Tomorrow I run a half marathon. A year ago I couldn’t walk half a block without a cane.
A bone bruise took me out of commission last April, and I’ve inched my way back. I spent months working with doctors and physical therapists to identify and solve the problem, and months more seeing glimmers of progress followed by waves of disappointment that it wasn’t happening faster. Walking with a cane gradually turned into walking unassisted, which gradually turned into short jogs, which turned into short runs, which turned into longer runs.
The process has been slow and frustrating, but now I’m hours away from a distance that was completely out of reach not long ago.
Plan A was to be in Astoria for the Run on the River Half Marathon, a lovely race on the Oregon coast. I hoped to be at expo this afternoon to pick up my packet and share in the excitement with other racers. On the way back to my cute Airbnb, I’d planned to drive by the Goonies house and do a Truffle Shuffle for good luck.
But like so many other events, the in-person race was cancelled due to coronavirus, and was replaced with a virtual race. Participants run wherever they like, submit their times online, and will receive a medal in the mail sometime next week. Having this goal has certainly helped me stay motivated, but the Race Weekend Experience is a bit underwhelming.
I understand and fully support the race directors for making the best choice in a hard situation, but a virtual race just doesn’t have the same hype and adrenaline that a real race has. As a result I catch myself downplaying the achievement. It’s not even a real race, just virtual. I’ll be running around my neighborhood by myself. It’s going to feel like just another long run because, well, it essentially is.
But it’s still just as far, and I’ve worked just as hard to get here. The miles are real. The preparation is real. This wasn’t the race I’d envisioned, but what else in the last year has gone according to plan? Perhaps this is a fitting ending to this chapter after all.
My goal tomorrow is what it has always been – to be healthy, to be strong, and to finish what I start. This has been a very real journey, and I can’t believe I’m virtually there.