Well, I didn’t intend for almost 6 weeks to pass before I posted again, but I’m having some creative difficulty putting thoughts together lately. I have a few running updates, so in the interest of not putting this off any longer, I’m just gonna spill ’em all out.
Update #1: this past Sunday, May 17th, I hit a big milestone in my running streak: Day 100! I ran every day for 100 days! Despite the fact that it poured rain all day, I crossed the 100 day finish line on a high note: a 7 mile run, my longest run of quarantine, and my third-longest run of the run streak.
I hit 100 days with a grand total of *drum roll please*…215.04 miles. An average of a little over 2 miles a day. I’ll be honest, I had hoped for a bit higher total than that, but I’m still proud of myself, and anyway it doesn’t matter now because….cue running update #2….
I’ve decided to keep the streak alive! I already know I can do 100 days, so now I’m upping the ante and challenging myself to go for the 1 year mark! (hey, do I get bonus points for doing so in a year that has an extra day?) If I achieve this new goal, I can officially nerd out and register my streak with the United States Running Streak Association, which may not sound like any big deal to you but I think it’s kinda cool.
Why decide to be 3x as crazy, you ask? Well, a few things. First and foremost, since I highly doubt any races are going to happen in 2020, I figure, hey why not? What else am I gonna do this year? But also…I got a little emotionally attached to my streak this time. Having something I do every single day, rain or shine, good day or bad day, has taken on a new significance in this unprecedented crisis we are facing. It feels special and I’m proud of it. Even on the (many) days that I just did the bare minimum, I still got out there every day and ran. It became this special thing that is mine, that the pandemic couldn’t take away from me. It was a thread of consistency woven through all these tumultuous days, helping keep me grounded. And I’m just…not ready to let go yet. This time around I feel that I can and should keep going. I want to. This feels like a story that isn’t finished being written yet.
Finally, I don’t want to lapse back into running delinquency again. Let’s face it, that is what will happen if I don’t have a streak to keep me structured. It’s what always happens. I’ve proven to myself time and time again that I am just not a person who can keep up a running routine without a goal to chase (and sometimes not even then). I know myself well enough to know that I will not keep up with my running if I stop the streak, and I don’t want that to happen. Even with my low mileage, I am finally at a point again where running feels consistently easier, my paces are improving, and I feel like I can start to make some actual fitness gains and progress back to my old level again. I don’t want to give that up now after I’ve worked so long and so patiently to have this opportunity again. I am so sick of starting over from scratch and always feeling out of shape and frustrated. I’ve given myself an opportunity to actually improve again and I don’t want to let it get away this time…even if I won’t have a race to prove it at anytime soon. For the first time in years, I just want to be able to say I have a freaking running base again.
All that said – I recognize now more than ever that nothing is guaranteed in life. A year is a long time to avoid getting sick, or injured, or any of the other things that can prevent me from running even just one mile on a given day. With that in mind, I’m making it a point to celebrate every little milestone I cross on my journey to one year: 100 days, 150 days, halfway, 200 days, you name it. In case I don’t make it to one year, I want to make sure I cherish all the accomplishments along the way.
A couple more updates:
I start marathon training on Monday, June 1. Wait, what? Yes. Marathon training. Lakefront Marathon seems very unlikely to happen in October, but fuck it, I’m gonna train anyway. What else do I have to do this summer? If the race is cancelled then I’ll run the marathon on my own, but one way or another I will run 26.2 miles on October 4th.
A virtual marathon is something I never thought I’d want to do, even in this pandemic. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I really want to finally run a damn marathon this year, and how cool would it be if Covid couldn’t take that away from me?
Plus, I’m a sap sometimes, and when a marathon in my hometown was cancelled and switched to a virtual last month, and all the runners were in the FB group proudly posting their solo results, it inspired me. They were all so proud and happy and there was so much virtual camaraderie, and their families supported them with homemade finish lines and spectator signs and stuff, and I just thought, man, I want that experience too. So, I’m gonna have it. Well, as much of it as I can create for myself, anyway; I’m not gonna be a Runnerzilla and demand my family and friends make me a finish line and hang around trailside for 4 hours waiting for me to finish a run.
How will I stay motivated to train all summer for a race that may not happen? Enter running update #4: I’m on a team that is doing the Great American 5000 virtual relay this summer. From June 14-September 14, our team has to run a cumulative 3,107 miles (5,000K) – the virtual equivalent of running a relay race across the country from San Francisco to NYC. My friend Ariana found this and decided to put a team together, and I did not hesitate to say, I’m in! I’m happy to have a new challenge to work toward, and to do so for the first time as part of a team. I’m grateful for that aspect to help keep me accountable to my own personal goals as well – the team is counting on me to hold up my end of the bargain, so I can’t slack on the miles this summer!
As you probably already guessed from the tone of this post, running has been going well for me lately. Things have definitely improved since the slump I was in last time I wrote. Not perfect, mind you – my weeks are still peppered with “just get it out of the way” 1 milers – but I have slowly started to increase my mileage and find motivation to run longer. I’ve begun running 4-5 miles a few times a week, and Day 100 on Sunday marked the Return of the Long Run. Aside from the rain, we’ve had some lovely Spring days, which have definitely made it easier to get those longer weekday runs in:
By the way, remember that blooming tree in my last post? Here is it more recently:
One interesting thing I’ve noticed during this crazy time is that I’m now finding it easier to be patient with myself and let the process take time. There’s just something about the absence of a looming race goal deadline that has worked wonders for my headspace. There is no temptation to impulsively sign up for an upcoming race now that races are gone, which means there are also no training posts of people preparing for said races to get my competitive, FOMO-laced juices flowing. Thus, there is no urge to push myself and try in vain to rush the process of getting super fit in time for an upcoming race or catching up to where I want to be. I feel like I can progress at my own pace and take as much time as I need. Even if I still run virtual races, they just don’t come with the same pressure to run a certain time – at least not for me, anyway. Taking that pressure off myself and letting things progress very slowly has actually made me more motivated, not less. It’s a pleasant surprise!
All in all, I’m pleased with myself for the way I’ve managed to adapt to so many changes and challenges – at least where running is concerned. At the beginning of all this, I despaired at the thought of not being able to run any races in 2020. I fought it. I pouted about it. I’m still not happy about it, but I managed to adjust my attitude, keep an open mind, and find new challenges to explore and get excited about. Somewhere along the line I let go of the resistance and embraced the changes instead of dwelling on them. Of course I’d rather all this never happened – who wouldn’t? – but it did happen, and I can’t do anything about that, so I’m allowing myself to be grateful for the new things I’ve discovered and the doors that have opened during this unprecedented time.
Thanks for reading this far. I hope you all stay safe and healthy, and have a great atypical Memorial Day.