The last time I posted as about my alcohol free journey – I was 60 days alcohol free at that moment, as I write to you today I am 94 days alcohol free. A) I’m pretty freakin’ proud of this accomplishment and B) I’m pretty freakin’ bummed that I haven’t written anything in a month. That changes today as I share with you about my experience with this COVID-19 situation.
I will admit that when I first started hearing about the virus, I was one of those people who said, “Really? It’s not that deadly. Influenza A and B (or whatever) is more deadly and it’s worse right now!” I wasn’t necessarily WRONG, but I was ignorant as many people were to a few things. The most impacting of which being how quickly it could, and would, spread. It may not be as deadly as some other things, but it is spreading and killing faster than a lot of things. Once you know better, do better, right?
March 11th started off as a great day. There was buzz in the area about the virus, but mostly I was happily celebrating two of my favorite things: being a registered dietitian nutritionist (it was RDN day) and being an “excitable one” (it was 311 day and 311 is my favorite band). I got in a great tempo run in the morning, had a good day at work, changed into a comfy 311 shirt and walked over to my friend’s house for euchre night. We enjoyed a yummy meal she made for us and laughed as usual. But there was a weird tension in the air. We all admitted we felt a little bit off. We had heard that there were talks of a local race being canceled. All day I was getting updates about other races being canceled.
And then it happened. A local news station posted an article announcing the cancellation of the BARC St. Patrick’s Day races. I think all or most of us at euchre that night were participating in some way. I was supposed to be working as race staff for it. It was disappointing, but to me expected, and also the right decision. A lot of people disagreed (not necessarily my friends but others signed up to race) because I’m sure just like me they were thinking this isn’t that big of a deal and we are being overly cautious. These cancelations aren’t necessary.
The next thing I knew I was getting a text from my husband. The NBA season had been canceled. For many people, this was a disappointment, but not a huge deal. For us, it meant possibly losing half of our income for the foreseeable future. And at that time, no hope of getting unemployment, or at least not much, since a good chunk – probably half or more – of my husband’s income each year is 1099 work. I went from “Okay, I get it, there’s always next year for St. Pat’s,” to “Oh my God. What’s going to happen to us?”
The rest of that week and the week after were difficult. Race after race, event after event were getting cancelled. We are still uncertain when the concert season will be begin, or if it even will, and how that will affect us. My running friends and I have struggled with what to do – if the races we signed up for were canceled and we got a virtual option, should we do it? If they were postponed, could we do the race on the rescheduled date?
Fortunately for me I had not signed up yet for the race I was training for. But when it got canceled, I wondered, what should I do now? Should I keep going with my training and run the “race” that day… it was still quite a ways out, the beginning of May, and this was still March. I ended up deciding to keep training but back off on the long runs, just slowly building my distance until I would start my marathon training in June.
Things are still changing day in and day out with this virus and what our lives look like, but the one thing I have kept constant is my training. I am being easy on myself – if I am tired I will back off on the intensity or the length of my workout. I started a workout challenge with my best friend Paula for the month of April that is not only keeping us motivated but keeping us connected. I have felt pretty good about my decision, but still a little concerned about whether or not I’ll do ANY races this year.
As my followers know, the marathon is my favorite challenge. While I like the half marathon distance best because it doesn’t require as much time commitment for training while still being a challenging distance, I always find myself thinking about my next 26.2. My plan for 2020 was to run the Grand Rapids marathon with Paula. Her redemption race. We wanted to run a good marathon together. The plan was to train for the Riverbank Run 25k and see how we were feeling to decide for sure whether Paula wanted to tackle another marathon and whether I wanted to aim for a huge time PR in the marathon. That race was the one that was canceled and has me re-thinking my plan for a 2020 marathon.
My favorite race, hands down, is the Detroit Free Press International Marathon. The Crim is a very close second. But reflecting during this time I have realized just how much I love Detroit. Maybe I am biased because it was my first marathon, I don’t know, but it is a race that I keep coming back to. I hope that it will still go on this year… because my hope is for Detroit to be my 2020 marathon.
So you’re with me, right? My big race I was training for got canceled. I decided instead of continuing to train for it and run 25k the day the race would have been on my own, to re-vamp my training and just maintain until starting marathon training in June. I changed my plans of running Grand Rapids to running Detroit (the races are held on the same day).
Until this weekend. I saw my neighbor doing something called a backyard ultra. Over 2000 runners from all around the world started running 4.17-ish miles every hour on the hour until they decided to stop. My neighbor’s loop went by my house, so I stepped outside three times on the hour yesterday and cheered for him. It inspired me so much that I threw the idea out to my friends that I’d like to do a backyard ultra.
I’ve always been the type to think, if you don’t race it, it doesn’t count. This pandemic has changed that mindset of mine. I see people crushing PRs in distances by themselves. I see people doing things they have never done before, like run an ultra marathon on the streets they live on. It is inspiring. It is incredible.
I went down the slippery slope with my friends… from suggesting I do a backyard ultra, to a friend saying she would do it with me, to deciding this would be a 32 mile run done on my 32nd birthday, to realizing my birthday is on a Wednesday so we better do it the weekend after, to my friend suggesting we do loops from my house and have a party going on at the house with food and drinks and a campfire, to me posting this stupid idea on Facebook for everyone to see, to me re-vamping my training plan once again and realizing I can probably really do this…
So followers, today is day 1 of training for an ultra marathon for me.
I’m not just doing a 50k, I’m doing a 51.5k (32 miles) on August 1, 2020 in honor of still being here after 32 years and a global pandemic. It will be a backyard party with my friends and family. Friends are offering to cook, cheer, run with me and bike with me. At least one person has offered to run all 32 miles with me. The plan is to do it later in the day so it ends with a big night time party, but that may change considering the time of year and how hot it might be. I went from “I’ll just run and train because what else am I going to do?” to “Remember how I said I wanted to do a 50k some day and was even considering signing up for one in 2020? Guess I’m doing that in my own backyard!”
I’ll try to keep you all updated as this crazy idea of mine develops… and I’ll try to write more often about other things, too. I hope you are all staying healthy and safe.