52 Weeks

Back in March I was supposed to run three half marathons, I referred to it as March Madness.  I signed up for two and then gained entry by way of lottery into the third.  I ran the first race in upstate New York and even had a PR (that I’ve beaten since).  That was the last mass start event to go off before everything shut down due to COVID-19.  

The following week the race that I was supposed to run was cancelled.  I got together with a few new friends to run at the hilly college campus.  I was well accustomed to running hills at that point.  I didn’t intend on running a half marathon that day but I already had over 12 miles by the time I was making my way back to the car so I decided to run a half marathon.  The week after that I thought why not just run another half marathon.  

All of the events I was signed up for were cancelled.  The college campus closed their gates to the public to aid with COVID-19.  I had already decided to run half marathons on Sundays. Although running in parks offered the security of shelter from cars there was more of a risk in contracting the virus.  I decided that I had less of a chance of getting hit by a car on the road than I did of contracting COVID-19 in the park.  Because of that decision, I was never alone.  It was a regular occurrence that I saw my bike friends at my regular running spot.  I had been riding and running alone so Sunday was the only time that I was interacting with the people and groups that I used to ride with.

After more time passed, I became invested in running a half marathon every week.  I had decided on a goal of 52 weeks.  I was out there in all kinds of weather.  In the beginning every Sunday morning was cool, ideal for running.  As the months passed the weather got warmer and Spring offered slightly warmer weather that was still ideal for running. In the summer I ran early in the morning to beat the heat but it was still very warm and difficult to run in. I prayed for a cool rain shower or a sprinkler to run through. The fall was my favorite. All the heart rate training over the previous months had me in prime running shape. That’s when I had the PR and nearly hit my goal of a sub 2 hour half marathon at my tempo heart rate. Thats when I got sick with lectin poisoning and I was back to square one. Winter came and I ran in the freezing cold. It was hard because the poisoning robbed me of a lot of running fitness but I managed. The hardest thing about running in the cold weather were my cold, stiff hands.

There were times that I was hurting so bad that I nearly ordered an Uber or asked my husband to come get me. I decided that there would be no dignity in that so I found the strength to go on. On very hot days I contemplated ending my challenge. I asked myself “What would Scott Jurek do?”. Scott Jurek would go on and complete what he set out to do and that’s what I did. There were days that it was so humid that I could barely breathe but I made it through. There were times that I thought I’d pass out but I never did. Then there was that one day that I thought I’d beat the rain but got caught in the snow. My eyelids were frozen and my eyes were blurry but I somehow made it to the end of my run. In fact, during the last couple months of this challenge, I had doubts of being able to finish because of the snow and icy weather.

There were times that it was almost effortless. I’d glide up and down those hills. I’d take in the world around me and smile the whole run through. There were times that I wished I had added more miles. I felt amazing and could’ve run around the world. I was extra jubilant when I saw my friends. I took extra notice of everything around me and payed attention to the beautiful mansions and properties that I passed. I took in the aroma of the flowers and just kind of got lost in those moments.

Having this goal during this crazy time of uncertainty got me through. Some Saturday evenings when I thought about having a few drinks, I had this as the reason not to. Some Saturdays when I thought about spending the entire day on my bike, I had this to save my legs for. When I thought about taking a risk on a gathering, I had this as the reason not to risk my health. That, and wanting to see the people I care about the most.

Sunday half marathon gave me a deeper understanding of commitment. It has shown me who I really am. It has shown me what both my body and my mind are capable of. I now know that I’m no quitter. I know that I can follow through on the things that are important to me. I have learned more about myself in this past year than I have in the past seven years. People have told me that I have the strength to persevere but it was something I needed to see for myself. For the first time in my life I know for a fact that I am a badass!

There was no better feeling than approaching a finish line banner that was a year in the making. I was filled with pride and overcome with emotion. I feel a huge sense of accomplishment and have a new feeling of calm. Thank you to the special people that chose to share that moment with me. Thank you to everyone that encouraged and supported me through all of this. Thank you to everyone who believed in me. Thank you to everyone who wouldn’t let me give up when I was on the verge of abandoning what I was setting out to do. No goal is insurmountable. Believe in yourself and embrace your own journey no matter where it may lead.