Love in the Time of Covid19April 13, 2020 / byrunningwhilevegan / Categories : Uncategorized
Let me just start by addressing the elephant in the room here; it’s been awhile. A really long while. And even though so many things have stayed the same, things have changed as well! First of all, Mike and I got engaged at the finish line of my first ultra in Alaska — the Anchorage Runfest 49k! If things had gone according to plan, we would’ve been married 10 days ago, but Covid-19 changed so many things for so many of us. While runners all over social media lamented about cancelled races, Mike and I made the heart-wrenching decision to postpone our wedding from March 28th until September 27th, 2020. A part of me is worried that still won’t be enough time, getting through this pandemic, but we were in a tight spot with our venue and needed to make a decision quickly.
The engagement and postponed wedding should be a post all on it’s own, so the short(ish) version is that I finally ran my first ultra and I got proposed to at the finish line! Mike had been wanting for us to visit Alaska since we started dating, and I knew the only way we’d make it happen is if I signed up for a race. Between the Mayor’s Midnight Sun Marathon in June and Runfest in August, I chose Runfest because it gave me enough time to both recover from Rock’n Roll San Diego in the beginning of June and ramp up my mileage over the summer.
My first choice of distance for Runfest was the marathon, but a simple question from Mike when I called him to see if the dates worked for us, (“Are you doing the Ultra then?”) prompted me to sign up for the longer race! It was time for a new challenge!
Once Mike and I made the move from Claremont (where we were living with his family) to our own place in Huntington Beach, I was able to take my running much more seriously again. We were stressed out in Claremont, mostly due to Mike’s heinous commute to Long Beach; not seeing very much of each other while being guests in his parent’s home. I was working at gym, picked up cycling to work, and road racing pretty frequently on the weekends. My endurance was great, but my finishing times were just ok. I was slowing down tremendously from when I first started running in 2016. Fast forward to us in our new place, me getting a job at a local run shop and boom! My running was getting stronger. Something always has to give, and that meant less time at the gym and no cycling, but running was my first love and I was okay with the compromise. I noticed things really took a turn for the better with my running, when I ran the 2019 Pasadena half in January with a course PR, and only one minute away from my half marathon PR from RnR Vegas in 2016.
Here’s a better visual:
Rock’n Roll Vegas November 2016: 2:06
Rock’n Roll Vegas November 2018: 2:14
Pasadena Half January 2019: 2:07
What changed? I was running much more significantly in just two short months. But honestly the biggest difference is that we started eating better. Having our own space made grocery shopping and meal prep easier for us both.
Riding the high from my almost PR at Pasadena, I ran Surf City Marathon in my new home city, and snagged a new PR of 4:50! Next up was Rock’n Roll San Francisco, which wouldn’t have happened except for the fact I got accepted onto the Rock’n Squad, RnR’s ambassador team! Comped races make travel costs much more palatable! I absolutely LOVED the RnR SF experience the year before; the course, the vibe, the city, and since my Grandma lives right outside SF, I’ll take any excuse to spend the weekend with her!
Rock’n Roll SF takes place in April a few weeks after LA Marathon, and by that time I already had two marathons and two halfs under my belt, four months into 2019. I wasn’t going into SF with any time goals (lie: I always have a time goal, but I knew I needed to take it easy and listen to my body.) I finished in 2:10, and honestly was super shocked by that; I don’t think I ran a half marathon under 2:12 in all of 2018. I felt great the entire time, hills, bridge and all!
Things were changing for me, and not long after the RnR SF half, I started taking personal training sessions at Crunch gym. I had signed up for the Anchorage 49k in February and I knew my best chance at running my strongest race to date would be to incorporate strength training!
The trifecta of working at a run store, running more, and strength training led me to a new half PR of 2:04 at Rock’n Roll San Diego in June (a PR I had been working since 2016 to beat!!!) and a 5k PR of at the Run Surf City 4th of July 5k, 24:31, which was 29 seconds faster than my 2016 25:00 5k PR. 2016 was a year I spent all of 2017 and ’18 trying to beat but it was shaping up that 2019 was really my year! I had never taken my training so seriously before and the hard work was paying off.
Besides the 5k on the 4th of July, I spent all summer focused on my distance running and strength training. I wanted to run my 49k faster than I’d run any of my marathons and it was looking like that could be a possibility. I was running the 3.5 miles home most nights from work, and even though the distance itself wasn’t far, running on tired legs after standing and helping customers all day sure made it feel like it was farther! I ran my 20 mile training run with horrendous headwinds that wore me out. I wanted to get in a longer distance training run before the race, but my summer birthday (Gwen Stefani in Vegas!) and a too-packed Spring race schedule got in the way. Before I knew it, it was time to head to Alaska!
We got in very late Friday night, went to the Expo Saturday (where, to my excitement, Mike signed up for the half marathon!) and then it was Sunday morning and I was about to run 30 miles in one go. 30 miles!
The race course was beautiful! People asked me if I was worried about elevation or the weather, but some research proved both to be very mild, which was definitely the case on race day. I had the opportunity to see a couple moose grazing in the woods, and the scenery itself was gorgeous – so green and lush. This however, was not a trail race but a road race, and though that’s what I train on, I was on the struggle bus the last 6 -7 miles. The road felt like it was catching up to my knees, my feet were getting massively swollen and mentally it got hard after 26.2, as I had never surpassed that distance (unless you count OC Marathon, which runs about a half mile long!). Things got even tougher when I made a wrong turn near the end, tacking on an extra mile to my race. All my time goals had gone out the window and the only thing left to do was cross the finish line, get my medal, free beer, and let the vacation portion begin. Once I was back on track to finish, my spirits had been crushed. Things were getting dark in my head; I was super unhappy and walking more than I should have. Once I finally saw the finish line I broke into a trot and hammed it up for the camera, but then slowly walked to get my medal and meet Mike, who was waiting just beyond the volunteers. I didn’t want to talk about the race or my 6 hour finish, I wanted to admire my medal over a cold beer and just. sit. down. (I did PR the marathon distance during my Ultra with a 4:45, so that proved the training did all pay off — I just had a lot to learn to grapple this distance again.)
Mike was acting super weird and I didn’t understand why he wouldn’t let me get around him to sweet, sweet freedom til he started fumbling around with his pocket and getting on one knee. I had no idea this was coming and it was awesome! It blew my disappointing race out of the water, and once I nodded yes, hugged him, realized how good it felt to put all my weight on him and off my feet and held on for dear life. Bart Yasso was announcing everyone’s finish and so with that came him announcing our engagement! While holding onto Mike and not letting go I vaguely remember Bart saying “okay, we get it, you love each other”, haha! Thank goodness for Mike’s uncle taking a video of the whole thing because the moment is just so special.
We went on to have an unforgettable week in Alaska, and when we got back, I was a new runner. I had to forgo my personal training sessions for financial responsibility (and the reality of how much a wedding costs). But that didn’t stop me from keeping it up at home, as well as keeping up my distance training. I had never felt stronger, even though in my mind I had bonked the ultra. I finished it and I came out a fiancée, which in my mind was actually two wins!
Rock’n Roll San Jose was coming up in October, and I was ready to attempt my first sub-2. A 10 mile race in Huntington Beach a couple weeks prior made me realize I probably wasn’t ready, my legs still didn’t feel completely back from Alaska, but I would try regardless. My Grandma lives closer to San Jose than to SF, so not only were we going to be seeing her for the weekend, but my parents would be up there as well! Scheduling a wedding dress fitting, family time and a weekend full of races (5k Saturday, Half on Sunday) also didn’t lend itself to a sub-2, but that goal wasn’t my top priority any longer; finding a wedding dress was. Mike and I had picked a venue and date a mere 6 months from our engagement. The pressure was on to find vendors, invitations and the dress!
My mom and I were successful in finding the dress, and to be honest, I am pretty disappointed I have to wait another 6 months to wear it. But in the time of Covid-19, that is the least of our worries. That weekend in San Jose brought in two more PRs: a 5k time of 24:23 and a half of 2:02!
My next two “A” races were Pasadena Half in January and Surf City Marathon in February 2020. Both were really amazing PRs; I finally got my sub-2 at Pasadena with a 1:57 and took 26 minutes off my official marathon PR at Surf City the year before with a 4:24!
2020 was off to a great start and in just a couple months Mike and I would be husband and wife! It was completely unbelievable! Until it was literally unbelievable and two weeks before our wedding we had to postpone. I know so many other couples had to make the same choice we did, which softens the blow. Never mind the fact so many other people are dealing with realities much more horrific than our experience, so any anger or sadness I feel doesn’t sit right. We’re all under official stay-at-home orders in California, as with most states and countries right now; the world is so different in such a short period of time. I’m scared and sad I can’t see both my grandmas in the Bay Area, I’m angry I didn’t get to see my family all together on March 28th, I’m frustrated I waited my whole life to meet Mike, worked incredibly hard at training, wedding planning and working full time to see it drift beyond reach, and I feel incredibly guilty for feeling these things as well. It’s a tricky reality, and even though I don’t do much all day besides cooking, handling customer service calls for the run shop and running, I’m utterly exhausted by worry. At the same time, so grateful to live with the love of my life and our sweet dog, have the option to work from home at a job that until a few weeks ago was imperative to be there in-person, and a new Ikea credit card to build our work from home office as well as finally get a bed frame (I am 38 and sleep on a mattress on the floor like I’m still in college, nbd!). And with that, I will leave you this tweet:
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