Here comes the future
Plus 2020 races in Oregon's Wine Country, Bryce Canyon, Middlebury, Monterey + Cascade Locks
“Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.” — Mother Teresa
A little over a decade ago, I found myself running mile after mile on the treadmill at the gym, day after day. It was just as well, as I didn’t have anywhere else to go or anyone else to see.
Only a few months earlier, I had gotten a divorce from my then-wife. And what do single men who live in a big city do when they’re not working, especially if they’ve been married before (but aren’t anymore). They try to get back in shape.
If you’ve ever been divorced, you know — all of a sudden, you have vast oceans of time to fill, because the parties you found yourself going to, and the couples-oriented events you found yourself at… well, you’re not going to those things anymore. For a while, at least.
How do you fill all that time? I spent a lot of it running — mile after mile on those treadmills that saved me from Atlanta’s sweltering summer heat, training for races that I’d always wanted to run, and traveling across the country to run them.
I got to know myself again running all those miles. I don’t know how exactly, but running reacquainted me with the part of myself I’d lost. It helped me feel good about who I was (something I hadn’t felt in a long time). It was the one thing in my life I could control, the one thing I could get measurably better at.
Back then, I felt I was lacking so much, in so many ways. Because I’d failed at my marriage, I felt that anywhere I tried to go in life, I’d be stepping into the batter’s box with two strikes against me before I’d even taken a swing.
Today, my life is completely different. I’m remarried and I have a family. And I’ve learned how just how wrong I was to feel the way I felt back then.
That’s because then, I was running to recapture something I falsely believed had been lost — the version of myself I wanted to be, but feared I never would be again.
Now, I run because I want to stay on this planet for as long as possible with the people I love — and because I don’t want to become one of the 40 percent of American males who weighs 15 pounds more than he did 20 years ago.
Many of us get to this point — the first day of the new year — with fresh hopes and brand-new dreams. Others among us, meanwhile, feel like there’s a lot of baggage we’ve accumulated over the past year and wonder if we can ever let it go.
On this score, I’ve learned a deep respect for what Runner’s World columnist John Bingham wrote years ago:
“What you learn is often determined by what you need to know. If you think you're weak, you will learn that you are strong. If you think you are indestructible, you will learn that you are fragile. In the end though, you will learn that you are human. You are no more and no less than all those who are learning their lessons as you learn yours.”
The thing I love about the new year is the promise it holds — no matter where you start from, we all stand at the entrance to a new world we can see. It’s a blank slate, just waiting to be written on.
What will you write on yours? I’d love to know either in the comments below, or in reply back to me when you have a moment.
I hope your new year brings all that you dream and hope for — let’s get started together.
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Carlton, Ore. | Sunday, Sept. 6, 2020
If you’re a wine enthusiast and you enjoy the Pinot noirs that come from the Willamette Valley, you’ll love running this race, which unfolds in the misty, cool climate this region in northwest Oregon is known for. Runners start on the grounds of the Stoller Family Estate wineries and then follow a winding route among the vineyards in the countryside just outside of Carlton — encountering a few hills, particularly in the middle miles of the race, but nothing too challenging — all the way to the finish line in downtown Carlton, where you’ll be able to taste vintages from more than 20 local wineries at the post-race festival.
$69 and up | Sign up here
Middlebury, Vt. | Sunday, May 3, 2020
The rolling green hills, quaint downtown streets and college town atmosphere of this small city in central Vermont are just a few of the charms of this annual springtime race, nicknamed “The Sweetest Half.” The course takes runners from the Middlebury town center out into the farm fields just north of town, and through the Middlebury College campus before bringing them out and back to town for the finish — and all along the way, you’ll take in some of the most beautiful mountain scenery New England has to offer.
$50 and up | Sign up here
Bryce, Utah | Sunday, July 11, 2020
A jaw-dropping run through Utah’s spectacular Bryce Canyon National Park, a geologic wonder that lures visitors from around the world with its incredible red rock formations, stunning views of amphitheater-like canyons like Inspiration Point, and wide-open skies. The point-to-point course is a flat, downhill run, boasting a net elevation loss of 1800 feet — however, the race starts at 7,652 feet above sea level, so the thin air can be a challenge for runners who aren’t used to the high altitude. From the start on Highway 63, you’ll get to take in spectacular views of the sunrise as it lights up the pink cliffs and red walls of the canyon ahead; later, you’ll run through parts of the park itself, which offer views of the unique sandstone pinnacles and spires that rise from the bottom of the canyon.
$45 and up | Sign up here
Mustang Island, Tex. | Saturday, Nov. 7, 2020
Run where wild horses roamed for hundreds of years along this barrier island on the Texas Gulf Coast. Starting from the Beach Lodge on Mustang, you’ll run this out-and-back half entirely along the beach, feeling the salty sea air as the wind whips through your hair. One hundred percent of the race is on the beach, and there’s almost no elevation gain or loss — this thing is pancake-flat the entire way. If you’re feeling you’re not up for 13.1, the race also offers a 5K and 10K; if you’re up for more, there’s a full marathon, 50K and even a 50-miler.
$75 and up | Sign up here
Cascade Locks, Ore. | Saturday, Sept. 12, 2020
A stunningly beautiful run among the Columbia River Gorge along the Oregon-Washington state line, where you’re likely to see runners dressed as toga-clad goddesses in honor of the namesake bridge. You’ll start the run on the Bridge of the Gods, a massive steel bridge that also serves as a river crossing for a stretch of the Pacific Crest Trail, and from there head onto the Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail, today a paved trail for cyclists, hikers and runners along Old Highway 30 that snaked through the mountains here, overlooking the river. You’ll finish the race in Marine Park, where you’ll get to take in a breathtaking view from a distance of the bridge where you began the race.
$79 and up | Sign up here
Monterey, Calif. | Sunday, Nov. 15, 2020
For sheer natural beauty and dramatic coastal scenery, it’s tough to top this race. From the course, runners get to take in the deep blues and greens of the Pacific Ocean crashing the rocky coastline, kelp beds swaying back and forth with the waves, sea gulls floating along the breeze and sometimes even seals and sea lions out on the large rocks in the water. On the way out and back, you’ll run past the Monterey Bay Aquarium, while the last few miles unfold along the scenic Monterey Bay Coastal Trail, in to the finish past Cannery Row (made famous by novelist John Steinbeck) along Monterey’s Fisherman’s Wharf.
TBA | Sign up here
A song to run to today
“Auld Lang Syne / Where the Streets Have No Name” from the album The Joshua Tree by U2.
Want to hear all the songs we include in our newsletter? Listen to our full playlist on Spotify here.