In the best shape of my life. Really.

College students are struggling to study on half shut-down campuses. Some are quarantined in their dorm rooms. High school students and teachers are learning online this fall. Parents are juggling home school with remote work and house care.

And let’s not forget that COVID-19 continues to spread. My state, New York, had some good news today—the lowest number of hospitalizations (410) since March 16, but nationwide more than 40,000 new cases per day were diagnosed in the past week.

In the midst of these problems and many others, my problem is not a problem at all. My problem is a privilege. But still, here it is:

There are no races.

All cancelled! All remote or simply not happening.

My favorite half marathon, Ithaca’s Gorges Half Marathon, was postponed to Sept. 5 then cancelled.

The Cayuga Lake Triathlon, another awesome event, was cancelled.

Marathons are dropping off the calendar this fall, when I had hoped to qualify for the Boston Marathon by running faster than 3:40:00 for 26.2 miles.

It’s exciting and true: I’m in the best running shape of my life. It’s a little like a fish story (“It was THIS big!”) because I have no race times to show for it, but you have to believe me on this.

—I ran 21 miles this morning, completing a 60+ mile week, my first!

Feet propped up on a bench, coffee mug
My feet after 21 miles this morning.

—My 20+ mile runs, two so far, have gone well: I finished, I didn’t feel horrible, and I didn’t get injured or ill in the days after

—On Sept. 5, when the postponed version of the Gorges Half would have happened, I ran 10 miles at a pace that would have gotten me a fairly good finishing time—and it wasn’t very difficult.

—That’s the thing: over the summer it’s become easy for me to run at a pace that used to hurt a lot. This more than any race time makes me want to sing …and run more. Running like this builds my confidence that I can meet other challenges when I put my mind to it.

And given my natural aversion to races, maybe I’m running so well because the reward is in the running, not the race times.

Already, I’m nervous for the two-woman Black Diamond Half Marathon, designed by my friend Caroline. Of all the runners disenfranchised by the pandemic, she should be among the most incensed: she’s training for her first marathon. This milestone, for her, will be completed in the shady anonymity of Ithaca’s Black Diamond Trail. But I’ll be there to witness it and the joy will be real.


  1. Thomas Deneuville on September 17, 2020 at 11:50 am

    This is really amazing, Kate! I hope that races will be back so you’ll have “a fish to show” when you tell running stories.

    • Kate Blackwood on September 19, 2020 at 10:19 am

      Thank you, Thomas! As I’ve worked toward goals this summer, I’ve thought of your ideas on “10,000 hours to master a skill.” Sometimes it just takes time . . . and also the joy is in the journey.

  2. Titi on September 18, 2020 at 9:28 am

    Read you is inspiring me. Great job!!