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yesterday:  22.25 miles

week: 35.25 miles


I'm beginning his piece an hour before the 2008 winter solstice.  As a morning runner, I can start looking forward to seeing dawn during my run.


I ran my long run yesterday in anticipation of the ugly winter's weather that has arrived this morning.  I ran it at Lake Artemesia on the Paint Branch Trail through the University of Maryland campus and to the north.  A 7.5 mile out-and-back, I ran it 3 times.


It was a grey day, grey clouds, grey trees, brown grass.  Breezy and 35 F, the windchill must have been around 30 F.


Two days prior, on a treadmill in my home gym, I passed 1000 miles on the year on mile 4 of an 8 mile run.  I don't think I've ever run 1000 miles in a year.  This was despite 14 weeks' of no running do rest my plantar fascia.  1000 miles does not mean much in the pursuit of a Boston qualifying time, but in our numerically-focused civilization, one can't let it come and go without notice.


I'm used to shorter loops on my long runs.  They are variously 1.25, 1.4 or 3.0 mile loops around lakeside strolling trails or my neighborhood.  The mental experience of Paint Branch Trail is very different.  Going north of campus, it gets much more isolated.  A shorter look brings the psychological support of repeatedly seeing people out enjoying the park, working in their yards, or even driving to and from errands.  On a 7.5 mile loop, repeated three times, you see no one twice.  North of the campus, in the woods, the runner becomes completely, anonymously, alone.  On my first loop this bothered me.  On the second and third loops, celebrating the increasing awareness of just how strong I was running, my awareness of isolation vanished.  Last quarter of the 3rd loop got pretty hard.  I found myself asking rhetorically: "Why does it always have to get so hard?"


Truth of the matter is, if you get really tired on your long run, you're probably running too fast.  Saturday was windy and cold.  My pace was probably a bit fast for me, but comfortably fast.  I held it for 20 or so miles with no problems, but then it caught up with me in the last mile or two.  I no longer supplement during the run to train my metabolism to use more fat as a source of energy while running at higher speeds.  I don't believe I've ever run quite that far without gels or Gatorade. 


While in college as a zoology student, I became convinced that human physical and psychic health are greatly dependent on living a life style that most mimicked the conditions and habits that under which humans evolved.  Medical, nutritional, and exercise science has largely confirmed this hunch.  The current popular belief that "it takes a village" to provide the necessary emotional support for raising our young and caring for our elderly also argues in favor of this notion.  Running not only provides the exercise for which humans are most optimized from an evolutionary stand point.  It also re-introduces the runner to the daily and seasonal rhythm of nature.  Some believe this external support for our own circadian rhythms is a necessary component of human psychological health.


I was able to catch glimpses of several of the more unusual local birds while running through the woods for such a long run.  Along the streams, a large heron stalked fish in the cold shallow.  There's a section of woods that were decimated in a tornado in 2001.  One sees fully mature trees with all large branches ripped from them by the winds.  There are also many insect-laden dead trees, still standing.  Among these, two large red-headed wood peckers flitted about on each of my loops through that part of the woods.  Finally, near Lake Artemesia, a large hawk screeched from a tree top as I finished the last lap.  While a zoology student at Florida in 1974, I was consciously very close to the fauna on campus around me.  That consciousness has receded greatly with the years.  The hours I spend outdoors doing 35 to 45 miles per week are bringing this consciousness back.  I think this is also an ingredient of psychological health.

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12/14/2008: Down Week

Posted by DaveVause Dec 14, 2008

Day: 9.5 miles

Week: 17.5 miles


Every 2 to 3 weeks, I cut my weekly miles in half.  Given the challenge of last Sunday's 21-miler, I knew it was time to cut back.


I always feel indolent and fat in my "down" weeks.  They're a relief mentally, but they are also stressful.  I learned that you can't just add 10% every week in my first year of training for the marathon.  As with the hard and easy day micro-cycle, runners need week, and perhaps quarterly cycles too.


Next week....back to the breach with 36 or 39 miles.......

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Su. 12/07/2008 - Test

Posted by DaveVause Dec 8, 2008

day: 21 miles

week: 36 miles


Yesterday, Denise mentioned that she had never run while the snow was falling.


It was 30F with a 19F windchill when Denise and I set out this morning.  The sky swung between snowy and stormy to bright blue sky.  We got a period of heavy snow.  I learned that snowflakes hitting your eyes in a strong wind can actually hurt. 


I took Denise on her 3 mile neighborhood lap, then did six more laps.  This rather pushed the envelope for me as my previous long run was 20 on a flat course in mild weather in Florida.  Nonetheless, the run went fairly easily and left me with only mild plantar fascia stress which was gone the next day.


At several points in the run, the wind would gust up the leaves and they'd run with me like tiny wood spirits.


Challenging, blustery, emotionally cleansing run.


To me, the amazing thing is that 2 or 3 years ago, this run would have been unthinkable.  The transformation of body as years of marathon training go by is itself amazing.  The transformation of mind is more so.

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Sa. 12/06/2007: Denise

Posted by DaveVause Dec 6, 2008

Day:     3 miles.

Week: 15 miles.


Denise came home from monthly trip to Tampa last night.  I'm coach to my wife and Quixotic marathoner to myself.  When I run with Denise, I'm coach.


I took Denise to the western end of the Washington-Baltimore-Annapolis Trail for a 3 miler this morning at 8 AM.  It was a "data collection point" for me.  We were at 18 F, light breeze.  Synthetic base layer and tights, synthetic jersey, light gloves and mitt shell were enough to keep me warm.  We were chilly running into the breeze going east, and worked up a small sweat going west.


It snowed this evening.  Its going to be a long winter.

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Tu. 12/02/2008: Spirit

Posted by DaveVause Dec 2, 2008

today:   7 miles

week:    7 miles


I delivered Denise to the airport today, no run this morning.


So, this evening I came home after work, fed Sophie and Peanut and went straight down to the gym to run.  I just didn't want to do 41 F and dark, so it was fluorescent lights, the treadmill, and a very special movie on the LCD TV in the gym.


Watching "The Spirit of the Marathon" made the time on the treadmill invisible. I've thought that only someone who has completed a marathon could connect with this movie.  Yet, it can hold Denise in its thrall almost as much as me.  Perhaps this because she has vicariously lived through marathon training by living with me; perhaps because it resonates with her own 13.1 mile efforts.


The vagaries of the world ensure that success is as much dependent on forces beyond our control as forces within our grasp.  Success at the marathon is unusually dependent on the person making the effort.  Injuries are errors in training - over ambitious errors.  If you don't train enough, the distance will crush you.  The long, slow, steady build up of distance and speed is an exercise in restraint as well as determination and enthusiasm.  The resulting growth in strength is inescapable.


The individual can succeed in the marathon - never "match it" - by the due diligence of life spent in the single-minded pursuit of that goal.

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Member since: Jul 9, 2007

What I am about is making training for the marathon a lifestyle. Contemporary medical advice recommends 60 - 90 minutes a day of vigorous exercise. This is consistent with training for the marathon at the amateur level.

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