Since I didn’t cover running last year, I’m going to cover both years in this post.
If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know that I caught the running bug during the Red Hat Summit in 2019. My original goal was to do an official race that would allow me to qualify for a good spot at a Run Disney race. Then COVID-19 hit and killed in-person racing.
Finally, in 2021 in-person racing was back. I was able to run the CUCB Cherry Blossom race in DC – not during its normal time in the spring, but in the fall. Still, it was great to push myself and see how well I could do at a 10 mile race. It became one of my favorite road races.
I wanted to get at least one more race in before the year ended, so I signed up for the 5mi/10mi Bigfoot Endurance race. It was awesome to have a race that was within 10 minutes of the house – where I didn’t have to wake up so early to get there. As I mentioned in the blog post, it was fun to run a trail run, but it wasn’t fun to roll my ankle and (as happened that year) trip and fall.
Late in 2021 I learned that if a runner did 9 NYRR races and volunteered at another one, they could get guaranteed entry into the NYC Marathon. I started off 2022 with a goal of trying to make sure to do 9 races. While I was able to do the 1 Jan Virtual Race (my first NYRR Race and first NYRR virtual race), I immediately, I had to drop out of the Fred Lebow Half Marathon race. Various family members had come back from the Christmas vacation trip sick and it has started to affect me. Additionally, there was a new wave of COVID-19 ravaging NYC at the time, so I decided to stay home. Finally, I was able to do an in-person race for NYRR with the Manhattan 10k. I got a new 10k personal record with a 46:23.
Then it was time for the Gridiron 4M race. It was my first time running in the snow, but the Tracksmith winter gear I had kept me OK during the race. With a 28:50 finish, I was pretty happy and looking forward to races in warmer weather. I also did the Virtual Black History Month 5K since it would help count towards races I wanted to run in the future.
March arrived and I was hoping for warmer weather. Unfortunately, Mother Nature was not on the same page. It was freezing as I showed up for the Washington Heights 5k. It was incredibly windy, but eventually the race started and I got to do my first ever 5k where I achieved negative splits! 21:18 was my final time there. I thought I probably could get to an even faster pace, so I was looking forward to future 5ks. Proving that winter was not yet ready to leave, when I ran the Virtual NYC Half Marathon (which would guarantee entry into the 2023 HM), it rained and snowed on me as I ran around the BWI airport loop. It was a little miserable, especially without water stations or portapotties, but I was happy to accomplish my first Half Marathon, even if it was virtual.
In April, I FINALLY was able to run the CUCB Cherry Blossom 10 mile race in the right place and right time of year. My mom came up to see the race, cheer me on, and take some photos. It was a lot of fun to have someone I knew cheering me on for once. (Although I do appreciate all the folks who cheer at every race, whether I know them or not) I got a personal best for that distance and course and even impressed some folks who are runner, so I was riding high.
May was the beginning of the end for my pure elation at running. I hadn’t been planning to run the Brooklyn Half because it’s very popular and you need to enter a lottery to run it. But I won the lottery, so I was going to be able to run it this year. A couple weeks later I won the lottery for the NYC Marathon! So I would be able to do it 2 years in a row and compare my personal bests. The pre-party for the Half Marathon was great, only marred by the fact that COVID was still with us so I wanted to get in and out relatively quickly. I felt an incredible sense of accomplishment when I finished the Brooklyn Half Marathon and it was really awesome to run onto the Coney Island boardwalk for the finish.
But during that race – perhaps from switching from the New Balance 860s (which have anti-pronation built in) to the NB 1080s or perhaps from trying too hard to speed up in the last 5k of the Half – I injured the sesamoids in my right foot. In the end, it seems I just bruised or irritated it as the MRIs came back relatively clean. But this sent me into a spiral of semi-depression for two reasons. First of all, I had to drop out of a bunch of summer races that I wanted to do, like the Queens 10k (that I’d been looking forward to all year), Grete’s Great Gallop 10k, Bronx 10 mile.
The second reason for the depression was that the deadline to train for the Marathon was coming up and I knew if I didn’t start on time, I wouldn’t be able to run the Marathon. I started working with the doctors to try and figure out how I could both heal up (without further damage to my foot) and not lose my conditioning. I used the elliptical and stationary bike. I was able to keep most of my conditioning, but my foot just wasn’t healing quickly enough. (And a Google search at the time showed that it can take up to a year to fully heal)
That said, I was able to run (at a slower pace) the Pride Run 4M and Harlem 5k. (That one, in particular, was one of my favorite 5k courses). The penultimate race I was REALLY looking forward to, the Dash to the Finish 5K, was dashed (pun intended) because of an illness in the family. (Thankfully not me!)
At least I was able to do the final NYRR race I wanted to do this year, the Ted Corbitt 15k. Because 15k is very nearly 10 miles and because I had to drop out of the Bronx 10 mile, I’d been looking forward to the comparison with my Cherry Blossom runs.
After that I did the 5 mile Bigfoot Endurance trail race again. (That blog post is written, but awaiting the official race photos). Spoiler for the blog post – I once again turned my ankle. I didn’t fall this time, but I’ve spent the last week not running and I will need to slowly work my way back up to where I was before that.
So it was a year to learn about injury and recovery. That’s something any athlete eventually needs to deal with, but the last time I was an athlete was back when I was 15-18 and swimming in high school. While it’s not impossible to get a bad injury that young (see high school football or basketball players who ruin their changes at college ball), it’s a lot easier to bounce back from injury. It’s also harder to get hurt – I know my swimming form was no better in my youth, but now I sometimes have to deal with tendonitis in my elbows from bad technique. When I dealt with some knee issues while training for the Dash to the Finish 5k, I learned from my doctor that I have hyper extensive joints. This means it’s easier to hurt myself from a bad stretch or putting pressure on a joint from a slightly wrong angle. So I decided to forswear any races longer than 10 miles. I’ve proven to myself that I can do a half marathon and my coach was saying that, based on my cardiovascular health, I could have done well on a marathon. I don’t have anything to prove and lots to lose – like being sidelined from exercise for weeks to months at a time. So I decided that if I race, I’m going to focus on 5k – 10k and maybe I would do the Cherry Blossom 10 mile again.
That said, I actually recently decided (in the last week) that I’m done with running races. At least for the next couple years I’m going to focus on swimming. One of the things I like about swimming is that it has a semi-team component to it. There are the relays (which I LOVE) and there are also team points that I’m earning in each meet. At the same time it doesn’t have the team dynamics that I’m not fond of in other team sports. For example, I can still train at my own pace, time, days, etc. We don’t have to train as a team in order for me to contribute to the team.
I’m also going to try a sprint Triathlon or two this year to see if I will enjoy those. The running distances aren’t too long and I can do all 3 sports I enjoy.
So, running – you brought me a lot of joy and heartache – but it’s time to part for a while. We’ll see if I run again in the future.