async="src="/ Taking the Long Way Home: 2020: Racing Through a Pandemic

Monday, December 7, 2020

2020: Racing Through a Pandemic

Disclaimer: As an ambassador for All Community Events, I received free race entries.

When 2020 started, I declared that I had goals, but I was 'keeping them close to the vest'. What was I thinking about for the upcoming year? I really was excited for a trail race in the Everglades in March. Whomp whomp. COVID and my son's snowboarding accident put a kibosh on those plans. 

I also shared my spring race plans, which included a race on the ice in Madison, a race at the Chicago Auto Show, the Shamrock Shuffle, the CARA Lakefront 10 miler, and the Chicagoland Spring Half Marathon. Whomp, whomp again. I only ran one of these, although I did receive the medal for that 10 miler in the mail. Thanks to the Chicago lakefront path being shut down for half of the year, I never truly earned it, although I ran plenty of 10 mile runs this year. Does one of them count? Can I hang that medal on my medal rack?

Everything changed this year, didn't it?

With pretty much everything canceled, I fell in love with trail running, did a 12 week virtual challenge, ran a few virtual halfs, and yes, eventually ran a few live races. This was definitely not the year any of us had planned for. But we runners pushed on. I kept seeing the words "running is not canceled" and nope, it wasn't. Running took us outside where we could socially distance and breathe freely. Running made us grateful for what we could do. COVID couldn't take running away from us.

This isn't my typical end of the year race recap. Compiling this list was a bit of a challenge. Some of the races I ran had bling, some didn't, a few races were live, but most weren't. As an ambassador for ACE and CARA, I ran quite a few virtual 5ks and 10ks, which I didn't include in this recap. I also ran a distance challenge, which helped me push my monthly miles up during the 2 months while I did it.  While I'm grateful for all the efforts race directors made to keep runners challenged, after this year, I hope to never run another virtual race again. 


Universal Soul Valentine's Trail Challenge

Instead of running that race on ice in Madison in February, I opted for this local trail race. Winter was warm and the ice was slush, so this was an easy decision. The trail race, a 4.6 miler, was held in one of the local forest preserves on a perfect 30 degree day. No bling for this race but I shared a delicious bowl of chili and a tasty beer with several of the other participants at the finish line.

This was some tasty bling!

CARA Honda Miles per Hour run

As a CARA ambassador, I was excited to be a part of this new race! The goal was to run as many miles as you could in an hour, all the while running around the Chicago Auto Show. It was definitely one of the more interesting things I've done as a runner. It was also very challenging. We did get a 'medal', but for me, the reward was getting to see all the cars in the auto show before the crowds!


Home Half Marathon

Seriously, the last thing I wanted to do was a virtual long distance race. However, when I saw the Home Half Marathon, I signed up for it because you had to run it on April 25. It felt more 'real' that way. Does that make sense? Plus, I had all that training from preparing for the Everglades race that I didn't get to run. My husband and escaped to the lake and I ran it up there. Not only did it feel good to run that distance, but it was also nice to get away.

This was my favorite medal this year.
It's symbolic of a very difficult year.

COVID 19 Mile Social Distance Challenge

After having to DNF my Everglades Trail Race, I signed up for this crazy distance, hoping to put to use some of my training. I ran it as a series of loops around my neighborhood. Yes, I stopped at home every 4.5 miles to fuel and use the bathroom, just like an ultra, right? This was the longest distance I'd run since my last marathon in 2016. No bling but finishing was definitely winning! Run or die? Take that, 'rona!


The Uncanceled Project

By late spring, a lot of distance challenges popped up. They were all so tempting! I liked this weekly challenge--every week for 12 weeks, I did a trail 10k. Having to complete my run every week kept me accountable. Each week had a theme, which also made the runs meaningful. I'm grateful to Adam Goucher and Tim Catalano, from Run the Edge, for this challenge. 


Naperville Trails Half Marathon

Last year, I had to DNS this one due to health issues. This year, I was healthy and ready to run, but the race was virtual. Fortunately, there was the option to run the race on the actual course, using an app to guide me. In spite of the perfect conditions on what would have been the actual race day, I really struggled with this run. I have no idea why. I had a personal worst for the distance. Maybe this just isn't my race.


Prairie State Half Marathon

Finally! A real, live race! While there were plenty of restrictions on the runners--masking in the socially distant corral and assigned start times, it sure felt good to run an actual race. The course was boring, there were some hills, and I had a great race, redeeming myself from my disastrous race in Naperville. There was good beer at the finish line too.


CARA Autumn Trail Chase 5k

Another live race? This was a fun 5k held in a preserve about 45 minutes from my house. The weather was perfect. Like the race I ran a few weeks before, runners were required to mask in the corrals and were assigned start times. For some odd reason, I was placed in the back of the last corral, so I had the experience of passing a lot of runners. I kind of enjoyed that!

No bling but yes to the sticker!
Could this be a thing?


Schaumburg Turkey Trot Half Marathon

This is the race I run every year, so even though this year it was a virtual event, there was no way I wasn't going to run it. I ran it on the actual race day, in perfect weather conditions, at the preserve where the race is always held. I couldn't run the actual course because it's point to point, but I think I covered the whole course. I felt great and completely enjoyed myself. 



After running Schaumburg, my last virtual half of the year, I have to admit to being glad to be done with virtual races. I won't be doing any virtual holiday races. It's been an interesting experience, running all these virtual races. I was happy to take bling for the half marathons I ran, but my results will always have an asterisk next to them. I ran all my virtual races as close to a real event as possible with the exception that I stopped my watch for photos. If you have an issue with that, I don't know what to say except that this year, the rules were different. The results of the virtual races I ran don't count for anything official. As one fellow blogger said about her virtual race: 'my race, my way'.

Even the live races were different than in the past. I do have a few events on the calendar for 2021--but will they happen? Will races go back to the way they were, or will we be doing things differently? It's going to be interesting. 

No matter what happened this year, happily, running was not canceled.

How was your year of running? Did you get to do any live races? Did you do any virtual races? Any virtual distance challenges? What are you most looking forward to in 2021?

I'm linking up with Kim and Zenaida for Tuesday Topics and with the Runners' Roundup: DebbieDeborahJenLaura, and Lisa.  


32 comments :

  1. You did a lot in 2020, Wendy!

    I did not run any live races, but that was my choice. There were a few -- although not many.

    I don't really have goals for 2021 yet. I mean, 2020. :)

    Anything that makes you feel good about yourself is a good thing! Doesn't matter what other people think.

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    1. It was such aa strange year! Looking forward to things getting back to some semblance of normal.

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  2. I got a lot of bling too. but if they weren't a real race, it just seemed not to count. I'm glad I did them but I need more now!!

    Hopefully there will be more in-person races in 2021 (so far not) and real races will be back in 2022.

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    1. I probably wouldn't have done so many if I wasn't an ambassador for ACE. I know I wouldn't have paid for all those virtual races. What can I say?

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  3. Love all your bling from this year! I thought the uncancelled project was one of the more fun virtual challenges from this year.

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  4. So glad running wasn't cancelled this year, would have been a much tougher year for a lot of us!

    You covered a lot of ground, virtually and with some in-person races. Way to go!

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    1. I'm grateful to have running to help me stay sane this year!

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  5. As monotonous as those 12 weeks of the UN-Canceled project got to be, I really liked the weekly words they provided for the themes. It was a great distraction in the midst of all the COVID turmoil and anxiety. That Home medal is really nice, and symbolic.

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    1. I love the Home medal--it's just the perfect medal for this year!

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  6. It definitely was a weird year for racing, but I think runners really made the best of it! I don't love virtual races but I think they really helped me to stay focused this year. I wouldn't be opposed to doing them even once we are back to live racing.

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    1. I know I hoped never to do another virtual race, but yeah, there might be another one...lol. Actually, the distance challenges were definitely a win and I'd do one of those again.

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  7. Sigh, someday I will get to run the Shamrock Shuffle...I think I've told you that we're always in CHI that weekend and it's been two years of me having FOMO and then this year I registered. We literally cancelled our trip at the same time that the race got cancelled. But I got to do two live races and 8 virtuals, so I will take it. Sadly I've never had good beer at the finish line of any real race that I've done but I made up for it this year with finish line beers at home.

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    1. Sadly, there is only green beer at the finish of the Shuffle, so if we ever get to run it again, I'll whisk you away to a good brewpub!

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  8. running is definitely not canceled! The uncanceled project seems like it was so so long ago. My last real race was in February. You did manage to do a bunch of races and rack up some impressive miles. Bling that you will never forget this year

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  9. You were also busy this year! I forgot to include the races from The Uncanceled Project. That was a good challenge and I know kept many runners motivated.

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    1. I really liked that challenge! The weekly themes made the runs more meaningful too.

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  10. Wow, Wendy, you collected a lot of medals for 2020! Well done!
    It took a lot of grit to do all these virtual ones.
    I remember the race at the Chicago Auto Show. Who would have thought that it would be your last "normal" race for a while?
    Like all of us, the thing I'm most looking forward to is a normal race. When is your first scheduled race in 2021?

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    1. I have a trail race in January, The Frozen Gnome, lol. Will it happen? I hope so. Then there's the rescheduled Ice Age Trail race in May. In between then, we'll just wait and see. It looks like trail races are happening, so I will most likely do some of those.

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  11. Since COVID started, I've only done the one live race, Savage Race this past weekend. I was supposed to go to NC and do a half marathon last month, but my stress fracture knocked that idea in the bud.

    Initially, doing virtual races kept me motivated and we did some fun virtual challenges with our running group. However, at this point, I am also sick of virtual races. I still have 3 to run in order to 'earn' my medals- 2 10ks and 1 15k, but after that I'm done with virtuals. I appreciate the opportunity and the fact that the races adapted to what we were facing this year, but the main reason I pay for races is for the race atmosphere. So if I can't have that I'm not really interested in running them.

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  12. Wow you did a lot of virtual races! Nice job!
    I agree with you that the Uncanceled Project was a good challenge.

    I only ran one in-person race this year back in February which feels like a lifetime ago! 2 more virtuals on deck for me and then I'm done for a long while.

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    1. The only virtual I'll run now is if one of my live races gets canceled.

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  13. This was definitely a wild year, indeed! Congrats on all you were able to accomplish! I did a few virtual things but I'm with you...I can only handle so many of those!

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    1. I can't wait for things to get back to some semblance of normal!

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  14. You made the most of racing in 2020! Those finish line beers look extra tasty and those 2020 medals will have so much meaning past this years - reminders of joy in a hard year.
    I did not earn any medals this year but did a couple time trials throughout the year and nabbed a Strava crown!

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    1. You nailed it--I will look back on this year as one that was challenging but a great year of running for me!

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  15. I really have to give race directors kudos for stepping up to the plate and making virtual racing a thing. They even changed my mind! I did get to run a real race, my marathon back in February. It was my 39th, but my 40th got cancelled, so hopefully on of those two races will be back on next year. I think once I hit 40 I might call it a day.

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  16. Well, I missed out on a lot of races, but not because of COVID lol!

    Now that I'm "back", I have done a mix of virtuals, distance challenges and in-person races. I'm kind of scared to sign up for anything too intense or big in 2021 - who knows what's going to happen? But I did just sign up for a New Year's 5K, and I am hopeful that will be the start of a great running year.

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    1. I am signed up for a January trail race...I hope it happens too!

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