This has been a strange year in all kinds of ways, without even getting into the political weirdness. Due to persistent injury and time constraints, I’ve had to reevaluate what role running plays in my life. At times I’ve had to ask myself, “Am I still a runner if I’m not really doing any races and rarely run more than three days a week?”
Meanwhile, the newspaper where my husband and I were both working when we began dating back in 1989 – and has been our primary employer ever since – ended its print edition this fall, meaning we’ve both had to reconfigure what we can do to earn a living.
The funny thing is, I’m not sure I could manage our current strategy if I hadn’t learned endurance through running. Taking a demanding physical job that has me working 12-hour overnight shifts two and three days at a time isn’t something a lot of people could do at my age, which as of last week is now 53.
Working as a quality control lab tech in a snack foods factory means you are literally always on your feet. There are no chairs in the lab where we perform a gazillion different tests on products, and usually at least twice an hour we’re out walking the plant collecting samples or troubleshooting problems. There’s also some climbing involved, up stairs and ladders to get at equipment, and the occasional heavy lifting as well.
The biggest thing for me has just been managing to stay up all night, which isn’t something I thought I could do at my age. Luckily, staying busy helps a lot. When that doesn’t work, I rely on the mental toughness I learned from running. There is almost no physical challenge that can’t be endured if you’ve trained your mind as well as your body to tackle marathons and long-distance trail runs.
This isn’t something I ever imagined doing, but it pays pretty well for a job that only has you working seven days every two weeks – freeing up daytime hours for other things, if you can figure out the whole sleeping thing. (That part I’m still working on.)
I still think of writing and running as my primary passions in life, and I have no plans to give up either. My feet are finally starting to feel better after a year of back-to-back plantar fasciitis, so I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to get back to at least a few races in 2018.
It’s up to each of us to make this a Happy New Year. Let’s quit bemoaning the trials and tribulations that come our way, and get to work.