Okay, I’m Ready To Write About Running Again

Deep Breath. Edit. Edit. Close Computer.

Deep Breath. More edits. Delete, delete, delete. Close Computer.

Fuck it. I’m just going to press publish.

Yeah. I haven’t been here in a while. But I’m back and back with a doozy. So strap in, get comfy, or maybe uncomfortable depending on your opinions; this is a really long post. It took me a while to get my thoughts straight and even then, this post seems a little chaotic and random. I’m still kinda nervous to post this one for some reason! But I feel like I have to get something out there about my thoughts and feelings toward the running community in relation to covid before I can move on and post other stuff.

Also, “enjoy” the photos; the ones posted here are a collection of what I saw that represented the times we are living in. 

I was definitely avoiding writing anything about COVID. I wanted to, but I  didn’t know where to begin and I didn’t know how deep I wanted to dive in. I was also trying to avoid a lot of online running groups (and still am for the most part) but I can’t completely do that due to my job. Reading people’s posts about covid made me want to avoid my running-related blog even more.

But I’m back. And I’m ready to talk about running again. Right now, in relation to COVID. We gotta get this out of the way.

I started this post at the end of March when the pandemic in the US really started to be noticed (I say “noticed” because it was probably already here well before that and should have been addressed sooner, in my opinion). This post, although edited over and over, was supposed to go live after my last post which was March 31st.

It’s now July, in case you didn’t know (and I wouldn’t blame you; I’ve lost all track of time).

In my little world, Layton turned 9 months old, then 10 months…and then 11 months old, and now we’re planning his 1st birthday party! I also started another blog (Creating Mama; you should check it out if you’re a parent or like crafting!), all my jobs took a hit and my pay, hours, and responsibilities changed. In the big world, there were stay-at-home orders, tons of people lost jobs, people were getting sick, protests on the stay-at-home orders…then the Black Lives Matter movement took precedent to bring much-needed attention to the injustice people have been and still are facing. And somewhere in there, there were murder hornets…right? And maybe an alien sighting back in May? I’m not even sure anymore. And now, I feel like we’re on repeat.

Even though I have been avoiding putting all my thoughts together about our current situation, I did want to share some of my thoughts on COVID in relation to my blog and running in general, but when I started writing, I was overcome with thoughts of “seriously?! In the grand scheme of things, running being affected by COVID is so small and unimportant.” And I still feel that way.

At the beginning of the pandemic, when everything was just starting to get shut down and states were starting to put “shelter in place” orders out, I had to stay off Facebook and other social media due to new anxiety triggers but also because there were so many people completely distraught that their races were being canceled. It was all over my social sites because that’s the community I’ve built up. And yes, I realize how ironic all of that is considering my job, my financial livelihood, is literally dependent on running events.

Listen, I know running is a lot of people’s passions, hobbies, and livelihood. Heck, I’ve literally made a career out of it. And I KNOW most of my readers are these people. However, I feel, that’s the beauty of having a passion such as running. Running itself was never canceled. In its purest form, all you need is your body and a good pair of shoes (heck, even the shoes are debatable these days; I saw a lady running barefoot in the street yesterday!) but reading people’s comments about how the race they’ve been training for was canceled and how “unfair” the race director was being by not making a decision in that instant was driving me crazy. I know, I know, there are tons of benefits of an in-person event (competition, the social contact people seem to need, the reward of the finish line, etc, etc), but this period of time is TEMPORARY. It really is. I promise you. I don’t know how long temporary will be, but overall when you’re 80 years old, this year will not seem that long and by golly, you’ll have great stories to tell. Nevermind the fact that we have way bigger fish to fry than a few races being canceled (i.e. literally a virus killing people).

I am actually glad I waited a while to finish this post. Some of the things I had previously written down or thought were pretty dramatic at the time and now seem irrelevant. The truth is, I still actually have some of the same feelings and opinions about the virus itself, the seriousness of it and how the world (and the U.S) handled it, but in the beginning, I started experiencing true anxiety for the first time (which is still lingering in random spells, mostly in the form of insomnia), which led my writing to be pretty dramatic. In the beginning, I was so worried and so unsure of what was going to happen. I did not like the thought of not knowing things (mostly about work and our finances in addition to the unknowns about the virus). And there is still a lot of unknowns in regards to all of those things.

Over the months stuck in quarantine, I’ve learned that my opinions and thoughts are pretty different than a lot of people, but I don’t want to share the bulk of my opinions because really, I DON’T Like having debates and I DON’T want to learn that more of my friends don’t care about others’ lives. Bottom line, I think that if there are some things we can do as a populace to save lives from a virus that shouldn’t have even been in the mainstream world population in the first place… that it’s worth it (read: “stay home orders”). And even if there is conflicting data on whether an action works or does not work, if there’s even a small chance it could save someone else’s life, even if that action makes you uncomfortable for a small period of time, it’s the moral, ethical, and right thing to do (read: masks). Science and findings DO change – that’s the whole process of science – but in this situation, the scientific findings on the virus and masks, etc. have been the same. Listen to the damn scientists!

Okay, okay. Moving on…

I am trying to be as diplomatic as possible. I don’t want to have “woe is me” pity party, nor do I want a debate on this blog, I just want to record my thoughts and opinions about this time and how it relates to my hobbies, career, and life….and this blog.

Let’s go back to the beginning of March…. life was “normal.” I was working all three of my normal jobs while having a baby at home. Track season had just started, race directing was going just as before as I prepared for a bunch of upcoming events.  In track, we had our first scrimmage when we learned that a parent of a student had come into contact with someone COVID positive. Back then (ha! that sounds ridiculous), not much was known. From that day on, I was bombarded with emails, and events were starting to get canceled. In my world, a concert I wanted to go to was canceled, some friends spoke of plays being canceled, we (at the running company I work for) were starting to get the emails that cities were banning events over 250, and track (and all high school sports) were put on a 14 days pause (spoiler, that “pause” was indefinite). As for Golden Mountain Guides, the rock climbing company I own with Ben, March was the time we would just start getting busy, but the phones weren’t ringing. People weren’t traveling.

The day things really got really REAL to me, was the day that Jeffco (the school district I coach at) closed schools. That was weird. That meant Track was officially canceled. For the whole season. We had had one scrimmage for the 2020 season (and, oh boy, does my heart go out to the seniors!!). At the running company, our last in-person event was a Saint Patrick’s themed event and, in my opinion, it was borderline probably not supposed to happen, and I was super uncomfortable being there, not just in terms of COVID, but also as a hard-core “rule follower.” We were pressing the 250 order that was just put in place (for the record we literally had about 240 racers and about 10 staff/volunteers), but looking at the city we were in’s website, it was debatable that we should be there. I remember a racer gave me a hug after winning a prize and immediately realized what she did and apologized saying, “oh maybe I shouldn’t have done that” and I was immediately paranoid. That same day I attended a funeral later and was constantly thinking I could be carrying it to all these people!

After that, more emails started coming in. Each city that we hold a permit in (and we have over 50 events), was sending out emails. Some races were not until the summer or near the end of the year and those emails would say “we are closely monitoring the situation and will keep you posted” and some were very concise: “You can no longer hold your event.”

Let’s give you a bit of perspective: The company I work for has 50+ events a year and thus are constantly getting registrations, some for the next event in a week, and tons for events 8 months down the road. With COVID-19, no one was registering for anything. Nothing. Not even future events. It all came to a halt.

Then there’s the damage control. What to do with the canceled event. Turn it into a virtual race? Defer everyone to the 2021 date automatically? What about people requesting refunds?

What about us, the staff??

I’m part of a lot of running groups on Facebook and I saw everything from “this is stupid!” to “give the RD’s a break.” I saw people mad at races for HOLDING an event in the beginning and people mad at races for CANCELLING the event.

Anyway. All that was to explain, my life was drastically changed. My main job was reduced in pay and hours, track was canceled, and Golden Mountain Guides was closed.

During the “shelter in place” orders and quarantine, we (my family) got a lot done. We worked on projects around the house we’ve been putting off and caught up on work put on the back burner. I actually started working out and running a lot more! I started out keeping track of the number of books we read, projects completed, puzzles done, family walks we did together and miles ran, but I quickly lost track.

Life was so weird. But we were doing okay. We could plan with a known shut down, thinking it would only be a few months.

Now that cases are starting to go up again, the anxiety and defeated feelings are creeping back. It’s been really rough for the last month of not knowing what’s going to happen with all my jobs, the company I own, and what we should start doing (i.e. should we look for other jobs, hang tight a little longer, etc, etc).

To wrap things up, without getting into it more,  I did want to share some thoughts and things I learned about myself throughout the pandemic:

-Free time and “being busy” is all about perspective and prioritization. It’s also about saying no to things you truly don’t want to do. During quarantine, I learned that I need to prioritize things I WANT to do (with a healthy balance of things I HAVE to do, because, you know, money and food) and not put too much on my plate that takes from things I WANT to do and truly enjoy and make me happy. I’m still trying to figure this out.

-I learned that I CAN make time for running more…if I’m willing to get out my comfort zone and run during my not so ideal times of day and weather…. or while pushing a stroller.

-I also learned that I NEED to make time for myself. That could be running, a long shower, a skincare routine, time to blog…anything really. But since it’s available to me, I need to be better about “handing over the reins” and push a little bit to ask for a moment for myself.

-I learned the importance of having multiple things to identify with (hobbies). Not me particularly, I actually feel I’m very good at not putting all my eggs in one basket, but I watched many people just lose it, lose their wellbeing and become depressed, because their identity was so tightly wound with something that was greatly affected by COVID.  I’m going to use coaching as an example; if you devote your whole life to coaching and those things aren’t able to happen, that cannot define WHO you are. Just because your season gets canceled, doesn’t mean you should be depressed.  Yes, grieving is allowed and warranted, but you have to move past it too. I always have highly encouraged people to find additional hobbies or modes of exercise they enjoy; it’s the same when you get injured and can’t run anymore. For me, I also really like hiking; that fulfills me as much as running. I also cross-stitch. 😉

-Even though my pay was significantly cut and there was so much uncertainty, truth be told, I was super grateful for the break. With all my jobs and raising Layton, it was much needed.

-However, it was also a very interesting time. Layton reached so many (mobile) milestones during that time, that once I did resume work (part-time), trying to get anything done with Layton crawling (and now walking) all over the place is nearly impossible. Scratch that, not nearly, it IS impossible.

-Marriage is hard. Although I’m not technically married, being in a committed relationship takes work. It’s not easy. But it’s worth it. The pandemic, and things we did to put money on the table, were rough on us. That sounds like one of us took up prostitution. I assure you, we did not; Ben just took an overnight job.

-I learned that I would gladly trade a few months of a paycheck if it means saving lives.

-I learned, or reinforced the idea, that I don’t need that much social interaction. I’m perfectly fine being stuck at home for long periods of time. Truly an introvert here! I have so many hobbies and things to do, that I did not get bored (although we were pretty strict with the “stay at home” following and I was craving hiking for awhile). But really, I don’t need to see people that often! HA! (In a serious note, I totally understand those that do and I know that the quarantine had a lot of bad repercussions and led to higher domestic violence and suicides and for that, I’m truly saddened.).

-I think nature loved, and needed, the break.

-The pandemic followed by the black lives matter movement really pointed out that our country needs help. I don’t know how or what kind, but we as a whole are so divided and so closed-minded and rude and uncaring. I’m not saying all, certainly not myself or friends or family, and I do hope a majority of people are good. Recent events have pointed out the bad. I don’t think I’m perfect at all, I know I have a lot to learn and work on, but it is sad to see how many people still do not believe in equality for all and good vs bad. I believe there are good and bad people as a whole and that we need to change some things to make sure the bad people are recognized and punished appropriately and that good people are recognized and celebrated appropriately.

– I still don’t understand why people went crazy with the TP!!

-Honestly, I’m not sure I want to go “back to normal” or to the way it was before. I’ve learned a lot about people and friends that I wish I didn’t know. I also learned a lot about what I feel is important in my life and I realized I am ready for change.

As things are slowly going “back to normal,” I’m apprehensive about diving right back in, yet if I don’t, I feel like we’ll be left behind and be in a very tough spot, financially. It’s not “over” yet; cases in the US are increasing again and hospitals are more than full still.

When it comes to my jobs, we’re starting to prepare for our first in-person event in August. I’ll be timing it but it won’t look anywhere near the same as our normal races. I’m also glad that cross country practices are able to start up (with a lot of social distancing and safety measures in place). It gives me a schedule to stick to again and I have to remember what day of the week it is now. But I am nervous that we’re doing all this work and prep for something that may not happen in the end (i.e. competitions may not happen or schools don’t reopen – who knows!). Our phone is starting to ring at Golden Mountain Guides again, but every trip we take does come at a risk no matter what precautions we take and regulations we put in place regarding mask-wearing and sanitation.

It is just so much right now, still. But we’re just taking it one day at a time.

Also, can anyone tell me if we still need to be worried about the murder hornets?

Yes, that last line was my attempt at humor.

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