I spent the week in Olten, a Swiss city that you don’t hear much about but that’s at the center of everything on the excellent Swiss train system. Bern and Zürich aren’t too far away, even if the tickets can be quite expensive.
But you don’t have to take the trains to get around. Several paths go through Olten so you can walk or cycle to anywhere you want to go in the country.
I wasn’t feeling the love today, especially since I almost forgot about this run. In the middle of a late night movie at the Landmark, I remembered the five mile run I had in eight hours.
It’s not as simple as just forgetting though. I wasn’t supposed to be in town this week so I thought I’d miss this run. Instead, I’m gone in two weeks and I’ll miss the Percy Sutton Harlem 5k, which runs in my neighborhood. It’s a short race and a I could have slept in longer. It also covers some serious hills, but they are my hills that I’ve started running on Thursdays.
This run, for a charity about brain cancer, is in Central Park. It’s a little longer than the lower loop 4 miler. We start at 67th Street, but on the west side, then run anti-clockwise.
I wanted to a personal best today. With a good run at the Boomer’s Cystic Fibrosis Run To Breathe last week, I thought I had a good chance to improve my 5k time. I ran that four mile race in Central Park, with all of its hills, in a pace faster than my 5k record that I set at the Rosehill Crypt 5k almost two years ago. I’ve only run one other 5k, the Race to Wrigley since then. That was over a year ago, so I don’t have an idea how fast I might be. If I kept my fastest pace this year, I’d break that time.
This run has something to do with the New York Giants, the football team that’s actually in New Jersey. There are some current and former football players on hand—none of whose names I recognize—and at least one player running his first 5k. Beyond that I haven’t paid attention in the same way I don’t check routes or profiles. I knew that I’d finish inside the stadium, but I wasn’t too excited about that given that finishing inside Soldier Field for the SF 10 was a let down as the grass was covered and the Wrigley Race was technically inside the stadium even if we never saw the seats or the field. I didn’t know it yet, but the MetLife artificial turf field can handle the throng of thousands of runners.
It’s another four mile race toward my 9+1 goal and I wasn’t interested in it more than that. It’s been two weeks since my last marathon for the summer and I’m ready to step back from the peak of fitness I think I’ve been on, especially since it’s full on not and sticky summer in New York. The heat kills me, although I’ve been handling it quite well lately.
Today I was assigned the second corral, with a number in the 1000s with the red bibs. I’ve been making my way closer to the start line this year. I found an answer about placements on the Dashing Whippets Meetup page. In short, NYRR tracks your best pace in a race longer than three miles. To allocate corrals, they rank the paces of all registrants and place the first block in the first corral, the next in the second, and so on. That means I could move up in the corrals if all the good runners stay away, and move back in a very competitive field.
I’ve made it through half the of biggest running year of my life. How am I doing? In short, I’m kicking ass for this year’s goals.
I’ve run at least one mile every day for over six months. I’ve run in all sorts of weather. One day I ran back to my hotel from a restaurant in my street clothes (and in snow that time). I ran through an empty airport, and there were several runs to and back from a far away grocery store. I’ve run in combat boots in a tornado zone when I was doing disaster work. I ran in Cairo during a layover. I’ve had so many excuses to not run and people wouldn’t have blamed me, but I’m tougher than that. I’m doing this for me. And, I’m doing it.
[See my earlier post How I get to Victoria Falls on the cheap]
Race day! This is my third marathon in Africa and completes another set of the Seven Continents. I’m a bit banged up from a fall a couple of days ago, but otherwise I feel good. My body wanted to be awake in time to have my peanut butter sandwich and to sit around a bit for the start. I didn’t know how I’d do today, but I had an inkling that I might go for a personal record. I’ve been on a good year, I’m close to peak shape (although I don’t know if I’m ascending or descending that mountain), and I have new confidence in running in the heat if I can have coconut water, which I’ve found at the local grocery store. Everything seems to be lining up.
I shouldn’t think about that yet. If I get through the first half in good shape I can start to think about a personal record. If I’m in good shape by Mile 18, I can work toward a personal record. At the start I need to warm up and let the body fall into something that feels good.
June 27, 2014
Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
With two days to the Victoria Falls Marathon, I wanted to go out for a leisurely run to explore a bit more of the area. I didn’t want to exert myself or do anything that might knock me out of the race. It turned out to be the wrong day for that.
I started from the hotel and ran to the Falls with the intent to go into Zambia. You can do (legally) without crossing through the Zambian border post, which means you don’t need an exit stamp from Zimbabwe or a Zambian visa; you don’t even need a passport The immigration officer on the Zimbabwean side gives you a “bridge pass” which you show at the gate leading to the bridge.
June 21, 2014
Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
I’m in a city, but it’s the smallest in Zimbabwe. Victoria Falls is only here to support the natural wonder of the same name, and is surrounded by a national park where the animals roam free. I don’t really want to go out running since 35 hours of travel and a nine hour time zone change is keeping me in bed. And, it’s chilly. Not only is the weather here moderate and comfortable, but I couldn’t figure out how to turn off the air conditioning. I don’t know if I brought warm enough clothes for this African trip. I’m here for the Victoria Falls Marathon next week.
I run down the path whose signs points toward the gorge. I figure as long I see other people walking on the paths, especially the locals, I’m fine.
June 20, 2014
I thought today might be the one where I failed to continue my one mile a day goal. I’m on my way to Zimbabwe for the Victoria Falls Marathon, which is 32 hours of traveling from New York, through Cairo, then Joburg, and finally Victoria Falls. Somewhere in there I need to run. I didn’t know how that would work out but I knew something would present itself, even if I had to run up and down a concourse.
The ticket agent in New York told me that as a business class traveler, EgyptAir provides a hotel room in Cairo for the 12 hour layover. That sounds promising. If I can get a room, I have a place to store my stuff, take a shower, and so on.
Another personal best? How can that be? I feel depleted from the Heartland Series and thought this would be a recovery week. I didn’t plan to do anything other than make another notch in my 9+1 goal.
I can easily run a personal best on a new distance. I can’t recall that I’ve ever run a five mile event, so any time is a record time for me. However, I’ve run several 8k events, which are a hair short of five miles. Going by those times, I’ve run much faster than any 8k I’ve done by a couple minutes even though I had to run 0.03 extra miles.