Laura Yoder’s Big Solo Miles

The stay-at-home orders and COVID-19 caused many of my races to be canceled, as it did for so many of us. But I have been honoring the new popular saying: “Running is not canceled!”

It all began so innocently with a course being marked on local trails by fellow Pacer member Brandon Beane. His creative course design and dedication to getting it marked motivated me to run my first “race replacement.” I followed his carefully marked trail to complete a 50k solo run, as a replacement for the HAT 50k, which had been scheduled for March 21. (Well, most of that run was solo. My husband Mike ran the first 15 miles with me.) 

Next up was a way to replace a 12-hour run that was also canceled. I was not sure where or how to run a solo run that long and practice social distancing since local trails were becoming very busy all of sudden. I decided on an epic treadmill day! Just how long and how far could I go on my treadmill? That is where Mike came in again, as my all time favorite crew person, always there to support my crazy adventures. He kept me fueled and hydrated for my run. Well, 10 hours later, I had completed 50 miles! Yes, 50 miles on my treadmill. He even made me a finisher medal for my run! 

Then the challenges really started appearing online. I was hooked. Next up was the Personal Peak Quarantine Backyard Ultra on April 4th. Run 4.167 miles every hour on the hour for as many hours as you can. Over 2,000 people from all around the world competed in this virtual challenge where we checked in on a Zoom meeting to know when the bell would ring to begin the next lap. Mike made me my official race bib, and off I went. I lasted 15 hours, completing a total of 62 miles. Again, 50 of those miles on my treadmill, and the remaining 12 I ventured out on the roads near our house. Michael Wardien, from Virginia, the winner of that event, made my run look like a warm up, since he completed 63 hours worth of 4.167 mile laps in his neighborhood giving him just over 262 miles. 

I was still eager for more, and since I am a member of the  Berks County Solo Runner group on Facebook, organized by our local running store Fleet Feet, I saw a new challenge within the next week. It was the “Solo Break-the-Tape Finish Line Photo Challenge.” Well, this just happened to coincide with the original date for the Boston Marathon, which had to be postponed to September. I decided I wanted to run a solo marathon in honor of those having to wait a little bit longer for their chance to run. I had the extreme honor of completing the Boston Marathon in 2017. I have to say it is truly an indescribable, once-in-a-lifetime experience for a runner. I also wanted to honor all of the healthcare workers and front line people keeping our country safe and healthy. So I left for my solo marathon run and returned home to an incredible surprise. Mike created the best finish line ever. I was beyond surprised and excited to Break The Tape! 

I have other challenges lined up and am very thankful for my health to be able to complete them. I am also very lucky to have such an amazing and supportive husband!  What is most important is that we all are doing what we can to keep each other and ourselves safe and healthy. We need to be there for each other however possible. I am, as we all are, eager to be back running with my friends and racing again.  I only hope my crazy running somehow motivates others to get out there and keep moving forward. Running is not cancelled!

–Laura Yoder