Marathons and Pandemics
This past weekend I shared that two good friends got married. At the same time, (or about 14 hours later) some other good friends raced the Mississippi Gulf Coast Marathon. After months of quarantine and laying low, the social excitement of the past few days was a nice change of pace! (Again, please excuse the terrible pun*.)
Successful marathoning requires that a lot of factors come together: lots of time spent training and recovering, support from training partners, family, friends, coworkers, good health, and minimal external stress. The demands of the task are such that I do not (or any coach would not, for that matter) recommend training for one when your life is in any sort of tumultuous upheaval or if you have multiple other stressors going on in your life. This is not to say that the folks that raced had flawless buildups or that the current COVID crisis did not affect them deeply. Quite the contrary in many cases. However, to have a great marathoning experience, one must recognize when you have reached a certain cruising altitude in your life and can handle the extra part-time to full-time job that is training for a marathon.
I asked two of my friends, Jay and Georganne, to talk about what it was like training and racing a marathon (their debut one, at that) in such a unique set of circumstances. Jay (who finished in a VERY respectable 3:22) stated that “A group of us signed up for the California International Marathon but that was cancelled due to COVID. That was hard. At times I wondered if there would be another marathon in 2020, or even 2021. Despite the uncertainty I continued to train like a marathon was going to happen.” Jay also recounted that “I am an extrovert, but adjusted to the solitude.”
Georganne (who ran a fabulous 2:52) echoed this sentiment of the importance of continuing training and keeping faith that a safe race opportunity would present itself. She also reminded me (after her husband who also was a successful marathoner (a la Olympic Trials 2012 qualifier mentioned) that to run a great marathon you do not need a ton of races leading up to race day. Uninterrupted, quality training usually gets you the best results.
In addition to Georganne and Jay, Kelly, Katie, Grace, Deanna, and Michelle (forgive me if I forgot someone!) also raced and many achieved a PR (personal record). There is something to be said for staying focused, optimistic, and resourceful in the midst of the maelstrom of 2020.
Congratulations to all who raced (and shout out to those folks in their support systems). Get some rest and recover and stay well!
Full Race Results can be found here: https://www.mississippigulfcoastmarathon.com/Race/Results/
*COVID-19 spread prevention measures were taken and respected in both instances: masks, outdoor socially distant gathering, and testing before and after traveling.