Spring Break 2021 wind down

In another installment of Josh living in the past…

A year ago today we’d recently returned from our Spring Break trip to Arizona and Utah. We came home to a pandemic and the US was on lockdown. I went on a 13 mile run today and thought about a few things that happened around this time a year ago a reflected on a couple things and people that I’m thankful for:

  1. Our friend Shelley who picked us up from the airport. Times were weird, so she and her husband, Barry, drove two cars to the airport to pick us up. Shelley drove our car and had it ready for us at passenger pickup so we could maintain “social distancing.” They’d also picked up some basics for us so we’d have food to eat despite the grocery stores being ransacked. I remember there were eggs. There were other things in our care package, but for some reason, I remember the eggs. She and Barry saved us from having to rush to the grocery store that evening to scrounge for food. She’d also been in touch with us while we were still out of town to keep us abreast of the state of the city and what to expect when we got home to the “new normal.”
  2. My friend Frank brought us a “breakfast taco” care package and left it on the doorstep that Sunday morning. He knew we’d been out of town and had no groceries. We didn’t ask him to do that. He just did it. It’s so nice to know that people care and are thinking of you.
  3. The girls haven’t been back to school for an entire year. We left the Wednesday before spring break 2020 started at they haven’t set foot in a school since then. In that year, Mara has struggled a bit. She’s in 3rd grade and needs a bit more direction, specifically from a teacher. I think remote learning is too difficult for most 8-year-olds. So, a year ago we left for Spring Break, came home to a pandemic and the children haven’t been to school since. A year later, Spring Break is coming to an end, and Elise and I decided we’re sending Mara back to in-person school tomorrow. Here’s to new beginnings. To celebrate, we ordered her a patriotic pair of Converse that she excitedly picked out.

Reflecting on running one year ago

At this exact moment, one year ago today I was running along the Page Rim Trail in the Antelope Canyon 50-mile ultra trail race. The hardest parts of the race were behind me and I was playing the game of mindfulness and doing the mental math on how much further I had to go to get to the finish line. I remember just taking in the scenery and knowing that I just had to make it to the next aid station. Aid stations provide motivation and allow you to create little milestones to just keep going.

Running 50 miles is damn hard. Running 50 miles is also damn fun. It’s a test of one’s grit. It’s a grueling exercise in testing your physical and mental fortitude. More so the mental fortitude part. One of my favorite quotes on running is: “Running is 90% mental. The other 10% is mental.”

A year ago I was in pretty amazing shape – not in the best shape of my running life – but I was in good shape. In the second half of 2019 I was training like crazy to run a sub-3-hour marathon at the Houston Marathon in January. Once that goal was accomplished, I knew I needed to start training for Antelope Canyon, so I jumped back into marathon training and then ran the Austin Marathon less than a month later. And then I had less than a month to get ready for my first 50-miler, so I just kept tacking on 10- and 20-miler training runs and I’d train with no abandon.

Antelope Canyon on March 14th 2020 was one of the best days of my life. I’d put in so much work in my training and that work paid off. And after the race, the girls and I had an amazing Spring Break in northern Arizona and southern Utah exploring the Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon and Zion. The WHO declared COVID-19 a global pandemic just 3 days before, so business were shutting down and people were told to shelter in place. The national parks were “open,” but there were no services or regular park rangers on duty, so we kind of had the parks to ourselves. It was an amazing Spring Break.

But Spring Break and our vacation had to come to an end. So we flew back to Austin and were forced to dive headfirst into the new pandemic normal. I had no running or race plans after Antelope Canyon as I figured I’d find something to put on the calendar after I took a much-needed break. I still kept running for the fun of it, but hadn’t any goals. I guess my next adventure would’ve been running every street in our neighborhood.

After that, nothing. My sub-3 marathon in Houston qualified me to run the Boston Marathon and the New York City Marathon, so my thought was that I would start training for those races in 2021, but COVID kind of messed those up. There still might be a 125th running of Boston in October if we can get the coronavirus under control.

In “celebration” of running my first 50-miler a year ago today, this morning I ran the Far West Summit 10k in the northwest hills of Austin. I lost count of how many times I had to stop, put my hands on my knees and huff and puff like a guy who endeavoring in running his first 10k.

I guess that’s part of the allure of running. Here’s to new beginnings.

Pandemic ripped

That pandemic day has arrived. I’m a fairly regimented guy. I wake up, brush my teeth, make coffee and read the news. Then I go to the bathroom where I wash my hands really well before putting in my contact lenses. This morning as I was lathering my hands above the bathroom sink I took keen notice of myself in the mirror. You know how your pectorals and biceps naturally flex when you put your palms together in front of your abdomen? That’s what I saw this morning as I was washing my hands. The sleeves on my shirt were tight because my biceps are starting to get – dare I say – ripped. I’d reached that moment when I could finally see the results of all of my working out.

And then I remembered that I haven’t been working out at all. I also remembered packing chocolate ice cream to the brim of a 20 oz. souvenir Rudy’s Barbecue cup last night. My shirt is tight because of arm fat.