What do I say about 2020? A global pandemic, in and out of varying levels of lockdown and the confusion that inevitably entails. The way we live our lives changed beyond recognition and in many respects for ever. Worst year ever? Personally, in spite of the ups-and-downs and the horrors, 2019, with the sudden loss of mum still wins hands down as ‘crapest’ year ever.
My blog has been pretty quiet. There is only so much you can do with endless running round the park. But, as has become the norm, here are my reflections on the year, with, hopefully a touch of humour.
Mileage: at the time of writing this an unexpected 1,932 miles which will probably rise to around 1,950 by Hogmanay. Who’d have thought? Those short runs fairly add up. Should have cracked out the new shoes sooner.
January – Wind-up and Taper
I completed winding up mum’s estate with the sale of her house and final clearance. Standing in the empty house for the last time was poignant but the soul had left it and it was time to let go and close the door.
On a happier note my training peaked nicely, ready for the Global Odyssey stage 6 in New Zealand. I do really, really hate doing ultra-miles over the winter months. The winter’s wet training on waterlogged trails with a fair few landslides negotiated had cost me an MP3 player, a set of headphones and a lot of skin.
February – Global Odyssey New Zealand 100k
We travelled to New Zealand for the Global Odyssey and just as importantly some much needed R&R and time with Alasdair’s brother and sister-in-law. There was a great sense of a weight lifting as I passed through airport security, and a few days later as we drove from Christchurch to Alexandra I realised just how much I needed the trip and the toll that last six months had taken.
I completed The Global Odyssey New Zealand 100k on the Otago Rail Trail ably supported by Alasdair, Calum and Pat. Diva strops: one minor ‘tis’ at the last check-point and I blame the hypothermia. I discovered that rail lines are not always flat (‘ooft’!) and New Zealand weather is not dissimilar to Scotland: rain, sunburn and mild hypothermia over the course of the day. Possum’s are much bigger than I thought and have ‘nasty big pointy teeth’. One Global Odyssey stage left to do. Roll on Canada in May (best laid plans and all that).
A week later I ran again, a marathon this time. The route through the Hakatere National Reserve was stunning, unlike the running (again, ‘ooft’), but the objective was to complete, to achieve the target of a (26.2 mile) marathon on all seven continents. Job done.
March, April & May – running round in circles
Our journey home was just a step ahead of covid-19 and a few weeks later lockdown. I have to admit that there was a certain novelty value, which is awful, I know. It was a period of discovery finding a new way to live. There was a seismic shift in the pace of life. It slowed, which was no bad thing; but the flip side was that some things, like work, became more stressful for a while.
Projects both creative and practical, shopping local and guess the contents of the fruit and veg box became the order of the day. The bulk order of 1k litres of compost not one of my better plans, but the garden has prospered and our backs grew strong.
Coffee. I need shares in my local coffee roasters! I am their best customer for beans. We are going through close to two bags a week.
Working from home. Don’t spend all day with a head set on, take breaks and don’t extend the working day. It is way more productive, but I miss some of the office interaction and social chit-chat. I am lucky to be working.
Events cancelled and postponed and Canada disappears off into the horizon and staying local for exercise: how do I stay motivated? Is a 10k limit a rule? How long can I be out? Blimey, I need to work off all this home-baking. The gardening isn’t cutting it on the calorie burning front. The garden looks amazing by the way. I settled on the usual short runs and a weekly long run of 12 -13 miles and hoped that I did not meet myself coming in the opposite direction in the park. I know every inch of the local parks and woods now.
June – September – easing back into the wild
I eased into a process of mindful running and days where I just walked: relaxing, stopping to admire things around me and taking photos. It was also the season of the virtual event: enter the event, run the miles locally meeting the set criteria. I threw my hat in the ring and did the Virtual West Highland Way running 95 miles over 9.5 days with a couple of mileage based cut-offs and choosing to attempt the elevation. It’s tough. Running twice a day most of the days fitted around work. It felt good to give my running a sense of purpose and I’m was happy with my effort.
My enthusiasm got the better of me and I also ran the 72 mile Virtual Great Glen Way two weeks later and knackered myself. If anything it was harder due to the shorter window to run it and only having one weekend in the window. No more virtual events for the time being.
As we eased out of the lockdown like nervous animals being released back into the wild, I started to go back to the trails and extend my miles. We sought new locations to avoid the masses flocking to the more known and popular spots. A stretch of the Southern Upland Way from Sanqhuar was not one of my better choices and Alasdair was seriously unhappy with the swampfest.
A long weekend in the Cairngorms was a revelation. I have no idea why we never spent time there before now. It was just glorious chilling, walking and running in some spectacular places.
October & November – here we go again
Covid-19 started to spread again and varying levels of restrictions are put back in place. Whilst still allowed to travel within our Health Board I supported my friend Katherine on an ultra that she was running to raise funds for the Charity she works for.
We ran the Clyde Coastal path, which is 37.5 miles, not the advertised 35. It feelt like an event. It felt so good to be out running a long distance trail with someone. I have to say that long sections of it were really not great in terms of interest or terrain and there was a lot of tarmac; a lot. A long section along the A8 was tedious and the low point of the day. But it was wholly within our health board, border to border. Such a great day and a glimmer of hope towards getting back to rights.
Then it’ was level 4 lockdown, wings clipped and running within your council area: urgh, not again. With hindsight we should have been braver and got out and done more while things were more open. I started to struggle mentally. I was and am just so over this, as we all are. Everything just started to get to me: not seeing my aunt and the girls, not being able to hug them, not being able to travel for a change of scene.
It has gone even more TU. Christmas cancelled for a start as a new variant of the virus emerged and spread like wild fire. I, we, have to find something positive. My mental state is vastly improved by routine, exercise and daylight. Accepting a challenge from a friend to post a daylight photo each day has helped immeasurably. There is a glimmer of hope. Vaccinations have begun and the hope of more vaccines coming through the approval process.
My little list of 2020 positivity:
- I completed the Oceania stage of the Global Odyssey and have just one continent remaining.
- I have now run a marathon on every continent.
- The final stage of the Global Odyssey 100k is being planned. Not getting to Canada in May has turned out to be a bit of a blessing in disguise. My North American Global Odyssey 100 will now be done in Greenland. How fitting that it started in the Antarctic and will finish in the Arctic.
- A quiet Christmas
- The pace of my life has slowed and I have rediscovered my love of, and found time for gardening, watercolour and embroidery and I have started to learn more about using my camera.
- I have learned to accept things and not sweat what I can’t change. (although that does not mean that I am happy about it).
- Routine, exercise and getting outside every day are the key the coping mentally.
- I take time on my runs to more closely observe what is around me
- I have re-discovered the love of running: no pressure to perform, no need to mueller myself.
- I have run a lot of miles and they have been mostly good miles
- The 5:2 fasting since September has paid off. Those ‘hangry’ days worthwhile. I have lost 5kg of lockdown chub. Note to self, don’t put it all back on over Christmas.
- Although my miles are short, my base fitness and strength are back to a good level.
- I have FINALLY established a routine of two training sessions a day.