Running has been my preferred form of stress release and 2019 was stressful af—for both personal and more general "the world is going to shit" reasons—and, from a running perspective, the most productive, as I set PRs for annual (563) and trail (65) mileage. I even ran my first half marathon since New Year's Eve 2016 when I needed 13 miles to hit 500 for the year and manufactured a local course!
I ran my first half-marathon yesterday as part of Runner's World's Half & Festival in Bethlehem, PA, with a faster than expected time of 1:45:39!
The feeling of running across the finish line, whether it's a one-mile walk for charity or a local 10k, an Olympic sprint or the Boston Marathon, is supposed to be a special one. It's personal accomplishment mixed with exuberant community connection; an emotional high laced with varying degrees of physical exhaustion. It's not ever supposed to be a moment where death might lash out randomly. Where cowards make political statements. Where fear and suspicion take root.
Getting up at 5:30am to go running or do a cardio DVD slowly became, not just routine, but something I liked doing, and after completing that first Mudder in April, I really hit my stride, signing up for another in October, and adding a Warrior Dash event to the mix, too.
During a week that's seen NJ Gov. Chris Christie step up the to plate and impress a lot of people who've had few reasons to say anything nice about him in the past, myself included, Bloomberg manages to follow up a shining moment of his own—a nuanced and rational endorsement of Obama—with a bone-headed decision to put business interests ahead of the well-being and safety of his constituents.
My second Tough Mudder couldn't have been more different from the first time back in April, with a handful of new obstacles, a very different course layout, a smaller team, and almost perfect weather. Whereas the Poconos course was dominated by trails and nature (including ridiculously cold weather) with obstacles interspersed throughout, Tri-State took great advantage of its Raceway Park setting to deliver an arguably more challenging course that took its toll on our calves more than anything else, thanks to what seemed like 12 full miles of mud, mud, and more mud!
At just over 5k—my official time and pace: 42:43.30; 11:33/M; #894 overall for men, equaled 3.75 miles—the course was closer to what I imagine a good trail run is like, with a lot of hills, mud and water, and a bunch of moderately challenging obstacles peppered throughout.
Hands down, Tough Mudder is the most physically and mentally challenging thing I've ever done, and I loved every minute of it! The temperature was still below 40 degrees when we started just past 9:40am, but the adrenaline was flowing and for the first half of the 12-mile course, it was surprisingly smooth sailing.