time looking at the water - so clear and clean - and wondering if it was too cold for me to swim. At least, plunge my head in it fr a few seconds. It wasn't hot at all, but who's brain is coherent at Mile 19? Not this guy. Interesting about this small race, the water/Gatorade cups weren't all the same. Some of them were styrofoam, which you don't see a lot anymore. Of course the problem with styrofoam cups is that they don't smash like you need them to in order to drink while running without it all going up your nose and over your face. So I walked for a few steps to get some G into me and dowse my head with water.
    Mile 20. 11 up, 61 down. 9:11. This was also about where the Wall was. I didn't hit it too hard, but things were becoming a real struggle and would be for the next few miles. Normal. Mrs. Dave had started passing me on the road and stopping to give me some more cheer and takes pics.  It was more than awesome to have her there every few miles with a smile and a yell. I'd brought my phone in my SPIBelt since they didn't have tracking and we weren't sure about vehicle access to the course, and here I decided it was bothering me, so I tossed it in the car.
    Mile 21. 2 up, 10 down. 9:53. Those are Marshall elevation numbers. This would have been a sub-9, but the urge pee I'd had for most of the race had finally reached the don't-ignore-me-anymore stage, so I grabbed the water/Gatorade combo like at the last table then ducked into the genteelly labeled "Marathon Restroom." LOL. So I lost a minute there, and when I came out I found my long legged pit stop friend from Miles 8-9. He was solo, so I guess he was still feeling OK. I pulled up even with him but he dropped off again pretty quickly. I saw my other friend from Mile 18 ahead, but I couldn't close the gap on her.
    Mile 22. 0 and 4! 😯 9:04. This may have been the toughest mile of the day. Totally flat for once and I just couldn't make my legs go any faster. They let runners who didn't think they could meet the 5-1/2 hour cutoff start early and there was a girl with two guys I'd seen coming back ahead of me on the out and back section who were obviously part of that crowd. They were having a great time, though - walking and running whenever they felt like one or the other. Who knows what they had in their "hydration flasks". 
    Mile 23. 41 up and 29 down. 9:31. Another stupid hill. Passed another guy from earlier in the race with about 5K to go. I offered to have home come in with me but he was hurting too much. There were a few more ahead of me and if I could stay with it, I thought I had a chance to catch a couple. That's always good motivation when your legs are dead and everything hurts. The watch had me at 3:29. Not enough time for that BQ (unless I could run 3 miles at 7:00 pace - ha!), but sub-4 was pretty secure.
    Mile 24. No climbs and 10 feet of drop. 8:40. The drop came right at the end of the mile and just before the start of the (finally!) last hill.
    Mile 25. 39 for the final climb and 73 down into town. 8:48. This thing was pretty mild compared to the rest of the day's work, but it was another of those short and steep ones that had me speed walking the last bit. This time, though it wasn't as part of my strategy. I just couldn't keep a running pace. But I did manage to pass a woman with pigtails right at the top of it. There were two more ahead I could see. One was the woman who dropped me up the hills earlier (I recognized her red backpack in the distance) and another in black who'd passed me up one of the steep hills in Mile 9 or 10. Maybe. Remember the first few miles that were all uphill? We were back on that same road going the other way, so the course really gave it back when we needed it.
    Mile 26. No up. 88 down. 8:10. That "no up" is according to the Garmin numbers, but I'll tell you the truth that there was a little bump right at 26 - maybe 30 feet? We went up a cross street to finish in the school's athletic field. That final little insult let me pass that one more woman.
    Mile 26.2. 20 feet, all down, including a crazyass drop from the street into the parking lot. 7:02 pace. I could hear Mrs. Dave well before I could see her. Have I mentioned how awesome she is? The clock still had "3" at the beginning. Forgot about pictures and was totally looking down at my watch (need a name!) when I crossed the line in 3:56:40.
    Mrs. Dave reminded me that I haven't broken 4 hours since Marshall. FIVE YEARS AGO! And there's no comparison between the two courses. If I'd chosen a different course, the 2021 BQ ticket would have no doubt been punched. So I'll take the sub-4 and the moral victory, and plan another assault for next autumn.
    This was a fine marathon. Small of course, and all the things that come (and don't come) with that. Lots of elevation changes, so don't come here if you're looking for an easy race. Accommodations might be an issue, but that can be worked around with a little creativity and flexibility. It's a summer tourist area just a couple of hours north of Boston, so there are plenty of options, especially since the summer is over.
    Now for some pics.
    Flat Dave ready.
    It was pretty chilly at the starting line.

    There's pigtail woman. Didn't know I'd be seeing her again at the end.

    There's tall pitstop guy.

    Cruising and feeling pretty good.

    That lake was gorgeous.

    Did I mention my 2nd Place in the 60-69 AG? Guy in the yellow hat was 1st in 3:42.

  17. Dave
    Sitting here, wondering how this past summer managed to seem so, so long. Common wisdom and my own experience says that time goes by faster the older you get. But, I have to say that it sure seems like it has literally crawled since the end of May. Looking back, I can see that it was as full as ever with trips, challenges, running (of course), work and all the other things that make life what it is. Vermont was only four months ago? Feels like four years.
    Over 750 miles run on the plan, most of it in pretty uncomfortable heat and humidity. I will never move to Texas or Florida. In fact, anything south of Toledo is probably off my list of retirement communities, unless there's enough altitude or an ocean breeze to counter the heat. This is obvious to anyone who runs, but it's harder to run. I'm willing to slog through it - also obviously. The worst part is how much it messes with my head. So many questions that the training can't answer this time. So many tempo runs when I couldn't hold the pace for the whole run. Legs so tired on the easy runs that none of them were easy.  And then let's talk about race day. What's a manageable pace for 26 miles? Is another BQ in reach? Am I even in shape for a marathon? I don't even know.
    Last week I thought the tide had turned in favor of autumn. Had some encouraging runs and solid workouts. Maybe now I could get an idea of where I really am for this weekend. Oops. The first two days of this week summer was back and my head plunged right back into the toilet.
    Now, it's too late to make up any shortfalls. Too late to try a few long runs and test out the pace. All I can do is remember that I've worked really, really hard for four months and cross my fingers that my muscles will respond to all that work.
    Last week:
    Wednesday - 2 x 3200 w/ 800 recovery, 1-1/2 w/u & c/d. 75o with a stiff, 20 mph wind. Most of the intervals were north/south on the bike path which also is on the lee side of the slope and behind buildings and trees, so the wind didn't play too much into it. Climbs about 90 feet in mile 2 of interval #1. 7:57 and 7:46. Interval #2 (back the other way) was 7:25 and 7:31. Guess it'll do.
    Thursday - 8 miles @ 9:00 minute pace. That's 9:00+ going out (and up 200 ft) and 8:10-50 coming back. Few degrees cooler than Wednesday, which was nice.
    Friday - 8 more @ 8:50. Heading west on Seven Mile I watched a big mess of clouds coming in, wandered through a neighborhood on the north side, then came back and was looping up around the shopping center where the LRS is when it started to sprinkle. Then to drizzle. Then to pour. I ducked into the store. I like being in a running store, but I don't shop too often, and I'd feel bad about just dropping by very much without buying something. Anyway, the two kids working there were very nice. Gave me a small bottle of water and some paper towels while we chatted about running and their school. The guy runs at a local university where a friend is the XC coach (he worked with my boys back in the 00's). The girl is two years out of college with an exercise science BS, getting some retail experience while she tries to get on with a shoe company. As it happens, an old Loopster works for Brooks in Seattle. Like a lot of the old crew, he's not active here and only occasionally on fb, but I sent her info on to him. If he contacts her and she ends up working for Brooks like her dream is, it'd be nice to be part of that success story. The rain finally let up enough for me to venture out and finish my run.
    Saturday - 10 miles. 65o, 1B% humidity. I wanted to get in some miles at GMP, but the legs weren't really on board with it. So this was just a run. The last couple were quick enough I guess. Went in the morning, but the humidity still kicked my tail. Drove down to Toledo to watch the BYU Cougars play the Rockets. Fun, exciting game, but the home team won, so that was disappointing. Connor had driven up for the weekend so it was nice to spend time with him. He's still looking for work in Public Health with his shiny new Masters degree.
    Monday - The final tempo run. Summer came back, apparently believing that it was still August. 77o. Sunny. Oppressive. Supposed to be 8 with 6 at tempo pace. The pace was pretty good (7:51, 8:09, 8:02, 8:01, 8:01, 7:54), but it was a 2 x 3 interval run instead of a 6 mile tempo. Had to stop at the top to catch my breath for a few minutes before I felt like struggling back. Mis-timed stop lights made most of the 6 miles sort of messy on top of that, so this wasn't my best run. Not that this has been my best summer to begin with. But, it's done.
    Tuesday - 3 miles. 88o. At least it was cloudy. If there was ever a sucky 3 miles run, this was it. Felt like 10 hard ones, and not in a good way.
    For this afternoon, there's a little 2 x 2400 waiting as the last interval set. It's cool and raining, so maybe I'll do it on Mrs. Dave's new treadmill, which she still hasn't ever used. Then we're on the road to Bristol (NH) for Saturday's marathon #20. Sometimes I think I'm out of my mind. Sometimes I know.
  18. Dave
    Don't ask me why I go through the same cycle of mind games every summer, where I figure I've suddenly reached the end of my running career because I can't finish a run or my pace is just so slow it's not even worth the trouble to get out the door. I have no answer.
    Then, fall comes along, the temps drop, the humidity plummets, the wind freshens, and all is right in my running world. When I go back and look at the numbers, they really don't look that terrible anyway, so what was I even worried about? Of course I'm 60 and it's bound to be all downhill from here. But it doesn't seem so long ago that this was all so effortless. Or I just have a short memory. That last statement is absolutely true, which explains everything.
    So, last week and the start of this were perfect examples of what I mean.
    Tuesday - I'd read that the trail through the woods behind the high school had been finished (paved) and decided to check it out. I'd thought about going the week before, but that was the week I had early runs and the trip. Didn't feel like fighting what might have been spider webs or brave an encounter with a skunk or other varmint in the dark, so I waited. Tuesday afternoon I went. They did a very nice job clearing things out and laying a smooth later of asphalt. This day was warm. And sunny. And humid. Just like summer. Late summer, but definitely summer. The day before I'd had a failed tempo run (remember? 5 miles of a planned 8 and 5 miles of 400 jogs with extended walking to get home), and still felt lousy. The trail is all shaded, which helped. After a mile on the street I went into a park and ran a mile around the dirt trails there in the shade. This was supposed to be 6 miles but when I left the park I was ready to be done, so I just went straight home the way I came. 5 ugly miles. Slow.
    Wednesday - Intervals. Yassos with the Marshall Twist. 12 x 800, or 3 sets of 4, with the fourth one faster than the other 3, 400 recovery in 3:00+/-. Brought some G and a towel for a quick swig and wipe in between sets. Ran shirtless, which I never do. But it was almost 80o and I wasn't in the mood to carry the extra weight in sweat around the oval. Plus, after Monday and Tuesday I expected to need all the help I could get. After a mile warm up, I sucked it up and gave it my best shot.
    3:36, 3:41, 3:43, 3:35 - Goal for NH is 3:45, so I tried to stay at 3:40-45 for the first 3. Could I do 12 of these? 3:44, 3:41, 3:43, 3:32 - Just what I'd hoped for, AND I knew I had 4 more in me. I was reasonably confident, anyway. 3:37, 3:42, 3:42, 3:33 - There you go. Never felt like I was flying, but I didn't die (always a goal). Left thigh was getting pretty tight, so I couldn't put on any more gas for the last one like I normally would. But this is the biggest interval test I do and it went well. Better than I feared and as good as I could expect. There were a few other people that came to use the track while I was circling for those couple hours. One time around I guess I startled the one woman doing C25K or whatever, maybe some intervals, too, but I couldn't get a sense of the pattern she was doing except 200/200s at the end. Thursday - Supposed to be 10 miles - the last weekday double digit run. Almost as warm as Wednesday, so expectations were low. Went through the new trail again and a route that would give me as much shade as possible. Finished through the new trail again. Amazingly, there was a young deer standing next to the trail just inside the trees at the east end. At 5:00 in the afternoon. He watched me run by and didn't seem at all surprised or concerned. It was slow. Good thing it was supposed to be slow. Felt worse. Just too tired. I should remember that's normal, but I'm always disappointed when it's hard. I swear when I was 22 I could crank out a dozen miles and be as fresh as a spring morning when I finished. That's probably not true, but that's the way I remember it. Anyway, only did 9 and the last one was nasty.
    Friday - Marginally better. 82o. Went slower on purpose and I think it helped. Only going 6 miles probably helped more.
    Saturday - At least my long run would be in the morning. That should be way easier. Maybe I could even do it as a pace run. Haven't had one in ... since July, I guess, and that was only 4 miles. Anyway, bailed on that idea early in the first mile because it was humid like the jungle. 16 slow miles, walk through Hammer Gels at 5 and 10, sips of G every 2 miles. Time on the feet. Things were acceptable until about mile 10. That's when I noticed a couple of hot spots - one on the left Achilles and the other on my right foot at the ball. Rats. Stopped to tighten the laces, which helped a little. So much sweat had soaked my socks and shoes, loosening everything down there. Of course the rest of me was drenched, too. A mile later I decided to try a Hail Mary and called Mrs. Dave for a change of socks. We met up at mile 12 and I tried switching the new socks, hoping for at least a shuffle home the remaining 4. Just a few steps convinced me that it wasn't going to do the trick and the best thing would be to cash in my chips. 12 miles in warm and humid conditions was worth 18 in Dave's Book of Running, so this long run was good enough for summer. I have had two decent LRs with fast finishes in the last month, so I'm calling it good. Checked the feet back at the house and I think I made the right call. The Achilles had a little blister just beginning and the right foot was just a red spot, but wasn't far behind. I'd hate to have had serious blisters just in time for my taper.
    Monday - That's right! It's taper time! But it's early in the taper, so I still had 10 miles for Tempo Monday (8 @ 8:20-30). The good news was that fall arrived over the weekend and the humidity left. Monday afternoon was 73o and felt much cooler. A sturdy 21 mph wind made it feel even cooler. Not marathon cool, but good enough for a nice, hard tempo. Please! Let me get a good long tempo for once. 8:32, 8:21, 8:26, 8:16, 8:24, 8:07, 8:21, and (what for it!) 7:40. If I'd held the pace down instead of going all crazy at the end, I expect I could have gone several more miles at that pace. Winner, winner, chicken dinner! As it happens, I actually had chicken for dinner. Really. I've had chicken for dinner every night since Sunday, in fact. Leftovers. With only Mrs. Dave and I at home, that Costco rotisserie lasts quite a while. Back to the tempo run - it felt amazing. Glad I didn't give up after Saturday. No issues with the almost blisters. Better socks.
    Tuesday - A touch warmer, but not as windy or as humid. With a good workout behind me (for once), I also wasn't worried how slow it was going to be. 7 easy miles that were actually easy. Yay. 9:00 pace. Felt a sort of pain under the ball of my second toe (the one that gets pushed on top of #3 because of my bunion). Hope that turns out to be nothing.
    Watching the forecast for Bristol, NH now. A couple of days ago it looked like a good chance of showers on the 5th, but cool. Today looks even better. If it stays, I'm calling this perfect weather for running a marathon, even if it's a stoopid-ass hilly marathon.

  19. Dave
    T-Rex and I left at 3:00 in the afternoon on Tuesday last, hoping to get as far as Peru, and maybe Moline before we stopped for the night. This was a cutback week for me, but I still had a bunch of miles to run. My plan was to try to make it to Cheyenne early enough to find a place where I could do Interval Wednesday that night, then a recovery run Thursday before driving out for the third leg of the trip. I might miss Friday with everything we needed to do moving into the apartment, but an early flight on Saturday would have me home in time for a short long run (10 miles), so I'd get all (or almost all) of the cutback week's mileage done.
    If you didn't know, any trip in that direction really depends on Chicago area traffic. Ever since we started making these drives to the mountains in 2002, there's been construction in one place or another (usually several places) on I-90/94/80 from Michigan City to Joliet. This time, it looked like clear sailing for once. Just as we were getting confident of a once in a lifetime pass to the prairie, a wave of brake lights appeared. After a mile or so of super slow and go, and looking at the traffic on T's phone, we took an exit and tried for a bypass. It worked! We were able to re-enter I-80 just a couple of miles later beyond the construction zone, and get back on schedule.
    I remember the early 70s when there was a national speed limit - 55 mph. Not much difference driving across town, but it sure adds up over 1,800 miles. Past Peru, Lasalle, Princeton, Geneseo, Moline. It was still early, so we booked a Clarion in Iowa City for the night and drove on. I love technology.
    Except when it doesn't work. Despite the confirmation in the app AND the email from Clarion, our reservation wasn't in the system. Not a huge deal, since they had plenty of vacancies, but not at the price I'd gotten, by $50 or so. Not cool, Clarion. Taurus, the desk guy offered to let me have the senior discount (turns out I'm old enough to get it anyway, which was only $5 more, but there was a principle involved, so I called the 800 number and asked what happened to my reservation. He didn't know, either, but it was shown as "cancelled" on his screen (somewhere in India, of course). He agreed to re-book us at my original price and we were set. So, humanity wins this one.
    Not only did we get to Cheyenne, we went all the way to Laramie before stopping the next day at 5:00. That gave me enough time to run. I swear the Indians are taking over this country. I have four of them on my work team right now. Of course 90% of any Help Line is based there. The guy at the Fairfeild Inn was Indian. Raj. He was extremely pleasant, capable and was excited to tell me a good place to run. Turned out there was a greenbelt just across the highway from the hotel. Her recommended driving there, since the overpass had narrow shoulders and no sidewalks (thanks for nothing, Laramie), but I had a driver with me so it worked out fine.
    The Laramie River Greenbelt is a great place to run. It's about 5k from end to end, almost completely flat, right next to the river almost the entire way. There's one park about halfway through with picnic tables, play equipment and (fortunately for me because I always need one nowadays), a couple of POPs. I had 5 x 1.5 miles scheduled for this week. The park ended up being a mile into my first interval, so that broke it up a little. I intended to be flexible for this because - I forgot to mention - Laramie is at 7200 feet above sea level. Lack of oxygen does weird things to your brain. My watch beeped at a mile, but I thought it was beeping for the first interval (1.5), so I slowed down to jog for a half. When it beeped again, I took off and it wasn't until it beeped again much sooner than I expected that I realized I'd rested during the last .5 of the first 1.5. Interval #1 had only been 1 mile.
    I adjusted by extending Interval #2 to 2 miles. Altitude does fun things to your legs, too, btw. That first mile had been 7:49 and felt harder.  The next two were 8:02 and felt the same. #3 was a little better at 7:51, but I could tell the last two were going to be a struggle. Despite that, it was cool and the wind was almost cold. And I was hardly sweating at all. Normally, I'd have been soaked by 4 miles out. The greenbelt seemed pretty popular, too, for a Wednesday evening. I probably passed a dozen or more people out walking, biking or walking their dogs during the hour and a half I was out there. The trail was a little more open on the south end, where there's a big loop that's about a mile and a quarter. I ran around it three times and then headed back to the hotel. #4 was 8:06 pace and #5 was 8:00. Not as fast as I'd run this at home, but 7200 feet. Satisfied.
    Siri directed us to a local Mexican place for dinner, but it was closed when we got there at 8:00, so we drove around and ate at Qdoba.
    Next morning I got up early enough to be running at sunrise. Mrs. Dave thought it was a little "extreme" that I was running again, since I'd just run the night before. She thought we should have been driving already. I figured I'd want to spend the evening with my Dad when we got to Idaho. Plus, since we'd made it all the way to Laramie, Thursday's drive was a "short" one - 7 hours. Stopped in Pocatello to get toilet paper at Costco for the apartment. Mrs. Dave is convinced that was worth it. I'm not, but I try to keep harmony as best I can.
    We did dinner with Dad and called it an early night. Next morning we met with the adviser at CEI (College of Eastern Idaho) about T's status getting into their MA(Medical Assisting) program next fall and then drove the last few miles to Rexburg. Took most of the day to get her settled in, groceries bought, roommates met. Had dinner with my two brothers and their wives, along with Dad who drove up. He took me back to his place after we said goodbye to T-Rex, fingers crossed and prayers said that she'll make it through better than the last time she was here.
    My flight on Saturday was supposed to leave at 8:30 am. The IF airport isn't usually busy on a Saturday morning, and even when it is, it isn't. Let me back up to 4:15 am, when I was awakened by a text from Mrs. Dave, telling me that my flight was delayed an hour, I was going to miss my connection in Denver and I should try to catch the 5:30 flight. Get up, get dressed, packed, wake up my 86 year old dad and drive across town to the airport in an hour and 15 minutes to "maybe" get on an earlier flight? I didn't think so. This would have been helpful information the night before. I was set up to get texts and app alerts from United, but nothing had come about the delay. It wasn't until I was sitting in the gate area, having been re-booked on a flight out of Denver SIX HOURS later than my original ticket, that I received the messages from the airline. Thanks, United. Maybe they'd figure something out and still get me to Denver in time. That almost happened. We touched down in Denver at 11:35, but the gates were two far away and after taxi-ing the hundred miles between the runway and the terminal, it was almost 11:00 before I watched them pushing the plane - MY PLANE! - away from the gate. So much for getting home early.
    As it happened, T-Rex's roommate had been delayed out of Detroit and was also stuck in Denver. So we had lunch together and hung out until her flight to IF. Mine left at 5:30 and landed at 10:20. Long day in the airport. Good thing the next day was Sunday, so I took it easy and tried to recover.
    Because this is the last big week (60 miles!) and then it's taper time. I'm ready for that.
    And, of course summer decided to come back for an encore this week, making a disaster of a tempo run yesterday.
    I actually had low expectations. Just was feeling drained, I guess from the travel of last week, but started out decently, with 8-ish miles. But by mile 3 I could tell it wasn't going to happen. Made it through 5 and that was all she wrote. Could barely muster a slow jog for more than a quarter before I'd have to walk. Fall is going to feel SO good, assuming it gets here in time for the race.
    Someone tell me it's going to be cool in New Hampshire on the 5th. This has been quite the roller coaster of a training schedule.
  20. Dave
    Tuesday - Myrna Trail. 6 miles. 77o. 17 mph. Cloudy.  Out of the six miles there's about a half mile that follows a little trail through a couple of small nature areas. It ends (or starts, depending on which way I'm running) where Myrna Street ends, so I call it the Myrna Trail. Not really a trail, but it's more of a trail than anything else I get to see. Even picked up a spider web, so that's pretty nature-ish, right?
    Wednesday - Phoenix Lake. 3 x 3200 intervals. Total 11 miles. 70o. 3 mph. Mostly cloudy. I consider this the day the summer weather lost the war with fall. There may be some more hot days, but the trend is most definitely improving. This brings me to my "duh!" moment. I remember being so amazed in week 10 of training for Marshall how my speed jumped dramatically. Until this week, I'd always attributed it to some magical point in my schedule - so many hard runs and a threshold of mileage somehow. Nope. Just the early fall cool down. Five years I've been waiting for that magical return. And it came this week. Don't get me wrong. I've been working very hard and running plenty of miles. If it were 80+ outside this would still have been a sucky, struggling run. But this was a fun and fast, 100% in control, workout. #1 - 7:25 (flat) & 7:33 (28 ft up), #2 - 7:24 (20 ft up) & 7:25 (flat), #3 - 7:19 (30 ft down) & 7:27 (52 ft down, but 3 stops in the last half mile for traffic - grr). Encouraging. The last pair I ran into one of the local running groups. Probably 20-25 of them coming at me up the bike path. Running past a group like that during a fast interval never happens. It's always during a slow recovery so I look like a sloth, so it was nice to think I appeared like a fast old guy instead of a slow one.
    Thursday - Schoolcraft to Haggerty. 10 miles. 73o. 5 mph. Cloudy. Usually I'm pretty meticulous about my running routes. Lately, I've been less so. Just start out in the next direction counterclockwise from the last run, go as far as I think I need to to get the miles on the calendar and loop back (or run an out and back). This one gave me a couple of miles on a part of Schoolcraft I've never run on before. It's double-laned and separated by a big median, but the traffic is very light, even in late afternoon. Still probably should have crossed all the way over to run against the traffic on the other side, but I was feeling extra lazy and stayed where I was. I guess I was hoping for some more sidewalk than I ended up getting. There was an extra wide shoulder, so that helped. Still, every time a car came past in the outside lane, I got a little nervous. Not recommended. But it was a nice run, mostly at 8:30-ish pace, except for a couple in the middle where I had some climbing. Decided to duck into one of the community college buildings for a drink at their fountain at mile 8.
    Friday - Madonna. 6 miles. 70o. 8 mph. Cloudy. Interesting thing on this run was the guy cleaning out the bed of his pickup. He had a big shop vac and was grabbing one piece of whatever was in the bed at a time and taking it by hand from the end of the hose (it was too large to actually vacuum) and put it in a trash bag on the ground next to him. And that wasn't the weird part. Inside his open garage was a naked female mannequin.  Don't see that everyday in a suburban garage. So many questions.
    Saturday - McKenna's Bridge. 16 miles. 63o. 7 mph. Cloudy. The sun did come out for the second half, but it was awfully nice for a long run this morning. Since I'd missed my first 16 miler, I was really looking forward to this one. Brought the Fuel Belt and two Hammer Gels (G every 2 miles and HG at 5-1/2 and 11). Picked up the bike path at Five Mile then followed it all the way to Hines Drive. Easy paces. Then there's the hill on Five Mile up to Sheldon Road. It's at about mile 7, and climbs 105 feet in the last 400m. There was a cyclist heading down, then up again while I was working it. He came down again before I reached the top. Getting his hill work in, too. Another runner passed in front of me as I entered Northville. I was slowly gaining on him until we got to the steepest part of the climb to downtown. I still had 6 miles to go and he looked to be finishing up, so I let him go, saving myself for the last few climbs I had and my plan for a fast finish in miles 12-16. Mile 12 is where the highest point of the run is, so I would cruise in from there. Miles 1-12 were all 8:40-9:00. 13-16 were 8:04 (-82 ft), 8:12 (-26 ft), 8:14 (-28 ft) and 7:53 (-37 ft).
    Monday - Lyndon & Merriman. 10 miles. 58o. 7 mph. Cloudy. In fairness, I ran yesterday and today in the morning, so it was dark and clouds had nothing to do with anything. Guess it would have been nice to see the moon and stars. This is my first of 3 longest tempo runs (8 @ tempo pace). Wasn't quite as fast as last week, but after the long week last week (58 miles), I'm happy with the effort, especially since I'm trying to work on pacing, and the pacing was better than last time. Plus, dark runs tend to be a tad slower since I have to concentrate on my footing more. 8:11, 8:10, 8:08, 8:07, 8:11, 8:06, 8:12, 8:04.
    Tuesday - Bates Burger Loop. 7 miles. 63o. 3 mph. Cloudy. This dark run was smooth from start to finish. About 9:00 pace until the last few that crept down to 8:50. I saw the other day that they finished the trail through the woods from Wayne to Gill Roads. I've decided not to run there in the dark because of the possibility of skunks crossing my path, or getting gored by a deer. When did I become such a scaredy cat? I was actually thinking about not seeing any wildlife in these two early morning runs as I bypassed the path for the quiet street when I saw a deer feeding on someone's flower bed.  He/she watched me until I got 20-30 yards away before bolting off and into the woods behind the house across the street.
    Anyway, feeling good. Loving the almost fall weather. My only concern about NH is the hills since I don't have enough of those in my schedule. Hopefully if I take it really easy up them, they won't eat me up and ruin the second half. Lesson from San Francisco.
    As a youngster, I chipped one of my two front teeth a couple of times. It's been repaired a few times since then, covered with caps, had infections that may or may not have affected my life and running. Last winter I had a guy in there again to clean out an infection and he discovered a large crack in the root. Too big to repair or grind away the damage. It had to be removed and replaced with a permanent implant or a bridge. Being one of the fronts, it's a bad spot for a bridge, aesthetically anyway. Trouble is, with all the previous work up there, most of the bone in that tooth socket is gone, scraped away. So, now they have to try grafting in bone from a cadaver and hope it takes sufficiently to allow an implant attachment. Did the first part yesterday morning (hence the early run). Now I'm toothless for 4-6 months with my fingers crossed for the graft to work. I have an appliance as a temporary replacement but I have a bit of a lisp now to go with it. 
    Finally, this afternoon T-Rex and I are driving back West for her return to school. Glad it's a cutback week. That's the reason for this morning's dark run. Hoping to make it to Cheyenne tomorrow early enough to get in the 12 miles I need for Wednesday. The other days I'll be at Dad's place, then flying home on Saturday. Most of all, hoping she keeps her anxiety under control and can stay get through the whole semester. Her and her mother, who worries even more than she does most of the time. Me, I just run.
    And, it's two and a half weeks to taper. How did that happen?
  21. Dave
    Got over whatever that was at the beginning of last week. Maybe it was nothing, but it sure felt like something wasn't right. Took it easy on Tuesday and tried to come back on Wednesday.
    Wednesday, of course, is Interval Day. Last week (week 13 of 18) was time for the classic Yassos. 10 x 800. I'm not going to get into the debate about whether this is a marathon predictor workout, or even if it's a good workout for a marathon training schedule. I like 800s, and doing a bucketload of them is fun. It's a solid, tough workout. I'm going to do 12 of them in a couple more weeks. Before these, though, I had to go to the bathroom. There were two POPs set up outside the middle school track, but they were locked. Sad! Fortunately, there was something going on at the school and the doors were open, so I ducked in there. Now I can run. Warmed up with a mile and a quarter, then hit the gas. The key is consistency from start to finish. 3:43, 3:40, 3:43, 3:39, 3:39, 3:35, 3:38, 3:35, 3:37, 3:33. I'll take the 10 seconds of progression from #1 to #10 as a bonus. The wind was pretty strong (17 sustained) and gusty, and I'll blame that for some of the variance. Four or five people came and when while I was going around. After Monday and Tuesday, it was reassuring to feel 100% again.
    Out and back on Seven Mile for 6 miles on Thursday. That's 170 feet of climb on the way out. Combined with 20 mph winds it sucked a fair amount for the first half, but the return trip was a hoot. 9s out and low 8s coming home.
    Friday was just a really nice day. Warmer than I like for running, but the humidity took a steep dive and the wind was just enough to keep it cool. 8 easy miles and 8:50, sort of wandering around in a loose rectangle with some added pieces here and there when a road looked interesting.
    Since I missed my first of three 16 milers the previous weekend because of the trip to KY, I debated all week whether to make it 16 on Saturday or keep to the plan. In the end, I decided to stay on schedule, since the consensus has always been to not try making up mileage when you miss workouts. So, just 10. Ish. Almost fall. 57o, winds at 6 mph. Sunny. Just about perfect. And the run, oh my goodness. Some days you want to go faster and faster, right? But I kept the dampers on for most of it. 8:30-9:00. I've been thinking about hills lately and how I haven't gotten any. About 3 miles out I decided to extend this an extra mile and tackle that hill that I hate so much. Haven't been out this way far enough in a while. Went over it pretty smoothly. No hate this time. Coming back down the other side there were two college teams working out. One of the coaches is a friend from back when the boys ran, so I stopped for a few to chat and update him on the family. Stopped for a gel and water at 6, then made the last of the climbs before heading home. Took the last 4 to see if I could roll a fast finish. 8:29, 8:21, 8:02, 7:24. That would be yes.
    Yesterday's tempo was another winner. With the holiday, I slept in a little, took my time getting ready, and gave myself another test. Long tempos are probably the toughest for me, but feels so good when I can nail them. This is my third and last week of 9 with 7 at pace before moving up to 10 with 8. The big difference today was the morning run. Usually these are in the pm, which means they've been stoopid hot and humid since I started training in June. Still pretty humid, but at 65o, it could have been worse. 8:16 for mile 1 (which I missed checking, but whatever). For the other 7 I felt like the effort was even, so the small elevation changes probably explain when some were faster than others until the last one when I let off the brakes. 8:04(+17, -36), 8:02(+39), 7:38(-46), 7:41(-33), 7:50(+13). 7:10(-42).
    Worked in the landscaping yesterday. Discovered we have a yellow jacket nest tucked up under the edge of the new siding. At least it isn't bees, which is what I first thought when I looked at them on Saturday. Had a guy out today to take care of them. I moved some rocks around, set up some rain drainage away from the foundation and laid some mulch.
    New shoes on their way. I'm at 347 miles on my current Cumulus model. Wished they wore longer, but they're so darned comfortable.
    Calling it back on schedule. Suppose I ought to actually sign up for this race, eh?
  22. Dave
    Tried to run a 7 mile tempo yesterday. The warm up mile was slow, slow, slow. Usually I have a bit more pop on Monday after Sunday off. Figured it would shake out like normal. Nope. Felt like I was carrying twenty extra pounds. WTH? After the first half mile I slowed, thinking maybe I'd just do the 9 as a slow run, but just a few steps later I slowed to a crawl, stopped, then just headed back home. Stopped at the Speedway to use their facilities and thought maybe I'd finish off with the Laurel Park Loop, to give me 5 easy ones if I couldn't do the 9. Crossed the street at the light, and a half mile later turned left to cut the whole thing to 3-1/2.
    So, what the what? This was after 5 hours in the car, driving home from the weekend with the granddaughters. I don't recall having any particular fatigue from driving. And I didn't even drive the whole way. Just half. Hadn't spent the drive eating junk food, either. It was cool with a light rain, so conditions were as good as they've been in weeks. GD#1 came down with some strep throat on Saturday, but I've had no symptoms myself, unless this crazy fatigue is one.
    Last Wednesday was a weird one. 11 miles total, with 6 x 1600 and 800 recoveries.  All 6 were under 8, and 3 at 7:30. Drenched in a downpour in the middle of the 3rd one, which was fun.
    Thursday's easy 10 turned out to be about 8 with a 2 mile WOS (walk of shame). I was just gassed. It was warm but not humid so I figured it was going to be a nice, easy one. Left over from Wednesday?
    Friday I got up early and did 6 before we left for Kentucky. Nice, nice, nice. Cool and comfortable. Way better than Thursday.
    Right after that we drove down. DS1 got a promotion and they're moving the family to Dallas (Mckinney) next week, so this was our last chance to have a visit be a quick weekend drive. Not that we've seen them very often anyway, with his travel schedule for the last few years.
    Anyway. Saturday morning had 16 on the training plan, and while I couldn't justify that much time on the road in Lexington, I did get in 10 easy, relaxed, comfortable miles early in the morning before spending the day with them. There was a neighborhood association picnic, and then a couple of hours at the pool. I haven't spent any time at a pool in I couldn't tell you how many years. Some diving, although none of them pretty. I did win the family cannonball contest. They had a 20 foot climbing wall that I accepted the challenge to scale. I wasn't 100% confident there, either, but I did make it to the top both times I tried. Nothing like the 9 year old, but not bad for an old man.
    Sunday was quiet. No running. No sun. No serious activity. I got decent rest all three nights. So I'm at a total loss why yesterday's tempo was such a complete bust. And this morning I woke up feeling like I needed another 2-3 hours of sleep.
    Today is warm and humid. Don't imagine I'll be trying to add anything to the 7 on the schedule. At least it looks like the worst of the summer is over, so the weather should be giving me a break after this.
    Can you believe it's less than 6 weeks to race day?
  23. Dave
    Big Mac and the new SIL came in for a visit last weekend. Got all my runs in around the related activities, though. Only a few grumbles from Mrs. Dave about doing 15 miles on Saturday, but I went out early enough it wasn't so bad. More on that run later.
    Last time I was grumbling about my performance running through Hell. Apparently I'm not ready for hills. I felt like I wasn't ready for running, but the next Monday restored my faith a bit. Monday is tempo day, you know. This run was almost a success. I've decided to give myself some more slack in my pace goals until the weather breaks, and this run was the perfect example. It also reinforced that I'm nowhere near as dialed in as I need to be on GMP. This was supposed to be 6 miles at pace. I ran the first four faster than that. 8:12, 8:01, 8:09, 7:36. It wasn't 90 degrees and there was some shade, so I must have thought it was fall already. Stopped at a POP in the park, then sped off at the same crazy pace for another half before I realized that I was going to die. So I shut it down and walked/jogged for a quarter to get it back under control, followed by one more mile at too fast pace (7:37). I liked the speed, but am disappointed I can't get the pacing right this summer. I've done this before, haven't I?
    Tuesday was a not bad recovery run around the Bates Burger Loop.7 miles @ 8:42. Dragging some at the end.
    This being my first week at full mileage AND full effort, Wednesday Intervals was back. This one was 4 x 2400, with 800 recoveries. 12 miles total. This one was a winner. I had to keep a much closer eye on the watch than I like, but I was able to just about nail all 4 at 8:00. (8:02, 8:03, 8:03, 7:49).
    Paid for it on Thursday, though, that's for sure. 8 miles at a more pedestrian 9:00, and it felt slower than that. But those are just filler miles, so whatever.
    Friday was a quick 5, to get done before the kids' flight came in. We took them to Buddy's for some Detroit style pizza. The one request SIL had was for some experiences that would give him a true taste of the area. Most people we asked suggested different restaurants, which seems weird to me. But I'm always up for pizza. We didn't go downtown to the original location because of time constraints, but the pizza was great.
    I'd been sort of dreading the thought of Saturday's 15 miler, worried about the humidity and my lack of endurance lately. But I tried not to over stress and just focus on the run. No pressure. No pace. Relax. Was out the door at 6:15, just as it was getting light out. Of course there was a stop at the park POP. Brought fuel with me. A couple of swigs of G every two miles. A brief walk at 5 and 10 while I downed a Hammer Gel or a Honey Stinger Gel. My last trip to REI they only had Montana Huckleberry (which is my favorite) and Vanilla (not), so I thought I'd try a couple of the HS. The honey is nice and they went down as easy as the HG, so I may include them in my regular supply. This one was a fruit punch. Tasty, and you can taste the honey. Two miles out I had a text from T-Rex. Big Mac and SIL needed the password to the wifi. Why am I the only one who remembers that? And why is that the only thing I can remember?
    Had to make another stop at about 6-1/2 miles. There was a couple of miles of road work happening, and they had POPs up every quarter mile. Convenient. I'm just small enough that my fuel belt is on the edge of being too big. It also loosens a little as the run goes on, so I have to adjust it from time to time. What happened next was this. As I pulled on one of the straps, the velcro that secures the ends together came undone, and I found myself with the end of the belt in one hand and the rest of it flapping out like a whip. I grabbed the other end and re-attached it, tightened it up and settle the belt around my hips. About a mile later, I noticed that the left side end was swinging much more than normal. Normally I have it tucked underneath the pouch that holds my gels and my phone. I take the phone with me on long runs for Mrs. Dave to find me. It was gone. GONE! The pouch must have slipped off, I could only hope at the point where I had trouble out of the POP. So I turned around and ran back the mile, and there it was laying on the sidewalk. Since I was running a big rectangle route, I was able to just cut off where I turned back towards home to keep to my planned mileage. Whew. Just as important, I had a pretty nice long run.
    The rest of the weekend was packed with Detroit stuff for the kids. We spent the rest of the morning downtown, had Detroit coney dogs for lunch, drove through Brightmore to see the bad/sad side of town, went to the beach and toured the Ft. Gratiot lighthouse. Too much sun and a ton of walking.
    Their flight out was early evening, so I waited until after to take my Monday tempo run. Still too warm, but I liked the extra shade and slightly cooler temps. Had to change my route mid-run because one of the bridges was being rebuilt. Didn't feel very good, but the paces were OK. 8:13, 8:33, 8:26, 8:18, 8:20, 7:58, 8:01. Traffic lights made this a little more like a 7 x 1600 than a tempo, but still a good run, and my longest tempo to date.
    At this point I'm stalking the weather forecast like my marathon is in two weeks, looking for the highs to drop into the mid-to-low 70s. Yesterday's 6 miles were slow and sticky.
    This weekend we're headed down to Kentucky for a final visit with the granddaughters before they move to Texas. That will likely cut my runs down or out completely. I may shift some of those miles to next weekend, which was going to be a short one.
    Pics of the weekend.
    The Dequindre Cut used to be a tramway, abandoned for many years. Now it's a park with a walking/running/biking path and anonymous artwork under all the bridges. 

    Belle Isle sits in the Detroit River between Detroit and Windsor, Ontario. It's also a park with a small aquarium (boasting the only complete collection of gar species in the world), a yacht club, lake, science center, swimming beach and this huge fountain.

    There's also this monstrous slide that you can ride for a dollar. We all went down it. After running 15 miles that morning I was the slowest to the top. I am not ashamed.

    The Ft. Gratiot lighthouse was built in 1829. It's 82 feet tall. We climbed the 94 steps to the top (again, I was last).

    The view from up there of Lake Huron is pretty spectacular.

  24. Dave
    When I laid out the plan for a fall marathon, I of course penciled in a Saturday for a half on the 17th of August, the end of week 10. Despite the fact that with an early October race, this would make it a half marathon in the middle of August. What kind of idiot runs a half marathon in August?
    This kind, of course.
    Then, to complicate matters, Big Mac and the new SIL planned a visit to the mitten state. Although he's a well-traveled young man, he's never been to Michigan. Why they thought the middle of August was a good time to do it, I haven't had a chance to ask yet, but whatever. They're coming. And they're coming next weekend. August 17.
    Since I couldn't move their date, I did the only thing a man who's been married for 37 years can. I moved my race. The week after turns out to be the only weekend we have to visit the granddaughters in Kentucky ... FOREVER, since they're moving to Texas next month! (Promotion for DS1, so yay for them, but Dallas is a long ways.)  Move it another week? That would certainly be an option, but it so happens that the 40th annual Run Thru Hell was scheduled for August 10 this year. A week earlier than I'd prefer, but "only" ten miles. Seemed like a reasonable substitute to assess where training is about half way through.
    The Hell Creek Campground (next to Hell Creek Ranch, just outside of Hell, Michigan) is about an hour from the house, far enough from the city to make you wonder why you'd ever live around all those people. It's a nice drive, too.

    They announced about 500 runners between the 10 mile Run Thru Hell and the 4.8 mile "weinie run". I got up at 5:30 (my normal weekday alarm time), had a leisurely breakfast and collected my gear, forgetting nipple bandaids, and extra shirt and a towel. You'd think one day I'd make a list so I wouldn't forget things. But I always forget to do that. Arrived in Hell with 45 minutes to spare, walked over and got my bib. While I'd just looked up my number to be sure I wouldn't ask for the wrong one, I still switched the last two digits and asked for 368 instead of 386. So, small moment of panic when they couldn't find me.
    Took a little 2 mile warm up. My plan was to so a couple before the race and a few after, giving me a 15 mile total for the day. It's been a few years since I ran here and I'm always surprised by the hills. I determined to go slow and even walk if the effort became less than comfortable. I'd only missed three days of training with the pulled muscle, but almost three weeks of less than planned mileage and no speedwork made me wary. I was not where I'd hoped to be nine weeks in. And since this was my first week back at full training miles, my legs were feeling it already.
    Arrived back with just enough time to stop at the POPs. This would be my only chance, too, since they didn't have any on the course and requested the runners not to stink up the neighboring farmland.
    There were no clouds, but the temps were low enough to be encouraging at least. Lots of trees for most of the route as well. I didn't need to check the humidity. I could tell it was pretty high. Not as bad as most of the summer, but no joke after a few miles.
    I lined up in the middle of the pack, given my low expectations. 9:00 miles? I'd hope to average about that and maybe push it on the second half. That was what my brain said anyway.
    Turns out my legs had a different plan. The first two miles were in agreement with my head. Easy on the early first mile (9:05) and a half climb, then an smooth cruise down through mile 2 (8:18). Most of the runners around me were at or near the same pace, so I was happy to have chosen my starting spot wisely. Plenty of shade. I remember there was more sun in the second half, including a stretch with it in my face, so there was that to look forward to. Mile 3 was mostly flat, 8:38. 8:24 for mile 4, which had more drop than climb and would turn out to be my last good mile of the morning. Oops.
    Mile 5 starts out with a significant drop, but it's just a tease, because then it follows that up immediately with the steepest and longest climb of the race. 90 feet in about a third of a mile. I expected my legs to protest about here, but I wasn't quite ready for how loudly they'd be screaming. No worries, though. I'd just walk up the worst part of it and recover on the way down. Mile 5 - 9:24. Not bad.
    That sort of worked for the next mile, from 4-1/2 to 5-1/2. which happened to be a gift back from 90% of the previous climb, except then then next hill was right there and I was toast. I don't have to get all the way to the end of a run to tell things are going to be ugly, and I knew the second half of this one was going to be the kind that makes me wonder if I should just give up running altogether. I'm obviously no good at it anymore. Mile 6 was 9:14, and the last of the serious hills, but the damage was done and it was fatal. My race was over. My Garmin pace chart looks more like an EKG, with shorter and shorter high points.
    And the sun! Don't even get me started on the sun. In my face and it seemed there was no place to hide. What happened to the trees?
    I struggled through as best I could. Water at every stop. Down my throat and over my head. I'd forgotten my 5 mile gel until 6-1/2. Not that it would have done any good.
    Final 3 miles - 9:37, 10:42, 10:10, 10:18.

    Drank another gallon of water at the finish, choked down a couple of cookies, stumbled to my car for the Gatorade I'd brought with me. The race only had water, btw. Then went to check my official time. 1:33:50, just like I had on my watch. And - surprise - 5th in my AG. Normally this would not be a cause for celebration, and after this awful of a run, I didn't care a whole lot. But one thing this race does different than any others I can think of is pass out a boat load of hardware. No finishers medals, but 6 deep trophies for all age groups. So, I got a trophy. 🤣
    Anyway, back home for a long nap and cutting the grass while I licked my wounds. As far as having an idea of where I am with training, I have a long, long way to go. And some serious thinking about my pacing plan for New Hampshire. Maybe I'll feel differently in a few more weeks then the summer starts to wind down, but today I'll admit I'm a little discouraged.
  25. Dave
    That's right.
    But it's not for me.
    Mrs. Dave has been doing C25K the last several weeks. She hates running. She hates exercise of any kind, truth be told. But she knows it's important, especially since she's been diagnosed with some early osteoporosis. And there's her weight that she struggles with. Having hit a long term plateau with her diet, she's out on the streets three days a week, because she's the queen of determination. No matter how she hates it, she's decided to do it. And since it's the middle of summer and we're pushing 90o almost every day, she's been thinking about snow and how she'll lose whatever gains she'll make now when the temps fall below 65o , which is where she draws the line at going outside. We met in the spring and were married by late summer (37 years at then end of this month), so I never had the chance to see her in winter until it was too late. Funny how things work out and you make accommodations for love.
    T-Rex and I were on our way to return our pop bottles/cans to the store on Saturday when we saw our neighbor was having a garage sale. I don't normally stop at garage sales, since I already have a garage, but with the previous paragraph on my mind there was a treadmill in the middle of the driveway, so I pulled over and had a look. It was a ProForm 600S in decent shape, and not all dusty like it had been sitting in the basement. D said she used it almost every day until she joined Planet Fitness. She'd gotten it for free from her next door neighbor a couple of years ago. The left side foot rail was broke, but that could be replaced or repaired easily enough. $150 OBO, so I offered $100. Since I only had $40 or so in my wallet (who carries cash?) she let us make our bottle run and then stop by the ATM. Then we waited for Mrs. Dave to get home with the CR-V to pick it up after work. Now it's sitting in the living room, waiting for her to decide where she wants to put it. I have no plans to run on this thing, but you never know I guess.
    In real running, I'm not trying anything very fast yet, but I'm ready for full mileage again this week. Just another little (all too familiar) hiccup along the way to another marathon.
    Last week went well, according to my recovery plan. Reduced miles on four of the six days, plus one extra on Saturday. Only 5 total short of the training schedule. Also gave up on the morning runs. Issues with the gastro-colic reflex every single run was just too much for me in the long term. I don't want to plan all my runs around bathrooms.
    Monday - 77o, cloudy with a stiff wind. 6 miles, up Gill to Nine Mile and back. No news to report.
    Tuesday - 84o and partly sunny. Cartwright Snake for 6 miles. First run despite the heat when I actually felt good again. Second half was at 8:30 pace.
    Wednesday - 78o and cloudy. Through the park and over to Halsted, then up to Birwood. Had planned on 6 again, but by the time I got to 3, it seemed easy enough to do the extra half out and make it 7. Dropped one of the return miles to 8:20 for no reason.
    Thursday - 83o and all sunny. This was a real summer run, the sort that made me try switching to morning runs. Although, it was really encouraging because after the first couple of miles, I got into a sweet groove. 8:34, 8:23, 8:24, 8:09 and 8:20. If I wasn't being careful, this run would have had me ready to get back on the speed wagon. Waiting one more week.
    Friday - 60o and sunny. Work had a social event on Friday. Normally, I don't do these things, but it was an assignment for a couple of interns to put this thing on and I was on their advisory team so felt like I needed to be there. Proud I was able to stay for two of the three hours. And I got a $25 Amazon card and free dinner. Knowing I'd be late getting home, and planning my long run for Saturday, I decided to go early on these 6 miles, which is how it was only 60o. 60 feels pretty OSOM after 83, I gotta say.
    Saturday - 66o and partly cloudy. 11 miles, around Silver Springs Road. Debated whether to bring the fuel belt. Decided not. Looked for a Hammer Gel for half way, but discovered I was out. When I turned the Home Depot corner there were three people on bikes, wearing pink pig ears and ribbons on their bikes. Guess it was the breast cancer 3 day walk weekend. A half mile later the mass of walkers began coming along the path. I gave them a cheer or two. Most of the responses were pretty unenthusiastic. Maybe it was still too early for them. The ones who said "hello" to my "good morning" seemed more excited to be there. Friendlier anyway. At mile 3 I stopped at a gas station since it was a morning run, and ... but it was fine. Long run. No hurry. Made my big loop through the sub, down to Hines Park. Stopped at the comfort station to splash some water and get a drink. Normally I make a stop on the watch instead of relying on auto-pause for something like that, but this time I let it go. Cost me 1:17 for mile 7. Whatever. Then I saw another cancer walk person. I guessed their route was going to be coming back along where I was running again. Sure enough, a couple of miles later, there they were. More awake, more spread out, but no friendlier. Finished up with three fast miles - 8:13, 8:16, 8:04.
    Then I bought a treadmill. For Mrs. Dave.

    Yesterday was another scorcher. 88o. At least there was a decent wind. Found a route with some shade to help. 8 miles per the plan and 8 miles done. And it looks like the heat's going to break a little bit for the next few days. That's nice.
    52 miles this week, including the 10 mile Run Thru Hell on Saturday, and it's forecast to be a cool morning in the upper 50's. Should be fun.
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