It’s the first week of January 2021 and the week I usually spend planning my year by writing out my goals and the steps to help make each happen.
Last week, as 2020 came to a close, I set about taking an inventory of the year that had passed and pulling out that list from the first week of 2020 and seeing how I faired. I knew it wouldn’t be pretty and couldn’t compare to the running successes of 2019, but whilst there wouldn’t be many ticked boxes, I knew I had a lot of positive takeaways from 2020.
The year started off on fire. Literally. Our beloved trails all over the country burned as we stood by helpless to do anything about it. Our race directors put an incredible raffle together to support the local fire fighters and local ultra legend Samantha Gash put the Relief Run on for the Red Cross. It was a horrible start of the year, but as Australian’s unfortunately not uncommon.
Despite the fires and the crazy weather, the Two Bays Trail run went ahead in almost perfect conditions. I have a love/hate relationship with this event. I managed to pull off a 26 minute personal best. (Read my race report here) I’ve pretty much run the exact same time every year I’ve done this event (even the year I had stress fractures in my pelvis!!) so I was stoked with the PB and it gave me the much needed confidence boost going into my A race of the year, The Old Ghost Ultra.
Having an A race so early in the year is a weird one. There aren’t many races in Australia over summer because of the heat and fire risk but February in New Zealand is race season.
I was feeling confident and ready to go. The whole COVID thing was just starting to be a thing when we left for Nz and I packed some masks and sanitizer in my carry on but with no one wearing them except the usual Asian travellers (they have always worn them, I’m not being racist), we didn’t bother.
The Old Ghost road was everything I could have imagined and more. Read my race recap here! But if you can’t be bothered with all the pretty pictures in the recap, I met some awesome people and smashed by PB by an hour and a half.
As COVID steam rolled into Australia and around the world, life as we all knew it was cancelled. Races were cancelled, events were cancelled, travelling as cancelled, leaving your house was cancelled.
I mostly felt guilty. Runners were devastated and desperately looking for an alternative to their A races that had been cancelled only to have each alternative cancelled too.
I had run my A race and smashed it. My main goal for the year was done (thank goodness because I didn’t tick any other boxes.
All our trips were cancelled. Everest Base camp in April, The Guzzler 100k in July. The list went on and on. My gym was closed. I had to work from home.
Lockdown and more lockdown. Melbourne we did it tough. In the first wave, the even the trails were closed as folks looked for something to do when all their other social activities were closed or not allowed. The second wave slammed metro Melbourne with only 1 hour of running outside within 5km of your home. Masks became mandatory.
Virtual runs and events popped up all over the internet from race directors scrambling to keep their races alive into 2021. I resisted at first but eventually found myself signing up for various challenges to keep myself fit and entertained. I set some small and silly goals.
September through November was much of the same. COVID restrictions started to lift and running in small groups of 5 or 10 became legal again. I thought about joining one just for some human contact but decided against it. Gyms also started to reopen but with work from home still going and limits on numbers, it was just a bit too hard basket.
The return of races in Victoria! First Surf Coast Century on the 5th followed by the COVID friendly and for one year only Wild Mount Gold rush event by Tour De Trails.
It was so nice to be back out on the trails, talking to random runners and waving at old friends and Instagram buddies on the one out and back section. The course was exquisite and I even had a dip in the dirty dam at the end. (there’s no race report yet, it’s coming!)
It was a weird year but it certainly reminded us all of what was really important. Races are nice, they help us to set goals, give us something to focus our energy and track our improvements but they aren’t life and death. It’s the day to day training that keeps us mentally and physically healthy, the races just help keep us motivated to do it.
I think we can all agree that when everything was taken away from us, it made us realise what was truly important, what things we would like to keep and bring back in in our post COVID lives and the things that could just stay in the past.
I’m looking forward to 2021. I’ve set myself some challenges and goals, both race related and not.
There is nothing on the calendar yet this year after we were forced to cancelled a trip back to the Old Ghost road. Devastated but with the second wave in Sydney we couldn’t foresee the trans Tasman bubble opening up in time and at least this way my entry can go to someone else and they have see how magical a place it is.