By Alexis Mercer
I did it! 40 straight days of running at a minimum one mile a day.
This photo is from the last official day of the streak. It was 32 degrees and pouring rain. I had waited most of the day to avoid running in the rain - but the forecast wasn’t showing a break, so off I went. I only ran a mile. But I ended with this huge smile because the whole 1600 meters I thought about the task of streaking since Thanksgiving and how it was indicative of my running adventures throughout the year of 2018.
Since having children I hadn’t put in a whole year of running. I had run some races here and there, including a half marathon in Austin, Texas with my sister and friend Aaron Roehrig. Mostly, however, my running had been sporadic and undisciplined.
In the fall of 2017 I had just started to get into a groove - running a few weeks consistently - and then while finishing a run near the high school, I stepped on a walnut shell, turned my ankle, fell to the ground, and ended up in a walking boot for 6 weeks having fractured a bone in my lower leg.
It was the beginning of 2018 when I started training for a 5K with my friend Lindsey Brockway (as some N3 readers may have read about last February). It was then that started my year of running.
I was able to make the time to train for and run two 5Ks, Fremont Frostbite and the Irish Jig in Grand Rapids, the Kent City Ridge Run 15K, Gazelle Girl Half Marathon and then the Grand Rapids Marathon.
Throughout the process I was blessed with good health and avoidance of any other walnut shells or any other serious injury inflicting obstacles. So why not try something new - a different challenge - and run a streak!
The process was challenging in a different way than any other training or running in 2018. Days were at their shortest - and coldest. I would only have a few hours after work to fit in daylight running. And often it would be raining or the wind blowing sideways in those hours. Plus, of course, I would have to figure out how to fit in making dinner at a reasonable hour for my family - who were always inevitably hungry exactly when dinner wasn’t ready.
Additionally, as a teacher, the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas are some of the most exhausting. Everyone is tired and not all that motivated to learn, but exam week comes just after Christmas break so there is absolutely no room for slowing down the curriculum. Instead we have to get creative and find more interesting, engaging and meaningful ways to keep our students headed on the right path. It’s not easy!
All of these factors led to me getting creative in how to fit in my running. Weekends were fine. Early morning running before my family was up wasn’t much of a problem. But weeknights I discovered the joy of running in the dark. It’s amazingly peaceful. There is a stillness in the air that isn’t there during daylight. The air is crisp and fresh at night.
Sometimes I would have to wait until 9 PM to fit in a run. Other times I would make dinner and let my family eat while I ran, then I would get dinner for myself. If I was so exhausted I didn’t know if I could make it that day, I would sneak in a 20 minute nap during daylight after school hours then be energized enough to run.
To complete the run streak was a goal that I wasn’t going to let go incomplete. So I found ways to make it happen.
That is the lesson I have most learned from this process. In a way that I didn’t necessarily get in the same way from other running this year - or maybe just in a way that solidified that lesson.
It doesn’t matter the obstacles that get in your way. With a little luck, a ton of determination, some creativity and a lot of discipline, the obstacles can be overcome.
For those of you who joined along in the run streak - thank you! Many days getting your notifications and seeing your posts helped get me out the door. I hope you got as much out of the challenge as I did.
I haven’t let the streak stop, but I don’t plan on continuing without rest days this whole month. I’m deciding on my 2019 running goals, one of which includes a PR, and for me that probably means giving my older running body a few days of rest here and there. But this #N3RunStreak has definitely given me the knowledge that I CAN do it if I choose. So I’ll tuck that bit of confidence into my heart for the next rainy day run on tired legs.
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