Main image for Skunk Cabbage Half Marathon 2022: Untrained Melody Time to Read: ~2 min

The tagline of this post’s title ran through my mind for much of this race. As a headphone-free event, I made up my own song. The lyrics to that song, wouldn’t you know, were about how unprepared I was.

My story of unpreparation began on March 15 with a few sniffles. I felt lousy, but I’m prone to get a winter cold most years, so maybe that was it? Well, the next day I didn’t work. Very unlike me. I slept on and off, had some macaroni and cheese for lunch, and watched Jungle Cruise. Took a home test for Covid, which turned out negative. Turning a corner? Perhaps. Then the next day, out an abundance of caution for my stylist (who always sends a nice pre-appointment email making sure we’re not sick or exposed), I took another home test. Fuuuuck. I texted my wife to tell her I was positive. Ironically I was feeling a lot better than the day prior, but still not great.

I slept a few nights awy from Amy until she tested positive, and then Xander tested positive. He remained asymptomatic the whole time, a true silver lining, so he got to take a free week off from in-person classes. Elizabeth, who’s been commuting to Ithaca College, never came home after Xander’s positive result. There was no way for her to remain isolated on “their side” of the house. Luckily, Ray was willing to take an impromptu trip to Pennsylvania so Elizabeth could live in his house for the duration of our isolation periods.

Pre-race in our foyer

Pre-race in our foyer

So, in the 20 days leading up to the race, I ran twice. A 3.1 mile run and a 5 mile run. Neither felt very good. Thought I was feeling symptom-free, Covid had clearly had its way with the parts of my body that help me run well. Race morning was cold, and though there was a threat of rain, it never materialized. Amy and I got to Schoellkopf Field at Cornell for the pre-race check-in. We didn’t need to kill a lot of time, and soon we were at the start line. I started off well enough, running step-for-step with Gerrit Van Loon. He was a tremendous support throughout the first 10K, learning about my post-Covid status and encouraging me all along the tough uphill stretches as we turned from Dodge onto Ellis Hollow. He pulled away from me as I slowed on this long stretch. I got passed by more and more runners for the duration of the race. I was trying so hard but my body wasn’t delivering.

As we ran down the last mile of the race, I was in lockstep with another runner. As we rounded the final turn, I goaded him on, saying “Let’s do this!” I started to sprint and he matched me, but then my body was like, “Nope, you’re not doing that.” He sprinted off ahead of me and all I could do was hold on ‘til the finish line.

Absolutely toast at the finish

Absolutely toast at the finish

Ended up 8 minutes off of my standard (healthy) pace for a half marathon, but hey, I stuck it out and finished. I'm really happy I did as well as I did, racing against a past (healthier?) version of myself.

By the Numbers

Time: 1:38:56
Place: 32/194 overall, 4/22 Male 45-49

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