January 1 2021
Last year at this time, was pretty bad for me and my family. Actually 2020 started going bad early, for us the downward spiral really started in the waning days of 2019. Mom's health had taken a drastic turn for the worse and Janice and I found ourselves as care givers. Needless to say things like running a race became obviously unimportant and two events I had registered for were nixed from my calendar. If you knew Sissy, she never wanted to be a burden on anyone and she certainly didn't want me canceling plans because of her. I promised her I'd run them next year. New Year's Day came and went and Mom said goodbye to all of us, just a few days after that.
Of course not long after losing Mom, everything else about 2020 began to unravel. Looking back I'm thankful that I did get to actually run 4 real races and we as a family got to take a beach vacation and stayed safe and healthy through all of it. Honestly though, 3 of the races were back during the "it's a hoax" phase in January, February and March. (One event even had a rogue aid station where guys were mocking the virus, dressed in goggles and Tyvek jump suits and handing out Corona Beer. I hope they no longer believe this is a joking matter.)
The summer was spent running virtual events, The Suunto Factory Team ran a 4100 mile virtual relay, the distance from Helsinki Finland (Suunto's home) and New York City with handoffs to the next athlete using Zoom. It was a fund raiser for Save The Children. Virtual means you can run it anywhere, like the Frozen Heart 50k, which is hosted in Maryland and I ran it alone in the Stony Valley on a lovely 95° day where the Horse Fly to Runner ratio seemed like 3000/1.
Had a blast with the Pickle Juice Sport Virtual Summer Series and those races were really all centered in Texas. I ran one of them in Ocean City, MD. My biggest challenge after the contingencies brought on by the pandemic was motivation. Without racing as a goal, it was tough just to get out the door. Putting those virtual races on my calendar were an attempt to push my fat butt out the door and run. It only sort of worked.
I looked for the two races I missed and found that Fleet Feet Mechanicsburg was hosting the New Year Run Challenge, so I immediately threw my hat in the ring. (I never did find a registration for the other race I scratched, The Last Mile in Duncannon PA, I think it got cancelled this year).
I haven't been training seriously (hardly at all), work has been busy and life has been complicated. I never knew how much work being the Executor of an Estate could be. Never the less, a timed event like the Fleet Feet New Year Run Challenge would be perfect for an undertrained fat guy who really just wanted to have fun, run a few miles and give 2021 a kick start. It's format is to run a 2.2 mile lap starting and finishing at the Fleet Feet Mechanicsburg store. You have a 9am-6pm window to run as many laps as you like. Right after Christmas things changed, the race sent an email stating in short, "This year anything goes!". The event was now basically a virtual event and the formal timed format was only optional for 2021.
Initially I still planned to go to Mechanicsburg and run the course, but knowing that I had the option to stay home and run it in my own neighborhood soon became my choice. I typically never run on the road but I considered different loops I could run on our streets and going to bed last night I was set on a course. Getting up this morning, running at 9am after welcoming in the New Year at midnight didn't feel so great. I also watched the weather and saw that freezing rain was coming. With that, I completely changed my plan, after all, they did say "anything goes". I decided to go up to the mountain where I do the majority of my running and do what I call mountain top laps.
I decided I'd run till I got tired, bored or till the freezing rain started. I got to the mountain top to find numerous cars at the trail head. I was happy to see Gary's old white van parked there. If you ever see a man, slightly older than me, walking up and down Blue Mountain Parkway, that's Gary. Dude's nuts. With little wind and waking to 22°, 30° felt pretty warm. Scarfed down a Hüma gel, washed it down with Pickle Juice and hit the trail. I didn't feel great, but I was running and soon I was a mile in at the power line, where I consider the beginning of the laps. My loop would take me up and over the power line ridge, making a right turn at the next intersection, up the rocky steps and right turn back to the power line and do it all again. That portion is just shy of a mile.
|The power line summit looking South.|
|The power line summit looking North,|
It was cool to meet Ryan Williams as he plodded down the rocky steps. Said, hey I think I follow you on Strava, are you Perry? We faced each other again while I was headed down the steep power line summit and he was going up. That little stretch of trail is nasty, it's steep going up and super sketchy with all the loose rocks going down. Thankfully it's quite short.
|Some of the Rocky Steps.|
The rain started a lot sooner than I had expected. I think I had run 4 mountain top laps when the freezing rain came in earnest. I ignored it at first, but knew I needed to get going. I wanted to get on the road and down Blue Mountain Parkway before it was iced over. So I ran one more lap to take some photos and called it a day and head home. [Fun stuff: the visor of my Boco Gear hat was frozen solid with ice :-) ]
I didn't run far, heck I barely ran 7 miles. I didn't run fast, I never run fast and climbing rocks is more fun than run anyway. I did however have a blast, I got out in the forest for a run on my favorite mountain top and today I can say I've run every day this year.
Last year was pretty bad and we're still not in the clear but I can say that I'm going to work my tail off to make 2021 a good one. Hopefully Fred and Shelby will get to host the 2022 New Year Run Challenge without any weird contingencies, I'll be there and suggest you start your running year there too. Happy New Year all!
|More Rocky Steps.|
|Nearing the top of the climb - The Windy Section.|