On the final day of 2020 I stepped onto the treadmill for a 6.2-mile run which was relatively short for me this year. It brought my total distance for the year to my highest annual total ever, 2,500 miles! COVID-19 encouraged the vast majority of those miles to take place on the treadmill and I found ways to adapt the approach to keep things sufficiently interesting. There were plenty of podcasts, books, and simple music playlists throughout these runs. I even arranged to run virtually with my friend Rodney as we spoke on our phones while I was on my treadmill and he was out on the roads (bone-conductive headphones of course) so that we could share the experience almost like we do when he guides me normally.
In May, I used the map simulations and elevation control to do a virtual run across the state of New Hampshire from Canada to Massachusetts. I did this over a series of days in which I built a long streak of consecutive half marathons! On September 7, my plans suddenly changed to run my Virtual Boston Marathon on my treadmill on the front porch with a host of community support as I used the iFit programming to simulate the actual course and scenery. I set a personal record for my fastest Boston Marathon time at 3:25. Logging my fastest mile ever at 5:20 in the midst of a ten mile training run, I settled into the endurance aspect and built up for an ultra-marathon. My first attempt on Halloween was a great success as I felt fine throughout a 54-kilometer (33.5 mile) run.
After a brief recovery and slight training build-up, I took on my December 6 challenge of 54 miles which turned out to be a much more grueling affair as I felt rough from the start and forced myself to push through a difficult 8.5-hour run:
Since that time I’ve been running most days with my 10 miles per run approach being standard. My body is weary and the many challenges of this calendar year have certainly contributed to some of the difficulties. As New Year’s often offers some inspiration for a resolution, Tracy and I settled on one we think is good for my overall well being.
I am resolving to not run for the first two weeks of 2021. It will give my body a well-deserved and complete break from the rigors of running. It will give me time to reflect on all of these accomplishments. As I prepare with some optimism for a year in which I can return to running with my many sighted guides on the outside, as I can start to think about possible outside race goals once again; I want to evaluate what long distance or other plans might be right for me in the year ahead.
Thank you to everyone who has encouraged me or simply put up with my obsessing about aspects of these running goals. It has been quite a year. I believe it is rarely about the mileage, pace or placement in a race which matters the most. For me it’s the joy of celebrating my ability to run and keeping company with my friends and guides along the way. Some part of that has been different this year and that’s the key, don’t let things stop you if you can find a way to do them differently. Running has been one of the success stories for me in a very challenging year and I’m grateful for the gift.