CJ’s Resolution Challenge

Challenge

Now I’ve done it. I’ve signed up for a race—CJ’s Resolution Challenge. It supports mid-Pennsylvania autism related organizations. “How long is the race?” you might ask. Well, that depends on how fast I run.

On January 4, I’m doing a timed run. For three hours, I’ll run laps around a 1.6 mile wooded loop in central Pennsylvania. How many laps? Well, I’ve calculated my normal trail pace; studied last year’s results; researched the terrain, the altitude gain and loss, and made a spreadsheet of historic temperatures for the last ten years. I threw all that data together into a super-computer, and then I shrugged my shoulders. I’ll almost definitely run nine laps, probably run ten, and maybe run eleven. Eleven laps is 17.6 miles. Doing that in three hours is a 10:20 pace. I’ve done that before, easily, But not since 2016. My longest run since then is only eleven miles.

2016 was my big year. I ran a couple half marathons, a marathon and a 50K. Then I was injured. Like everyone else my age, I got Plantar Fasciitis. That’s an inflammation of the fascia muscle on the bottom of your foot. When it’s bad (and mine was bad), it feels a lot like stepping on a lit cigarette in bare feet. Have I ever stepped on a lit cigarette in bare feet? Yes, I have.

It should surprise no one that many of the blogs I read are about running. And many who read this blog are runners. It seems inevitable that at some point someone will approach me at a race “Hey, you look like that blogger from Gettysburg.” When I’m hanging out in outdoorsy settings, trail running, hiking, kayaking, picnicking, I fully expect to hear “Hey, you’re Jeff Cann. I read your blog.” It hasn’t happened yet, but it will.

Actually, it will happen at CJ’s Resolution Challenge. Sort of. My blogging friend Laurie mentioned this race in one of her posts. That’s how I found out about it. It seemed perfect for my reentry to competitive running. I can take as long as I want and run as far as I want. No one’s going to be standing around at the finish line on a frigid morning waiting for me to come in. I’ve been last before. I spent my final miles calculating how many man-hours were being wasted while I limped toward the finish. In this race, we all end at the same time, we just run different distances.

For this race, I need to tread lightly around my online relationship. It’s a scary thing making the switch to real life. I did this last summer on a family trip to France. Before we traveled, I contacted Simon and Julie Freeman. They’re the publishers of Like the Wind magazine, a British ink and paper magazine I write for. I asked for tourism tips in Chamonix. I’ve known them via email and twitter for years, but all of our conversations have been about writing. “You’re going to be there when?” Julie asked, “We’ll be there too.”

We made plans to take a hike together, the two of them and my family. Lot’s of fretting on my part. They’re worldly, cool, childless, European. They’re my publisher for God’s sake. I’m a suburban dad. At the last minute they invited us out for drinks too. Too much pressure!

I was shocked at how great we all got along.

My plan with Laurie is to be friendly but aloof. A brief Hi, and then I’ll give her some space. If we happen to run the same pace, maybe we can talk a little. She’s read my blog for a year; she has to know by now that conversation isn’t my strong suit. It’s probably useful that she’s reading this.

Reading comments on the race’s website from previous years, I learned that last year the temperatures were in the single digits. Same goes for the year before, but on the other side of zero. I have to assume that was a fluke. It’s rarely that cold around here. Plus, we’ve had January days in the fifties too. I’m not sure I can run in negative temps. Especially for three hours.

Luckily, I might have some pre-race training for the cold. On New Year’s Day, my family is loosely planning to join the Harrisburg Penguin Plunge. That’s a quick dip in the Susquehanna River. The only problem with the Penguin Plunge is it’s forty dollars per person. One hundred sixty for the whole family. Susan sent me the link at work today. I wrote back, “That’s a lot of money for a thirty-five second swim.”

Tomorrow, I’ve got a day off work. I’ve been through enough Thanksgiving weeks as a parent to know that I get nothing done on Drunk Wednesday* and Black Friday. My kids are off school, and since Susan’s family is in town visiting, she’s taking those days off too. If I went to work, I’d be clock-watching all day. Before Susan’s family descends on Gettysburg for the weekend, I’ve got some time to run. I think it might be a good idea if I shoot for twelve miles tomorrow.

*A few years ago, I read that the Wednesday before Thanksgiving is the heaviest drinking night in the United States. I call it Drunk Wednesday. I’m hoping my name becomes a thing.

31 thoughts on “CJ’s Resolution Challenge

  1. Drunk Wednesday… is that like “Fetch” from Mean Girls? “stop trying to make fetch happen! It’s not going to happen!” 😂😂
    I’m not surprised… dealing with family can be traumatic! I hope your run and your Thanksgiving are relaxing and enjoyable!

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  2. We always have the kids see Santa the day before Thanksgiving to get it out of the way (and when the lines are short). Bob is so worried about the drunks on Drunk Wednesday (I’ll help you make it happen) we have to go early and get home early. The run looks like it is right up your alley. No lie, I checked to see how far away it was to see if I could get there too. 2 1/2 hour drive, start time at 9…..Maybe! Good social plan. And you’ll get your notoriety – heck, last time I was in Gettysburg I was looking, prepared to call, “Jeff Cann! I read your blog!” It’ll happen 🙂

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    • It would be awesome to see you at that run. It’s about 2 hours for me, which seems doable, although my dad may want to get together that evening for a family xmas celebration. Long day. We could have a little blogger party. Do you read Laurie’s blog? I think you would love it. It’s mostly a blend of running and spirituality. I’m really too much sometimes. I’ll be passing a runner going the other way and I think they’re going to recognize me. I swear, something is wrong with me.

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      • I’m clear and registered. Happy to run with you or give you your space – whichever you’d prefer. I’m looking forward to it! I haven’t had a race scheduled in a long time and was totally bummed to miss the Philly marathon last weekend. Be good to put some training miles on my calendar. And I love this format – whatever you can do in three hours instead of a set distance and how fast did you go. Pretty cool. This will be fun!

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      • I only made it to 15 miles in my training (in September) and had all that foot pain. I tried again and only made it to 15 and then decided the marathon wasn’t going to happen this year. I’m running now, but slow. I did 12 last Saturday. Hoping to go for a 2 hour run tomorrow and see what happens. But that does sound like a good plan. I don’t want to hold you back either. Hope you have a happy thanksgiving!

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    • Another PA running blogger is considering it. I’m going to work on her until she caves and signs up. My strategy is working. If everyone expects me to be there, I can’t bail. Yes, it’s time i took care of my PF.

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  3. “Have I ever stepped on a lit cigarette in bare feet? Yes, I have.”
    and “It’s probably useful that she’s reading this.” 😂😂 you’re hilarious!!

    Didn’t know that about drunk Wednesday. Nice that you’re going to be real-life famous! Run like the wind. ;)))

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  4. Enjoy that run tomorrow, a nice training run for the January event. I’ve always found loop courses to be challenging, both because the repeating terrain gets boring, and because other runners tend to be more chatty whether you’re in the mood to talk or not. As you’re running tomorrow, you can practice your witty comebacks for when runners start recognizing you as that blogging guy 🙂 My dogs and I will be out running Thanksgiving morning as well, in fresh snow and solitude.

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    • Now I’m actually running with two bloggers I know. I’m not sure what I can talk about for 3 hours. I’m usually good for 10 minutes. The run was today and I loved it. Not 12 though, just 10.5.

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  5. I had to laugh when I read your plan for greeting me at the race. I should warn you, I am a pretty outgoing person. While I am not sure I can maintain a 10:20 trail pace for the entire 3 hours, I did see that for the last 2 years, I did 9 laps and the year before that I did 10 laps. I think the first year, I did 12 laps.

    My youngest son is a bartender and I think he would agree with your name for the day before Thanksgiving!

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  6. Now I know why I am not a runner. Too much math involved calculating times. Maybe before a winter run you need to post a pic of you with your running hat if you wear one. That will make it easier for people to recognize you. Have a great run and enjoy your time training. Meeting other bloggers there sounds like fun. Don’t look for me though.

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      • I used to do cross country running when I was a kid. Now I couldn’t be bothered to run. Seems too much of a chore. Walking yes.
        Love how you would chat theoretically with a running mate. Even when I was fit I found it too much like multi tasking and I couldn’t do talk and run.

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