Running Into 2021

The date was December 29, 2020. We’ve had 70+ centimeters of beautiful, fresh snow, and I decided to go out into the nearby forest for some running “action shots” using the self timer on my camera. I just started doing these timer shots this year. And I felt that I was getting reasonably good at it. In two or three tries I would capture the photo I wanted. But for whatever reason, my timing was way off that day.

First of all, without a tripod I needed to brush away some of that beautiful snow away, and rest my camera on a fallen log for the pictures.

Take 1: Okay, my timing is definitely off. πŸ™ƒ

Let’s try it again. Wow, I’m looking pretty serious in this one. Also, not the greatest running form. I’m sure all the running coaches would be cringing if they ever saw this! 😐

Another blooper. I knew I was too fast for the camera timer again. Stopped, and just smiled at the camera! 😁 Let’s try running away from the camera.

Not knowing at all when the camera was going to click, I was surprised I actually ended up in the frame! ☺️

Thought I would turn the camera around, and try a picture of me running down the hill. Running the same direction as in the photo before, except the camera is moved around. I do prefer the angle of the trees in the background this time! πŸŒ³β„οΈ

My camera is 13 years old, and my phone is 14 years old. To take a “selfie”, I turn the camera or phone backwards, take a guess. And shoot. 🀳  By the way, we have now moved to a new location closer to my village where the snow is more packed. ❄️

Nope! πŸ˜‚ There is no place to set the camera other than the ground. Was trying to prop up the camera at the proper angle with some snow. Let’s try again.

It’s okay, but it I were to be zoomed in, I am very serious again! Lighten up Carl! Maybe if I turn the camera around and try from the other direction. πŸ€”

Was able to find a spot to prop the camera a bit higher, but the tree got in the way for this one! I hope I haven’t bored you to tears.πŸ₯± I am truly sorry, normally I would have a picture to my liking from a timer shot in 2 or 3 attempts. I actually took twice as many photos than what appears on this post. I kept trying and trying until the fresh batteries had drained in the camera. They do drain quicker in the cold though.

Instead of going back in for fresh batteries, and going back out again, I decided to work with what I had. Hasn’t that been the way for 2020? It definitely hasn’t turned out the way we expected it to. But we work with what we have been given. Looking through my photos, I was smiling to myself. I was actually getting caught up with that obsession of that “perfect photo”.  More likes. More comments. More shares. We are obsessed with social media, but it has a dark side. It often magnifies the comparison factor, undermining people’s already frail psyches by highlighting how normal and even happy everyone else is in comparison to oneself. Leaving us with a feeling of inadequacy. I will often say that social media is like other people’s lives “highlight reels”. One thing I do find very uplifting and refreshing is the Twitter running community. We do post our runs, with times and distances. But there is not the comparison factor found there that you’d expect. With a few exceptions, we are always encouraging, building and lifting one another up.

Photo of Latvian runner Dace Bulte.

On Twitter the other day, Dace Bulte, an inspirational Latvian runner friend of mine, posted the following on her Twitter feed. After having received her permission, I’d like to repeat what she posted, “Hi Friends! How would you describe 2020? 1️⃣ A year of virtual runs & races. 2️⃣ A year of new discoveries & learning. 3️⃣ Both a challenging & an amazing year. 4️⃣ A year of togetherness & generosity. 5️⃣ Full of anxiety, trials, and lost opportunities… πŸ€” or..

Photo credit by my Peterborough runner friend Eileen Kimmett. Ornament purchased at a local small business in her hometown.  Supporting local businesses is so important these days.

This was a tough one to answer, because my 2020, all 5 answers had a little bit of everything in there for me. But probably #3 was the most accurate answer.  The year started very normal. I was working as crossing guard, a job that I absolutely love. As well as continuing as lay pastor at the church In Hillsdale.  On February 18th I had the opportunity to do a presentation for the Monarch Ultra for the Women’s Institutes. Really enjoy having these opportunities. My sister Linda is president of the local Clowes/Edgar Women’s Institute, and every monthly meeting they have a guest speaker. I had previously spoken once in 2018. It was all about running. Big surprise eh…lol!  Once a year they bring several area Women’s Institutes together with their families for a potluck and what my sister described as a “special speaker”. Well, I was asked if I could be that speaker. I was a bit shocked thinking “You are kidding, aren’t you?” But a prior CTV interview I did just before my trip to Mexico brought a lot of local exposure for the 4,300 kilometer relay. There were so many people eager to hear about my experience in Mexico running for the Monarchs. For as long as I can remember, plus the generations before, the Women’s Institutes have given to the rural communities. It really felt good in a small way to give back,  through my speaking.

Monarch Ultra presentation. Such an honour to be asked to be the speaker. I grew up with so many of these dear community members. Really hit me hard looking at this photo of how brief life is. The majority of the people there I have known my entire life. Two of the people sitting at the left table are no longer with us. They have died over these past few months.

It is hard to believe that less than a month after my Monarch Ultra presentation the world as we know it changed. A global pandemic. In this region, schools were closed. Which meant I was no longer needed as a crossing guard. And we were no longer physically allowed to meet for church. To keep my sanity I attempted to keep running. With races being cancelled it was so hard to keep motivated. And I wasn’t even sure if I could get into this “virtual race” thing.

Screenshot Image Source: 2020 would have been my 5th year in a row running the 50k of Pick Your Poison. Held in Copeland Forest, it is my favorite race.  I deferred to 2021.

With all these races being cancelled, a lot of my Ottawa running peeps had registered for this 1000 kilometer virtual race called Great Virtual Run Across Tennessee.  I kept saying no, because I honestly didn’t think I could run 1000 kilometers in 4 months. Eventually I gave in, and on May 6th I registered. But it put me 6 days behind all the others. There literally was over 19,000 runners that had up to a 6 day head start on me.

Simultaneously with the Great Virtual Run Across Tennessee, I ran a virtual called “Across Canada for Amanda”. This is a very important run for me, as it is in memory of Dr. Amanda Kelsall. The run was from May 12 to May 29th. Apparently I had one of the top distances and was awarded this wonderful “We Unite” hoodie, and a $25 gift certificate for the Running Room.

At first after having both jobs abruptly ended, it was nice not having any structure. But only for a couple weeks.  By the time I registered for this 1000 kilometer virtual thing, I really needed it. After registering I knew then what I was going to do the next day. Run! The day after that? Run! The running and hiking routine created stability and security. It gave me something to depend on each day during this pandemic. And something to look forward to for the following day when I went to bed each night. I likened my runs and hikes each day to putting a day in at work. Some days ended up being full 8 hour days.

Some other 2020 virtual run swag. Pick Your Poison socks, East Coast/West Coast medal from Destination Trail director Candice Burt, a Remembrance Day virtual medal from VR Pro and a 1000 kilometer buckle, 1000 mile pin , Double Crosser linen from Great Virtual Run Across Tennessee.

Daily updates with distance screenshots of my progress in this virtual went on Twitter and my Facebook running page. I did one 1,000+ kilometer crossing, then a second crossing. And then with a runners friend’s encouragement, one crazy third crossing of well over 1,000 kilometers in a month. Finishing overall in 89th place out of 19,620 runners. During those 4 months, I really connected closely with nature! I lost over 25 pounds, feeling better physically and mentally in such a long time. My blood pressure has never been this good. It was challenging, but incredibly amazing for sure.

Final stats 89th place out of something like 19,620 runners. One thing I noticed that the triple crossing finishers did not stop once they hit 3x status. They kept going. What it meant if I were to retain my double digit position I would need to keep logging miles until the very end of the virtual on August 31st. Which I did, and ended up finishing with 3214.4 kilometers, or 3.15 crossings,

I have really taken this “stay at home” thing to heart. All my run/hikes involved either no driving at all, or driving very short distances. The most I have actually gotten in my Prius all year to drive somewhere is 32.5 kilometers. My wife drives that distance every day for her work at the post office, and one day she needed me to drive those 32.5 kilometers to drop off something at her work. COVID really scares me, so I am extremely careful. At 62 years old, I am classified as being in that “vulnerable population”. My Netherlands extreme adventure cyclist friend Shane Little came down with COVID-19. Being one of the most physically fit people I have ever met in my entire life, he shares all about his experience of how it affected him both physically and mentally (and for months after) in this article he wrote. If you are able, I encourage you to set aside 10-15 minutes to read.

Image Source. The topic of mask wearing can become quite controversial. Personally, I wear a mask in public.

The timing after my 4 month virtual finish (which ended up being 3,214.4 kilometers) was perfect. A few days later I was back doing my crossing guard duties, and a couple weeks later again our church re-opened. Our congregation is mostly elderly without computer access. That in person social connection it seems for them was as necessary as air for health. With a very small congregation it was very easy to follow Ministry of Health protocol. This recent second wave of COVID has hit harder than the first. Regional COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations, intensive care unit admissions, ventilator usage and deaths are all higher this time around. Reaching record high numbers. So our province has issued a 28 day lockdown. There is an extended winter school break from 2 weeks to 3 weeks. But who knows, it could be longer.  The 28 day lockdown has also closed our church down once again for this period. But maybe longer. “Technically” we could have held a Christmas Eve service for up to one third capacity, as the lockdown didn’t start until Boxing Day. It is the one and only time a lot of the community will come out for a church service during the year. For many it is an annual tradition. Several community members shared their disappointment of the cancellation. But it was just too risky. To risk the spread of COVID-19 would be a denial of my faith, and a perversion of our communal worship. There will always be next Christmas.

With not having a Christmas Eve service, we lit our final advent candle the Sunday before.

Since August 31st I have gained back 7 pounds of the 25 pounds I lost. And with this second lockdown again, I’m once again needing a bit of structure to keep me active. Something to do tomorrow when I wake up. And then the next day. With the recent spike in infections, I have no idea if I’m going to be back at the crosswalk on January 11th, or if the schools will be closed longer. Or if the church will reopen in late January. So many unknowns.

Love being the neighborhood crossing guard. Children know the whistle system exceptionally well and will not step onto the highway until they hear the second whistle. Picture taken pre-COVID early last March.

The way things are going, I really don’t expect things to change that much going into 2021. Races likely will still be cancelled. People will be asked to stay home, and not travel to other areas. For that very reason,  I have registered for another 1000 kilometer virtual. This one is of Canadian origin and is called “A Great Canadian Running Challenge”. It is to complete 1,000 kilometers of running, jogging, walking or hiking in a year. I wanted something to once again challenge me, and put some butterflies in my stomach. So I ended up clicking the “Elite” category of 3,000 kilometers or more in a year. I told my wife that “I don’t feel that elite”. She told me that I was. So wonderful to have a wife who supports me the way she does. Even if I do get back working my two jobs, 3,000 kilometers should be doable in a year.

Image Source. For 2021, I will be going on the same diet I was on in 2020. My diet (not found on the chart) is called the “3,000 kilometer diet”. Burning all those extra calories each day on the trails creates a calorie deficit. 😁

To close, I would like to leave you with a couple of questions. The 1st, is the question from my Latvian runner friend Dace Bulte, “How would you describe 2020?” It really is so hard to plan anything these days. So my second question for you would be, “Have you anything planned for 2021?” Thank you so much to everyone for your amazing support. You are the best! Have a great year ahead!

Categories: Year End RecapsTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


  1. Oh, there it is! Another 3’000km challenge! Of course you belong in the elite class, Carl!
    This is going to be comparatively easy for you to do, as you have a whole year this time. I think you will be finished by spring 2021! πŸ˜‰

    Those action shots of you in the snowy forest are hilarious. Some of them turned out really great, like the one where you are running away from the camera.

    I remember that question by Dace. I answered with “a year of new discoveries & learning”. I do like her tweets and her comments, she is always so encouraging. And your question about plans for 2021 is a great one. My plan is an upcoming 76k run on 6 March. I’m not sure it’s going to happen, but I’m loving the training. Not quite like a 3’000km challenge, but at least it’s something.

    A very Happy New Year to you, Carl, and that your year will be full of love, laughter and happy adventures. Looking forward to reading your posts this year!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Happy New Year Carl. I always enjoy your inspiring blogs. Love the snowy photos, great job! And I get your 3000 calorie deficit diet. I’m not quite there yet but have gone dirty keto and am in shape for a great winter/spring training. Looking forward to seeing you on a trail run in 2021! We all got this.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Happy New Year Gene. So wonderful to have you drop by. Thank you so much for taking the time to read and for your kind words. So well done on the Keto. I know a person that is on it, and that would take so much discipline. I love my chocolate just too much…lol! 🍫 The results shown on this person I know is nothing short of amazing! .

        I am not sure if you knew Gene, that Pierre Marcoux’s (Creemore Vertical Challenge) wife Lee Anne passed away in the fall. I’m hoping to make it to the celebration of life when this COVID thing is over.

        All the best with you training my friend. Would be so cool to see you on a trail run again.πŸƒβ€β™‚οΈπŸƒβ€β™‚οΈπŸ˜€


    • You are such an amazing support, Catrina. Thank you. Day 1 of this challenge is in the books. So far I am in 1st place, but I am sure it is just because it is New Years Day and everyone is recovering from a New Years Eve hangover…lol. πŸ˜‚ Way less than my shortest daily distance last August.

      Dace is wonderful to have on Twitter. Such an inspiration, and oh so encouraging. You have such an amazing challenge ahead, Catrina. You’ve been doing so amazing with your training. Is there a possibility it might be cancelled?

      Thank you so much for your kind New Years wishes. I wish you all the same for yourself. Looking forward to reading all about your adventures on your blog as well! πŸ˜€

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This is so beautifully written! Love your positive mindset, Carl. That’s a great way to look at it and to get through these unprecedented times.
    Loved the thought of the β€œ3,000 kilometer diet”. Your intelligence and curiosity inspire me. Many thanks indeed!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dace, thank you for allowing me to use your material. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment. Such kind words. Day 1 of the 3,000 kilometer diet is in the books. Wishing you a tremendous New Year! πŸ˜€


  3. Happy new year Carl

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Carl you have taken 2020 in stride and wow to all of your running! The lockdowns make things hard for sure but good for you to get out. I loved the series of your selfies and attempts to get photos of your self running. Good to enjoy the process rather than be frustrated by it.
    How would I describe 2020? Although it came as a huge surprise, 2020 helped me see the priorities of life. As you mentioned about social media, I had become pretty wrapped up in the blog and assorted media. With travel grinding to a halt and having a travel blog, it all came crashing down. And guess what? The world didn’t end. In fact I became far less stressed. So 2020 was a teacher and going forward to 2021 we hope to travel in Canada, spend more time with our families and be flexible to what lies ahead.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much Sue, for taking the time to read, and for such a generous comment. I loved your answer of how you described 2020. I think 2020 was a teacher for a lot of us, given us a new perspective and new priorities in life.

      I love your blog, Sue, but I think it is mostly because of the 2 people behind the blog… and your hubby. I honestly think if you had a dedicated blog on thimble collecting, I would be an avid follower. You are an incredible writer. And you are so engaging, taking a genuine interest in other people’s blogs and what they have to say in their writings. Just like you are doing here with me and my article here (despite you not being a fanatic runner like myself).πŸ˜€ Even though your travelling did end Sue, you adapted incredible well with your blogging. To be honest, I struggle with reading through food blog articles, but I still read them. You made the “Peppermint Candy Cane Cookies” such a informative and fascinating read. The best food blog article I have ever read, Sue. So thank you! πŸ™Œ

      Liked by 1 person

      • Carl if I could reach through the screen and give you a hug I would do so. Your feedback comes at a perfect time. We are struggling trying to figure out what to write in the months ahead. I had not thought of thimble collecting! That made me laugh out loud. Thank you so much for your generous words and caring thoughts. Blogging began for us as a way of connecting with people. Opportunities have arisen from the blog but it is always the connection and engagement with others that is the best part.
        Sending our very best wishes and heartfelt thanks. Here’s hoping 2021 brings better days and some writing inspiration. Happy running!

        Liked by 1 person

      • I felt your hug, Sue. Thank you so very much. And you are very welcome. Yes, here is hoping 2021 will be better days and some writing inspiration. πŸ˜€πŸ™

        Liked by 1 person

  5. You accumulated some impressive miles Carl! I really like your photo attempts too. Keeps it real and fun.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much for your kind words Angie. Wasn’t planning on posting the photos that way. When I decided not to go out the 2nd time with fresh batteries, was when I decided to use those photo attempts to introduce the article.

      Thank you for taking the time to read. Wishing you an amazing 2021. πŸ˜€

      Liked by 1 person

  6. This is quite inspiring Carl! I think 2020 can be described as eye opening – the things we didn’t know we could survive but we did.
    Haven’t set any goals for 2021 but I will sure try to not involved anything that could be closed as major lockdown is in effect for Montrealers !
    Keep it up and Happy New Year !

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much Josie, for taking the time to read and for sharing. We certainly did survive 2020, didn’t we? It is so hard to set goals, but I sincerely hope 2021 is a good year for you. Have a Happy New Year! πŸ˜€πŸ™


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: