2021: Whitefish Point Marathon

The previous training cycle – spanning about 26 weeks from late April through late October of 2020 – wasn’t my first time following a training plan. But it was my first time doing a good number of other things along the way that represented an athlete lifestyle. The training cycle included several virtual events and I was even fortunate enough to be a part of some in-person events … something I didn’t think would happen once the world as we knew of came to a screeching (or screaming) halt due to COVID-19. Looking through the training log and being honest with myself, there were a handful of other things that I needed to do consistently – not only to continue living the athlete lifestyle but also to earn the performance (or result) that I know I was/am capable of. This training cycle – spanning about early December 2020 through early April mid June 2021 – primarily focused on addressing these and see what it’d lead to in performance … should there be an in-person marathon towards the end.

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2021: Back 9 Endurance Run

While I had been a part of 3/8/12-person teams in relay races (lap-based or not) in the past, I had never done a time- and lap-based 12 (or 24) event before. Getting to be a part of it so close to home and doing so in the company of many friends made it very appealing … and started swinging my mind back towards the first edition of the Back 9 Endurance Run held on the premises of the historic Keweenaw Mountain Lodge. To say that I showed up late to this party is an understatement. Many in my family of friends had signed up, been training methodically and spreadsheeted their laps in detail for weeks, if not months … and then there was me, needing a special invitation from the kind-hearted race director to sign up. It was special (and not special) because I had waited until three days after the registration had been closed to make up my mind.

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2021: Great Bear Chase

Being a hometown event and the last officially timed nordic skiing race for each winter, this was an event that I wouldn’t miss – pandemic or not. The organizing committee did an excellent job of staying ahead of the game as well as being open, honest and frequent in their communication leading up to the event. They even included a free virtual option – do your chosen distance from anywhere and consider making a donation to the trail system. Mother Nature threw a curve ball or two as we got closer to the event. But the Swedetown Trail System groomers rose to the occasion, worked their tails off with what Mothership provided and produced the best course they could!

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2020: Sunday Lake Marathon

After the 20-week training plan that culminated in the 2020 Holland Haven Marathon in mid-September, I had taken a week off before starting a 12-week training plan to continue working on my weaknesses. Maybe it was the cumulative fatigue of nearly 26 weeks of structured training plan OR a rather sudden change in weather (read: arrival of snow and frigid-ish temperatures) OR likely, a combination of both, I was starting to feel a monotonic decrease in motivation to keep up with the workouts in this new plan. My body seemed to take a bit longer than usual to recover from said workouts. Review of training material and chats with friendly mentors re-iterated the benefits of a short self-imposed break before mental burnout and/or physical injury compared to a potentially longer forced break. As a result, I decided to run the 2020 Virtual New York City Marathon in week #5 (or week #26 – if I am counting the first 20-week plan as well), end the plan and take a break to rest and recharge for the upcoming winter.

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2020: Holland Haven Marathon

Had 2020 unfolded as any of the most previous years, I would have run the Illinois Marathon (April) as my target race in Spring and continued to train towards Marquette Marathon (September) with a handful of road and trail running events spread in between. But 2020 has been a year unlike any that I (or most of us) have experienced so far and COVID-19 has led to the postponement (if not cancellation) of a vast majority of races around the world including

  1. the Summer Olympics in Japan and
  2. the World Marathon Majors events
    1. Tokyo – elites-only event in March,
    2. Boston – moved from April to September as a virtual event,
    3. London – moved from April to October as an elites-only event and virtual for non-elites,
    4. Berlin – scheduled for September but cancelled,
    5. Chicago – virtual event in October, and
    6. New York City – virtual event in November.

I was/am fully cognizant of the fact that there are more important things in life than training for and running a race. Having friends whose livelihood depends on timing such events made me realize the value of such events beyond just getting another medal or even earning a new PR.

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