2020 2nd Quarter Fitness Summary + Race News

The second quarter of 2020 turned into a workout dominated one courtesy of track season being cancelled and a stay at home order that didn’t end in my state until early June.  Thanks Covid.

I worked out every single day in April.  I didn’t intend to do a workout streak, but as the month progressed and I realized I hadn’t taken any days off I figured I might as well finish out the month.  The majority of my workouts were through DailyBurn’s Live to Fail program.  I was completing shoulder/abs, chest/back, legs and upper body workouts.  My posture began improving and my skinny collar bone area stopped looking as bony.  With all the focus on strength workouts I only ran 9 days in April for a total of 46.25 miles.

The workout streak continued through the month of May as well.  With limited things to do beyond going to the grocery store and binging TV shows and movies, working out became my main hobby.  I continued with the Live to Fail program, but by the end of the month was growing a bit tired of being so dedicated to it and began mixing in other strength workouts.  I ran 11 days in May and started logging some longer runs after sticking to mostly 4-5 mile ones in April.  I ran 56.75 miles.

In June I finally broke the workout streak.  I took my first day off on June 6th and took 4 more days off that month as well.  I ran 10 days for a total of 53.95 miles.  That included a very unique pacing experience in Delaware.

I became motivated to run more consistently the end of June when I found the opportunity to race again.  I recapped the Shoe House 5 miler last week.  The race made me want to train and race again so I began looking for half marathon options.  The Gettysburg Blue-Gray half was moved from the spring to the fall and I really wanted to consider that, but not knowing what may happen with Covid-19 by October made me hesitant to sign up.  Fortunately I found the Hellbender Half Marathon and thanks to Laurie at Meditations in Motion running it in the past, I was able to re-read her recap of it and decided it would be a good fit for Jason’s first half and my fourth.  Normally Mr. Indecisive, Jason quickly agreed to signing up so we are officially registered to run it the end of August!

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Shoe House 5 Miler

As Covid-19 cases began to spread across the United States earlier this year race directors began to cancel and postpone races or turn them into virtual ones.  Many runners began to wonder when they would ever race in person again.  Yesterday thanks to the wonderful people at US Road Running I was able to run a fun, safe, 5 mile race with Jason and Armand.

I’ll start by going over the safety measures taken for the race for those who may be curious.  Registration didn’t open until June 22nd and was capped at 240 runners (all counties in Pennsylvania are now in the “green phase” which allows for gatherings up to 250 people) with no race day registration.  I think the event ended up with 197 total runners.  Masks were worn at packet pickup and were to be worn before or after the race unless social distancing was observed.  There were waiting spots at the pickup table and portapotties (that contained hand sanitizer) placed 6 ft apart.  Runners were instructed not to line up more than 2 minutes before 7am to avoid a crowd at the start line.  The water station at the turn around consisted of a table with individual 8 oz bottles of water for runners to grab, and the finish line area had full bottles of water to grab to avoid anyone needing to hand them out to runners.  There was no TV monitor with results to eliminate crowds after the race, and participant medals were included in the bags at packet pickup.  A link to online results was provided in the goodie bag.

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Pre-race selfie – A rarity for Jason but given our patriotic attire I insisted

Jason, Armand and I had no time goals going into the race as none of us had been training at any fast paces lately, and the temperature was going to rise quickly.  We followed protocols for packet pickup and avoided getting too close to anyone during our warmup.  When we lined up at the start it seemed most people kept more space than usual at the start of a race even as the director counted down from 5.

The race began on a slight uphill grade and utilized part of the Springettsbury 10k course.  I became a bit emotional a few steps into the race, tears nearly forming in my eyes, as I was just so happy to be running a race again and feeling the energy of the other runners.  I kept Jason in my sight for at least the first mile, hoping he stuck to the plan of not going out too hard as we didn’t know how much shade to expect along the course.

I clocked an 8:05 first mile which surprised me as my pace lately had been in the 9:30 – 10 min range due to the heat.  The course wound through a development before picking back up on a road that went past Scott’s house.  He, dad and Todd were in the driveway cheering for the runners.  I yelled to Scott that running in Delaware the previous Friday had prepared me for that day’s heat.  My dad had hernia surgery almost two weeks prior to the race, and Todd had been sticking to primarily flat routes due to some heel pain which is why they weren’t running.

Runners began returning on the opposite side of the road and the blazing speed of the leading guys amazed me.  While there had been some shade in the development, the portion of the course they were returning on had none.  I approached the entrance to the Shoe House, a tourist attraction that I have never been inside despite living in the area the majority of my life, and circled around it grabbing a water bottle from the table in the process.

I kept the water in my hand until I passed the guys in the driveway again and tossed mine to dad to be thrown away, only a few sips taken from it.  While I realized the need to operate the water station in that manner, the environmentalist in me wasn’t a huge fan of the extra plastic.  I glanced at my mile splits, the 3rd one being an 8:06, but still wasn’t concerned about my overall time and was more focused on running by feel.  A volunteer on a bike called out that I was the 10th overall woman which provided some encouragement, and only one other woman passed me before the finish.

Running back through the development was nice as it provided some shade again.  I pushed the small hill exiting the development, my legs feeling fine but the heat starting to take its toll on my cardiovascular system.  During the last mile I tried to hold a steady pace.  I had forgot there would be one final hill as I was thinking about the finish to the Springettsbury course which deviates into another development.  That last hill felt a bit long, but with .2 miles to go once I descended down the other side I knew I could make it to the finish with a slightly faster stride.

The chipped bibs must’ve allowed for the timers to see a runner’s name and time as soon as they crossed the line because someone was calling them out.  I’ve never had that done in a race, but I felt it added a nice touch given there would be no post race festivities or awards ceremony.  I found Jason, shared his water bottle, and cheered for Armand as he came to the finish line.  We kept away from other runners as we stretched and discussed the race.

When we got home I pulled up the results to find that I had ran a 40:33 and Jason had ran a 38:01.  I was 4th in my age group and he was 6th in his.  Despite having no goals for the race we were a tad bummed we didn’t place in our age groups though mine contained names I didn’t recognize from local races and his is always a tough age group.  I’m sure a lot of people outside of the area came to race since it’s been the only local race held so far this spring or summer.

Todd texted me later to ask my thoughts on the race and if I felt safe.  I said I thought it was very well done and hoped it would set a standard for other races so that we can have more this year.  The only time I felt mildly concerned was during the race when an older guy was running near me.  He was a heavy breather and coughed and spit a few times.  I felt that he should’ve been trying to stay farther away from other runners and was glad I wasn’t near him very long.

Jason questioned me later if we should’ve risked illness by running the race.  My response was that I felt safer running that race than I had visiting a small local natural foods store the previous weekend.  It had changed its sign from “masks required” to “masks optional” and had very few people, workers included, wearing masks like we were.  It’s a very challenging time to know how safe something is or isn’t, and trying to balance being safe while still trying to enjoy life.  I’m very grateful that the Shoe House 5 miler was able to be held in a safe and fun way.

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Pacing in Delaware

When you have a planned vacation day on a Friday and Scott, your ultramarathon running buddy, has devised a 130 mile route to run through the entire state of Delaware what do you do?  Volunteer yourself and your husband to be pacers for part of it of course!

Note – Scott has ran several ultramarathons including Western States.  He is working towards a goal of running a 100 miler in every state.  Some states, like Delaware, do not have official races, so he has to create his own route and wear a special tracker while he runs to make the run official.

Originally Jason and I were going to get a hotel in northern Ocean City and run in the evening/overnight with Scott so that Jason could run at night.  After seeing hotel rates rising and reviewing Scott’s pace chart and route (I had hoped to run in Cape Henlopen or the beach town sections) we decided instead to get up Friday morning and head to Delaware, run and come back home.  We ended up waking up before 5am Friday morning so I texted Scott and Brian, his crewman for the run, that we would be able to meet them at their starting point in White Clay Creek Preserve.

We had an uneventful drive to Delaware.  Jason drove as I planned to run first.  Scott’s route map had all of his aid stations laid out with GPS coordinates that were spot on.  We entered the preserve and followed a narrow road until “Destination on your left” was announced and boom, there was a small pulloff that fit two cars.  Upon arriving we realized that when Scott said he changed the first 3 miles to be trail running he meant legit trail running not rail trail, and the overgrowth near our parking area had me a bit nervous.  So our game plan changed again with Jason deciding to run first as he is a much better trail runner than me and enjoys it a lot more.

Scott and Brian arrived about 20 minutes after we did.  The car’s trunk was loaded up with everything from water to bug spray to Oreos.  Jason and Scott warmed up and Scott geared up.  The starting spot was the Arc monument which sits on the Maryland/Delaware border.  Fortunately this was not in an overgrown area.  Scott synced his tracker and he and Jason set off into the woods.

Scott had told us he wanted to run no faster than 5 miles per hour.  That meant Brian and I had plenty of bonding time in a Wawa parking lot, the first aid station about 5.5 miles into the run.  The guys came rolling in slightly ahead of pace.  Brian had already filled up new water containers to swap out in Scott’s belt, and Scott grabbed some Oreos while Jason ate part of a honey stinger waffle and grabbed his handheld water and sunglasses.  They set off once more.

Brian and I hung out a bit longer as he had to get ice so I watched his dog in the car’s backseat while I ate a PBJ.  The trickiest part of me running second was trying to figure out how much to eat before running as I had my usual breakfast, but the car ride was about 1.5 hours and another hour had passed since our arrival.  I was also trying to keep hydrated without creating a need to pee once we left Wawa though I did pack a roll of toilet paper just in case.

The next aid station was farther down the road in a church parking lot.  I passed Jason and Scott running down a sidewalk on my way there.  Stomach slightly growling I downed a few handfuls of popcorn when I arrived.  I was beginning my warmup when I saw Scott and Jason approaching.  Brian had a PBJ ready to go for Scott, and Jason ran around the parking lot to finish off an even 12 miles as they had logged 11.7 together.  Once Scott was refueled he and I set off down the road, the time around 11:30am.

If you’ve never traveled in Delaware the biggest thing to know as a runner is it’s a relatively flat state.  I’m sure this is very appealing to some runners, but for a hill lover like myself I knew the flatness could prove as challenging as the heat.  Fortunately chatting with Scott kept me distracted enough to not notice it too much.  There were some intersections we had to cross, but for the most part we were just running along an ok sized shoulder of the road.  We had a tricky spot where we had to cross the road to a sidewalk in the middle of the road and we walked part of that.  At that point Scott checked his map and we continued down the road.

We headed down a slight grade and passed an oil refinery while running a comfortable pace.  Then Scott began to question himself and we came to a stop.  He checked his map again to realize we missed a turn and had come about 1.5 miles down the wrong road.  He apologized profusely despite me telling him that it was ok, and that I was more concerned for him knowing how many more miles he had ahead of him.  We got back to the big intersection and turned onto the correct road.

Scott’s route only had 2 major climbs in it, and I had the privilege of completing one of them.  It was a bike path along the Delaware Memorial Bridge.  The climb was about a half mile and while my legs enjoyed the change up from the constant flat route, the heat was beginning to take its toll on me.  There had been no shade, and while I carried both water and vitamin water, I had also banked on having an aid station about 5-6 miles in.  We stopped at the top of the bridge and admired the view of the canal below before descending down the other side.

I let Scott know I likely wouldn’t be able to run another section with him after the aid station even though that was my original plan.  He understood and I’m sure it became more apparent to him how much the heat was getting to me as I began to lag a bit behind him.  We crossed under the bridge and had a slight grass hill to climb to another road.  I could see Brian and Jason parked to the side of the road in the distance and tried to pick up my pace, but it seemed to just slow.  I stopped my watch at 8.7 miles ran in 1:30:46.

Scott and Brian thanked us both for joining in on the adventure and I apologized again for not being able to run another section.  Adding 5.5 miles onto what I already ran just seemed impossible and I didn’t want to risk slowing Scott down.  We wished them luck and promised to text to keep Brian occupied.

I planned to drive back home, but upon hearing my slight speaking issue with coherent thoughts Jason agreed to drive.  I downed the remaining fluids we had packed, and we stopped at a Wawa for 2 more liter sized bottles of water.  We arrived home and promptly showered, ate lunch and took a nap.  I don’t think I peed until after I woke up, another indication that I made the right choice in not trying to run any farther in the heat.  Fortunately Jason fared better having ran in some shade and earlier in the day, and I was glad we changed things for him to run first.

Scott had emailed us a link to his tracker so I spent the remainder of the evening and the next day spot checking him and texting Brian.  The heat was starting to slow him down by Friday afternoon, but clouds finally made it overcast and he was able to take in more fluids.  Our running buddy, Todd, had driven down after work and ran 16 miles with him into the evening.  Another local runner met him in the early hours Saturday morning and ran the remainder with him.

Scott’s route finished just outside of Ocean City, MD, just shy of 130 miles.  He had ran all night with no sleep breaks, and finished around 7pm Saturday evening.  His official tracker time was 34 hours, 56 minutes, which worked out to between a 16 and 17 min per mile pace that included the time spent at the aid stations.

I have always thought what Scott did as an ultrarunner was crazy and impressive.  Now that I have been part of it I am even more amazed.  Everything from the logistical planning of the course and all its aid stations/GPS coordinates (there was a lot of Google mapping on his end) to figuring out how to properly fuel for such a long run to being able to mentally conquer the distance and the elements is stunning to me.  I truly admire him and what he is able to do as a runner.  I would certainly sign on to help pace him again in the future though I’m sure his next 100 miler is the farthest thing from his mind right now!

Do you know any ultrarunners or are you one yourself?  Do you have interest in ultrarunning?

 

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Summer Senses

Saturday brought about the first day of summer.  While a lot of my summer plans are still pending cancellation thanks to Covid-19 (fingers crossed my flight to Chicago in August isn’t one of them) there is still a lot to enjoy during this time of year.  I’m going to break down what reminds me of summer by the five senses; simple joys that make summer days seem endless.

Summer sounds like…

-Firecrackers being shot off even if it’s not the 4th of July

-The jingle of the ice cream man’s truck that seems to fly down my street so that I can never grab my wallet and chase him down in time (he must know no kids live at my end of the block)

-The crashing of waves on the beach

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My favorite place

Summer smells like…

-Smoke from a bonfire or grill

-Fresh cut grass

-Salty ocean air

Fire Pit

Summer looks like…

-Early morning sunrises and late evening sunsets

-Fireflies blinking

-A flower garden in full bloom

Flowers

 

Summer feels like…

-Grass or sand between my toes

-Refreshing rain on a hot run

-Gentle breezes blowing while swinging in the hammock

red and black plaid blanket on hammock

Photo by Elina Sazonova on Pexels.com

Summer tastes like…

-Homemade strawberry shortcake (recipe here)

-Watermelon

-Sweet corn on the cob

bright close up corn delicious

Photo by mali maeder on Pexels.com

What simple pleasures remind you of summer?

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Workout Streak Broken

I recently wrote about a workout streak that began courtesy of the Covid-19 pandemic.  I’m now writing to say that it has ended.

I worked out everyday from March 28, 2020 through June 5, 2020.  That came out to a workout everyday for 70 days.  The workouts included running, mobility/yoga and a lot of strength training through DailyBurn‘s Live to Fail program.

On June 6th I had plans to go to my aunt’s house to swim.  I had time in the morning to workout, but I had no motivation.  Part of me felt compelled to workout to keep the streak going, but another part felt burned out.  I didn’t want to workout just for the sake of not breaking the streak.  While there are days that I workout when I don’t feel like it, the majority of days I do want to work out.  The fact that I didn’t need to workout convinced me it was ok to break the streak.  It seemed better to break it out of choice rather than be forced to break it due to being sick, too busy, etc.

Completing a streak got me thinking about habits.  I believe there’s some saying or statistic out there that claims you need to do something everyday for 30 days to make it a habit.  It seems like this would apply to things that you can eventually do without thinking – flossing everyday, having tea or water instead of coffee for breakfast, reading before bed, etc.

If I define a habit as something you routinely do without thinking, then even after 70 days of exercise I don’t think I can call exercise a habit.  Exercise requires planning which requires thought.  You need to decide what type of exercise to do, for how long, where you are doing it, if you need any equipment, etc.

Running is an exercise that can require less thought particularly if someone tends to run the same route or same distance.  A habit of laying out running clothes and shoes the night before can limit the amount of thought needed as well.  I think this may be why running streaks only require 1 mile a day to count.  If you know what route you’re doing for 1 mile and run the same time everyday then there’s not much thought required.

This makes me think a running streak would be easier than a workout streak and could become a habit much easier.  I can’t say for certain though as I’ve never ran for more than 6 days straight, and that was during high school cross country season.  Nowadays I rarely run back to back days though occasionally I’ll run 3 days in a row.  I prefer variety to my runs and workouts and don’t foresee myself doing streaks of either kind in the near future.  Rather than call my running/workouts a habit, I prefer to call them a hobby or part of my lifestyle.

How do you definite habit?  Do you think of your running or workouts as a habit or a hobby?

 

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Random Thoughts

Life continues to be a balancing act between keeping in the know with current events, most notably the Covid 19 pandemic and the protests that have followed the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police office, and enjoying as much of life as is possible.  Needless to say it can create a lot of thoughts overloading my brain, so it’s time for another random thoughts posts.

-My county in Pennsylvania is moving to the “green phase” next Friday which means all businesses will be open including hair salons, gyms, movie theaters and bars although most will operate at reduced capacity.  Groups of up to 250 people will be allowed.  The race director of the Shoe House 5 miler has announced the race will be held as scheduled on July 4th with registration to open on June 22nd and be capped at 240 runners.  Jason and I are hoping to be able to race as it’s the first event in the area we’ve come across that hasn’t been cancelled or turned into a virtual race.

-As excited as I am at the idea of racing again, part of me still remains slightly fearful of Covid 19.  I recently read about people who have been experiencing symptoms for months, too mild to need to go to the hospital or too severe to function normally for more than a day or two at a time.  Many are around my age and were healthy.  I’m not a person to live in fear and feel like life’s too short not to do things you enjoy, but the idea of ending up like some of those people is definitely concerning.

-I am also worried that my employer, a healthcare organization, will mandate that all employees get a vaccine if/when one is found because we’re required to get an annual flu shot even if we don’t interact with patients (which I don’t).  I’m not anti vaccines, but I’m not keen on the idea of getting one that is brand new and hope it’s optional.

-The number of Imgur videos Jason has shown me of retail workers being harassed by people who don’t want to wear masks is ridiculous.  I worked several retail jobs over the years and feel so bad for those people.  Bad customers are tough enough and now it’s being compounded by even worse customers.

-Speaking of Imgur videos the ones I’ve seen of cops harming peaceful protestors disgusts and saddens me.  I watched a video of an old man in Salt Lake City standing along a sidewalk get shoved to the ground by a cop for no apparent reason and fall down.  I cried when I saw it.  This was before the incident of two Buffalo officers who shoved a 75 year old man, and I only wish that Salt Lake City cop had been caught as well.

-I support the peaceful protestors.  While I worry about possible spread of Covid, I recognize that this is needed right now to make changes in our country.  I am using the energy generated by the tragic death of George Floyd to better educate myself.  I have always known racism is an ongoing issue in the country, but feel like I am just scratching the surface in understanding the deep seeded causes of it including the need for prison reform.  If anyone has any book recommendations regarding these issues please feel free to comment below.

-I’m at a loss with knowing what to do with my personal trainer certification.  I had intended to explore part time job options once track season ended either at a gym or with a recreation center.  Even with gyms reopening soon I don’t know that I want to spend the majority of a job cleaning.  NASM did provide all trainers with a free course about virtual personal training, but I have yet to find the time/motivation to take it.

-I will end on a good note and say that despite having a lot of emotions lately, I am still enjoying running, taking more walks, reading and watching the Marvel movies.  Yesterday I went swimming for the first time this summer at my aunt’s house with my sister, brother in law and nephew.  Fun times like that are a nice mental break from the emotions.

Are you emotions varied with the current events?  What are you doing to balance news overload and everyday life?

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Hot Weather Hating

For many years I was a warm weather runner.  I wrapped up my outdoor training by Thanksgiving and didn’t resume it until spring.  Sometimes I would make an exception and run on warmer than usual winter days.  In 2017 I began running year round when I signed up for the York Winter Series.  After running that for three years I can say that I am an all weather runner and tolerate cold weather running a lot better than I did in the past.

This past week I discovered that acclimating to summer weather running is challenging when the beginning of May is on the cooler side and jumps to temperatures in the mid 80s during the last week.

Tuesday Jason and I waited until after he finished work at 5:30pm to go running.  We figured the heat and humidity would be better at that hour than running over his lunch.  We weren’t too far down the alley when we realized it was still incredibly hot and humid, and immediately decided not to care what our pace was.  Our planned route was 5 miles with some hills, but nothing too extreme.  About halfway through the run I began to feel beat.  My whole head felt hot, and I was breathing heavy on hills that normally don’t cause me to bat an eye.

I asked Jason if he was sure he wanted to go 5 miles as we approached a point where we could head back home or continue into a neighborhood loop.  He wanted to go 5 so we climbed a hill to the circle, and I told him to take the longer, gradual hill instead of the shorter, steep one.  I thought this would be easier, but I was struggling a lot.  Again I asked if he was sure he wanted to go 5 miles and I think it registered with him that maybe I couldn’t make the 5 but didn’t want to admit it, so he said we could head back home.  I was relieved to not have to enter the next neighborhood circle and climb another hill.

I did have a final hill to climb before we could turn back towards home, and I fought to not walk on it.  We were close enough to 5 miles by the time we reached our street that we ended up running up and down it a few times to get the full 5 logged.  I had been looking forward to a berry flavored Propel post run only to get inside the house, open the fridge and realize I had forgotten to put it in earlier that day.  I had genuinely thought I drank enough water throughout the day to manage the heat, but either I hadn’t or my body was still in the process of acclimating.

Thursday evening I met some members of the York Road Runners Club for a group run (our county is in the Covid-19 yellow phase of reopening which means groups of up to 25 are allowed and our group only had 17 people).  Our route began in the city and ran the northern part of the York Rail Trail.  The run began a little after 6pm and the temperature didn’t feel as hot as Tuesday night had.  Unfortunately I think there was more humidity.

I debated turning around at 2.5 miles but wanted to continue towards the wooded part of the trail, my favorite part, so I turned around at 3 miles instead.  I had felt decent the whole run despite having to drop back from Scott after the first mile since his pace was too fast for me.  I met up with Armand on my way back and he joined me, but eventually dropped back to walk.  I think the weather had affected him.  I was about a half mile past a trail head with the porta potty when the humidity turned my stomach.  It seemed pointless to turn back, so I slowed to a shuffle and willed myself to make it to the 5 mile mark.  I was grateful to be running solo as more than once I considered trying to find a spot off the trail to do my business (something I’ve never done), but feared either being spotted by someone on the trail, touching poison (a few small patches on my legs just cleared up) or having a larger mess than I was prepared to handle.

I was nearly walking when I reached 5 miles and spent the final mile walking.  I tried to keep a decent pace as I had to get back home in time for an online training.  I knew better than to even attempt running again; one extra jostle the right way and I would’ve had an embarrassing situation.  When I reached the parking lot near the baseball stadium I completed the shortest stretch session ever, said my goodbyes and got home in the nick of time to use my bathroom.

Humidity is often an enemy of my stomach on my runs.  It was a struggle years ago during my summer cross country practices.  It’s one of the reasons I rarely use air conditioning except to sleep at night and instead rely on fans.  I find it helps me adjust better when I leave the house to run if I haven’t been in cold temperatures all day.  Normally I can acclimate well enough to not have too many issues, but last week certainly posed a challenge.

Fortunately today provided perfect weather conditions as Jason and I joined my dad, Todd and Armand for the “Great 8” (a high school cross country run that actually is about 8.5 miles).  The temperature was in the low 60s when we started and I felt no humidity.  Given how challenging the route was with lots of good sized hills, I don’t think I would’ve attempted it without good weather.  My stomach was fine the entire run and after it, and being able to run so strong for that many miles was a confidence boost that eliminated the frustration of the two previous runs.  Having a cold berry Propel post run was a nice reward.

Does running in the heat cause distress for your body particularly your stomach?

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Memorial Day Memories

The Covid 19 craziness has made me go through bouts of nostalgia.  It might be due to spells of feeling as if time is standing still.  With future events being cancelled (I received an email last week that the Nickelback concert in Hershey in July is now on that list) and halfheartedly hoping for future ones (Chicago and Ocean City trips) it seems natural to want to look back on the past.

For someone with an impeccable emotional memory I can’t actually recall what year my parents started hosting an annual Memorial Day cookout and bonfire.  It might’ve been in 2011, but I can’t be certain.  I do know Memorial Day weekend of that year is when I met Jason in person, on May 28th to be exact.

I love hearing how people met their significant others and telling the story of how I met mine even if he finds it embarrassing.  In short it was through an online game.  We began talking and realized we lived about 3 hours from each other.  Our first date was in Hershey and we went to the circus and out for dinner.  I didn’t find out until a few years later that Jason actually didn’t like circuses due to animal cruelty concerns.

By Memorial Day 2012 I was living with Jason in Jermyn (a tiny little town north of Scranton) and through 2014 we trekked to York for my parents’ holiday cookout.  Each year the cookout seemed to grow in size – more people, more food, more games.  Family, friends, coworkers… it seemed the vast majority of people knew to keep that holiday open and expect a party.  It was the only time of year I got to play volleyball because we had enough people to merit setting up the net.  I think the largest turnout was over 60 people the one year.

In August 2014 I ended things with Jason and moved back in with my parents.  It was a very challenging and emotional period in my life, but by May 2015 we were back together and thus he came down for the Memorial Day cookout.  It was only today I realized the same holiday weekend that began our relationship is the one holiday we haven’t missed celebrating together.

A few years rain drove the party inside my parents’ 3 car garage.  While there was plenty of room for lounging and eating, the fun of outdoor games and the bonfire weren’t able to be had.  Last year the party was nixed due to too many years of bad weather and the anticipation of throwing a baby shower cookout in September for my sister in place of it.

This year there was no big party.  Instead my parents came over to our house, and I cooked burgers and baked monkey bread muffins and my mom brought chicken dip.  The four of us went to Collinsville for ice cream, the first place I’ve been that no one in line wore a mask.  While it wasn’t a huge event like past years, having a small cookout made things feel closer to normal in a time period that has been anything but that.

Do you have any Memorial Day traditions?  Were they changed this year due to Covid 19?

 

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Pacing People

In a “normal world” yesterday my dad and running buddy Armand would’ve been racing  in the Pocono Marathon in an attempt to qualify for the Boston marathon, something Armand has done several times and which my dad still hopes to do.

During the hurry up and wait phase of Covid-19 Jason and I helped pace my dad during a half marathon training run.  We knew it was unlikely that the marathon would be held, but until official notice of cancellation was given dad had to keep training as if he would be racing.  That was the first time I officially paced someone.  It was my idea and fortunately Jason was glad to join in on it.  The pace of 8-8:15 for 7 miles was a bit taxing on us (Jason’s hamstring ultimately led him to drop back from dad around 5 miles), but it felt really good to help dad with his workout and he was very appreciative of it.

Yesterday we served as pacers yet again.  Armand had kept up with some longer training runs even after the marathon was cancelled and still wanted to run a marathon himself on the rail trail to see what kind of time he could run.  Dad had stopped running as many days per week and as long of miles to allow his shin splint to start healing, but was eager to help Armand out as well.  Armand’s chosen route started at John Rudy County park and ran down the northern extension of the York rail trail through York City to connect to the full York Rail trail.  His turn around point would be about a quarter mile past the Howard Tunnel and then run the same route back.

Jason and I arrived at John Rudy a little after 7:30am and found another running friend, Scott, there as well.  After being back and forth on it (he had ran over 100 miles a few weeks ago as his “birthday gift” to himself) he decided he would attempt the full marathon with Armand.  A little before 8am I set off with Armand and Scott to keep Armand paced between a 9:20 and 9:40.  This pace was a lot more relaxing than when I paced my dad, and Scott and I chatted most of the time.  As we neared the trail head at Route 30 I took off to grab fuel for Armand, but Jason was already warmed up and waiting with it.  My section ended up being 4.3 miles and given it’s one of my favorite parts of the rail trail I enjoyed it a lot.

I did a quick stretch and hopped in the Rav4 to head to Wellspan’s Indian Rock Dam building as their parking lot has access to the rail trail.  There I met my dad who was going to run to the turn around point and back.  I had miscalculated when figuring out how far each of us would run (I blame the rail trail’s website for not having the northern extension’s mile markers factored in) and before we knew it Jason, Scott and Armand were coming down the trail.  I knew my portion would be no farther than 4.5 miles, but having never run the section through the city I mistakenly thought Jason’s part would be around 5 miles.  It was a tad over 3 so on a whim I asked if he wanted to continue with them to Brillhart station.  He did so I handed Armand and Scott their fuel and hopped back in the Rav4 to drive farther down the trail.

Jason raced ahead as they approached Brillhart to make sure I had more fuel to give Armand and ended up with a total of 6 miles which was good enough for him.  We wished them the best and headed home to complete a DailyBurn Spartan workout (Jason’s idea, not mine) and compare notes on our sections of the rail trail.  One of the reasons Jason ran the part that he did was that it went through the city and unfortunately there are some very sketchy areas there.  After hearing some of his description I’m glad he ran that part and I didn’t.  I told him about seeing 2 runners during my part of the trail, one of which said hi to me by name, but whose face I didn’t see in detail as he passed me so quickly.  It’s still driving me crazy not knowing who it was.

We also discussed Scott’s plan to run from the PA/DE line down through DE, a 120-130 mile run, sometime in July.  The date and route are still being worked out, but we both agreed we wouldn’t mind each running about 10-12 miles of it with him.  The pace would be much slower than either of us are used to running (especially Jason), but it would be a chance to run a new route and help out a running buddy.  In a world now limited in activities with questions of when races may be held again, I’m finding satisfaction is being able to help pace others as they work towards various goals.

**Armand ended up calling me later in the day to say that he ran a 4:16 marathon.  Todd had joined him at the route 30 trail head and ran the last portion in with him.  His original goal was a 4:10 but given he’s not a strong hill runner and the course finished with some slight hills he was very satisfied with his performance and thanked us for running parts of it with him.

Have you ever paced someone on their training run or in a race?

 

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Emotions Through Covid-19

I am feeling torn about the posts for my blog.  On one hand I want to document my experience throughout the Covid-19 pandemic so that I have a historical account of it to look back on throughout my life.  On the other hand I feel the topic dominates so much of everyone’s lives right now on the news, social media, everyday conversation that keeping my blog focused on my regular type of posts seems to provide a break for myself and others.  I am trying to find a balance between the two, and since my last two posts were running/workout focused, I want to use this post to document the variety of emotions I have felt throughout this crisis to date.

Apathy – I felt this initially as like many others I expected this to be a quick passing/not overly serious illness.  I still feel it at times now though I think it’s due to the constant barrage of news about it.  My brain just starts to numb myself to it so I stop trying to process everything.  Sometimes a bit of arrogance ties into the apathy figuring I’m young/fit/healthy so I shouldn’t worry about getting sick.

Fear – I haven’t felt this a whole lot luckily, but anytime I read a story about a young, healthy person with no underlying conditions either having a horrible experience from Covid-19 or dying, it reminds me I’m not as immune as I may like to think.  I just read today about a Broadway actor who is coming out of a coma whose leg had to be amputated due to complications from Covid-19.  I can’t even fathom waking up to see I have no leg anymore.

Anger/Disappointment/Disdain – These emotions have been stirred up mostly within the past week.  The number of people protesting governors’ orders and causing scenes over wearing masks to the point of harming and even killing others is just appalling.  One of my own state representatives held a meeting with 150+ business leaders last Saturday night in which no one wore masks and people shook hands.  I utilized the contact page on his website to send him a well written, mature message indicating that as a constituent I voted for him for specific reasons, that he can disagree with the governor’s process in ways that don’t endanger the health of others, and that I expect better of him.  I reactivated my Facebook just to see if an old coworker had her baby, and the few posts from people on my newsfeed quickly reminded me why I would be deactivating it again after checking her page.  I could feel sympathy if people were complaining about lost jobs, but instead I read complaints about the inability to shop at certain stores or get a haircut.  I saw one quote recently that seemed to describe things well – “When did inconvenience get mistaken for oppression?”  I really wish those people would know the stories of people who have been truly oppressed in this county, some of whom still are like the Native Americans in South Dakota fighting to keep themselves safe while dealing with a governor who seems hell bent on prohibiting that.

Mental Fatigue/Overwhelmed – I’m sure many can relate to this both from the influx of daily news on the virus, but also from just navigating the new normal.  I try to limit my intake of news to a few times per day and once the evening news is over Jason and I watch our regular programs including some new animal focused documentaries.  Weekends are very limited with news as well to help us mentally recharge and “forget” about it for a brief time period.  It’s the remembering to take my mask along when I leave the house, the meal planning for 2 weeks instead of 1, the still having to run out for extra jugs of water since quantities are restricted, the hoping I can find toilet paper when we need it, etc. that tends to wear on my brain after awhile.

Sadness – I’ve felt this for a variety of reasons.  I shed actual tears for my track kids when their season officially ended.  I was sad to not see my nephew, Weston, for a month though we have since kind of broken the rules, and I visited him recently with my sister’s permission.  Although it was expected, I was sad to receive an email yesterday that Broadway shows are postponed until September 6th.  Jason and I agreed it was better to have the tickets refunded than risk rescheduling and still not be able to go to NYC in the fall.  I’m sad not knowing if/when I may road race again.  I am sad for those who are sick, who have lost loved ones, and those who have recovered but are dealing with after effects from being on a ventilator.  I am sad for small business owners who face uncertainty in keeping their businesses afloat.  I am sad for places like New Orleans who rely so heavily on tourism for their jobs.  I am sad for the Native Americans in South Dakota that are having to battle an idiotic governor when they’ve already struggled so much both past and present.

Hope – I think we all have to feel this emotion to an extent or else we would have no reason to continue to push through this crisis.  I have hope that the majority of people will do the right thing and listen to their governor’s orders and want to protect one another.  I have hope that communities will come together and support each other particularly their small businesses.  I have hope that something good will come from this, maybe multiple somethings whether it be universal healthcare, improved wages or a healthier planet.  Even smaller things like families realizing the importance of slowing down and enjoying each other’s company instead of rushing from one event to the next would be a benefit.  I have hope that if we just take it one day at a time, remember to breathe, take care of ourselves and each other, that with enough patience and respect we will work through all of our emotions caused by Covid-19.

How are you feeling through the crisis?  Are your emotions varying as well?

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