Take That Win Where You Can

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by Calvin Harris |

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Last month, I participated in my biggest race ever, the Brooklyn Marathon.

The race weaved through various neighborhoods in Brooklyn, passing less than a block from my apartment. With over 20,000 runners, it was by far the biggest crowd I’ve ever run with. And while in 2022 we have learned to coexist with COVID-19, a pulmonary sarcoidosis fighter like me remains immunocompromised and at high risk. So it took a while to get comfortable running with so many people.

And as it is, I didn’t run the full 26.2-mile marathon, nor the 13.1-mile half marathon. Instead, I ran 9 miles.

Why? Because that was my plan. And I wanted to take a win where I could.

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Back in January, I contracted COVID-19, though my case was ultimately managed with the availability of monoclonal antibodies (even over a holiday weekend). Back then, I had just started training for the Brooklyn Marathon, excited to run such a big race for a full 26.2 miles. It would be my first marathon, and I had signed up for it in late 2021.

But my case of COVID-19 changed that plan.

After three weeks of January isolation, my training was way off. For much of February, I could barely run a mile without stopping to walk. So I made the hard decision to abandon the idea of a full marathon. Instead, I signed up for a different local race, the Brooklyn Half Marathon, which is set for late May.

Why then did I run in part of the Brooklyn Marathon race in April, after I had decided to quit the full marathon? Because I wanted the experience of so many runners on the road together. And since I was now training for the Brooklyn Half Marathon, I could use that race as my “long run” training for the week. At that point, the planned long run was, you guessed it, 9 miles.

Plus, I had already paid for the race.

I decided to take the win I could achieve, even if it wasn’t the win I wanted.

At this point in my training, I am finally (almost) able to run as well as I could before COVID-19. It has been a slow return, but at least I can still run.

But running in that Brooklyn Marathon meant that I had to accept conditions. I called them “personal pledges.”

I had to pledge to run no more than 9 miles. No matter how excited the crowd might be, I had to be disciplined and stop at 9 miles. While I might be able to run more, running more could compromise my Brooklyn Half Marathon training. If I ran too long, I might need time to recover, which could then jeopardize that Half Marathon.

I had to pledge not to be sad that I wouldn’t cross the finish line of a race I started. For this Brooklyn Marathon, there was a finish line at 26.2 miles and another at 13.1 miles. But since I was running 9 miles, I wouldn’t cross either of them. As a person who likes to finish what he starts, that made it a little sad. So I pretended that the 9 miles that day were really just part of the 13.1 miles I would run in May.

Last, and most important, I had to pledge to have fun and enjoy the run. Just months ago, I couldn’t even run a mile. A month before that, I was isolated at home with COVID-19. To get to run outside, even for a distance less than I wanted, was still a big victory compared with where I was earlier in the year.

So I pledged and decided to take that win where I could. And then, I had a great race — on my own terms.

Note: Sarcoidosis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Sarcoidosis News or its parent company, Bionews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to sarcoidosis.


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