Running During a Pandemic: COVID-19

This is a terrifying moment in our lifetime– fear of disease, fear of lack of resources, fear of unemployment, fear of the unknown. Have you had to stay home or close your business? Have you already felt isolated by social distancing? Are you disappointed that your race is cancelled or may be cancelled? Most of us can answer a resounding “YES!” to many of these questions. You are not alone. Your hard work in training is not for nothing. Your fitness is not taken from you. Your ability to run (or bike or swim) is not taken from you!
As major races are cancelled or postponed, consider this: What is stopping you from crossing your own finish line? Why should the fear of something “not counting” sideline your goals?
My husband and I are both healthcare workers. If cancelling a race is one more way to flatten the curve so that we can preserve our health and our co-workers’ health and keep patients out of the hospital, it is the right thing to do.
Our upcoming races, the Heart Mini 15K and 13.1 was scheduled for March 22. Before the announcement came out about the transition to a virtual race & cancellation of the events, Jon and I decided we would set our courses to do the distance we have been training for– Jon was setting out to win his age group for the 15K and I was setting out to go sub-2 in the half. We agreed we would stick with our plans, carry water with us and have our race day for ourselves. The cancellation announcement came, and we are looking forward to wearing our race bibs on Sunday even though we know we’ll run most of the race alone in the darkness of the morning hours and there will be no crowd support, no cheers at the finish line. I hope when we do see others running out there, it lifts us and reminds us that even if the running community can’t run together, we are not alone.
The course I’m doing is the backwards route of my usual long run, I know it can be desolate on a stretch that I won’t have run since I ran the Flying Pig Marathon last year where my thoughts were dark. I know there is a chance I get into my head and will have wished I asked someone to run parts with me, but the only time I’ve broke the 2 hour goal was in 2017 when Jon ran with me for my second 13.1 and the 2018 half I fell 7 minutes short when I tried by myself. I mapped my route in Garmin Connect and am using the amazing PacePro feature to align my goal to the course segments. If you are looking for a way to simulate your race strategy for a virtual race of your own, I highly recommend Garmin Connect!
The American Heart Association Heart Mini is the first race I actually spectated Jon running, a few months into our relationship. I had not gotten into running at this point in time and I definitely worked harder than Jon did running around the course trying to see him in the rain! I love doing this race every year because it reminds me of how far I’ve come both as a runner but also as a partner and spectator.

The main reason this race is special to me is because of the American Heart Association. In October 2017, I went to the emergency room with the worse headache of my life. I woke up crying, took acetaminophen and tried to get through the work day. I’m not one to get migraines so I wasn’t sure what was happening but I knew something was wrong. I had thrown up repeatedly two nights prior and with a history of strokes in my family, I worried something was wrong. Ultimately, I had a blood clot in my brain, a cerebral venous thrombosis (CVT) that extended from my left sigmoid sinus into my internal jugular vein. A CVT is a major cause of strokes and even though I thankfully had no ischemia or hemorrhage noted on my scans, I was not out of the woods yet. Eighteen months of anticoagulation later, I am now managed on once daily aspirin and have had improved imaging showing a decreased clot burden. I know if I had never become a runner, I wouldn’t have known to listen to my body so intently telling me something was wrong and I know there is a major possibility that I would not be able to run now. So on Sunday, I am running for those who cannot run, for the times I was afraid to run because I worried I would fall and hemorrhage if I hit my head, for the patients who are too sick to run, for those consumed in darkness they cannot see the light.
I hope you join me in finding the light amidst this COVID-19 cloud of darkness and enjoy breathing the fresh air during your runs. Transition your planned race goals into virtual race goals– no one can ever take them away from you, even if you don’t get a medal for crossing that finish line. Take a mental snapshot of you raising your arms crossing your imaginary finish line– it isn’t easy racing in front of crowds, but I have a feeling it will be harder still racing in silence.
Stay safe out there! I would love to hear from you and your virtual race goals!

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Heart Mini 2019- 15K

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Heart Mini 15K 2018

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Jon bringing me a new friend in the hospital
-Michelle

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