Runner circles Silver Lake

Eagle sports editor Mike Walsh got some training in around Silver Lake in Pittsfield ahead of May 22's Steel Rail Half Marathon.

About a month ago — it could’ve been longer, time hasn’t really made sense since I got home from the office on St. Patrick’s Day 2020 — my wife bought a small, wooden toddler balance board online.

I’m looking at it now, sitting on the floor amidst an unruly mob of toys, books, shoes, bibs and blankets. I’m chuckling from the irony, because since the baby was born 13 months ago, balance, like one of E’s eight disappearing toothbrushes, has been the hardest thing to find.

After the 2021 Steel Rail Half Marathon, which was shifted to fall due to the pandemic, I wrote in my recap column: “I needed to run, because it has become one of my outlets. It’s how I managed all of the insanity of Summer 2020 doing everything from a cider donut mile to the Kennedy Park Challenge, and now I think it’s how I’m going to manage the stress of parenting.”

But, It’s March 24, the 2022 Steel Rail is less than 60 days away and according to my abysmal Strava stats I’ve run a mere eight times since the new year.

Balance has not been in vocabulary much the past few months. Winter is tough for treadmill-averse runners anyway. And into that mental concoction I tossed Berkshire County’s lack of childcare, off-set work schedules for the wife and I, my own stubbornness and guilt of dumping the baby on relatives kind enough to visit and help out, and a heavy push on our high school basketball coverage. All of that left little time or motivation to put on multiple layers of clothes to go dodge ice patches for a few miles in the dark.

I’m very aware of the “You can’t pour from an empty cup” saying, but, in fairness, I think a lot of us have been palm-hammering the bottom of a depleted ketchup bottle much too often the past two years.

So, with a light work week following the state tournament for basketball and some time before spring sports start in full, I’m trying to rededicate myself and get two feet on that balance board — metaphorically, I don’t want to risk breaking the toy under this winter weight. So, with roughly eight weeks to go before tackling the Ashuwillticook once more, the Runner’s High column should be making a weekly appearance in the lead up to May 22. I’ll write during E’s naptime, and if dishes or laundry fall a bit behind, so be it.

I’m trying to create some accountability for myself to really start grinding to get ready. I’ve got a couple buddies coming out to run it with me, and I can’t just sit back and count on that home-rail trail advantage. So, we’ll talk some strategy, time management, gear, etc., and hopefully that goal of getting under 1 hour, 45 minutes — my PR from 2016 — becomes more of a possibility by the end of April school vacation.

We’ve got an extra hour of sunlight to play with and some warmer temperatures that may make the running stroller more of an opportunity when it’s just E and me on weekdays. Personally, we were blessed with a mother-in-law visit this week, which allowed me to dig my running shoes out from behind a Feed-Me Dino and get out for five miles on Tuesday night and another three around Silver Lake despite Thursday morning’s Winter Weather Advisory.

Despite the lack of Powder Reports this winter, I’m still a serious shred addict. So, Wednesday morning was spent laying down slushy tracks up at Bromley Mountain before date night drinks and snacks at Methuselah with the wife... But, hey, we’re still talking about balance here.

Mike Walsh can be reached at mwalsh@berkshireeagle.com or 413-496-6240.

On Twitter: @WalshWrites89.

Sports Editor

Mike Walsh is sports editor at The Berkshire Eagle. He's been with The Eagle since 2017. Walsh also authors the NENPA-winning Powder Report column. He's an avid snowboarder, runner, homebrewer, and he used to play a pretty mean sousaphone.