Some Long-Overdue Running Updates

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.

A Roman Numeral 100
Return of the Long Run

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 little rainy day treat to celebrate Day 100!

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!

Already had some summer running previews on a few very warm May days!

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.

Blooms

On a recent daily run, I noticed something out of the corner of my eye: a gangly tree had little buds sprouting all over its lanky branches.

Isn’t it something? Our world has been turned upside down, but spring has still sprung, just like it does every year. It’s as if nature is blissfully ignorant of all our human drama, still doing things her own way, on her own time.

Some might say it is a symbol of hope that nature is still going through blooming and rebirth, that Mother Earth keeps marching forward. I can see that. Personally, I see it as humbling. In a good way. The fact that the man-made parts of our lives have been upended while Mother Nature keeps on keepin’ on reminds me that she always has the last word. It’s so easy for us humans to think that we are the biggest things in life, and that the world revolves around us. Maybe we will learn now. Hopefully, anyway.

I don’t have anything inspirational to say about running today. Frankly, I’m just not feelin’ it right now.

The truth is, I have been doing the bare minimum for my running streak, and I have not been enjoying it much. There, I said it. I duck out of my remote work day for 15 minutes to throw on some tights and sneakers, bust out a quick mile, and then change back into jeans and a hoodie and get on with my day. Those miles don’t often feel like sweet escape or rejuvenation or a refreshing break in the day. I count out the tenths of a mile in my head as I jog along and then feel relief when it’s over with and I can move on with my day. I haven’t been having my usual mid-run daydreams that I’m in the last mile of a marathon I’m about to PR as the crowd cheers on the sidelines; usually my mind is blank, or already impatiently thinking about being done.

Wow. It sounds like I described a rote household chore, not an activity I enjoy. As sad as this may sound, it’s honest. This is how I’ve been feeling lately and there is no sense sugar coating it.

It’s not even a Coronavirus Thing. In fact, it’s one of the most normal things I’ve experienced in recent weeks: a good ol’ fashioned Slump. A rut. A vestige from the Old Normal that has made it’s way into New Normal: one of those times when there just isn’t enough wind in your sails. It happens.

But slumps – like pandemics and stay at home orders – they too will pass, eventually. They always do. In the meantime, I’m just staying the course and doing what I need to do each day. Even if it is the bare minimum for a while. I could fight it – grit my teeth and try to force myself out – or I could just let it be. Slumps are uncomfortable because they go against our learned instinct to always be “on” and productive. Sometimes you do need to take action. Other times, you just need to let it run its course. This time feels like the latter.

Pardon the cheesiness, but hopefully next time you hear a running update from me, I will be like the tree I saw on my run and starting to bloom again.

The Slow Crawl to 100

Hi everyone. How are you holding up lately? Is that a stupid question to ask these days?

Last Saturday, I sat on the precipice of a run streak milestone. Counting up my streak-to-date miles after that day’s 4-mile run, I came to 96.02 – meaning, I was only one more 4-mile run away from cracking 100! I could go on one the next day, end my week on a high note, and have great energy going into week 2 of work-from-home quarantine. A similar thing happened when I cracked 50 miles 4 weeks ago – seeing I was at 41.25 miles, I excitedly set out on an 8.8 mile run the next day to crack the big 5-0 in one fell swoop. Now, less than half that distance separated me from an even bigger milestone.

But Sunday went by…then Monday, then Tuesday…and finally on Wednesday I limped across the 100-mile finish line on a half-hearted 1.11 mile run. Something that I could have knocked out in 40 minutes before the week began ended up being dragged out over the course of 4 days. I imagined a milestone like 100 miles would be a verifiable Proud Instagram Moment, complete with an elated post-run selfie and a long caption with plenty of hashtags, but it barely registered in the back pages of my mind this week.

The same was true yesterday (Saturday), when my run streak reached another milestone: Day 50, the halfway point. Another finish line I mindlessly shuffled through with a 1 mile run.

Like everyone else during these tumultuous, trying times, my process of adjusting and coping involves good days, bad days, “just okay” days, and days that are a mix of all three. The good, the bad, the mediocre – they all happen on their own time, and it is what it is.

It just so happens that my milestones this week coincided with bad and okay days instead of happy and strong days. That’s just the way the cookie crumbled. I’ve achieved a lot of things in my life, some big, most small, and what I’ve learned about achievement is that it rarely looks or feels the way you envision it will. You just have to take it where you can get it and be thankful that your hard work and persistence allowed you to get it at all, regardless what it looks like at the end.

Whether I get to 100 miles in a triumphant surge or a disappointing crawl, the end result is still the same: I got there. The last mile of a marathon isn’t any more important than the 25.2 before it, and the state in which you finish a goal doesn’t discount any of the hard work that got you to that finish line. This is what all those coaches and inspirational gurus mean when they talk about focusing on the journey, not the destination. Any process inevitably involves good days, and bad days. They’re not all pleasant, but they all matter.

These are different times. Back in the “normal” days, I might have read too much into a week like this or felt disappointed in myself for not “finishing strong”. But now, I’m just glad that I’m keeping my streak alive, that I’m getting out each day and running even if it’s not fun, even if it’s just a piddling 1 mile. I’m not training for anything, I have no big lofty goals right now; my run streak is simply my way of reminding myself each day, I am still moving forward. It doesn’t need to be anything more.

One day, I will feel strong, fit, and motivated again. When that day comes, I’ll look back on these weaker days not regretful that I didn’t do more, but glad that I did something, knowing that I couldn’t have made it to my high point without the good AND the bad days along the way. All the pieces of the puzzle.

That’s what I’m learning during this crisis, and concurrently through my run streak – to be patient with myself through all the turbulence, all the bad and “meh” moments. Because even on bad days, as long as I do something, even if it’s a little tiny bare minimum thing, I can still keep moving forward. In times like these, those three words are the biggest thing, the only thing, that matters: Keep. Moving. Forward.

I don’t know what kind of miles will compose the remaining half of my run streak. I don’t know if I’ll rally and start running more miles and getting more fit, or if I’ll stay relatively stagnant, only able to muster a little bit at a time. But what I do know is that I’m going to get out there every day and run, whether it’s one mile or ten. That’s what matters now.

Running and I are in this for the long haul.

Running to stand still: Love in a time of Covid

For the past several weeks I’ve been meaning to post an update. I had a “Run Streak so far” post sitting in my drafts folder that was constantly mutating as weeks went by and I had more information to add and new thoughts to work through. I kept putting it off as I struggled to find interesting things to write about and squeeze writing time somewhere into my work/home/run/socialize/etc routine.

And then everything changed.

We all felt it creeping closer. We watched it overtake China. We saw the Tokyo Marathon get cancelled. We watched in horror as Italy got slammed, we listened in horror as the experts told us we were next. The dark clouds of dread started to roll over our skies but, for the most part, we continued life as normal, feeling the change in the air and knowing it was about to hit but not knowing when.

The first domino to fall was actually on my birthday. Thursday, March 12. It started out as a normal day. I treated myself to avocado toast for breakfast and called a Lyft instead of slogging through a bus commute. I got to work expecting a normal work day, our board meeting was to go ahead as planned. A few hours later the board meeting had been cancelled and our team had been authorized to work from home for at least the next two weeks, effective immediately. The governor of Wisconsin declared a state of emergency. And then the dominoes started to fall, gaining speed as they went down, click, click, click click clickclick clickclickclickclickclick. The NBA and NHL suspended the rest of their seasons. The MLB cancelled opening day. Concerts, conventions and large events were cancelled. Restaurants started closing, and bars. Colleges extended their spring breaks. K-12 schools shut down. Gatherings were limited to no more than 250 people. Then 50. Then 10. Click…click…click.

It turns out, my 33rd birthday was the last normal day I would have for a while. At least we got to go out for a nice dinner while restaurants were still open.

Like everyone else, I spent several days drinking a cocktail of anxiety, fear, disbelief, and despair. Thousands lost their jobs. Coronavirus cases and deaths continued to climb. And still no one knows how long we all need to put our lives, economy, and entire society on hold.

To my surprise, the most dominant emotion I felt during those raw first days was an unfocused anger. It seems silly now, but I was angry this was happening, that our world was being turned upside down and our economy trashed, that thousands of people’s lives were being ruined. I was angry at people who were in denial and stubbornly thumbing their noses at the situation, and I was equally angry at the people constantly dwelling on doom and gloom and encouraging everyone to panic. I was angry at every news update that came out.

But all that anger had nowhere to go. How do you get angry at a virus?

It’s been almost two weeks now, and I’m starting to get acquainted with my “new normal”. It’s hard to live with the uncertainty, but I’ve resolved to take life one day at a time and focus on what I can control. My anger has subsided, dutifully rotating with the other 5 stages of Covid grief until it finally petered out. I started a pandemic-specific journal, and it has helped me identify and work through the emotions I feel from having to live through a worldwide crisis that has turned normal life on its head. I started making an effort to get into a new routine and put myself on an information/media diet to preserve my mental health and help me keep moving forward through my days.

And I’d be remiss if I didn’t say that I’m also trying very hard to stay grateful for the good that remains. So far, I’ve personally been really fortunate. I know that things could be a lot worse for us, and I truly am trying to count my blessings.

One of the few “normal life” things to survive all these changes is my running streak. As routine and normal life melted away, I kept running, at least 1 mile every single day. When the coronavirus flew over and dropped bombs all over “life as we know it”, many of us found that the things left standing were not the ones we would have expected – little things, silly things, things we took for granted before. I can’t go to work or meet up with friends or participate in a large event or go out shopping. But I can still run every day. This past Friday I hit the 6 week mark of my running streak. 6 weeks!

Almost literally overnight, running changed from a hobby I try to squeeze into my days hoping it will eventually become better, to something I’m leaning on to help pull me through tough times. Before, it was just a thing I did. Now, it’s a thing I need. Paradoxically, despite these changes, it’s also one of the only things that feels familiar in these tumultuous times. My routine has changed, my work space and my work have changed, the world I live in has changed. But running is still the same. Running is still a safe space where the neverending blitz of bad news can’t reach me, where anger and despair can’t reach me, where (as long as I’m social distancing) the virus itself can’t even reach me. Running is one of the only places that isn’t closed or cancelled, where life is still normal, where I don’t have to feel hopeless. It’s one of the only things in my new life I have control over.

Continuing this run streak isn’t just to make sure I’m getting much needed exercise every day, it’s a small triumph over the havoc this crisis has wreaked. It is one of the only things each day that allows me to feel like I’m moving forward, both literally and metaphorically.

Or, put another way: THE STREAK LIVES, BABY!

One strange thing that happened early on in this process is that I got a sudden strong surge of motivation to get in killer running shape. Literally all the races were being cancelled but instead of disappointment, it felt like a blank slate. All this free time, all this negative energy to burn off, and nothing on the horizon: I took stock of it all and saw what could be the beginning of an opportunity to remake myself as a runner. A psychologist would probably look at this and say something about retreating into something familiar in order to feel in control of something during a turbulent and unpredictable time situation. That’s probably right. But I’d like to believe it’s also a result of this crisis forcing me to reevaluate my attitude toward everything I took for granted now that it’s all been upended. All the things I focused on and considered important every day – did they really matter that much? If not, what does, and how can I start prioritizing those things instead? How do I find joy and strength and peace of mind when coronavirus has robbed us of all that, and so much more? There’s so much we don’t see when we’re drifting through our lives on autopilot, taking advantage of everything around us, and this forced pause has pulled back the curtain so I can see what’s behind the fog of my everyday routine and habits.

Now I feel like I not only have an opportunity to get back into great running shape, but an opportunity to know what it feels like to really want to. Elevating the role of running in my life has opened my eyes to all the gifts it gives me and, more importantly, why those gifts are worth the relatively minor prices that must be paid for them: early mornings, better time management, and the long, long wait to see your hard work yield results.

Recently, I found myself reminiscing about the last time I ran a marathon PR. May 1st, 2016. The Pittsburgh Marathon, and all of its uncompromising hills. It’s hard to believe that was almost 4 years ago now. The seniors who graduated high school that month are now about to graduate college.

Post marathon PR, 2016

Usually my memories of this race are framed a very specific way: I got a PR and bested a tough course, but it was so unbelievably exhausting and I was burnt out for a long time after. A great running moment that may or may not have been worth the high cost.

But in light of everything that’s happened recently, I’m seeing that day from a different, more appreciative angle. On the surface level, I hit a goal and ran a fast time on a hard course. But underneath that, this moment mattered because I leaned in to the experience, and showed myself how strong I really am. I was proud of myself that day because I went to battle with that race course, and I won. The relentless hills and late race fatigue broke me down, but I pushed through, and then I felt the glory and the joy of seeing a hard-won finish line come into view, a finish line I got to just by putting one foot in front of the other and overcoming all the challenges along the way.

Running, and many other hobbies, are gifts that let us milk so much richness out of life – if we let them. Running isn’t the most important thing in life, nor should it be. But it has so much to offer, and I just hope that after this crisis is over I still always remember what a gift it is to run, and that from now on I always cling to the things that really matter, even when they don’t come easy.

So for now, I’m just trying to follow the golden rule of life in a pandemic: take things one day at at time, and focus on the day you’re in. I don’t know when my next race will be. My 2020 goal race, the Lakefront Marathon in October, is still over 6 months away and still on as of now, but I am steeling myself for the possibility that it may become yet another victim of the coronavirus chaos and it could be a whole year before I can race again. Either way, right now I’m taking the time to focus on getting into better running shape. I’ve started adding some fartlek intervals and harder tempo paces to some of my runs, and very gradually increasing my mileage (which isn’t hard to do when you’re only running 1-3 miles per day). The one goal I’m allowing myself to focus on is ending my streak with 312 miles – my favorite number. And of course, just being thankful that I’m healthy enough to run and that coronavirus couldn’t take that away from me.

Happily, that is motivating enough for now.

As for you – if it’s not running then I hope that you, too, have your own safe space where the neverending blitz of bad news can’t reach you, where anger and despair can’t reach you, where life is still normal, and you don’t have to feel hopeless.

Welcome Back

Hey look – I have a blog again!

Okay, so. Wow. It really has been a while. Where do I begin?

I first got the idea to start blogging again a few months ago, in the tail end of 2019, when I was about to start training for a marathon after surviving the chaos of planning and successfully executing a wedding. Looking ahead to a new year and a shiny new decade, I was convinced that this was it, my long-awaited comeback to the glory days of intense training and huge race results that used to give me such swelling pride and confidence.

But first, let’s back up a bit.

Last summer, I successfully completed a 100 day running streak, my biggest running accomplishment in over 3 years. But after that ended in early September, my running gradually petered off, and in the 6 weeks leading up to my late October wedding I didn’t run at all – officially my longest ever running hiatus (how’s that for a follow-up to a 100-day streak?). In November, battling a bout of post-wedding depression amidst the unusually early onset of Wisconsin winter (it snowed on Halloween and we had multiple early November days with temps in the single digits), I gradually started running again. Only about 2-3 times per week, but it got me back in the saddle and by the time I officially started marathon training in December, I was feeling good about things. I was taking it slow and doing all easy miles for 4 weeks, no pressure, and overall I was feeling good and positive about continuing to train through the winter and get back to marathoner status by April.

Then all of a sudden in the new year, it was like a switch flipped inside me, and my old antipathy toward running and training came rushing back out of nowhere. My desire to train, or even to run at all, was suddenly just gone. Poof. Unsurprisingly, I once again reverted to my old habit of enthusiastically committing to some race/training cycle/goal, and pooping out a few weeks in.

But something was different this time. It wasn’t just an internal resistance to the time commitment of training or letting winter weather derail my routine (ironically, we’ve actually had a mild winter this year), and then feeling bad and embarrassed and covering up my shame with mea culpa social media posts explaining away my failure and promising a better “next time”. I truly did not care anymore. My husband would rib me about my lack of running with “you’re doing this [dropping out of training] again, eh?” comments, and my response was to basically just shrug. I even got to the point of wondering if it was time to just quit running altogether – a dark, dark mental place I have never been before, in all my 6.5 years as a runner. (spoiler alert: the answer was, of course, “no”. Phew!)

I believe this episode signals a sea change in my relationship with running. My period of trial separation from the runner I was in 2014-2016 – results-oriented, running all the miles to get all the PRs – has now graduated to an official divorce. And it started with finally looking at my training goals and schedule and daring to admit something I’ve been in denial about for a long time: I don’t actually like this anymore. By “this” I mean training, as opposed to general running. There. I said it. It hit me over the head one wintry day that when you really want to do something, you don’t need to force and cajole yourself to do it every day – you just do it. We make time for the things we really care about, in other words. I’ve spent 3 years making excuses for why I ultimately fail at committing to the things I sign up for: the weather, the wedding, it just wasn’t the right time, the right race, I don’t have the heart or lifestyle of an athlete, Mercury is in retrograde, blah blah blah….but if I’m consistently doing this, isn’t the most logical answer that I just…erm…don’t actually want to do it?

Another factor in all of this was that during January, I made an impromptu decision to go on a 4-week social media break. I was sitting on the bus on my first morning back to work after the holidays, grumpy because I was sitting on a bus on my first morning back to work after the holidays, and I decided I needed some time off from all the distraction and “information noise”, particularly on Instagram, my primary platform. So I deleted the apps from my phone and went dark for the rest of the month. It truly did feel like a mental vacation. Without being bogged down with the rambling minutiae of random people’s lives and the constant Pavlovian craving for hits of attention and easily-digestible information, I was able to check in with myself and start to listen to what my heart and head are trying to tell me on a daily basis. I started to feel a shift in my interests – I wanted to read more, to follow politics more, to cook more, to “lean in” to married adult life more – coupled with a longing for an old version of me that has gotten lost in the tedium of working adult life – the me who longed to create, to learn more, to experience more, to dream big for my life, to want to make more of an impact on the world around me than how fast I can run a marathon. Things that aren’t really compatible with spending most of my free time racking up running mileage and arranging my life around optimizing 8-mile speedwork sessions.

In other words, I’m beginning to see that there is not much place in my life anymore for hard training and that the mileage takes up too many hours of precious time (not to mention mental and physical energy) that I’m not as willing to part with as I was 4 years ago.

All of this begs the big question: what does this mean for my relationship with running, and where does it go from here?

Well, I’m happy to report that since those dark January days of contemplating retiring my running shoes for good, I’m back on the upswing. To get out of my rut, I made the wise decision to go back to what works: I’m run-streaking again! This month I started another running streak, which will have me watching the seasons change from winter to spring as I run 100 days straight from February 8 through Sunday, May 17 (there’s nothing special about these dates, they were picked at random when I made the impromptu decision, on February 8, to go streaking again).

Last summer’s run streak was the only big running goal I’ve been successful at in the past few years, so there’s an obvious logical reason to do it – when you have a winning formula, you stick with it. Emotionally, my run streak was a time when I felt positive about running and about myself, and I want those feelings back. I didn’t enjoy it every hot humid day of summer, but I felt proud of myself for sticking with it and I liked the routine of carving out time – even just a small amount of it – for running every day. Finally, it’s a course correction of sorts: I get more intolerant of winter with each passing year and my motivation to run (along with my mileage) takes a nosedive during this time. I’d like to not have that happen this year. I may not emerge super fit or fast this spring, but at least I can say, I never stopped running.

That marathon I mentioned training for in April, is now officially a half marathon. When I started waffling on my training in January, there was still plenty of time to get in the mileage to be marathon-ready by mid-April, if I wanted to. But, there it is again: if I wanted to. So, that was that. Instead of dropping all the way down to 5K or forfeiting yet another registration fee altogether, I decided that I do still want to run a half marathon. I haven’t run one since 2018. I’m 7 weeks out and I just did a long run of 8 miles, so I’m confident that if I remain disciplined enough to do a long run each weekend, I will be ready to run 13.1 miles by race day. It will probably be a slow (for me, or at least, 2016 me) finish time, but it’s important to me to do this. For all my antipathy toward structured training, I do still really enjoy road races. Races are a big part of what makes running joyful for me, and I want to be able to be fit enough to participate in them, which for me means having enough endurance to get to the finish line without imploding (been there).

I am (gulp) signed up for the local Lakefront Marathon this fall. Yup, you read that right – marathon, without the word “half” in front of it. I know what you’re thinking: what?! I just made it through 1,000+ words about you not wanting to train anymore only to hear that you’re running a damn marathon?! Have you lost your mind, lady?! Probably, yes. Given my history with marathon attempts, yes of course I’m a little nervous about how this is going to go. But as of now, I’m committed to doing it. I will have no time goal for this race. Just like with my upcoming half, I’m training solely for the endurance – and pride – of being able to finish strong. My hope is that completing my run streak a couple weeks before training starts will make the transition smoother. I’m also hoping to join up with a local running group this summer for some company – and accountability – to get those weekend long runs done. My hope for this entire process is that, like the run streaks, it shows me new ways to find joy in this sport. Training officially starts June 1. But it’s February, so, more on all this later.

All this is a long, winding way of arriving at this central point: my relationship with running has fully pivoted from running = training for race goals, to running = a way to stay active and getting outside and something I just enjoy doing for its own sake. I started this blog to chronicle that new journey, and where a running blog used to be a stream of training and race recaps, it will now be, I guess, reflections on how running and life intersect, with a few race recaps. I kinda suck at social media and don’t particularly care for it, so I’m blogging instead. I refuse to believe this medium is dead!

Whew. That was a lot. But now that we’re all caught up, I hope you will stick around. I can’t guarantee I’ll write super frequently, but I can promise that not all of my posts will be this long.

Happy running!