“Run because zombies will eat the untrained first”.
(Zombie apocalypse survival guide)
We all know COVID-19 wrecked a lot in 2020. Our lives have changed and how we get things done may never be the same. That is not a complaint but just a simple observation of how the pandemic impacts our daily lives.
One thing I got excited about in 2020 was the prospects of being able to run races again. Most run organizations completely shut down their in-person races and pivoted to the virtual race format. Took a bit to get use to but runners started signing up for virtual races to compete in the COVID-19 world. I signed up and ran a few but it just did not give me the same competitive feel as the in-person racing.
I was more than happy to sign-up for a local 5k with new COVID-19 safety protocols in October 2020. Felt safe with how the race organizers kept runners apart before and after the race. The staggered starts for everyone allowed the runners to maintain proper physical distance and still enjoy the race process. Felt good throughout the race and did not worry about safety once we got started. The same protocols were in-place after the race—nothing was handed to us—everything was prepackaged and unopened (bagels, water, granola bars, etc.). The COVID-19 initiative should remain even when the pandemic starts to wane—the race world needed to look at food handling protocols and now we know there is a better way to handle after race activities.
The Track Shack running club in Orlando is one of my favorite run organizers and great people work there. Track Shack made the adjustment to virtual races to keep people in Central Florida running. I did not sign up for any of their virtual races but was excited to watch people send in pictures from their virtual races. Track Shack continued to look for ways to get runners back on courses safely.
Happy they were able to get clearance from the City of Orlando and Orange County to bring back in-person racing in time for the Orlando Utility Commission (OUC) Half Marathon. I have run this race multiple times and it provides a flat course that winds through downtown Orlando neighborhoods. I projected to run the Rock N Rock Half marathon in San Antonio as my December race at the beginning of the year, but COVID-19 had other plans. The OUC Half was a perfect replacement race and allowed me to run fast again. I did not target a personal record (PR) but just wanted to get back out and race with other runners and enjoy the process. Never thought running 13.1 miles would be something I craved but it is true—I am a runner now! 😊
Decided to get creative with my training program and expand my running options. Fort Pierce does not have the same running trail system as Tallahassee or the Orlando area. I can get some good runs in but mostly on sidewalks where I encounter traffic. Never been a fan of running around traffic but make it work based on where I live. I needed to get in some double digit runs so decided to look north and tackle one of my old trails in the Orlando area.
The Cross Seminole Trail is one I have trained and raced in the past when I lived in Oviedo, Florida. Made up my mind to just head back to Oviedo and get some training done on a shady trail without traffic. Happy to report the trail was everything I hoped for and needed!
Started my run with the intent to get in 10 miles on the training run—5 miles out and 5 miles back. The weather was 64 and sunny when I started my run—perfect October day to run in Florida! Did not have an intended time for my run—just wanted to get out and put in work and enjoy the trail, weather, and the process. The Cross Seminole Trail is a multi-use trail used by bikers, walkers, skaters, and runners. It is always great seeing so many active people out enjoying the trail.
I was able to go out with an easy pace for the first 3 miles. Got lucky when another runner joined the trail fun and passed me at a good pace. Decided to leverage this to see if I could keep up with the pace—it is always good to have a run goal so decided my goal was to keep her within sight and potentially pass at some point. Kept this process up for the next 2 miles and finally passed her at my 5-mile point. Runners are a friendly bunch, so we exchanged runner talk as we both continued to get our runs in. Turns out she was out for a 10-mile run to get prepared for the OUC Half Marathon too. Small world! She was also excited the OUC race was back as an in-person option.
I felt good at the 5-mile point so decided to extend my run a bit and set out to max out with a 12-mile run. The cooler temperatures and shady trail had a lot to do with how good I felt while out for my run. Kept pressing forward to the 6-mile point and then gave myself a slight break by walking for a bit before turning around to head back to the starting point. Running allows an opportunity to take in the sights and sounds of the surrounding area. Noticed a lot of new construction and growth in the area since the last time I was there. My run took me from downtown Oviedo to downtown Winter Spring via the trail systems. Great way to explore an area without worrying about traffic or getting in anyone’s way.
Turned around to head back after walking for about 5 minutes. I was not in a rush so just enjoyed the weather, nature, and the trail. Took several pictures of the trail on the way back so my return pace was more leisurely than the first part of my run. No worries, 12 miles is still 12 miles! 😊
Will look for additional ways to enhance my half marathon training. May try to leverage the Cross Seminole Trail again—will just have to determine the best day and time to head back to Oviedo. Excited to have races to train for again! It is a small step towards normalcy, but it is promising and will allow me to get my competitive fix again.
More training to do but I am headed in a great direction!
What do you crave for your sense of normalcy?
“Make sure your worst enemy does not live between your own ears”.