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Sunday, August 09, 2020
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I should be 50 days from the Ironman in Canada.

(But the race has been canceled due to COVID-19.)

In fact, all my races so far have been canceled.

(You still have the Half Ironman in Atlantic City.)

True, but here is what has happened so far to my race schedule in 2020.

Sixty days out we received an email that the race is still on.

Thirty days out we received an email that they “are adapting COVID-19 safety procedures.”

Ten days out we receives an email that “the town has canceled the race.”

(So, in anticipation of Half Ironman Atlantic City also being canceled you took the summer off?)

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No, I’ve been training.

(For what? Life?)

Well...yes, but also not to lose my fitness.

(Can that actually happen?)

Yes, and if you stay inactive long enough your muscles can atrophy.

(Sounds disgusting. So how do you stay motivated?)

I think about what my atrophied arms and legs would look like.

(No, seriously, how do you stay motivated when your race is over a year away?)

I signed up for a few virtual races.

(How does that work?)

You pay, you log the miles. When you finish, they send you the medal.

(So, you bought the medal?)

When you register for a race, that is what you are doing. The difference here is what you are not getting:

No volunteers handing out food and drink.

No photographers.

No cheering crowds.

I picked virtual races based on what else?

(How hard they were?)

How cool the medals looked.

My first virtual race was Hadrian’s Wall.

(What was Hadrian’s Wall?)

It is an actual wall, built by the Romans in 128 A.C.E. It took three Roman Legions just six years to construct this wall that runs from the North Sea in the west to the Irish Sea in the east. The wall is the dividing line between northern England and the rest of the country.

(Northern England being above or below Liverpool, for us Beatles fans?)

Liverpool is south of the wall. Scotland is north of the wall

(Sounds like some “Game of Thrones” stuff.)

George R. R. Martin has said that Hadrian’s Wall was the inspiration for the Wall of the Night’s Watch, but that is where the comparisons end.

Hadrian’s Wall was 15 feet high and made of stones. The wall that John Snow defended in the North was 700 feet high and made of ice.

The Hadrian’s Wall Virtual Challenge gave me 90 days to run 90 miles.

(One mile a day? How is that a challenge? My grandmother could do that.)

You do realize that we have the same grandmother.

(So?)

So, she passed away in 1989.

(Ok, bad example.)

But the answer to your question is I decided that I had 40 calendar days to finish the challenge.

(So that is it? You just tell them you finished the challenge and they mail you your medal?)

I recorded every run on my GPS watch. Then I logged into a website and entered the mileage,

With each entry, I witnessed a “virtual David” move farther along the wall.

I finished the 90 mile challenge in 39 days and I signed up for the NYC Subway Challenge.

(Don’t tell me that you are going to run the entire length of the NYC Subways System?)

Yup, all 245 miles of it.

(How much have you run so far?)

Well, I still have 200 miles left...with just over eight weeks to go.

(Two hundred miles divided by 64 days is 3.125 miles a day. You can run a 5k a day.)

I don’t run on Shabbos.

(Ok, 200 divided by 56 is 3.57 miles. Still not impressed.)

I only run three times a week.

(Ok, so three times...wait. Why don’t you run more often?)

With the amount of swimming, biking and running I do, my body needs two rest days a week.

(So, you had to run 8.3 miles every time you go for a run in those 64 days.)

And if I missed a day, the unrun distance will be averaged into the remaining runs.

(That’s a good way to avoid missing a workout.)

And I have until Labor Day to finish it. But that is not the worst part.

(There’s something worse than adding a 5k to your run workout when you miss a run workout?)

They already sent me the medal. Now I have to complete this challenge.

(You could just sit around and enter the runs you didn’t do.)

That’s unethical and someone would definitely find out.

(I won’t tell anyone.)

I think you just did.

Remember what President Kennedy said in 1962:

“We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard; because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills.”

Challenges, virtual or real, help us to discover who we can be.


David Roher is a USAT certified marathon and triathlon coach. He is a multi-Ironman finisher and a veteran special education teacher. He can be reached at: [email protected]

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