This week kicks off a new marathon training cycle and even though life is quite weird and sometimes scary and depressing, I am also finding the excitement that comes along with new beginnings.
I am training for the Newport Marathon, which will hopefully take place on April 17th, 2021. I chose Newport before we knew we’d have a vaccine for the coronavirus. I wanted to run a spring marathon between late March and early May and I didn’t want to have to fly anywhere. A small race like Newport is much more likely to happen than larger events. With just under 350 finishers in 2019, Newport is more than twice as big as Jim Thorpe so I’m hoping to have people to run with for more of the race. The racing company, Rhode Races, held several successful events this past fall and they know how to put on a race with Covid protocols. The course is hillier than I would like, but I’ll take what I can get. The race takes place during Newport’s Daffodil Days Festival. I keep imagining myself running past vast beds of daffodils, one of my favorite flowers. It feels like a joyful way to welcome spring.
Official training started Monday with my usual swimming and weights. Tuesday was a more challenging tempo run which I nailed (!), thank you very much. The rest of the week is about getting in some miles while dodging our first big snowstorm of the season. First long run with pacing this weekend.
The first Covid vaccinations were also delivered Monday. I don’t know what the spring will bring in terms of racing or the virus. But new beginnings bring new hope. I planted daffodils and tulips in our yard this fall. I can’t wait to see those little green shoots peek out next spring.
I got more good running news this week. I got into the Berlin Marathon through the lottery! I’ve wanted to run Berlin as long as I can remember. As a scholar of German politics, I’ve spent a lot of time in Berlin and I love the city. It’s sort of the underdog of world capitals – a difficult but fascinating history, lingering signs of the division if you know where to look, glitzy consumer capitalism next to neighborhood hangouts. I still remember a long training run in 2013 for the Hartford Marathon when I ran with a much-loved colleague. A dear friend met me in East Berlin with a jacket I never ended up returning. That day, running 16 miles from West to East, the seed of marathoning in Berlin was planted in my mind.
The national elections and the marathon coincided in 2017. The Christian Democrats “won” the elections, but the radical right party, the Alternative for Germany, entered parliament for the first time. It’s also probably the first day I paid attention to Eliud Kipchoge, winner of the men’s marathon. He didn’t run a world record time that day, but he came back to Berlin in 2018 and smashed it, running 2:01:39. Kichoge wasn’t the first to break the record in Berlin. It’s probably the fastest course in the world and the record has been broken 11 times there. I don’t expect to break the world record but I sure would like to break my own. Bring on Berlin!