The Husko Way

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x xxxOur Running In 2020


by Patty Husko


With 28 scheduled Silver Strider Grand Prix races on the calendar, 2020 began with high expectations for many opportunities to have fun racing with friends.

Silver Striders had a chance to participate in four Grand Prix Races, when covid-19 reared its devastating head upon the world. People world wide began to get sick and die from the covid-19 virus. Lockdowns became the norm and race directors had no choice but to cancel their races. Our Grand Prix Series had eleven races cancelled.

With time, race directors figured out a way racers could run together but apart. Virtual racing became the solution for runners.

Silver Striders had the opportunity to participate in thirteen Grand Prix virtual races. Our Grand Prix Series finished with 17 races plus credit for an extra one for those participating in the 20 Challenge: with a total possible of 18 compared to the original 28 scheduled races.

We have a saying in our family. There’s the easy way, the hard way, and the Husko way of doing everything. We don’t believe in wasting money by paying someone to work on projects that we can do ourselves. Good, Bad, or Ugly.

You definitely could and should call us “Cheap”. That is what lead us to build our house with our own hands with no prior knowledge or experience, just asking questions and reading “how to” articles.

We bought materials pay day to pay day and built it without a loan. I have to admit, we are still working on making our own window trim with wood from our own trees.

I’m really not sure it will ever be totally finished but our house is 100% handmade and signed by us. We signed the studs every time we bent a nail while framing the house. Of course I must have done more work because I signed my name more often than Steve. It was totally built with a skill saw and hammer and nails. We built the trusses, put in all the electrical and the plumbing, including digging the septic hole and lines by hand.

The only work that we hired someone else to do on our property was having the well drilled. In case you are wondering why we didn’t dig our own well? The answer is – we dug a well for Steve’s parents. Digging their well one shovel full at a time, as the water seeped in all around, and hopefully being pumped out faster then it was coming in, was enough.

Sorry I got side tracked. I have a habit of rambling on sometimes. I was
supposed to be talking about 2020.

Once all racing seemed to halt in March it became apparent to us that we needed something else to focus on. We are not ones to just sit around without a plan. That’s when we began our logging and saw milling project on our property. It became a huge undertaking and kept us very busy for the months of March and April. It sure gave us much needed exercise since we were pretty much not running at that time.

In May, with our logging and milling done, we were asking each other, “What’s next?”. Just running the Silver Strider virtual races was not enough to keep our time occupied.

While on the internet, I came across a website offering some pretty cool medals for virtual runs.

The first one we participated in was Corona Virus Relief which had a 3D medal in the shape of the corona virus molecule. Donations were given to healthcare workers for PPE who were caring for covid 19 patients.

Another was a 3D 6 inch medal of the International Space Station supporting the advancement of science in space.

We continued running through the month of July receiving many unique medals and donating to some really interesting charities.

August came along with the urge to travel. However, like Washington most states were only offering virtual races.

Knowing that we needed to continue to run, we needed more incentives. After all, the reason we started running in the first place at the age of 60 still was relevant. We had a three year old granddaughter, Emberly, whom I wanted to see grow up. For health benefits, we began running.

Now we have more incentives to keep running. We have three granddaughters and one grandson now, Emberly 10, Tashlyn 7, Ellie 7, Gavin 2, and of course our two wonderful daughters. I cannot think of six better reasons to run. Truth be known, running is hard work and not necessarily fun.

Destination races still seemed out of the question. The thought started out as a great idea that turned into an ambitious undertaking.

Steve had a brilliant idea. He suggested we run a virtual half marathon from every state. I’m guessing those of you who know me pretty well, can guess what my response was without me telling you. “ARE YOU KIDDING ME? You know there are 50 states, that would mean 50 half marathons in 5 months.”

After a long conversation I convinced him a 5k might be workable. The biggest question we asked ourselves:  was there enough time to sign up and do all 50 5k runs before everything opened up again and virtual racing became a thing of the past? Little did we know at the time, extended lock downs would give us plenty of time.

To accomplish this plan four components had to be available in each racing event.
1) have a virtual 5k.
2) have to be able to run during the pandemic lock down.
3) race would have to be donating to a good cause or charity that we believed in.
4) a finisher medal to show off our accomplishments.

I spent hours and hours on internet racing sites looking for the perfect race in all 50 states. In most states it was easy to find 5k virtual races: They had the memo. Others not so much.

My plan was to find as many states as possible to run in 2020. Since we both would sign up for each event I also had to be mindful of the cost. Our cost varied between $25.00 to $55.00 for each of us per event. Most runs were done starting at our driveway onto local country roads. I figured that with no fuel cost and minimal time needed for the virtual races it would be attainable.

So here we go. On August 4th we began our new adventure with virtual racing. We signed up for virtual races in small towns and large cities, such as Emporium, PA with a population of 1,833 to Nashville, TN with 1.96 million citizens. Many cities had over 5 hundred virtual runners from all over the United States while others had fifty or less. In fact, little did I know that when I signed up for a virtual run in Utah we would be the only two virtual runners. How special was that?

Participating in out of state virtual at home races gave us the opportunity to pick and choose which charity or cause to donate to. We had many favorites that we were able to be a part of such as; Make-A-Wish Foundation, Special Olympics, and Honor Our Heroes, Police, Fire, and EMS.

We jumped at a chance to run for St Jude Hospital. St Jude has been dear to our hearts ever since I organized and ran a bike-a-thon when our daughters were young. Children from our community rode their bikes around and around the high school track with all proceeds going to St Jude Hospital.

Another important race was one in Maine. It helped Children living with special needs. This one meant the world to me because I worked 22 years with special needs children at our local middle school. I taught math in our special education classroom to 6th,7th, and 8th graders. I know the struggles they have and the extra help they require. I still miss working and listening to my dear students.

A unique fun run we did was called, Pay It Forward. In this race everyone was given money inside their medal. Steve received $10.00 and I received $5.00.

Not long after we received this money I was at the grocery store in line behind a young mother who did not have enough money for her groceries. When the clerk asked her what she would like him to put back, she started to point out different things. I told the clerk I would cover what she could not afford. She looked embarrassed and asked if I was sure. I said, “Absolutely, I would like to pay it forward and maybe someday you can do the same for someone else.” I felt that it was meant to be.

Running for Illinois was done for patriotic reasons. The medal we received was a guitar with red, white, and blue stars and stripes. We chose this one because it represents this great nation we live in.

Did you ask, did we receive any unique medals?

Well yes, of course. Just to name a few we received a spinner clam, a big crab that the shell opens up, and a sea turtle that spins with pictures of other sea life on the back.

We also went for some strange medals too because living wouldn’t be fun without a little strange in everyone’s life. That is if you call a running red chili pepper, or a turkey that you hold up to your face and your smile becomes the turkey’s smile when you take a selfie. Doesn’t make much sense does it? But go with it, I’ve never claimed to make sense all the time, only 99.9999999999999999999% of the time.

This last one I’m going to share could be a little controversial but I still want to share it.

The run was called Alien Escape from Area 51 in Nevada. Needless to say it has a little green man on it. Controversial if you have paid attention lately to the news stories about UFO’s.

By December 31, 2020 we were able to run 40 out of the 50 states having a virtual 5k with all of our requirements. At this time we have 49 out of 50 states.

We are still in the process of signing up for one in Alaska. I have been in contact with the  race director who has assured me he will have one available in August. From August through December 2020.

We also ran 12 other virtual races, mostly Silver Strider races. In 2020
we ran 9 onsite races before covid 19 shut everything down and 72 virtual races. A total of 81 races.

One might wonder, why not run training runs instead of paying to do the same thing. It has to do with something I said earlier. Running is hard work and not necessarily fun. I needed that extra something to keep going. If I sign up and pay for a race, I’m committed.

At this time we are waiting to receive four more state medals for races we have completed. It is nice to be able to see all the medals displayed together, so Steve built another wooden medal holder.

It reminds me that as we go through life, hard work is rewarding. All in all 2020 was a very tough year for us, just as it probably was for most. We are hopeful that 2021 will get some normalcy back into our lives. It will be great to see our Silver Strider friends again.

We have missed all the HUGS.