2020 has been that kind of year for everyone. Stuck at home, lots of computer meetings and phone calls – very little face to face interaction – the same for most….. and on the other side first line workers out there every day putting themselves at risk against a hidden enemy.

Then you have us selfish runners, whose FOMO is driving us crazy. There are no races, no competitions and a lot of time to think during training runs. This year I have been lucky enough to run 5 real 5Ks, 2 post lockdown. I have also run 2 virtual half marathons, the first being the Brooklyn Half, which I ran in May in 1:40:48. If you have followed my story, last November (2019) I was training for the Rehoboth Beach Half Marathon (DE) when I injured my knee in practice and had to defer the race to 2020. I slowly came back and had to make some concessions like no short fast track practices. So when I ran in May and aimed for a 7:40 pace, I struggled to be able to do it and got the time stated.

Flash forward to the summer and the time came to train for Rehoboth (again). I staggered my harder workouts across the cycle, sprinkling in 5 12-14 mile runs over 11 weeks. On October 27th the 2020 race was officially canceled in person and went virtual. I told a few friends to be ready to help pace me for the virtual race on the same course as the May race and it was a ‘go”. There were 3 goals: 1) Beat the 1:40 from May, 2) Get under 1:32 [this is the qualifying time for the NY Marathon for me] 3) If really feeling great, go for 1:30.

Race day was supposed to be December 5th, but that day had a nor’easter, so I moved to the next day a chilly but sunny 32 degrees with a light wind. Once person would join me for the whole way. 3 different runners would join for the last 4 miles or so.

The first 7 miles were good and we averaged about 7:06 per mile. I had not been feeling completely awesome all week and I the realized that goal 3 was out. I started taking my caffeine e+ drink around this point and took periodic sips through mile 11. Runners joined us at about the 8.5 mile and then the 9.5 mile marks. Feeling the caffeine buzz, I picked up the pace. Working with the group, we finished very strong: 6:49, 6:42, 6:31 for a finishing time of 1:32:06. The runner who went with me the whole way ran 1:31:44, so one of our watches was off. If I take the average, I finished under 1:32 easily, attaining goal 2 and cutting 8:40 off my time from May. This is definitely a different feeling than the one I had when I just missed my time at the Ocean City NJ Half a couple of years ago:

All in all a great experience! Now I’m sore but enjoying my week off. I thank all my friends who assisted with all my training runs and supported me for the race. During these days you should make the best out of situations no matter what else is happening. Please be safe and healthy.

Happy Running – Coach Nick

Nickolas Joannidis
Nickolas Joannidis
I have been running for over 35 years, having done practically every possible racing event or distance from the 100 meters through the marathon. I competed in varsity high school cross country and track at Saddle Brook High School in the mid-1980's, varsity cross country and track at Division II Pace University and finished well over 200 road races since then, including 20 marathons with a lifetime best of 3:14:50. I was the president of the Hoffmann LaRoche corporate running team for 7 years, growing the team from 25 to over 90 during his tenure. I coached many of these runners to achieve their goals, whether they were beginners or advanced. In 2011 I was an assistant coach for the Fair Lawn Recreation track team, helping the 10 to 14 year old group. I am currently personally coaching dozens of runners, from beginner levels to advanced levels and getting them to be prepared to meet their goals.

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