Well, 2021—what a weird year. There was so much hope back in April, when Ellie and I gleefully trotted down to Orchard Park (across the street from the Bills stadium!) for our first and second doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. Man, were we riding high and thinking things were headed in the right direction. Fast-forward eight months and . . . well . . . let's just focus on the positives!

Despite a relatively light racing calendar compared to the before times, Team Bog Manners completed some pretty impressive things, both virtual and in person. First and foremost, a HUGE accomplishment that is worth celebrating right up front:

Virtual 716 

Many of us entered, and several of us returned from our trip around Lake Erie. This was a virtual challenge of 716 miles that could be completed in various categories. The most impressive completion was from Dave, Mom, and Dad, who each walked and/or ran the entire 716 miles. Mom and Dad committed 251 HOURS to the project, while Dave finished in a speedy 223 hours. Ellie and I also completed the challenge, though we chose the option that included biking so we could prep for the Hyannis Triathlon (which we will discuss next)!

Hyannis Triathlon 2

This was our "A" race on the calendar all year, and it's what we spent most of the summer preparing for. This one was a little bittersweet for me, personally. Despite a really good race prep and working with an awesome nutritionist in the weeks leading up to it, about three weeks before race day, I had a little bit of a medical hiccup that knocked me out of the competition completely. A DNS for me—major bummer. BUT, there is a silver lining: Mike, Dave, and Ellie absolutely knocked it out of the park! Mike completed the Olympic distance in 2:35:51, and Dave and Ellie teamed up for the Olympic distance relay in 2:48:39. This was Ellie's second relay but first bike race, and she stepped up big and put her legs to work!

Ellicottville EVL 5K 

Once I was starting to get back into some sense of health, a friend of ours named Ellen inquired about doing a local 5K down in Ellicottville, NY. The three of us rose to the challenge, and equipped with our masks and our warmest (though not-waterproof-enough) clothes, we got the job done in just over 33 and 34 minutes—the ladies tore away from me with a half mile to go as my out-of-shape self held them back.

Nashville Turkey Trot

Who would have thought that Nashville had a ton of elevation change? Ellie and I traveled down south for Thanksgiving to meet up with two great friends of ours, Lauren and Kory. But as a condition of our roadtrip, we signed up for the local Turkey Trot. Kory was a great sport and signed up with us despite the 30-degree temps and freezing rain combination (a far departure from his normal 80-degree Austin weather). Yes, we froze our butts off, but we still prevailed and finished the nearly 8K race in 56:18 minutes, while Kory powered up the final set of hills in a speedy 56:08. The post-race donuts, a well-placed coffee truck, and a holiday feast made the trip well worth it. Also . . . holy crap is Nashville hot chicken from Prince's insanely good.

Overall, we were able to have a pretty active 2021. Although not everything went smoothly, I think we all did a great job of staying active and accomplishing some awesome things. I know we said this at the end of 2020, but here's hoping that the new year gets us a little closer to a return to normalcy.

P.S. Since my lab has shifted a large amount of our workload to COVID-19—and because I care about all of you—if you aren't vaccinated or boosted, go, go, go! The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago, but the second-best time is right now—don't wait!

Have a great holiday season and stay healthy!