What a beautiful day… what a beautiful week! I hope everyone was able to get out and enjoy some sun– or at least to throw open a window and feel spring for a while? It’s wonderful that we are still able to get out and run solo, at least. Our Global Runday last Monday, suggested by founder Paula Mitchell, carried out by each of you, and compiled so beautifully into the WRW Global Run Flickr album by Amy Grace, was absolutely a highlight of my week, and such a great balm to have while adjusting to our new socially limited reality. Go ahead, click the link and scan through again, you know you want to! (Apologies for the lack of a gorgeous photo to start the e-mail this week, but gmail has decided not to allow it today!)
Prague. Let’s just take a moment and recognize that many of us were meant to be running a half marathon in Prague today, and celebrating even as I write. I could think of cheery, optimistic things to say to try to gloss over it, but I think maybe it’s actually important for us to acknowledge our disappointment together. Sigh. You all trained really hard to be ready for the race. We made it all the way to our penultimate training run, the Kew 11, when the race got cancelled. It’s no small commitment to have trained that long and run that many miles! And some of you trained extra hard, from a base of never having run before– I’m looking at you, Beginners Class of 2020! And at you, devoted coaches to the Beginners’ group (Amy Grace, Jess Browne, Melissa Kay, Paola Gulfesa Di Meo, and Renata Figueiredo)! You are all so strong and you have accomplished so much!
The Prague Thank You’s. With apologies to those of you who weren’t going to Prague, today I really, really want to take a minute to acknowledge and thank a few people for their hard work. Please indulge me as I work through some very big thank you’s that we would normally say in person at the post-race celebration. And picture us all as we would have been this evening, in a banquet room with nice food and drink, applauding the efforts of the women who planned the whole trip– and this year, sadly, saw it snatched away when it was all ready and waiting for us. So first, raise your virtual (or preferably, real!) glass to Trip Master Carolyn Perelmuter! She managed the planning, negotiating, and organizing of everything so beautifully. Even when little crises erupted– like when it looked for a time like there were about 500 of us planning to attend the race(!), or when registration closed suddenly and we still had many women without race bibs– she was so calm and competent! And she was right, those things all worked out– or well, she worked them out. Then in the face of her own personal disappointment with an injury, her enthusiasm for and commitment to the race never waned– and, by the way, she calmly rehabbed and worked her way back to being ready to run the half. And finally, there are hardly words for the grace with which she handled the unraveling of all her work when Covid-19 came in and stole the show. Carolyn, you are an exceptional organizer, problem-solver, communicator, and leader. And most of all you are just a gem of a person. From all of us… thank you for everything! We have been so lucky to have you as our friend and Trip Master!
Leading the Beginner’s program with knowledge, advice, warmth, empathy and weekly reassuring e-mails– plus just the right amount of tough love!– is just one of the things we have to thank Amy Grace for. She is also the force behind anything WRW has to do with technology– our Web Master and troubleshooter also manages our Flickr and Facebook accounts and really, can do just about anything! This week she spent hours uploading our photos for the amazing WRW Global Run photo album. She is also the fount of all institutional knowledge about WRW, whether data or history. For example, because of Amy, we know that of the 128 women who would have been on the Prague trip, 43 of you would have been attending your first WRW race. For 28 of you it would have been your first half marathon. There would have been 12 runners from the Beginners’ Class of 2020, and 39 runners who were part of a past Beginners’ group. Ten alumnae were joining us from around the world. Thirteen of us in attendance would have run with Paula. And you will especially want to thank Amy when you see the treat she has ready for us today: the Prague Photo Directory! It is attached, see below. She deserves our thanks pretty much every week for all she does, but let’s take this opportunity to lift those virtual glasses again to say it all together– thank you, Amy!
Quietly behind the scenes, but always up to her elbows in e-mails, spreadsheets, data, and finances is our Money and Membership Master, Sue Wheeler. But that’s not all we have to thank Sue for– she is involved in every decision made by WRW. She’s a source of ideas, a voice of reason, and a problem-solver with an eye for details. For the last two years, Sue has also been the friendly voice to welcome new runners who join our e-mail list. In fact, since the time of Milan last year, she has welcomed 74 new runners to WRW! In the lead-up to Prague she did everything from tracking expenses and payments to creating a spreadsheet of all of our flights. She knows every detail that goes into planning our annual half-marathon trip. Which is really great because she has agreed to take on the Trip Master responsibility next year when Carolyn heads back to the States! So raise your glasses once more with a thank you to Sue, both for all that she has done for us, and for being willing to step into a very big role next year.
I hope you all have been wearing your annual shirt and race hat out on your solo runs from time to time. It’s such a shame we won’t have the chance to line up for a gorgeous team picture in the great kit Marissa O’Malia designed and procured for us (with Carolyn coordinating on the race hat)! In her first year as Kit Master, Marissa brought us a great set of sportswear options! And she accomplished it so smoothly and always with a smile! A toast to the lovely, upbeat lady who keeps us all running in style!
One big disappointment about not actually being in the hotel banquet room and celebrating together tonight is that we have to wait longer to see the 2020 WRW video written, filmed and produced by Megan Marine. Megan’s productions are brilliant EVERY year, and I cannot wait to see what she has put together for this year! We are going to hold out a little longer to save it for viewing together in an in real life celebration if there’s any way that can happen before the end of the year. But now is still the time to raise our glasses to Megan’s creative genius and the hours and hours of hard work she put in to entertain all of us. Thank you, Megan! We can’t wait for the screening!!
There are many more people we would be thanking for their roles year round in WRW if we were actually in a big room together– the routes team and the pace leaders, for example– and again, I still hope we may have the chance to do that, so I’m going to save those thank you’s for now. But today as we think about Prague, I just want to add a few women who took on different aspects of planning the Prague trip. Here’s to Devy Schonfeld, Mariya Treisman, and Julie Moyle, who organized the dinners and the tours we would have very much enjoyed on the trip this weekend. Each of them took on their assignment, went the extra mile to get extra accommodation for our large number of attendees, and then went back to the venues/vendor to cancel and pursue refunds when the race cancelled. Raise your glass to these ladies for the quiet extra efforts they made for us!
Another toast! to those of you who have gone ahead and completed a significant run independently– be it 13.1 or any other distance– over the last days (or who are planning to in the days ahead). Well done to each of you! Please post your run on the WRW Facebook page, or in your WhatsApp chats so we all can send our kudos! I’m not going to attempt individual shoutouts here, because the list will be potentially very large, I don’t want to miss anyone, and I especially don’t want anyone to feel pressured to complete any specific distance. But a very proud and warm pat on the back to anyone out there pushing herself to do the next hard thing– whether that is running 13.1, or half of that, or, in this situation, simply putting on the running shoes and stepping out the door! You are SO strong!
Running this week. As we said last week, we are refraining from posting specific routes by day during lockdown, so that we don’t inadvertently create a social distancing traffic jam! But here is the link to view many of our routes, in case you need a little inspiration: https://womenrunningtheworld.com/where-we-run/ . This week I’m also going to leave off the “Featured Route of the Week” in this note, as attaching the photo directory is going to make this a large message without the extra photo. Look for that to return next week with maybe some fresh old ideas!
Several runners have found “virtual” events that I wanted to share with you if you haven’t come across them on your WhatsApp chats. This article offers a list of several running events you can do on your own to qualify for a finisher’s medal. Another one to check into is this 19k virtual race to benefit frontline healthcare workers. Visit https://www.facebook.com/realrunningheroes/ for more information!
Training notes and opportunities. Some of you have forwarded this link to a great article on learning how to run solo. Thanks for sharing! As mentioned last week, Karen Hough has offered to extend an invitation to all of us who want to join a private, nonmembership group on the Beachbody platform to complete and track workout challenges together within our group. This is not meant to be an endorsement of the platform by WRW– but it’s simply a great opportunity offered by one of our members as a way for us to keep our fitness community going during a challenging time, with no commitment and no cost to us. Many of you have already registered your interest, but there’s still time– just go to this Google Form and register your e-mail by tomorrow, 29 March, to be included in the invitation when Karen sends it this week.
Speaking of opportunities, many of us have been discussing ways to be helpful in the community as we are on lockdown. One idea was to offer our services to “run errands”– as in, literally running prescriptions or other needed items to people in self-isolation. Though we considered ways to connect as a group with one of the community help groups, in the end it seemed most workable to recommend that anyone interested in helping in this way pursue it as an individual. Many runners have told me they have already registered their name and number with a local pharmacy with the offer to deliver medicines. Some runners are aware of other organizations connecting those who need help with those willing to offer it (though not specifically through running)– we have contact information for Neighbourcare in St Johns Wood through Marissa O’Malia. Feel free to reach out to us at this e-mail if you’d like that information.
It feels very strange to end the e-mail this way, and indeed, it has been a very strange one to write. Thank you if you’ve read this far and you’re still here! There’s really no way to distill a culminating run and celebration into a flat e-mail. But this group, and these times, transcend the usual. I know that most of us are still connecting and supporting each other via WhatsApp– the memes, the videos, the cheers, the photos! Last week a few of us did a run separately while chatting on a three-way WhatsApp call. The miles- and minutes-based training challenges by pace group are still going and, I think, still motivating people. And I know there have been virtual hangouts and cocktail hours via different online platforms. Let’s keep our community going, and keep supporting one another even and especially while we are separated. Please do reach out to us if you have a need– we are all here for each other! And as runners, we are so well conditioned to get through this time– just putting one foot in front of the other, over and over again, as we tick off the miles and the days to the end of this challenge! I am so thankful to be a part of this group!