2020 took me on a journey I never expected to go on....
So much happened this year and I don’t know if I’ll ever have all the words for this year.
Warning - VERY long post ahead
I think back to January 1, 2020 and how many hopes I had for the year. While the year was not what I had been hoping or planning on, 2020 ended up being such a huge year for me. A year of growth, strength and taking up space.
I started the year off running, literally. I ran 5 miles on New Year’s Day, just because it seemed like a challenge. It did not disappoint. I wanted to go into half marathon training with some decent base mileage. Because this was going to be the year. I wanted to prove to myself that I could actually train for and crush the Scranton Half, but I didn’t believe I could do it!
I also started off the year unemployed. Ending 2019 and starting 2020 unemployed was super hard. Thankfully I started my new job mid-January. But the time I spent unemployed really took its toll on me. But I filled my time with running at any time of the day and it was great!
January also brought with it the decision to do an indoor tri in February and also the start of Scranton Half Training. What I didn’t know was that I would end up training for the Scranton Half twice this year....ohhh 2020.
The beginning of February brought with it my first official 10K, which by default is obviously a PR haha. During that 10k I also got to run the last couple of miles of the Scranton Half course, where I always struggle on Half day. During the 10k I made peace with those miles on the Heritage Trail and fought some mental demons that would tell me I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t wait to be back in less than a month and a half to crush the whole course, and especially those last few miles. Again, what I didn’t know was that I wouldn’t get to run the Heritage Trail, or any part of the Scranton Half course on March 29 as planned. I wouldn’t run the Heritage Trail again for almost 3 months, and only for a very short run.
Toward the end of February was my first indoor tri!! Badass Lady Gang NEPA tri’d and didn’t die!! That whole day was so hard for me. To go from swimming to biking to running. By the time I got to the run, I thought my legs were just going to stop working. But they didn’t, I kept going, and I finished. I started to really see that I was WAY stronger than I thought.
What I thought was going to be the first 2 of MANY races in 2020, most with the gang, turned out to be my only 2 in person races this year.
March brought with it the cancellation of so many things. But the biggest blow was the Scranton Half being postponed. I was crushed! I spent many months running all the miles and facing some mental running demons to finally have my best and strongest half and to finally not give up on myself. What I didn’t realize at the time was that I was so prepared, but would get to show myself just how strong my half could be, solo, later in the year.
I took some time after the cancellation of the half to just run only when I wanted and with no set distance.
And then came late April. I was furloughed from my job. Initially for 5 weeks, which then turned into another 5 weeks after that. What do you do when you have all the time in the world but can’t go anywhere or do much?!?! You run. A lot.
So run I did. Short runs. Long runs. And everything in between. And then one day in mid-May I decided I wanted to see how far I could go non stop running, shooting for a mile nonstop. I didn’t get my mile that day, but I did get a renewed sense of passion for seeing just what my body can do and was excited to try! I didn’t run my nonstop mile until September, but I kept pushing myself for it. For something I had wanted to do for years.
On that same day in May I also ended up winning a free training plan for the Badass Lady Gang Summer Series. Which truly came at a time when I was frustrated with my furlough being extended and was just truly feeling the effects of being isolated from all of my friends and family. That training series, and all the ladies who were part of the Summer and Fall series, truly changed my life. Looking back now, winning the training plan was probably the best thing that could have happened to me.
Through the Summer and Fall training series, I was truly able to see myself growing stronger and believing in myself and my running. I finally wasn’t saying “one day, maybe I can do that”. I was saying “I don’t know if I can do this, but I’m sure going to try”.
I was really seeing myself and my body as strong and not something to be fixed or changed. And honestly, game changing. I surprised myself so many times with what I could do. Things I thought were previously out of reach for me. Running fast was one of those. The amount of SPICY speedwork over the summer that I did, with paces I had never hit before, despite it being the middle of summer and hot and humid.
Which brings me to another life changing thing of summer - running in my sports bra! I ran in my sports bra for the first time in May and there was no going back. Running sports bra squad lit a fire in me that I still can’t explain. It also felt rebellious and like something I “shouldn’t be doing as a plus size runner”. But I felt free and in awe of my body. My body was not any less worth of being seen just because of my size, and honestly it felt amazing!! I ran in my sports bra on like 90% of my runs this summer and even into the fall (including sports bra squad on Thanksgiving Day!). (https://badassladygang.com/blog/growth-strength-taking-up-space-why-i-joined-the-sportsbrasquad)
With summer also came Scranton Half training 2.0 of 2020. I trained even harder than I did for March. I actually did ALL of my long runs. I had a strong base of mileage and kept building on it. I ran in 90 degrees and humidity and ran in 40/50 degrees and rain. And I ran in everything in between. And I felt so strong. I honestly didn’t know what it felt like to have a non-struggle run. They were all I knew. But I started having really good runs, really strong runs. And even had runs that were “bad” but still felt strong!
And so, on October 10, I ran my virtual Scranton Half. Alone. No crowds to cheer me on. No other runners. Just me and 13.1 miles. I had my strongest and best half, physically and mentally. I was no longer telling myself that I couldn’t do it. I was telling myself I was strong and capable and badass. When it got tough, I sent some texts to friends, but otherwise I had to dig real deep to find more in me. I have never been more proud of finishing a run or a race. The last few miles were BRUTAL, but I kept going and finished my “victory lap”
My victory lap. I had spent 10 weeks training for this race at the start of the year and then spent another 20 weeks training leading up to the October race day. That 13.1 miles was just the culmination of all of those cold, dark, snowy runs. Of the post work long runs, just to fit them in. The hot AF summer runs where I thought I might just melt into a puddle. The long Saturday mornings. All the weeknights. And everything in between. All of those miles changed me. And those 13.1 miles allowed me to see just what had changed and how much stronger I had gotten. For all the times I wasn’t sure I could do it, I proved to myself that there were no limits!!
Scranton Half #7 will forever hold a special place for me. For all the struggles it took to get there in the midst of a year that was beyond hard and overwhelming, I proved to myself that I can do really hard things!
And what a way to think about 2020...I am strong and I can do hard things.
And while I ended 2020 with some hip and leg issues, it still ended really strong and with the knowledge to stop running when it hurts.
So wow, 2020 was A LOT. And there was so much going on in the world. But damn, this was an amazingly transformative year for me.
I can’t wait to hit the ground running and see what running adventures 2021 has in store. I’m hoping 2021 will see my first 5k nonstop, a mile, 5k and 10k PR, and even more strength and badassery. And hopefully the ability to run with my gang in person again. <3