Beginning and Endings, On the Road and Off

It’s been a long time since I’ve blogged, and somehow it seems fitting to commit to posting regularly as the one-year anniversary of a multitude of changes arrives.

A year ago, I was at the Runner’s World Half and Festival for a weekend with old and new friends from the Sub-30 Club, my Facebook-based running tribe. My first half-marathon was two weeks earlier, and while I was triumphant that I had finished, my time was much worse than I’d hoped for after some unavoidable work challenges had derailed my last month of training. By the halfway point, I knew I would have to scale back my ambitions for RWF and stick to the two Saturday races (5K and 10K) and pass on the half on Sunday.

Work itself was a challenge. A chance to relocate to a paper I’d long dreamed of working for had fizzled out when the position was frozen, and at the end of the race weekend, after the races but before I headed back to New York, a second opportunity to relocate appeared to be lost when a friend posted on Facebook about her new job — a position I had applied for.

MORE: Lessons Learned in a Year of Change

The weekend was, as I’d expected, an absolute blast, filled with meeting “phone friends” for the first time, and seeing many others again. Running and cheering with some of my favorite Back of The Pack crew was a bonus I didn’t anticipate. By the end of the weekend, I was determined to return in 2017, to conquer the three-race challenge I’d failed at and to find the consistency my 2016 training had lacked, even before September.

I didn’t expect the week that followed, which led to a Friday morning phone call offering me a job in New Jersey, the same newsroom I’d been sure was out of reach at the end of RWF weekend. Oh, and could I be there Monday afternoon?

I spent the next two-plus weeks in a hotel, except for an overnight trip back to upstate New York for enough stuff to allow me to camp in my new apartment until I could move all my furniture Thanksgiving week. We were on a strict deadline for a major project in the newsroom, and I had to find a place to live.

But I had my 2017 goal fresh in my mind, and hit the treadmill at the hotel each morning before work. An article in one of my new newsroom’s publications led me to a trail friendly to my Gumby-like knees at a park in the Meadowlands salt marshes. I went down there one weekend day to run amid the tang of salt water in the air as New York’s skyline rose on the horizon, and was reminded of summers down the Cape and walks along Wollaston Beach south of Boston.

And one beautiful day, I went into the city to meet up with other Sub-30 members to cheer for teammates running the NYC Marathon, including the husband of one of the women I’d run with at RWF. I’d met many of the other cheer squad folks before, but after several hours of clapping and cowbells, high fives and hugs, I knew them all much better.

What I didn’t know was how close I’d become to some of them now that I was living near them, or that the marathon would become my new 2017 running quest.

It’s been a year. New job, with a couple of internal changes since then. New challenges, with my fourth half-marathon on tap this weekend to cap off RWF 2017. New friends, ones I’ve now raced with, trained with and celebrated with as several of us took on the New York Road Runners 9+1 challenge and 4 of 6 challenges to qualify for guaranteed entry into the 2018 NYC Marathon and NYC Half-Marathon. New successes and lessons learned that will shape my running in 2018.

I didn’t see any of this coming a year ago. Nor can I guess what the next year will bring. But as I run toward my first marathon in November 2018, I’ll be blogging about it here.