When Yes, When No!

Today would have been the Stowe 8 Miler.  A marque race attracting many hundreds of people.  It went virtual this year due to Covid-19.  But a few GMAA folks decided to do it as a time trial.  I said I was in.  My week revolved around getting ready for an 8 mile time trial.  Then on Saturday two things happened.  One, the weather turn rainy and very humid.  Two, I felt as washed out as I had in many weeks.  Thinking about leaving at 6:30 a.m. and then 45 minutes to Stowe to run in the rain and another 45 back just didn’t excite me.  I went to bed leaving the decision to morning, but was pretty sure I’d do an easy run around here.  Which is what I ended up doing. During this time of Covid, we want to keep pushing, set challenges for ourselves and then meet them.  It helps having goals and things to look forward to.  But with our running, it’s also important to put things in context and focus on the long view.  If our body (and mind!) are screaming “No” and we push on anyhow, there is a chance, maybe a good chance, we … Continue reading

July 4th

For many, July 4th means fireworks, barbecues, and big crowds.  For me, Independence Day has usually meant a road race.  Over the past 20 years, I have run July 4th races 15 times on 7 different 5K to 10K courses.  The years I’ve missed have been due to injury or a crowded race schedule.  In Massachusetts, I’ve run races in Boston, Concord, Marblehead, Dedham, Hingham, and Nantucket. In Vermont Woodstock, Morrisville, South Hero and before that in Seattle, Denver, and Epping NH.  I can’t tell you about the fireworks displays those years but can recall the details of most of those races. I’ve read the most races on any given day is Thanksgiving.  It’s cool (or cold!) and both seasoned and occasional runners work up an appetite for the big T-day dinner.  My guess is July 4th has the second most races. Often there is beer, barbeque, bands, and a party following.  The weather is predictably warm (often hot!) and people are eager to hang out.  The races draw kids, grandparents, and everyone in between.    So in 2020, we have Covid-19.  Everything is different with essentially every race cancelled or virtual between March and so far through July.  I … Continue reading

Running vs. Training (and Maintaining!)

I keep a small book by John Jerome at my bedside entitled “The Elements of Effort.” Published in 1997, it’s 150 snippets from one paragraph to several pages of his musings on running.  You may recall the running log he authored for many years after Jim Fixx’s death — the cover was a replica from Fixx’s Book of Running and the log was dedicated to him.  Each month included an essay, similar to some of these entries. Last night I picked it up and turned to one entitled Running vs. Training. Here’s a quote from it:  “There is running to run and there is running to train, and the difference can best be summed up by a single word: increase.  Training is about trying to get more ….  In the running sports, what we’re trying to get more of is speed ….. You might say that those of us who run to train see life as a kind of graph, and concern ourselves primarily with the angle of its line.  Running just to run, on the other hand, is about sustaining. Those of us who are not trying to improve are running for the experience itself, and the only pressure … Continue reading

The Road Back

It’s now been over three months since Covid-19 resulted in a state of emergency declared in Vermont and many other states.  The virus has taken various turns and while things are now beginning to open up, there is still much uncertainty about how it will play out this summer and fall. I wrote a blog post entitled “Proof in the Plodding” on April 9th lamenting my slow pace related to a tight and sore hamstring that couldn’t be worked out with water running or weights in the gym due to closures.  That condition lingered and I just couldn’t muster speed in my runs, long or short — the hamstring holding me back.  It was frustrating and I was discouraged. And with no races in sight, there were no carrots to chase.  But as the calendar turned to June and the gyms and pools began to reopen, I’ve been able to water run and hit the weight machines.  The hamstring has finally begun to loosen up, as I suspected it would.  So two weeks ago I headed to the track for a 5K time trial.  It was time to push on the pedal, if not to the metal as least down! … Continue reading

Silver Linings

Each week, the faculty and students in my program at UVM hold a seminar, often to review a current paper in the medical literature.  The program is in the College of Medicine, so topics often center around clinical trials.  Not exactly running related, but it’s a great group of smart people and I’ve learned a lot about the research process, which can apply to running as well. Last week, we discussed an article in the New York Times examining whether the number of deaths from Covid-19 are being accurately reported.  Probably not, and several reasons were given.  First, there is often a delay in reporting, sometimes up to several weeks.  But that sorts itself out eventually.  A second bigger issue is how the death certificate is read. There are usually four lines on a death cert, with the top line considered the primary cause.  Presumably this is the line used for reporting the Covid deaths we see in the news.  However, with older people having several health issues, Covid-19 may have merely been the final straw.  The attending physician has to make a determination about the primary cause, and likely there are inconsistencies around the country.  Also, there may not … Continue reading

Options

So what will things look like on the racing front later this summer, fall, and even next year?  It’s anybody’s guess and there is indeed a lot of guessing going on.  Right now, the Boston Marathon is scheduled for September 14.  That seemed safe when it was re-scheduled in March, but now it’s not so certain.  Locally, the Vermont City Marathon is moved from Memorial Day weekend to October 25th.  Again, that seems safe, but who knows.  Vermont is in good shape Covid-19 wise and Governor Scott is slowly allowing a reopening.  But he cautions we are a short drive away from metro areas that have more of a problem and less control over the spread of the virus.  If events are held that attract out-of-staters, just how will that be handled? Our local club, Green Mountain Athletic Association, has canceled its first two races, with a third to be virtual.  Coming up are our two July races that attract over 200 runners each.  On our Board call earlier this week, we agreed to see what guidelines the Vermont Department of Health issues on gatherings in the coming weeks.  This is quite pertinent to all of Vermont; summertime is when … Continue reading

In the Meantime…..

We’re in the thick of COVID-19 and it’s serious stuff.  Increasingly, people we know are afflicted. Most of us are out of work or working from home, taking classes online, become teachers or day care providers for our children, and in any case not able to congregate with friends or shop.  Movie theatres have shut down and restaurants restricted to takeout.  On the running front, the UVM indoor track is locked up.  Gyms and athletic clubs are closed and I suspect even those who previously begrudgingly dragged themselves there would gladly go today! Those who swim, spin (we are still having winter here in VT though outdoor cycling is now becoming an option) or play court sports aren’t so fortunate.  Ski areas are closed due to COVID-19 and cross-country trails may be nice for a day before icing over or turning to slush. All things considered, we runners have it pretty good.  Yes, races planned on have been canceled.  Larger group runs have disbanded as have indoor track workouts.  Yet on snowy days, the streets and bikepaths are plowed and if there’s ice, we can pull out the Icebugs.  Running provides us a vital outlet during these crazy and tragic … Continue reading

Keeping Perspective

The coronavirus pandemic has thrown virtually everything into chaos.  Schools are closing or going online, conferences and meetings cancelled, international travel bans put in place, and local, state, and national health officials grappling with assessing the spread of the virus and strategies for dealing with it.  The financial and commodity markets are taking historic hits and swings.  And at a time we could use a little relief and some distracting entertainment, the Final Four tournaments are cancelled, the start of the MLB delayed and NBA season suspended.  Regionally, the New Bedford Half Marathon was cancelled and the Boston Marathon moved to the fall for the first time ever.  Locally, road races of all sizes are being cancelled. As we might expect, there is plenty of finger pointing and second guessing going on.  Unfortunately, that will probably continue for some time, which just doesn’t help things.  It’s a time to realize nobody has all the answers and to work together on viable solutions.  Hopefully we’ll see more of that in the days ahead.  The reality is very few of us are going to contract COVID-19, which is a new (why it’s being called novel) strain of coronavirus causing the problem.  Other … Continue reading