Despite the Pequannock 5K giving me an icky feeling about being in crowded places, it seemed like things were getting better. I was vaccinated, I started spending time with friends and family who were also vaccinated and it felt like some sort of semblance of the old normal was going to return.
That was July. So I signed up for the Hartford Marathon. I needed to run that race again - this time at the official in-person event - and try to right the wrongs of last year.
And then the delta variant of COVID suddenly became a threat. People were dying again, vaccinated friends were getting breakthrough cases and I stopped feeling safe around others. So I retreated back to my own personal lockdown.
But I kept training for the race, partially because I kept looking for a glimmer of hope and partially because I was already way too committed. I was going to run this thing no matter what. Connecticut was one of two states on the Eastern seaboard (the other being Georgia) in which I still had not run a sub-four-hour marathon.
On Oct. 9, having completed the 18-week Hal Higdon Advanced Training program, I woke up at 4 a.m. and, feeling no excitement at all, got in the car and started driving to Hartford...