In common with most runners (except those who had booked races for January, February or early March), I didn’t run any races in 2020. The marathon and four half marathons I had booked were all cancelled. Some runners decided to fill the 2020 race void with virtual races – basically run the distance, whether 5k or a marathon or somewhere in between – and get a medal for it. The biggest one was the virtual London marathon, but lots of other events had a virtual version too.
Personally, I wasn’t up for that. I can easily run a half marathon distance, but I only want a medal for it if I have the buzz of race day and the crowds. So I didn’t run any virtual races. Although I did take part in (not)parkrun every week, first unofficially and then officially. Having the routine of (not)parkrun at 9am every Saturday has been important to me.
In 2020, I ran further than I ever have before. Having that little bit of extra time on my hands with no school runs during lockdown meant I started running five times a week rather than four. I’ve pretty much kept that up all year. I ran over 100 miles every month apart from April, when I had coronavirus myself.
Back in October, I saw an advert online for a virtual medal for December – log all your miles for the month and get a medal. The medal said ‘We beat 2020’ and was covered in some of the iconic images of 2020 – a little coronavirus, toilet rolls (of course), a mask and a Zoom logo. I know many people have a certain affection for those things (and Joe Wicks, banana bread, Tiger King and all the other lockdown obsessions) and love to say that things are ‘very 2020’.
So I thought I would treat myself for a year of running further with this 2020 virtual running medal.
I wasn’t going to push myself any further during December than I had done the rest of the year. I was just going to keep running as I had been doing and reward myself for a good year of running.
Because we had beaten 2020!
All through this pandemic, I’ve maintained that we are the lucky ones. We have our health. We have a roof over our heads and a garden. My husband and I were able to carry on working.
But at the end of November, our luck ran out. We found ourselves thrust into a situation that really was ‘very 2020’ and suddenly 2020 didn’t seem so amusing any more.
And when I say ill, I mean very ill.
He was admitted to hospital a week after he tested positive. Two weeks after that, he was put into an induced coma and on a ventilator.
With just over a week until Christmas, my dad was on a ventilator and we were left wondering if he would pull through. And this medal, with its quirky little toilet rolls and cute looking coronavirus was taunting me. I hated that medal more than anything.
We beat 2020? I don’t think so!
I have never felt such a horrible mix of emotions as I did when my dad was ill. Sadness, fear and anger. Every second of every day was tainted with them. All of my thoughts were consumed with ‘My dad has got Covid. My dad is in hospital. My dad is on a ventilator’.
Remarkably, my dad came off the ventilator more quickly than expected. Even the doctors and nurses were amazed. At 75, the odds were only just in his favour.
But did we beat 2020? I’m not sure. Surviving when he was so ill was lucky. Becoming so ill in the first place, ending up on a ventilator and having such a long recovery was very unlucky.
Oh, and I ran 113 miles in December.