Tagged Marathon Running

Runners’ Post-Pandemic Dreams

Runners’ Post-Pandemic Dreams

We asked what you’re hoping to do when it’s safe again. Here’s what several runners told us.

Holly Tran of Connecticut with running friends after a group run.
Holly Tran of Connecticut with running friends after a group run.Credit…via Holly Tran
Jen A. Miller

  • Dec. 29, 2020, 5:00 a.m. ET

This was a different and difficult year for running, with the Olympics delayed, major marathons and races canceled, and even group runs largely off the table.We asked readers what they dream about doing as soon as it’s safe to gather again. Here’s what some of our running readers had to say. (Responses have been edited and condensed.)

If you have future running dreams you want to tell us about, please add them in the comments.

Running in Crowds

I look forward to the day where I can train for my first marathon, feel nervous five minutes before the start of the race, wonder if I should really wait in line for this toilet or if I have it in me to keep going for X miles, sprinting through the finish line despite feeling like I was so done just two miles back, living for that warm shower right after when I can feel all of my chaffed patches of skin sting, going for what surely is over 1,000 calories of fuel packed into a loaded burger paired with sweet potato fries at the local pub, and then going home and immediately falling asleep, dreaming of the next time I can do it all over again. — Holly Tran, Connecticut

I want to be able to run road races and compete in triathlons in any and every state in the U.S. — again. As much as I’ve embraced the virtual run, I want to feel the exhilaration of lining up with hundreds, even thousands, of people and sharing that moment when we cross the start line. I want to smile at the people next to me, as if to say, wearing a mask and staying safe was worth the wait. — Dan Frank, Southborough, Mass.

Joshua Johnson bought the Boston Marathon celebration jacket, “but I refuse to wear it until I physically run that course.”Credit…Angela Johnson

Shipping Up to Boston

I’m a front line worker. I never lost income or a routine way of life. I saw people, socialized at work, and had new people to talk to every day at the hospital. The one thing I lost from a truly personal, selfish aspect was the chance to run the Boston Marathon, which took three years of training, qualifying, and planning for. So — if and when the pandemic ends — I will make that pilgrimage from Michigan to Hopkinton to run the 26.2 miles when it’s safe for the rest of my family to be there to partake in the experience. I bought the celebration jacket from the Boston Athletic Association but I refuse to wear it until I physically run that course. — Joshua Johnson, Grand Rapids, Mich.

By the time I run my next marathon, I’ll have entered into a new age group and really really should be able to qualify for Boston. Unless they reduce the qualifying times. Again. — Deborah Freedberg, Portland, Ore.

Andrew Udis in front of his apartment building after the 2019 New York City Marathon.Credit…JoAnn Wanamaker

Running Again With Friends…

In fall 2019, I began running with Back on My Feet, which combats homelessness through running and community support. We would meet at 5:45 a.m. three days a week to go for a run or walk. This all came to a hard stop with Covid, and although there has been some soft re-starts, it is not back to the normal that comes with the positive energies of hugs, and high fives, or seeing smiling faces. I am looking forward to getting back to the morning circle-ups and sunrise runs. — Andrew Udis, New York, N.Y.

Shay McGuinness of Ireland looks forward to being able to raise a glass with running friends again.Credit…Kate McGuinness

I’m looking forward to something as simple as meeting my usual group of running friends on St. Stephens Day (Boxing Day), to run our usual 8K trail in our local Ardgillan Park. This annual tradition has continued unbroken for over 40 years and welcomes all ages plus walkers and babies in strollers. After our run and a shower, we assemble in the Rugby club for a couple of pints of Guinness. The usual suspects appear and we tell stories of absent friends. Bliss. — Shay McGuinness, Skerries, County Dublin, Ireland

I want to run with my running club again. I miss them very much. I want to see my family in Boston — we haven’t see each other in person since the High Holidays (September) 2019. Most of all, I want to travel the world again with my husband. — Virginia Flores, Boca Raton, Fla.

… And Making New Ones

Joining a running group and train as a group for races. I moved to Denver to be with new twin grandbabies — right as all, including running groups, locked down. I always seem to make friends in those groups and enjoy the camaraderie. Miss it greatly. — Dianne Wright, Lakewood, Colo.

Traveling and Running

First, I want to fly to Israel and hug my four grandchildren, who live in Jerusalem. I want to have calzone at our favorite Italian restaurant and then walk across the street to see a movie. Not asking for much! Third, I want to run an in-person 5K and get a medal for being first in the over 75 category. — Gail Arnoff, Shaker Heights, Ohio

I am a runner, a yoga teacher and five years sober! My friend is launching Recovery Run Adventures, so I will be joining her and other runners in recovery, for running and adventures across the world. It gives us something to stay motivated now in our training and sobriety! — Susanne Navas, Great Falls, Va.

Dean Karnazes Runs the Silk Road

Photo

Dean Karnazes is planning a 12-day running journey following the ancient Silk Road through Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan.

Dean Karnazes is planning a 12-day running journey following the ancient Silk Road through Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan.Credit

One Wednesday, Dean Karnazes, an American ultramarathon runner, will begin a 12-day, 326-mile run along the Silk Road, part of an ancient trade route through Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan. He’s doing it as part of the State Department’s sports diplomacy program — and because he really likes to run. Through the years, Mr. Karnazes has run 350 miles straight (with no sleep), completed a 200-mile relay race (by himself), run across Death Valley in the middle of the summer, and run a marathon at the South Pole.

A Long Way to Run

150 miles

Kazakhstan

uzbekISTAN

Almaty

Bishkek

Tashkent

Kyrgyzstan

China

Tajikistan

Recently I caught up with Mr. Karnazes by phone at his home in Marin County, Calif., as he was getting ready to leave for his trip. He told me what interested him in the Silk Road (it was a stranger he met at the San Francisco Marathon), what traditional Greek food he’s taking along on his journey, and why, despite his extraordinary achievements, he’s just a bit worried about this challenge. Here are edited excerpts of our conversation.

Q.

Ten years ago, you ran 50 marathons in 50 states in 50 days. What made you decide to go beyond traditional races — and ultras — and do something like this?

A.

The spirit of exploration. I had done hundreds of organized races and loved racing, but I also loved the thrill of conceiving an adventure on my own and seeing whether the impossible was possible.

I wasn’t sure I would be able to run 50 marathons back to back. What it taught me was that the human body is more remarkable than what we realized. If we can just get out of the way of our perceived limitations, we’re really capable of extraordinary things.

Q.

Did completing those 50 marathons change how you approached future long-distance ventures?

A.

There were mornings where I couldn’t even roll out of bed. I thought, “I can’t even step out of bed today, and this is the ninth marathon, and I have to do this 41 more days in a row — how is this possible?” I just committed to doing the best that I could every day.

At the end of 50 days, it was telling that the 50th marathon, which was the New York City Marathon, was the strongest and my fastest of all 50.

Q.

Why do you think your last marathon was your fastest?

A.

I was just so glad to be done with it. With that final marathon, I was able to let it all out and not worry about having to get up the next morning and have to run another marathon. I ran the New York City Marathon in three hours 30 seconds. That’s a pretty respectable marathon time.

Q.

What’s been your favorite epic trek so far?

A.

I’ve run on all seven continents of earth twice now. I’ve run in some of the most remote and exotic places. But my pinnacle achievement was running a 10K with my daughter on her 10th birthday. I didn’t think she was going to make it at five miles, and she said, “Dad, I can do this.” She let out a grunt and started sprinting. To me to see that, I saw her finally as her own person, and I saw resolve in her that I’d never seen before.

Q.

How old is your daughter now? Does she run?

A.

She’s 20. She’s a recreational runner.

Q.

What brought you to the Silk Road?

A.

I was running the 2015 San Francisco Marathon and a guy came up next to me. This happens quite a bit — people recognize me on the course and they come up next to me and we chat. He started explaining to me that he worked for the State Department and was based in Kyrgyzstan. That led to me asking, “Is there running there? Recreational running?”

He went on to disclose that he’d been seeking me out and said, “I’ve got this idea that I want to pitch to you. I want you to follow in the footsteps of Alexander the Great.”

I’m thinking this is just a fantasy, this guy. But his State Department contacts, they put a proposal in front of me. I’m very bad at saying no, and this sounded too good to be true. So I said yes.

Q.

How do you prepare for a trip like this?

A.

If you saw this agenda — when I first looked at it, I thought, “They’re going to kill me.”

I’ve been watching the weather. Uzbekistan is right above Afghanistan. It’s desert. It’s 112 degrees. So I’ve been running in the mid-day heat, which a lot of runners don’t do. Also something runners don’t do: I’ve been purposefully dehydrating myself and running without water to get used to the fact that I’m not going to have consistent support out in some of these more remote areas.

Another thing I’ve been doing is running a lot of mountains, because I’m climbing a path that’s nearly 12,000 feet high. That’s a pretty significant pop. Heartbreak Hill at the Boston Marathon is 236 feet.

I’m sure there are going to be a lot of unforeseen situations. Cell reception there is apparently really spotty. I don’t know what’s going to happen if I get lost out there.

Q.

Tell me about your fueling strategy.

A.

I’m going to take some products that we’re used to seeing. I’ll take some Hammer Nutrition products and some electrolyte powder to mix with water. But I’m going to try to rely mostly on the local foods. For example, in Greece I found this stuff called pasteli. It’s honey and sesame seed. I thought, “Wow, this is better than any gel pack I’ve ever had, and it’s more sustaining.”

Q.

Where will you sleep?

A.

I’m homesteading with families along the way, including staying in a yurt.

Q.

You’re planning to run some 50 miles a day – and also holding clinics and talks, and inviting people to join in along the way. How come?

A.

The three countries I’m visiting are celebrating 25 years of independence from the Soviet Union. The idea is to link these three countries together on this footpath. The power of running — it unites people.

There’s a magic in running. It’s so simple, it’s a commonality we all share as a species. We’re divided by the color of our skin, divided by the God we believe in, socioeconomic level, whatever else, but running’s a great democratizer. The idea is to get people to come out and run along with me, to show together the power of running. That’s the whole idea behind this sports diplomacy program.

Q.

What do you hope to achieve?

A.

It’s a great adventure. I’ve always wanted to see and visit the Silk Road. I’m going to be pushing my body to the limits, and my mind as well. I really like that intensity of staying focused, and the discipline of running great distances and showing up and giving a talk and being coherent and cohesive when you’re about ready to fall over.

Q.

What’s next?

A.

I’m planning on a global expedition to try to run a marathon in every country of the world in a one-year time span. So in 2017 I’m taking off on a global trek.

Q.

What advice do you have for nonprofessional runners who might be trying a similar challenge, like running across America?

A.

You don’t have to go fast. You just have to go. It’s just relentless forward progress. I’ve run across the country a couple times now, one self-supported, one with a crew. Prepare for tremendous highs, and also tremendous, tremendous lows, where you just feel like, “I might not be able to make it. I might not be able to get out of bed this morning.”

Every day, press onward, even if that means walking. The other thing on the flip side is not to lose sight of the adventure itself, to not to be so goal-oriented that all you want to do is just make it. Enjoy the journey.


You can follow Mr. Karnazes’ trip at https://eca.state.gov/ultramarathon. The State Department will be posting updates on Twitter at twitter.com/sportsdiplomacy, and on Instagram at instagram.com/sportsdiplomacy. FitBit, another sponsor of the trip, will be posting updates from Mr. Karnazes’ tracker at twitter.com/fitbit and instagram.com/fitbit

Jen A. Miller is the author of “Running: A Love Story.”