I’m sure we are all tired by now of hearing all the race cancellations. So I’m not going to delve into that but instead write this as if I’m still in school recounting how my summer went.

Back in late April/early May I saw this crazy ad for a 4 month “ultra” event called the Great Virtual Race Across Tennessee (GVRAT). Now as someone who’s Master’s Degree is Orange and White (Go Vols!) I couldn’t let this slip thru my fingers. 1000km, 4 months, pretty easy right?

Well that 1000km turned into 1022km (whats a few hundred extra km at this point) and a daily commitment to walk/run every day for 4 months. Thru heat, humidity (and it gets pretty tropical here in WV), thunderstorms and just life in general, I slogged on. I even managed to sneak in an unofficial Yeti 24 hr ultra challenge (those 30 miles were needed) but the last week a back injury threatened to derail it all. I was 40 miles from the finish and needed a rally.

I gave the back a few days off with minimal mileage then it was do or dnf time. 33 miles 3 days. Saturday I did a double session for 11 painful miles. Sunday I was at my parents and couldn’t resist the call of the trails so 12 miles along the various trails of New River Gorge. Monday the 31st was do or die, I needed 10 miles. I got in5k+ in the morning pacing across the pain cave before work and planned to finish up the remaining 6.65 miles in the evening post work. The forecast called for rain all day so I figured I’d rather be drenched in the evening than the morning. Thankfully the rain held off and I was able to officially complete the GVRAT that evening with hours to spare.

So why the rambling? Well the need for distance meant I was covering a lot of it around my neighborhood. I got to talk to my neighbors, make some new friends and watch others take to walking as a healthy habit. I saw the drivers slow to watch for pedestrians, saw the yards grow and bloom and watched the local wildlife cycle of birth, growth and then set out on their own (we have a few deer groups). I discovered long forgotten trails and watched neighbors taking care of each other, whether it be food during a power outage (hello summer storms) or cutting grass.

The GVRAT itself is a summer accomplishment but as the saying goes “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” I managed a few in real life 5k races, moved my “runs” to the local parks to explore and splashed in more than my share of puddles. I also managed to skip work for a day to go fishing for small mouth on the Greenbrier and get the mountain bike out on some new rail trails and some gnarly WV single track. And I managed some virtual racing on Zwift sponsored by USA Cycling with some prizes. So while it wasn’t the summer I planned last winter, it was a summer filled with activities, challenges and some fun.

We are quickly sliding into fall so I’m eyeing my next challenge (the C.R.A.W. with a team) and hopefully get to run and sweep a few local races. My thoughts are also turning once again to my off-season joy – ice hockey – but if not I’ll find something else to fill that void. Maybe get more into the snow sports, who knows.

Life is what you make of the options presented to you. It’s not all what you want but what you can make of what you are given.

I’m saddened by not racing Barrelman this year but know it will be back. And I’ll be back. Until then keep on challenging yourself.