2020 Year in Review
Come on, blog, wake up! It’s been awhile.
Hi! You’ve been in a state of torpor.
Yeah, it is I!
OMG…what year is it?
It’s now January in the year of our Lord 2021, but a lot has happened in 2020. And, just where should I begin? Oh, yeah.
The Wuhan Virus, or “the plague” as I refer to it, has altered lives in both enormous and small ways: how we live, how we work, how we interact with one another and if we will ever enjoy the marathon experience the way we once did. I feel as if we are treating, judging or ducking others as if they are ill or disease-ridden. Sad.
Anyway, are you going to start blogging again?
Maybe, but it depends what’s on my race schedule. I feel compelled to keep my race journal going, even if it means summing up a year of basically no running. Many of us could not wait for this annus horribilis to end. And for good reason: to put it bluntly, 2020 sucked. We’ve all learned to prioritize the safety and well-being of our families and communities, but also, we need to look ahead as we carve out new paths to our lives.
I can see that.
I’m preaching to the choir here, but a lot has changed during this so-called pandemic, but there are certain things that have not: our core values, innovation, adaptation and reworking ways to keep running. Putting those values into action during this time has been more important than ever and they continue to guide each decision we make. Over the past several months, I’ve come to realize that phrases like “these are unprecedented times,” “we’re in this together,” “stay safe,” “social distancing” or “mask up” should be expelled from the English lexicon.
Agreed. Are you asking me to be your psychotherapist?
Not exactly. But while race cancellations may be warranted for the sake of public health, I’m sure many runners experienced some sort of Kübler-Ross moment coping with the concomitant disappointment, particularly those who put in hours of training and discipline to qualify for Boston, suddenly finding themselves postponing taking that victory lap.
So, how do you feel about race cancellations?
Runners are not immune to feelings of disappointment. From personal experience, a subpar race can bring plenty of personal letdowns. When I fall short of a time goal, I feel some sort of discontent, but I also feel gratitude – gratitude for my good health as a result of training.
I abhor today’s cancel culture. When a race is canceled, it’s reasonable to assume that disappointment can be accompanied by anxiety from the loss of control, which is not something most runners are good about accepting. We all want to be flexible when life throws us curveballs, but it’s hard to do after going through the regiments of training and focus.
So, we have no other alternative except to re-evaluate and innovate. With our marathoning calendars thrown out the window, it’s time to shift the focus to maintaining fitness, preserving our excitement about running, and, for some, possibly signing up for some virtual half or full marathons.
Yes. Personally, virtual races don’t appeal to me, but for others, running the distance you trained for was still possible, but in a different way. Sure, virtual races may not officially count towards one’s 50-state journey or club statistics, but you still receive a finisher’s medal, bib or even an event shirt. But most importantly, it gives you some sense of accomplishment. Choosing your own course in your hometown just isn’t the same as traveling to a chosen venue and experiencing the official course, cheering spectators and the incredible volunteers.
True. Without the volunteers, a race isn’t possible. Let’s cut to the chase. Did you run something in 2020?
When I completed my 50-state quest in June 2019, I was anxious to take a much-deserved rest break and shift my focus towards training with the hopes of running some quality marathons for 2020. I had my attention directed to quality running and pacing half marathons to accompany the Chicago and Honolulu Marathons during the latter part of the year.
With a sense of renewed sanguinity, I started 2020 with my second running of Huntington Beach’s Surf City Half Marathon on 2 February.
On 1 March, I managed to sneak in Visalia’s End of the Trail Half Marathon shortly before the global contagion triggered a cascading effect of race cancellations.
Unless some soothsayer possessed a genuine crystal ball who could prophesize what 2020 had in store for racing, the unleashing of the plague didn’t come as a complete surprise. But it certainly set in motion a year of calamity, thus marking the end of everyone’s race calendars.
Hold on, you only finished two running events? Tell me about them.
Yes. Here’s my docket.
Surf City Half Marathon, Huntington Beach, CA, 2:18:17
Reviews say this course is flat and fast. Fast, that’s debatable, but flat? I would say it’s flat for the most part, but there is a moderate hill around Mile 3.5. In a nutshell, the racecourse for both the marathon and half marathon are basically an out-and-back on the PCH with another out-and-back up to Seapoint View for the course’s only real incline; thence, its north on the PCH with a turnaround at Bolsa Chica. From there, the half continues in a straight line of roughly five miles to the finish.
As I prepared to kick off the year’s inaugural road race, I was excited. It was a cool and balmy morning as thousands of runners competed in the full and half marathons. During the first three miles, I quickly found I was not in the running shape I had hoped. I kind of burned out during the final few miles as I scrambled across the finish line with a second-rate time. Maybe I was out of shape. Maybe it’s the boredom of the course. Maybe it was the warm balmy temperatures. In any event, I still made the most of running this popular race with thousands of others, nevertheless.
End of the Trail Half Marathon, Visalia, CA, 2:12:51
One month after Surf City, I set my sights on a renewed focus to my running by keeping up on my workouts with some cross-training and yoga. Those activities I did. With an upcoming 2:15 pacing job in Modesto, so instead of going all-out in a bid to run a decent time, I directed my attention to my pacing form. I finished a little fast, perhaps it was the over exuberance at the start.
Being that this flat and fast course is one of the valley’s runner of the year series events, the race begins in downtown Visalia taking runners through residential streets and neighborhoods and onto the Santa Fe Trail continuing to the historic End of the Trail bronze statue in Mooney Grove Park before heading back to the finish line party.
Modesto Half Marathon, Modesto, CA, CANCELED
This flat and fast course begins in uptown Modesto on M Street, between 10th and 11th Streets. The course winds through historic tree-lined neighborhoods, skirting around the “house in the middle of the road” and loops into the countryside of orchards and farmlands before returning to the point of beginning. I was all set to pace this race, but it will just have to wait for another day.
Chicago Marathon, Chicago, IL, CANCELED
The year I managed to secure a bib number through the lottery system, this world major will have to wait for another day – perhaps never. Instead of a 2021 race deferral, I opted for a full refund of my entry fees, testing my luck with another lottery in the future. Maybe it just wasn’t meant to be.
Two Cities Half Marathon, Fresno/Clovis, CA, CANCELED
From the event’s conception, Two Cities formed a great relationship with Woodward Park; however, 2020 was supposed to be the beginning of a new affiliation with Clovis Community College challenging runners with a new certified course linking the two cities. I looked forward to pacing this great race on a new course, but it will have to wait until November 2021.
Bakersfield Half Marathon, Bakersfield, CA, CANCELED
Being a legacy runner of Bakersfield, I look forward to this annual November event walking the Streets of Bakersfield. Perhaps, November 2021 will preserve my legacy status, but with an asterisk.
Honolulu Marathon, Honolulu, HI, CANCELED
It was tropical (typical for Hawaii), windy and rained most of the time, but I wanted to improve upon my 2014 finish time. The sultry tropical December weather can make running the marathon distance a taxing challenge, but I was up for the test. After being notified of the cancellation, race organizers gave runners the option to defer their entries to December 2021 or take a refund. Unlike Chicago, I opted for the deferral, so I’ll just have to take a wait-and-see approach.
Remember some of these races from previous blogs?
Of course, I do. What about your finishing times this year?
I’m not going to delve into that. I may say I don’t care about my finishing times these days, but deep down, I really do. I know that someone in their fifties isn’t as fast as they once were in their thirties. But I know I can do better – it just takes work and discipline.
I don’t care about finish times, and neither does anyone else.
Noted. I was happy to pace myself enough to work on my pace form for when it really does count. I feel that discouraging voice inside me telling me that my best times are behind me and that my future marathon pursuits will be either for fun, or to flirt with aspirations, but never quite reach or surpass them.
My yearly race stats aren’t that notable. But, for the record…
Half Marathons Run: 2
Surf City Half Marathon, Huntington Beach, CA – 2:18:17
End of the Trail Half Marathon, Visalia, CA – 2:12:51
fellow runners: 10,180
Largest race: 9,458 (Surf City Half Marathon)
Smallest race: 722 (End of the Trail Half Marathon)
All-time marathon average to date (through 71 races): 4:51:32
Standard deviation: 0:28:58
Median finish time: 4:54:09
Total miles run
in 2020: 529.9
Race miles run in 2020: 26.2
Average half marathon pace: 10:20
You’re right – not that striking. Typically, you include photos of your top three finisher medals in your blog reviews.
Well, I have only two half marathon medals to show for this year.
Any final thoughts before we conclude?
Yes. The plague has made us wonder what is worse – the actual virus or the devastation it has done to one’s state’s economic backbone or the mental health of millions of people. It kills me to see restaurants and small businesses close their doors because of the useless lockdowns, mandates and protocols.
Sitting in isolation is challenging for many, especially for those who live alone or work from home. But the outdoors is open, and runners can still get outside and breathe the fresh air and clear our minds – without that mask.
And so, I happily bid farewell to 2020 and I look to a better 2021 hopefully bringing an end to the plague virus and to have some sense of normal human behavior and interactions. Though my plans aren’t completely monumented in stone, I hope that I can once again blaze another trail and set my sights on the starting line of another marathon and earn a fast time, for once.
Or not, and that would be OK.
I won’t hold my breath.
As always, onward and upward.