Summer is almost over, and it's been good. Real good.
We've just eaten a great meal; eggplant & potato curry with bok choy, and peach cobbler for dessert. Maple has crashed next to me in bed, and we're watching Melancholia on Netflix. It's been a great day, a great week, and a great couple of months.
So what have I been up to?
Last I wrote, I ran the mile race in Cambridge, and beat my goal time by one second. Yes! After that, I went back to running around 20 miles a week and not worrying too much about anything. I knew that I'd need to start training for Disney in September, but I didn't have anything to train for during August. I had fun experimenting with shoes again (and suffering various aches and pains as a result) and celebrating Maple's birthday. I did a little bit of track work, some longish runs, and mostly just ran easy miles about 4 times a week.
Maple went to stay with her grandparents for a week, and Sean and I hiked through some of the most humid, hot weather the northeast has to offer. I'm still piecing together the Appalachian Trail, which I hiked 1400 miles of in 2001. We completed Vermont and hiked around 20 miles into New Hampshire. Aside from the humidity, there were lots of meadows, woods, wildflowers, farms, roads, and plastic tubing strung between trees, seemingly deep in the woods. (I guess the maple syrup producers are getting smarter, or lazier.) We spontaneously stayed in a fancy hotel in Hanover, which is one of the few towns that the Trail goes directly through. Sean got some crazy blisters. I got some crazy bug bites that are still swollen and angry red almost a month later. We met some nice hikers and we almost got struck by lightening. Hiking was great aerobic cross training, but it wasn't too kind to our joints and IT bands. But it was worth it to get about 65 more miles of Trail done and dusted. Only 425 more to go.
Right before we left, we found out we had to go to New Jersey for a funeral after the hike. During my aborted thru-hike attempt in 2001, I was pretty good about hiking past every single white blaze from Springer Mountain in Georgia to Bear Mountain in New York, but I did skip one 17.3-mile portion of the trail in New Jersey. Sean has been hearing about that 17.3 miles for the past 10 years, so when he found out we were headed for Jersey, he floated a plan that would let me hike the missed section on the way. It was a packed day; we got up at 4, drove to north Jersey, I headed south on the trail and he drove to the southern point of the section and started running north. It was a gorgeous day. That section has rocks where the dirt should be, so I have no idea how Sean ran it. I torqued my ankles in hiking boots, and I was walking. We met about halfway and hiked to the car together, then drove to a hotel, ate Thai food, and slept.
But this isn't a hiking blog, jeez.
I worked out that 18 weeks from the Disney marathon puts me at September 10th to start training, but I actually started three weeks before that. I'm going to repeat the first three weeks of the plan twice, so I'm finishing up what I'm calling Week -1 now. Next week is Week 0. Last week was Week -2. You get the idea. I'm doing around 25 miles a week right now, and fortunately my IT band and PT tendon seem good. I feel ready for this next cycle of training. My easy runs are faster than they used to be, and for this I credit all the speedwork I did for the mile race. I'm trying to do my "long" runs (only 8-9 miles at this point) faster than I did last time, and I'm pushing the pace during the last few miles. Last weekend I did a 5-miler at 8:35 pace, which is quick for me. (It was supposed to be a marathon-pace run but since I don't have a Garmin, I go by feel, which is not always right on.)
I spent some time researching training plans during August. I considered hiring a coach, but decided I needed to get through one marathon without injury before I get that serious. I read Pete Pfitzinger's book, and although I liked his plans, I knew I didn't have the base built up to follow them yet. I've been struggling to stay injury-free at 20-something miles a week, so starting out at 35 is unrealistic. I like speedwork too much to do the same plan I did before (Higdon's Novice 2 plan), so I decided to do Higdon's Intermediate 1 plan but swap in the speedwork/hill/tempo Thursday workouts from his Advanced 1 plan. I don't know if it will be too ambitious, but I'm going to give it a shot. The mileage isn't too high, there is more intensity than last time, and although I'm injury-prone, I am more experienced at detecting injury and dealing with it than I was before. Plus I have a great PT and chiropractor who can help me through anything, and I will catch it early this time. If it happens at all.
Maple started school this week and she seems very happy with it. Sean is starting his taper for the Vermont 50 after running a successful 25-miler last weekend. My stress level is lower than it has been for years since he is taking care of everything at home. We don't have to send Maple to after-school programs anymore because he is home, which means she is happier and less stressed. We call him the "ground support" guy. It's working out really well.
And. I am doing the gluten-free thing again. Last time I tried it, I had a really hard time, but it was at the peak of my marathon training and I was exhausted from training and watching Maple while Sean worked all the time. This time around it's going much better. Sean is taking great care of me. I have enough calories every day and we're honing in on getting the right proportions of everything. The reason I'm trying again is that there is so much talk out there about gluten and dairy being awful for autoimmune diseases and especially MS. There's a big movement towards paleo for folks with MS, but I'm obviously not going to do that since I'm vegetarian. Paleo doesn't "allow" legumes or grains, which are an important part of my diet, so I've decided to just avoid the big two (gluten and dairy) and see how that goes. I like that eliminating diary makes me de facto vegan again. (I hate eggs anyway.) I've been at it for two weeks and I'm already seeing a change in my energy levels. I hardly have to think about my energy anymore. I used to have to plan some rest into my days and know that I wouldn't be able to do much if I ran hard or long, but now I seem to be able to do whatever I want. Today I woke up at 6:30, ran 5 miles at 9:17 pace, then came home and rushed out with Maple to a running club meeting. Afterwards we ran/walked a few miles in a superheated meadow and then went grocery shopping. Six months ago I'd only have been able to rest after running at that pace. And maybe grocery shop later in the day.
I'm really hopeful about the Disney marathon. I don't have a time goal yet, but I dream of running sub-4 as the famous calculator says I can do. But that probably isn't realistic, given that I haven't made it through marathon uninjured! 4:15 sounds plausible, but I'll have to see how I feel after I get about halfway through my training. I registered for a local half marathon in early November, which should give me a good idea of where I'm at.
Time to rest my eyes for some hours and let my body get ready to run 9-10 miles in the morning. It's wonderful to be healthy.