Virtual-ly Insane Half Marathon 2020

Since all of our races are cancelled our club decided to run virtual races this weekend in honor of The Boston Marathon.

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Since the BAA 5K and Boston Marathon have been postponed, our former club president Dan Slattery came up with the idea of running virtual races this weekend.

He proposed either a half or a 5K.

I hi-jacked his idea and added these virtual races to the Melrose Running Club Racing Series. If we wait for real races we wont be running until July.

So I created the Virtual-ly Insane Half Marathon and the Keep Your Distance 5K.

Virtual-ly Insane Half Marathon 2020

I’ve been running about 10 miles a week, so running a half marathon seemed like a good idea.

I also thought it would be a good idea to run the Keep Your Distance 5K and then keep on running for another 13.1 miles. For a total of 16.2 miles.

It was not a good idea and I do not recommend this to anyone.

I’m under trained and well fed. Not what you need before taking on a half marathon.

I was smart enough to gather all of my gear the night before. I knew it would be in the 30’s when I left and in the 50’s when I returned. So I layered and wore gloves, winter hat and a neck gator or what ever you call those things!

I woke up around 6:00 AM and my phone said it was still 34°, so I rolled over for a snooze. Around 6:30 the temp was 36° and I knew it was time to go.

Out the Door You Go

My Garmin is a few years old and it took about ten minutes to lock onto satellites. It gets a little chilly standing around in shorts that long. But I was committed.

I planned to run the Keep Your Distance 5K and the Virtual-ly Insane Half Marathon. The route I chose was a little over 15 miles so I ran down a side street to add some distance.

To do both races I needed to run 16.2 miles. I thought I could do it.

I’ve been averaging less than 10 miles per week, so this wasn’t the brightest idea.

I started running at 7:55 AM and thought I had started too late. The later you go out the more traffic there is.

Running through Medford Square I didn’t even have to wait for the lights.

I ran up High Street to Winthrop Circle and only had to contend with two cars!

I continued through West Medford toward The Mystic Valley Parkway.

Virtual-ly Insane Half Marathon 2020, West MedfordWhen I hit 3.1 miles I stopped to take a selfie and paused my watch so I could count that distance.

Running The Virtual-ly Insane Half

The Mystic Valley Parkway is a nice run. On a Sunday there are usually many runners, cyclists and walkers. The breakdown lanes, or bike lanes, are wide most of the way.

There were more runners than I expected and fewer cyclists. Only about half the runners wore masks. I even saw three women running together without masks.

When I approached a runner or walker I’d pull up my neck gator. While an N95 mask is supposed to stop 95% of the bad stuff getting into your lungs, my thin neck warmer is probably an N5 filter.

Pulling it over my nose felt more like a fashion statement than actually doing something.

I’ve gone to the store in an N95 mask and it’s so hard to breathe I usually start sweating! Not a good thing to do in public these days!

There is no way that I could run in an N95 mask.

At about six miles The MVP takes a short jog onto Bacon Street and then a left back onto The MVP into Winchester.

When I stopped at 5K, my watch added a “lap” which added a virtual mile to my run.

Virtual-ly Insane Half 2020

I hit seven miles just as I turned onto Forrest Street by the Gingerbread Bakery. The next mile had 92 feet of elevation gain.

My left knee had begun to ache so I had to walk some of this.

At this point, my dreams of running 16.2 miles began to evaporate just like a PR on Marathon Monday.

After I crossed 93 I took a right onto Park Street. I should have continued down the road to Main Street. I always miss this turn when I run this course alone.

Park took me to North Border Road where I took a left onto Main Street in Stoneham. Not far down the road I passed Nicole Jacob.

Due to the pandemic and people not staying out of the woods and walking crowded trails, the Sheep Fold parking lot was closed.

I saw on the news that the DCR had closed some areas of The Middlesex Fells. I didn’t realize that they had closed the road from the Sheep Fold all the way down to Elm Street in Medford!

They were not fooling around either! There was a State Trooper in his car and a snowplow truck in the other lane. This was in addition to those steel fences they use on Marathon Monday.

As I ran down the empty road I began to venture into the middle of the road. Normally I would not dare to do this.

As I got to the turn onto Elm Street I saw Dan Slattery. We ran together for a bit but he took off on the hill!

When we got to the rotary by Flynn Rink He went left and I went right onto Highland Ave.

At this point I knew I was only going to get in the half. My knee hurt and my hips were tight. A sure sign of not enough training and stretching.

About half way down the avenue towards Fellsway East I walked and had a Honey Stinger cookie. So good! They need to be a little larger.

As I walked I saw a turkey standing in someone’s front walk gobbling away. Someone was standing in the doorway with the storm door closed. Not sure if the guy was amused or scared to leave his house! I was amused.

Finishing my Run

There wasn’t any traffic so I crossed The Fellsway and continued down Highland Ave into Malden. I still had hopes of adding on a little bit here and there to get me to 16.2.

I passed a few other runners and they all waved.

Just before Pleasant Street I hit 13 miles. I was going to get the half done at least!

I hit 14 miles running down Spring Street towards home. I thought about jogging a few side streets but things hurt too much. I thought maybe I could run the 5K on Monday if I don’t mess myself up too much on this run!

So I managed 14.52 miles in 2:28:55 with an elevation gain of 364 feet. On an easier course I may have managed the last 1.8 miles.

My first virtual race hurt just as much as any other race!

Run well my Friends and stay Healthy!

Andy

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How to Work From Home

We all know how to work from home. But how do you do it for weeks or months? How do you manage kids, work and a bit of time to decompress and keep up with events?

Are your friends stressing about working from home? Here is some advice on how to do it. Click To TweetI’ve worked from home on many occasions.

Usually it’s due to a storm, an appointment or I have a contractor dropping by the house.

So I know how to work from home, but this time it’s different.

When you work from home for a day, a dip in productivity is to be expected. Usually there is something else going on and you don’t have access to everything you have in the office.

But, it’s only one day. That’s easy enough to make up.

Right now we’re not sure how many days we’ll have to work from home.

How do we maintain a level of productivity that allows the businesses we work for to be successful?

How to Work From Home

There are no two ways about this, it’s going to be a challenge. This is especially true if you have children at home.

Working with Children

Teenagers will get board but they have social media, TV and even a phone to talk with their friends.

You should get more quality work time from them and they should understand what is going on. In several states the governor is pretty clear about staying home and how dire the situation appears.

If you have youngsters, you will have your hands full. You know that and it probably freaks you out a bit.

How the hell are you going to do this?

It won’t be easy and you won’t be your old productive self. Any boss worth their salt will understand this and cut you some slack. It’s a two-way street.

You will need to be as organized and disciplined as possible. 

No one wants to park their kids in front of the TV all day and young kids can only entertain themselves for so long. You need a plan.

As a parent you are the entertainer in chief.

You may have home work for the kids or a good book collection for them. Still, you need to manage homework time and probably read those books.

If you have a back yard I would advise to get your kids outside each day. Maybe an hour in the morning and an hour in the afternoon. In my city the parks are closed, so you need a yard to go outside and play.

This outside time allows your kids to have fun and get some fresh air. Here in New England we are big believers in fresh air. Even in the middle of the winter my mother would often tell us to go outside.

The play time and fresh air will help your kids burn off some of that endless energy and help them burn off some of the stress we all feel.

Depending on how old they are, you may have to be outside the entire time with them. But you may be able to get in a quick call or two. Maybe even answer an email.

If your yard is safe and your kids are older, you might be able to do the dishes or do some cleaning while they are outside.

With kids outside I think it would be difficult to dig into a work project. You always need to keep an eye and an ear open when the kids are outside.

This physical activity is vital to your productivity.

It can be challenging to get kids to take a nap. Getting them outside to burn off some energy and stress is your best bet to get an hour or two of quiet time.

Time Management

Kids or no kids, you have to manage your time.

Morning Commute Crosswalk With no commute or need to get dressed or make lunch, it’s easy to loose track of time.

As a parent, you need the time before your kids get up to get as much work done as possible. When they take their naps you need to use that precious time to get things done.

If you live by your self or don’t have kids at home, I think it’s even easier for time to slip away. At least kids get up in the morning and force you to maintain some of your regular routine.

It’s easy to get distracted at home. There are chores to do, your family, the TV, the fridge. And who doesn’t want to go outside for a walk or run when it’s a nice day?

If you are home with your spouse and the kids, take turns working and taking care of the kids. You have to tag team on this.

Each of you needs quiet and alone time to focus on work. This isn’t mean or anti social. Each of you needs to contribute as much as you can to your organization and your organization is relying on you.

It would be selfish to expect your spouse to neglect their job while you work away all day.

Getting out of bed at a regular time and getting dressed for work will help you get into the right frame of mind. If you can shower without waking the kids or your spouse, that is always a good idea!

If your kids see you dressed for work, they are more likely to understand that this is not an extended stay cation.

Sleep Management

It’s important to go to bed at your normal time. This helps maintain part of your routine and some sense of order.

Getting your normal hours of sleep helps you stay healthy.  You also need your rest to take care of your kids and be productive in your job.

I certainly enjoy the opportunity to sleep in a bit on the weekends. Without your commute and the need to get the kids to school, you should be able to get some extra sleep in the morning.

You can use this time to your advantage. The entire family can get some extra sleep, just not as much for you.

With kids, this quiet time in the morning is  your golden hour. Grab some coffee and your laptop and get to work.

The kids will be coming for you soon!

When I go into the office, I find the early hours of the day to be my most productive. I can get through a ton of email and get on top of requests and issues.

So get some extra sleep but make sure you get up well before the kids.

A Quiet Place all Your Own

Work From Home OfficeAfter figuring out how to take care of the kids, this is probably the most important thing.

You really need a place where you can set up your computer, phone and papers.

Some people can work on a smart phone. Some people have a work laptop and a cell phone.

My company is fairly sophisticated. We can forward our phones to our laptops and use a headset or we can forward calls to our cell phones.

All of us also use two screens in the office. On a normal work from home day I just have my laptop.

Over the weekend I found an old LCD display in the basement. I thought I had two. Now I have my laptop and a 1990’s 17″ display. It’s better than 15.4″ of real estate.

We can also access all of our applications, tools and data from home or anywhere in the world.

Even with all of this, I have paper! I have a note book and things I’ve printed out for reference.

WomI’ve taken over the dinning room and my wife has the kitchen. We’re only about ten feet away from each other so simultaneous conference calls should be fun!

What ever space you can claim as your own is vital.

We may be in this for a while and you need a place where you can set up and leave your stuff there if possible.

Working from Home Recap

If you have kids, you have to figure that part out first. If you are a single parent try to work something out with you manager or company.

We are all in this together. If your manager knows you have kids and still demands eight hours of highly productive time, you may want to start looking around.

Time management and maintaining a routine are important. You need to spend as much time doing productive work as possible.

You also have to make sure you don’t slip into a twelve-hour work day. Your productivity is not going to be 100% and you may feel you need to extend your day to compensate.

But we don’t know how long this situation will last. Can you imagine eight or twelve weeks of twelve-hour days? You need some time every day to decompress and spend time with your family or call them.

We’re going to be isolated enough, so manage your work and personal time.

Even if you can only get the kitchen table, find a way to own it. People can eat elsewhere. Use a shopping or tote bag to collect your papers and work material if you do have to give up your work space.

A designated work space and a designated work time are crucial to maintaining your productivity.

For those of us with older kids or no kids, this will be a challenging time. There are so many things to be worried about.

If you have young kids work something out with your boss right away. There needs to be an understanding and expectations need to be established and possibly revisited.

Maintaining some of your normal routine helps with your productivity. Maintaining some structure to your schedule will also help your kids cope

This is new territory for all of us.

Stay Healthy my Friends,

Andy