It is hard to believe that we are only half way through this year. We have completely altered our lives in the last 6 months, we have seen unspeakable tragedies and amazing stories of inspiration. But BOY – has it been a long few months. While some aspects of life return to normal, for many of us, road racing is so much a part of who we are; our social interactions, our goals and self-attainment – this part of our lives is still not back. They help us mark milestones, define our days and give us purpose. And for many of us, we need those defined deadlines and marked points on the calendar to help keep us motivated.
As the Spring races started to fall like dominoes, we heard it over and over – “I have been training all winter and if there is no race, I don’t have the motivation to get out the door to continue.” Some were floundering a bit without a race looming on the calendar to help keep the momentum going. Many of us had more time at home, more time to snack, and no real “events” to worry about. We were struggling without the definition of “road racer,” without our run-squad helping us get out the door when we didn’t feel like it, and our group runs to catch up with our friends. And BOY – did we miss that post-race beer and feeling of accomplishment!
Personally, I turn 50 this summer. When I turned 40 – I had 2 goals; qualify and run Boston – and – finish an Ironman 70.3 in less than 6 hours. It got me in the best shape and I accomplished those two goals, running the fast times in my life. I conquered what I thought “40” had to mean and really brought so much self-esteem as I entered “middle-aged.” I again had running goals for this Summer-of-50 as well. My body has aged in the last 10 years, and I always seem to have some sort of nagging injury, so marathons weren’t part of this goal. But I did have goal races that I had signed up for to keep me motivated, moving and most importantly challenged. I have run HUNDREDS of road races but trail races are something new to me, so difficult and a bit scary, yet beautiful. I had signed up for 3 trail races in May and June alone, with an August triathlon. Like your goal races, these are all gone.
As with so many of you, there are other things that have been canceled or postponed, milestones missed – and worry, lots of worry. And like many of you I am sure – running is therapy. When it starts to get overwhelming, when the world feels heavy, lace ’em up and head out the door to sort out your thoughts, pound the pavement to eliminate the pain, and lose yourself in nature’s beauty and architecture. Nothing beats the feeling of the post-run accomplishment. You ALWAYS feel better, maybe not physically but always mentally.
But while running for therapy is great and necessary – we still need GOALS, we need something to keep us motivated, to make us work harder than just going without a plan. We need something that sets a bar that we can strive for and show that we can meet whatever challenge we set for ourselves. Right now so many of our goal lines are being moved by factors out of our control. A race has always been a defined goal – a set distance, date and time. It didn’t move from a calendar date, it didn’t change in distance, we just had to hit our mark to meet that goal. It provides us mental strength when so much of our lives are out of our control. But a goal race was static. Or was.
But with the lack of traditional races, we have had to get creative to help us keep our motivation up, to create new goals, to show that if we work hard enough, we can attain new bars, to give us a sense of self-accomplishment and purpose. To gain back some feeling of control.
To that end, we created two summer challenges – one for July that is a distance based challenge, and one for August that is a time based challenge. Personally, where my goal races for this year are gone, I am committed to 4 challenges this summer. I plan on running the Independence Virtual Half on 6/27. I haven’t run a half marathon in MANY years, at least 5 years. So this will definitely be a challenge for me. I will also complete the Run RI challenge, to get my weekly mileage up as cross country season approaches, as well as the Race Director’s Challenge which will hold myself accountable to all of you. Finally, I will be completing the Save the Bay “triathlon” – bike, swim and SUP. I mixed in SUP rather than run as the run part is easy for me, SUPing 2 miles will be HARD! Not only will these challenges be much needed therapy for my mind, it will also allow me to give back to our Rhode Races community through fundraising.
People always ask me if I run our own races. And for those of you that see us on race day, you know that we can’t do that. But with these virtual events, I can be there with you on the starting line, be a part of the event as a participant and competitor, and have the same goals and fears of a competition. There is something about having to be accountable with an actual finish time, on a results list, rather than just a Strava segment.
And while it is no where near as awesome as an actual race, it is motivating me to train a bit harder, to have this deadline and be challenged – but challenged in a way that I don’t feel like a victim of circumstances, but master of my destiny.
Hope that you all will continue to join us as we find new ways of remaining positive and productive. Ready to race?!?!?!