It was at the height of COVID that I discovered the Runner's World Run Streak Challenge. It seemed simple enough: Run at least one mile per day, every day, starting on May 31, 2020 and ending on July 4, 2020. That was 35 consecutive days of running. Not a problem and I had certainly logged plenty of miles by the time Independence Day rolled around.
But then I kept going and the daily run became almost automatic.
Early mornings. Late nights. Long runs. Short runs. Great runs. Lousy runs. Rain, sleet, blinding snowstorms, blazing summer heat. Holidays, vacations, business trips. It didn't matter; I got out there and always felt great when I got back. I logged more than 1,100 running miles during both 2020 and 2021.
To be sure, there were some especially hard days. The few days following a significant ankle twist put the streak in jeopardy. The day after doing 140.6 miles at Ironman Florida. The days when I battled fevers, headaches and body aches I swore signaled COVID. That time a month ago when I actually had COVID. The 16-hour work days. The time when I ran in jeans in a parking lot in Westchester because my son's gymnastics meet ran late and midnight was rapidly approaching. But I kept going and soon, the question became when I would run each day, rather than if.
I got to run again today, but sadly, I won't run tomorrow.
After 777 consecutive days - love the irony in the number - my current run streak ends today.
Tomorrow morning I'll undergo a robotic radical prostatectomy in a three hour procedure that will begin at 7:00AM at NYU Langone in Mineola and with any luck, I will celebrate this Independence Day prostate cancer-free.
My doctor has made it clear that I can't even think about running for the next four weeks.
I'm sad that my current streak has ended and I'll miss the daily endorphin rush that kept me relatively sane during COVID and has kept me grounded since. I'll miss the quiet reflective time alone and the feeling of satisfaction I experienced at the end of each run. And I'll miss the luxury of eating whatever I want, because I could "just run it off."
I won't run tomorrow, because I'll be taking care of my health and because in the words of Robert Frost, "I have miles to go before I sleep."