2020 was a challenging year for everyone. As if COVID-19 wasn’t enough, my mother died. So I’m really looking forward to 2021!
It’s hard to believe it’s already December.
It seems like it’s still March 50th, and now that it’s cold again it feels like summer never happened.
I start every year optimistically with the goal of running 1,000 miles. The closest I got was 977.82 miles in 2014.
In 2015 I “only” ran 562.91 miles. After running three marathons, three halfs, The Eastern States 20 miler and many 5Ks and 10Ks in 2014, I think I was a little burned out in 2015.
But each year since 2015 I have steadily built up my annual miles.
In 2019 I ran 929.6 miles and thought I was on track to hit 1,000 miles in 2020. Just a little more effort each month would get me there.
So far, for 2020, I’ve only reached 671.83 miles.
Running 2020 YTD
2020 got off to a good start with 69.51 miles and 86.08 miles in January and February respectively.
Those are the coldest months to run so I felt I was off to a good start.
This our running club at the last in person race I ran, The Super Sunday 5 Miler.
Ah the goo ole days. No masks and everyone was huddled up to keep warm.
At the beginning of March I was optimistic that improving weather would lead to increasing mileage. Then things went off the rails.
My mother went into the hospital just as the COVID-19 lock downs began. If she had been sick a week later none of us would have been able to visit her in the hospital.
So that really sucked but at least we could be there for her.
She recovered enough to be discharged to a rehab facility and we were into a new normal with her.
With the new rules on social distancing, our club had to cancel our Sunday Long Runs and Tuesday Night Club Runs. And I didn’t run a single race in March, everything was cancelled.
I still managed to run 83.58 miles. With all the shit I had going on, I’ll call that a solid month.
Spring Running 2020
In April, without any club runs, I was on my own.
To get my butt in gear I started doing short runs from my house several times a week. Running from my house was easy and there were no excuses not to do so a few times a week.
On April 19th I ran my first virtual race, The MRC Virtually Insane Half. The race was organized by the Melrose Running Club and a lot of us signed up.
It was my first attempt at a virtual race and I hadn’t figured out a good half marathon course yet. I ended up running 14.52 miles.
While I didn’t even run 60 miles in April, I felt like I was settling into the new normal. I managed 10 runs including the 14.52 mile half and a 10.7 mile long run.
In May I only ran eight times. Most runs were under five miles and one was 11.75 miles. I also ran my second virtual race, The Cinco de Mayo QuaranTeam 5K. With just eight runs I only managed 41.15 miles. 10 miles per week! Yikes!
This was about the time I started picking up my daughter after she got out of work around 8:30. I also started calling my mother every night after supper. With three siblings I had to pick my time to call and stick with it.
After my mother got out of the hospital and went to a long-term care facility we were hopeful that she could go back to assisted living, but that didn’t happen.
She became a long-term resident at what we colloquially refer to as a nursing home.
Between eating supper, waiting for my time slot to call my mother and then picking up my daughter, I didn’t have an hour to go run and get cleaned up most nights.
And with my mother’s turn I wasn’t exactly filled with enthusiasm for anything.
Summer Run Time
In June the weather began to improve, the days were getting longer and I was adjusting to my own “new normal”.
I ran eleven times including two virtual races. The Stepping Stones For Stella Virtual 10K and the Great Bay Half 2020 Virtual on June 27th.
Total miles for June were 61.83. Not great but 50% better than May. On top of that my second virtual half marathon came in at 13.12 miles.
I felt pretty good about my ability to run this distance accurately and was enthusiastic about running more halfs.
In July it began to get hot and sticky like it always does in Boston.
I was doing more yard work and this often lead to aches and pains that kept me from running the next day.
Old enough to know better, dumb enough to still over due it!
I only managed eight runs, but two of them were virtual half marathons. I was getting the hang of running from home on courses I made up as I went.
This half was a really hot run into Kendal Square in Cambridge. I had never run this entire route before but I know the area fairly well.
Of course, things look different from the car. I had to stop at many intersections and go up about 30 steps to get over The McGrath Highway.
I had a pretty good idea of where I wanted to turn around which was near the Starbucks on Main Street. That’s at mile six on the map. I just had to stop in for an iced coffee.
I’ve never been so happy to have my cell phone and the Starbucks app locked and loaded.
Kendal Square was a ghost town even for a Saturday afternoon.
On July 17th I ran The Yankee Homecoming 10 Miler. This is a Gloucester race which is too far for me to get to after work, so I’ve never run it.
It’s not quite the same thing, but running virtual I was finally able to participate.
I managed a 9:13 pace and 434 ft of elevation climb. Going out I knew my selected course was hilly but I’ve run marathons with less elevation!
Then on July 21st we had our first Tuesday night club run! We had to check with the Public Health Departments in Melrose and each surrounding town for their particular rules.
We wanted to run together but be safe and respectful of the rules that each town established.
We also tried to avoid as much of the al fresco street-side dinning in Melrose as we could. Who wants a sweaty runner breathing on their calamari?
I only ran 3.22 miles that night, but it felt great to see some fellow club members.
On July 25th I ran the Virtual Juneau Half Marathon. It was one of the Melrose Running Club’s Racing Series events. A few of us signed up for $20! And they sent us a shirt and a nice medal!
On some previous runs I discovered a rail trail that went from Everett through Malden to Saugus and ended in Lynn.
It took some effort to find the trail headed north from where I previously saw it in Malden, but I ended up finding it as I was looking for it.
A new course that I wasn’t sure about and I ended up running 14.01 miles. No biggie.
Something must have been going on with Garmin that day. Garmin had me gaining and loosing 141 feet in the first mile which began in front of my house. That first mile is pancake flat.
Every mile had me gain and loose 90 to 259 feet. No flippin way! Most of the run was on an old rail road bed. They don’t do hills.
I wish it were true, my total elevation gain for this run was 2,339 feet. Almost a half mile of elevation! That’s serious hill climbing!
I reality I probably gained 50 feet total and I was happy to find another nice course to run.
I ran another Tuesday night club run and the Cambridge Summer Classic 5K, Medford style to finish the month.
The Summer Classic was another home run on flat streets so I decided to push it and averaged 8:09 miles. I hadn’t run that pace since April.
That felt pretty good also. July totaled 57.46 miles.
Running 2020 Goals
With the year more than halfway over and pathetic miles in July, I began to see my 1,000 mile goal slipping away.
If you fall behind in January, you have eleven months to make up the short fall.
When you are more than 300 miles behind at the end of July, things begin to look stark. I’d have to run around 150 miles each month for the rest of the year, and I still hadn’t reached 100 miles in a single month.
So 1,000 miles wasn’t going to happen.
I know that 1,000 miles is a stretch goal and I’m not getting any younger. On top of that I had some unique family obligations requiring my prime running hours.
August was another tough month. I only ran 39.58 miles.
I managed nine runs, five of them under five miles.
On August 1st I started with a 2.86 mile run that I managed to squeeze in before super. I thought I was off to a good start but I didn’t run again until the next week!
But I got to two more Tuesday Night Club Runs and ran the Black Excellence Virtual 5K on August 22nd.
August was just a matter of time slipping away from me. I had things to do around the house, family obligations and working over time.
I’d sit down in the morning and look up in time for dinner. Some days I even forgot to have lunch!
September started out well with a Tuesday Night Club Run on September 1st. What a great way to start the month!
I got in a short home run and ran the TNCR the next week. These weren’t long runs but I was building some momentum.
They had water stops and a nice flat course mapped out. It was great to run with a small group of people.
We all wore masks and tried to keep our distance. I ran 16.05 miles which was a few more than I should have. It was still fun!
The next day one of our runners told us that their spouse had tested positive for COVID! She went for a test and it came back negative.
My company was trying one day a week in the office, which we thought was one step towards normal.
The day I went into the office I got a message that my friend’s test had been mis-read and she was actually positive!
I sent a text to my manager and before I could stand up he had opened his office door and was pointing towards the door.
I collected my things and was out of there in minutes. That was the last time I’ve been into the office.
I went to a drive in test site that my healthcare provider had in Boston. It was on the top floor of their parking garage.
They checked me in and told me where to park. And within five minutes I was getting a deep brain probe just like you see on TV.
The Governor described it like they were tickling the bottom of his foot. And the look on his face as he said that made me a little squeamish as the nurse un-sheathed the swab to stick up my nose.
It ended up not being that bad and kind of made me feel like I needed to sneeze. And sneezing is the last thing you want to do at a COVID test site!
That was Friday and Saturday afternoon the owner of my company called to see how I was doing and if I had my results yet.
I told her I wouldn’t get them until Monday. She didn’t say it but she needed to know my results before she could decide what to do about Monday.
I felt bad that it would take so long but this was when the testing companies were getting buried. There wasn’t a thing I could do to speed things up.
From the tone of her voice I could tell she was genuinely concerned. But the call was as much about business as it was about me.
She told me about an urgent care office in Cambridge that did the rapid test with results in an hour.
Sunday morning I went and got the rapid test and thankfully it came back negative.
It made me think how much one person can effect other people’s lives.
A few more September Races
In September I also ran the Rett’s Roost 10K, Cambridge Fall Classic 5K and The Wicked Half Marathon.
The Wicked Half was pretty hilly, 488 feet elevation gain.
I ran the Fellsway Hills into Melrose and wrapped around Spot Pond.
This was a new half marathon course for me and after I turned around I realized I was too close to home to get in a full half.
So I started literally going up side streets to add some distance.
Some of the side roads off of the Fellsway have some wicked hills. I think I found them all.
This run kind of knocked the snot out of me and I averaged 9:47 per mile. While a lot of the course is relatively flat, where there was hill, there was hill!
I bought the mask I’m wearing in this photo at a running shop. It turned out to be the worse mask type I’ve run with.
I finished off the month with a 4 mile home run on the 29th.
For September I ran 13 runs for 67.50 miles. This wasn’t going to get me to 1,000 miles but it was better than August.
October was a month that changed my life forever.
On the first I got a call from my sister in Maine.
My mother had been experiencing declining health all summer but seemed to rally now and then.
The nursing home had called to say that she was declining quickly and they had started palliative care.
We were lucky in that they never asked what state I lived in. Maine was in lock down like the rest of the country. Nursing homes had even tighter requirements. If they knew that I was from out of state, I’m not sure they would have let me in.
They had us wear gowns and protective eye wear even though I have glasses.
The first day my brother and I spent the whole day with mom. She got out of bed for a while and spoke with us.
She didn’t eat a thing but she drank two cups of ice water. We had hoped that she would eat something but everyone was thrilled that she drank anything.
She grew tired after about an hour and the nurses got her back into bed. She talked a little more but was exhausted and went back to sleep.
The next day my younger sister arrived from Germany. She was lucky in that her region of Germany was a green zone at the time.
Mom never regained consciousness but the four of us were with her every day. We took shifts visiting and when all four of us were there, two had to sit out side of her window.
The window opened and we could talk, but no one could reach in and hold her hand.
Being a resourceful group, we realized that we could remove the screen! My sister was able to hold mom’s hand for a while which I’m sure made both of them happy.
The next day we got a call from the nursing home around 5AM that she was fading quickly.
We all quickly dressed and headed to the nursing home.
I’m not sure how they did it but they let all of us in to see her and moved her bed into their library.
We spent the whole day with her until she passed at 8:16 PM on October 7th.
All of those calls each night after dinner were worth it. At times I worried she thought I was calling every day because I was afraid that she’d die in the night.
We were so grateful to everyone at the nursing home. They went out of their way to accommodate us and give us time with our mother.
So many people die alone in ICU or in a nursing home because no one can come in to see them. That just has to suck for everyone.
On October 9th I went for a 4.76 mile run on the roads near my sister’s house. I’ve run there before and I really needed a run.
Nothing clears your head like a good run.
The next day I went out again for a 7.77 mile run.
The next weekend I ran Saturday and Sunday. 8.41 and 3.77 respectively.
I did my Tuesday night run from home as I wasn’t in the mood to be social.
I did another home run Wednesday night and that Friday I ran the Smuttynose Rockfest Half from home.
This was another run through The Fells and around Spot Pond. Instead of running up all of those steep side streets to get to 13.1 miles, I took some side streets in Medford.
My total elevation gain was 583 feet but I avoided steep hills so it seemed easier. My pace was 9:32 and my time was 2:05. With more hills than The Wicked Half I managed to cut three minutes off of my time.
A rounded the month off with another Tuesday Night Club Run and ran 48.95 miles for October.
I started November by running The Melrose Y’s Spooky Sprint. This is a Halloween run, but I didn’t get to it until Sunday the first.
That’s one of the problems with virtual races.
Since you don’t have to drive anywhere or make any plans it’s easy to forget about them.
Once I got a package in the mail and realized I had a 5K to run that weekend!
Some races were live events earlier in the year, were postponed and eventually went virtual.
Many races allowed you to run a race on a weekend, or gave you a week or month to run the race!
One race that I was sure I had registered for, I couldn’t find any of the usual email traffic for a registration.
It got confusing at times.
On the 5th I did a four mile home run and then on the 6th I ran the DAV 5K from home.
I had figured out some good half marathon courses and ran the 100% Pure Kona Coffee Half on November 8th, the Rock n Roll Half on November 14th and The Livestrong at The Y Half on November November 21st.
I ran the Livestrong Half during the Melrose Running Club’s No Contact Relay.
We started at sunrise and ran until sunset.
I ran three 4.76 mile laps for a total of 14.28 miles. When I got to the 13.1 mark my watch said 2:00:23. With more than 450 feet of elevation gain I finally got my half to the two-hour mark.
Unfortunately during the last two miles of that run my ankle started bothering me. Nothing new. Things often start or stop hurting during a run.
That afternoon I could barely walk up or down steps and the next day was worse.
It’s been over three weeks and I haven’t run since. My ankle is getting better but I may not run at all in December.
I don’t want to run on it too soon and aggravate my Achilles again and prolong the healing time. It’s taking long enough as it is!
Essentially my running year is over. If I’m careful and lucky I might run a neighborhood 5K before the end of the year, but I’m not counting on it.
Is anyone else getting the itch to go back to work in an office? Feeling stir crazy after all these weeks?
I know, it seems crazy right? But what isn’t these days?
Working from home is a great convenience. But it feels like a limbo between retirement and work.
My schedule is much more flexible and I don’t have to get up as early. But my days are just as long, if not longer.
I’m still working and still getting paid. I know, I’m one of the lucky ones.
So many people are writing about how they are cleaning their house top to bottom or taking up Fender on their offer of free guitar lessons.
I’m freaking working here!
My days are just as long just sans the commute. By the end of the day I’m tired just like before.
There seems to be an expectation that we all have time to renew, rejuvenate or reinvent ourselves. I guess that’s what you do when you retire?
I’ve got work to do and people who rely on me to get it done.
I don’t have time for guitar lessons!
I don’t miss the morning foot race to get out the door before traffic gets crazy. But I miss the routine and my colleagues.
I work with a great team and we manage to have some fun throughout the day. It’s not all work all day.
When I get into the office around 7:30 I have my routine. By the time everyone else shows up, I’ve cleared my email and had a coffee or two. I’m ready to roll.
Bring on the day!
Working From Home
Working from home has it’s advantages, no doubt. I can roll out of bed 30 minutes before my work day officially begins, there’s no commute to tress me out and piss me off. And I can shower whenever I want.
In the office I have two large hi-res screens and all of my stuff is there. I have a great work space where I can stretch out. Sometimes having a print out of an email or a report is better than having it on screen. I only have two screens after all.
At home I have taken over the dinning room. I have my work laptop and an old Compaq 20″ LCD display. I still have two screens but both are smaller than what I use in the office.
I’m also sitting in a strait back dining room chair. It’s solid cherry which gets a little tough on the ass after five or six hours. No cushion, no recline and it doesn’t rock. I’m a rocker, what can I say?
I’ve discovered that my office eating and hydration habits seem to be triggered by what goes on in the office.
Make a call, have a drink. If it was beer I’d be hammered by 10AM.
Every day is to today
While working from home has many advantages there are also disadvantages.
The days begin shortly after I wake up weather that’s 5AM or 8AM.
Sometimes I forget to eat lunch and sometimes I make a second pot of coffee.
I can check email on my phone and do so seven days a week. So essentially, I’m working seven days a week.
But I also get to deal with contractors coming to the house and getting my daughter to work and off the trains.
So while the days are 10 to 12 hours, I do get to do other things during the day.
But since I work everyday and get other stuff done every day, every day seems like today. The days of the week have less meaning.
I guess this is kind of what it’s like to be retired. Every day is today. What do you want to do?
One of the lucky ones
I realize that I am one of the lucky ones. I have a job and I’m able to work from home.
There are plenty of people who have to go to a workplace every day. They get our food to us, teach our kids, staff our healthcare facilities etc.
You can’t put a bio lab in the basement either. Just not a good idea.
I’m lucky enough to be pulling down a check and have the luxury of feeling cooped up.
I’ve been running more consistently over the past few months. That has helped my state of mind and even provided some limited socializing
I am one of the lucky ones who get to feel stir crazy after all these weeks.
Any runner who had a Boston Marathon bib could participate in the Virtual Boston Marathon 2020.
The Melrose Running Club had six runners with a bib who decided to run the Virtual Boston Marathon 2020.
They started training in January like any other year and then hoped the race would not be cancelled.
Then the race was postponed and turned into a virtual race for the first time in Boston Marathon history.
While the club suspended Sunday Long Runs, they continued to organize Sunday Long Runs and other training runs to prepare for their race.
I didn’t have a bib for the 2020 Marathon, so I ran as a bandit for the first time! I also did not train to run a marathon.
It Takes a Village
Starting at Mile 2, The Boston Marathon has water stops at every mile. This year the crew had to arrange their own water stops and bathroom stops.
Maria Cavero was the team captain and master mind behind putting together the course.
Yvonne Liu-Constant put together the first draft of the course and then Maria found ways to avoid as many hills as possible!
Several miles had virtually no elevation gain and most had only 20-30 feet of elevation gain.
Together, Yvonne and Maria found people’s homes, parks and other spots where we could stop and re-charge.
Volunteers and Guardian Angels
The crew reached out for volunteers for the water stops and to provide on-course support.
They put together seven water stops and a crew of about twenty volunteers. On paper it was about twelve volunteers but many more turned out to help and provide support.
I think the volunteers were as excited to be there as the runners were!
Unlike Boston, we stopped at each water stop. There was no big clock on Boylston Street waiting for us. This year, everyone was just looking to run 26 miles and 385 yards.
It was very chill and less of a “dammed the torpedoes” vibe.
For most of the run there were three guys on bikes riding with us. They were in helmets, sun glasses and masks so I’m not sure who they were!
These guardian angels rode with the last person on the team, took photos and stopped traffic for us!
These guys stood in the middle of Alewife Brook Parkway, aka Rt. 16, into Cambridge and stopped traffic!
With authority they turned their bikes sideways on the median strip, held up their hands and shook cow bells! Drivers actually stopped for them.
They did this countless times so that we could cross busy roads with minimal hindrance.
This bandit would like to thank everyone who took time out of their Saturday to come out and run a water stop or stand in the middle of a road for us.
Running the Virtual Boston Marathon 2020
I was going to go to the start of this run but upon reviewing the map, I realized they were passing within a half mile of my house. So why drive to Melrose?
Over the past few months my weekly miles have rarely hit twenty miles. I’m not qualified to run a 5K. Running more than a four mile training run takes an act of will power.
I didn’t plan on running 26 miles, 385 yards so I told them I would meet them on the corner down from my house.
I figured they were running 10 minute miles. I left my house at 7:20 and thought I’d meet some of them on the corner.
When I got to the corner of Spring and Central Streets I didn’t see anyone. I decided to run down to the first water stop.
No one was there, so I decided to run around the neighborhood to make up some miles and warm up a bit.
I run in this area at least once a week, so I knew exactly where I was.
I ran from the water stop to The Fellsway, all the way back and up to Main Street. At Haynes Square I hit 2 miles.
I ran down Central Street to the water stop and in a few minutes Kristi and Bobby Taylor showed up. In no time they had everything set up and some of the cyclist began to show up.
It was great to catch up with Bobby and Kristi who have both started new jobs recently and have a new dog.
Soon we saw runners in the distance heading down Central Street towards us. This commonplace street corner began to feel exciting.
Some people came out of their houses to see what all the commotion was and everyone seemed happy to see us.
As everyone showed up we began to take over the intersection. Drivers were really good about waiting for people to step out of the way. And we tried to be good in keeping people out of traffic.
The runners had black and white bibs which did not stand out. The drivers had no idea that they were witnessing part of the 20020 Boston Marathon. These folks were decent to us just because that’s what people do.
After everyone was ready to go we headed down Park Street to Riverside and ran through Medford Square.
Medford Square is always busy and has six roads entering or exiting the square. A classic New England intersection.
I was running with Haecha Donnelly and one of our guardian angels helped us get through the square.
We ran up High Street and crossed The Mystic river on a little foot bridge that I’ve never been over.
Then we crossed Mystic Valley Parkway, another hairy crossing and headed towards Whole Foods to cross this road again into Arlington.
I started running with Jackie Ecker along The Parkway. As we crossed one of the streets a young women was clapping and cheering for us and Jackie took a spill!
She fell to the sidewalk in an a “Superman pose” with her hands up and to the sides. In that moment before she moved, I was worried.
I helped her up and she seemed fine. She had a cut on her knee, elbow and small cuts on her hands. She got up and kept on running. No big deal.
Everyone except her was worried.
We ran on a boardwalk next to the Alewife Brook. This was really cool and a place I’d never been to before. The brook was clear of brush and trash and the area looked to be set up as a flood plain.
Our next turn was a right onto Broadway in Arlington and to our second water stop.
Since I was a guest I only took water.
We headed back down Broadway and turned onto River Street towards Medford.
Another area had never run in. People were doing yoga in the park and enjoying the river.
Then we got to one of my favorite places to run in Medford.
Magical Mystic Valley Parkway
We crossed High Street and ran through the rotary onto Mystic Valley Parkway. Our guardian angel was able to stop the few cars in the rotary and we crossed safely.
As we ran down the Parkway we passed two groups of people who were waiting for their Boston Marathon runners to arrive!
It was like being in Framingham or Newton except we were in Medford. They all waved and cheered us on and it was fantastic.
The Parkway is shaded and cool as the sun began to beat down on us.
I hit mile 9 just before we turned off of The Parkway. While the pace was modest compared to how I would normally run a marathon, my total lack of training was beginning catch up to be.
When I’m training for a marathon The Parkway in one of my long run routes.