Welcome back to this special series featuring the stories of the Senior Planet Sponsored Athletes as they pursue their fitness goals.
Here’s an update from David Hill on his revised routine since the start of the COVID-19. If you missed David’s inspiring introduction, be sure to read it here. You can find all of our Sponsored Athletes’ stories here.
I’m happy to be back in touch to share an update on my year. It’s been challenging for everyone, and I am blessed to be doing well.
The year started wonderfully with my Senior Planet Athlete sponsorship. I was looking forward to my retirement in May, and to running the three 2020 World Marathon Majors I qualified for in 2019: Boston, Chicago, and New York City.
Then came the global pandemic, COVID-19.
The marathons were all cancelled (along with all other races), and I was working from home. My normal routine of cycling to work, going to the gym for yoga and other classes, and climbing the stairs at my office came to an end. Also my running club, The Reservoir Dogs, suspended runs. I was able to continue running, but the lack of variety led to a painful Achilles tendon injury. I was worried that this would take a long time to heal, but I got medical help quickly. I found a great physical therapist and was given exercises that led to a speedy recovery.
I’m hoping to stay healthy and strong, get back to more “real” racing, and reconnect with my friends and community.
On April 30th, I retired after 41 years of working in IT. Since then, I’ve been able to have a much more balanced life. I brought back regular cycling (through Citi Bike) and YouTube and Zoom yoga classes, including a fabulous class with one of my pre-COVID in-person teachers, Julia Chan. I took them mostly outdoors in Central Park, so I’m sad to be returning indoors for the dark fall evenings.
I also took up birding with my wife. I’ve lived next to Central Park, one of the best birding locations in the world, for over 34 years, but I’d never “seen” the birds. Since May, my wife and I have been visiting it almost every day. We’ve downloaded birding apps to our phones, watched videos and bird cams, bought bird books, and upgraded our binoculars. There’s a wonderful, welcoming, supportive community of birders who helped us, both in person and via Twitter (@BirdCentralPark). We’ve met some great people, made new friends, and seen and photographed many fascinating and beautiful birds, including the barred owl (photo above right) that arrived last week. My son has also become interested.
After a few months, some socially-distant exercise events and group runs have returned. I’ve been doing a weekly boot camp run with Midnight Runners, and Dr. Jordan Metzl has IronStrength workouts on the Central Park Great Lawn. Last month, New York Road Runners restarted racing under limited controlled conditions. I ran the first — a four-miler in Central Park — and was pleasantly surprised that my finish time of 28:31 remained close to my pre-COVID pace. I ran the second four-miler today in 29:02, in the cold and dark starting at 6:30am (wearing my race bib, photo above left).
As you may know, the New York Marathon went virtual. My son is not a runner, but he was sold on the idea of doing the marathon as a walk. We went on long walks in the weeks before, and he did it with me on the first day it was available, his birthday. On that day, we both walked it; up, down, and back up the Hudson River Manhattan shoreline (photo right). It was a great achievement, especially for him. We plan to continue these long weekend walks.
For the future, I’m hoping to stay healthy and strong, get back to more “real” racing, and reconnect with my friends and community. I’m also hoping to start some volunteer work. I look forward to the next two seasons of birding, winter, and spring.