2020 Recap

The new normal in 2020

I usually like to write a post looking back at the year to remember all that I’ve accomplished. This year was so awful that I question if I really want to go there. Maybe it’s best just to keep moving without looking back. I decided I should still take the time to celebrate the fact that I simply found a way to survive this year. It’s probably good to document what this crazy year was like and hopefully I’ll be able to look back at this post in the future when things are much better. I usually try to be an optimist so I’m going to concentrate on some of the good things that came from this year. 

This year involved a lot of extremes. In March I was running 50-60 miles per week with my first 50K on the horizon. By April I was injured and then had to cope through three months without running. I wanted to avoid the busy trails during the early days of COVID and spent a lot of time on the isolated dirt roads. I think the angled, uneven surfaces created an issue with my peroneal tendon. The injury led to the longest running layoff I’ve been through.

A great place to run, but I’ve learned to be cautious about running on crowned dirt roads

I get depressed enough whenever an injury keeps me from running during normal times. This time it happened during the early days of lockdown. I was already struggling my way through several big things at once and it became a pretty dark time. I couldn’t go anywhere or do much of anything to keep myself distracted. I couldn’t get that endorphin fix to lift my spirits. I was thankful that at least I have all of the equipment I need to do strength workouts at home so I could do something. I reached my peak pull-up fitness during that time!

I always had company from my best little buddy Romeo when I did strength workouts but lost him just weeks before the COVID lockdown hit. I miss him terribly and really struggled with the thought of having new buddies after him. At the end of September I came across a couple of sweet brothers who were in need of a home and I knew I could help them live their best lives. It turns out most animals like to hang out during workout time, so now Rusty and Butters join me sometimes just like Romeo did.

Romeo was the greatest little buddy
Butters and Rusty have been a bright spot during this awful year

As I coped with being injured, I walked when I could but my tolerance was on and off depending on how my ankle reacted. This year I ended up walking a whole lot more than I usually do. When I started a new job in June I established a walking routine during my lunch break. I’ve been taking advantage of the long, empty hallways in the deserted parts of the building where I feel like I’m mall walking. I regularly climb sets of stairs during those walks too in hopes that it will build muscles that will help me when running hills!

Eventually biking seemed to work well enough without aggravating my ankle. It was a way to get outside and make me feel like I was accomplishing something. The feeling of accomplishment is one thing that really drives me to stay active and it helped lift my mood once I could get moving again. I tried to use biking to fill the running void. As a result, I biked more frequently and rode longer distances than ever. I ventured off to trails I’d never been to across the state for a change of scenery. As I saw what I was capable of I had to keep pushing the limits. Possibly my biggest accomplishment this year was completing a 100-mile ride before the end of the summer. For someone who typically just “gets through” the biking segment of triathlons, it was a nice change to fully embrace biking this summer.

It’s still hard to believe I actually did that!

I’m pretty bummed that my swimming routine suffered so much this year. I was dedicated to swimming at least three days a week until everything shut down due to COVID. I was off for over two months until the lakes warmed up enough in June. With no other place to swim, I did more open water swimming than ever.

I’m thankful that my local metropark has a great place to swim during the summer

By the end of September swimming outside wasn’t an option. The gyms were open again and I went a few times just to swim but the gym’s COVID-limited hours makes it tough for my schedule. Plus, wariness about whether it’s even a good idea to go has kept me away for the most part. I totally neglected swimming again by the end of the year. I’m not happy that I’ve lost all of the swimming fitness I had built up and that I’ll have to restart from scratch. I’ve basically accepted that I’m keeping busy with other activities for now and I’ll get back to swimming again eventually.

Initially I was sad that I couldn’t race this year. I had big plans to do my first 50K. I was excited to do some triathlons and was looking forward to going to Toronto for a marathon in the fall. As race after race got canceled I began to accept that this year was going to be a bust and figured next year will be a do-over year. I didn’t really grieve the fact that I couldn’t race because there was nothing we could do about it. Once I got injured I knew I probably couldn’t have done most of the races anyway. I love the environment of races but I don’t need them to stay motivated. I’m going to stay active no matter what because it makes me feel strong and accomplished. Later in the year some races found ways to hold in-person events safely but it wasn’t appealing to me at all. I was content just doing my own thing. Even though the races had safe protocols in place I had no desire to risk being around other people. The thought of having someone breathing near me at any point during a race stressed me out enough to not even consider racing as an option.

My very small collection of shirts and medals from a year of no real racing

I went from the most races I’ve ever done in 2019 to basically no real races this year. I only participated in one in-person event this year. Dave’s Running in Toledo hosted a March Mayhem training run where I ran almost 16 miles. Although it was not a race, the marked course, aid stations, and post-run treats made it feel similar to a race. Otherwise, I ran two virtual half marathons. It was the first time I ever participated in a virtual event and only did so because I had already signed up for the events. I gave one a hard effort and was actually fairly close to my PR. The other just felt like an uneventful training run. I also took part in the Run United Virtual Marathon in September and October to raise money for the United Way. That was the first running event I could do through my new company. They did a great job of keeping us connected and I felt like a part of a team that was doing something good. Otherwise, virtual racing doesn’t really appeal to me. I had signed up for a whole bunch of races this year and deferred as many of the races as I could. Now a lot of my schedule is pre-determined for 2021…if we can get back to normal.

Pictures from the few running events I did participate in this year

Here’s a look at some stats for the year:

  • I swam a little over 51 miles
  • I biked 2,500 miles
  • I ran 1,320 miles
  • I had 126 weight/strength sessions (usually around 45 minutes to an hour long)
  • I did two virtual half marathons and one month-long virtual marathon challenge

COVID led to the least amount of swimming I’ve done in several years. Only 51 miles versus 131 miles last year. Being injured for a few months dropped my running mileage quite a bit too. I was around 500 miles lower than the last couple years. Because my swimming and running volume was reduced, I had to keep busy somehow and made up for it with biking and strength workouts. 2,500 miles on the bike is huge for me. In comparison I only rode 523 miles last year! 1,960 miles was my previous high in 2017 – another year when I dealt with injury. It’s a given that if my bike mileage is high it’s probably because my running mileage is low! 126 strength workouts may have been a new high for me too. For several months I also did a 5-day a week pull-up workout. Although swimming, running, and racing were reduced this year, I found other ways to keep active.

While I’d like to come up with some hopes and goals for next year, after this year I’m still in the mindset of taking things as they come. If I don’t feel like it’s safe or worth the risk, I have no reservations about continuing to pass on racing for a while. I still hope I’ll get another shot at running 50K for the first time. Hopefully by June things will be safe enough to do so. I also hope that I’m not held back by any lingering ankle issues and that my body will cooperate. Hopefully October is far enough away that Americans will be welcome in Canada once again and I’ll get to run the Toronto Waterfront Marathon. 

I thought 2019 was one of the hardest years of my life but 2020 sure didn’t get much better. Even though this was a major bummer of a year, I survived and at least that’s something. There were a few saving graces this year. I’m still going to hold on to some shred of hope that next year will be better and I don’t continue my streak of nasty years!

– Janet

Follow me on Instagram @janetboltz and Twitter @reidphotography