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Staying positive while pandemic rages on

I had planned to be heading to the Zion 100K as I write this. But the coronavirus had other plans for me and everyone else across the planet.

The COVID-19 outbreak means there will be no exploring of Zion National Park, no challenging 100K this month and no Western States qualifier at this time.

Still, I count myself as fortunate to not have to deal with a loved one who is battling the virus. So my family and I will keep pace with the new reality of sheltering in place, wearing masks and washing our hands constantly.

It is stressful to be living during a pandemic, not knowing when normalcy will return. Or what the new normal will look like. As an endurance athlete, I am using running, training and other activities to help keep myself motivated.

At this time it is especially critical, not just for runners but for everyone, to keep our mental wellness in check. I’ve been doing yoga usually twice a week as well as maintaining my training.

Like many runners, my 2020 racing calendar has been altered, though I again feel fortunate. I squeezed in one last race before the deluge of cancellations and postponements hit and remain optimistic that a July timed event will go on as planned.

Since the 50K last month, I participated in iRunFar’s Operation Inspiration, which was my first virtual race.

Additionally, I am planning an FKT and using it to raise donations for Bigger Than The Trail, a nonprofit organization that advocates and supports mental health through trail running. I will match all donations at the time of my FKT attempt — and double them if I fail to set the FKT.

As of this writing, the Zion 100K is my only race that has been cancelled or postponed. And I am thankful that the race directors gave entrants several worthy options of how to handle the cancellation of this year’s race. I decided to roll over my entry fee to the race in 2021.

When Zion was officially cancelled, I went in search of another Western States qualifier since I wanted to make sure I registered for one, not knowing what else would be cancelled or postponed. I found a qualifying race I was interested in to be held in October a drivable distance from home. I tracked the number of remaining spots until the countdown reached about 10.

That’s when I registered for the Hennepin Hundred.

HH running the HH. It doesn’t seem to get more appropriate than that. Hennepin is a flat, point-to-point course, a far cry from my first 100-miler, the Rio Del Lago, which had a little more than 16,000 feet of climbing, about a 50-50 split between ascending and descending.

It’s far too soon to know whether Hennepin will go on as scheduled. However, it’s reassuring to know that Western States did extend the qualifying season for the 2022 race, so even if Hennepin does get pushed back a year, I have options — including the 2021 Zion 100K.

Until I get to line up at a race start line again, I’ll stick to my training schedule, put one foot in front of the other and smile every precious mile.

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