COVID19 has swept through our lives and made swift and drastic changes no one expected. Athletes around the world suddenly find themselves without races to train for. I can’t begin to imagine what this means for those who’ve spent years preparing for the Olympics. All I can do is observe what it has meant to me.
The question I’ve been thinking about is—what do we do because we actually love it, and not because we’ve paid a ridiculous amount of money for the race?
For the past five months I’ve been training with a good friend for the BMO marathon. Neither of us has ever been able to consistently train as a runner because of injury—so we made a pact. We would run slowly, build gradually, and make it to the start line uninjured. We made that pact in November, and we are still running injury-free. Only now, the marathon has been canceled.
I went through the five stages of grief and reached acceptance quite quickly with the realization that a) there will be more marathons, and b) this doesn’t mean we have to stop running. Our run last Sunday was an exercise in crowd-avoidance (believe it or not, there were still crowds on the seawall last weekend). It meant we stayed off the busy routes and kept two meters apart from each other the whole time, but we are still running. Not because we have to; because we want to.
The reality of COVID19 means I’m not increasing my Sunday long runs beyond a distance my body is comfortable with, and that is a bit frustrating, but I’m compensating by increasing the distance of my mid-week runs. Spreading the love.
It also means there is no more Wednesday track night for now, which brings up another issue that I find interesting in these times: you don’t know when the last time for something is actually going to be the last time. If you did, you would appreciate it more. Lesson learned: appreciate everything. Take nothing for granted.
There are evenings when I don’t feel like spending an hour stretching and rolling anymore—and sometimes I just . . . don’t do it. There are days when I breathe a secret sigh of relief that we’ve all likely won an extra year of preparation for Ironman. But for now, I’m happy to be a cyclist on a road with fewer cars. I’m looking forward to warmer weather so I can get back to swimming in the lake. And I’m running, and realizing (although I already knew it) that running is the thing I love most. It’s the thing I will do no matter if there is a race date or not.
And if we’re not doing things because we love them, it might be worthwhile asking: why are we doing them at all?
On a completely different note, I’ve been fascinated to watch what’s happening in grocery stores: the things people decide to hoard (toilet paper, eggs, flour, my favourite salad dressing apparently), and the things no one will touch, not even if they’re desperate. Certain flavors seem to be the equivalent of the kid picked last for the softball team. I went to the store looking for orange juice and had to settle for a combination of orange, strawberry and banana that sat there looking forlorn in the cooler. Turns out, it’s great in a protein shake.
These times are full of surprises.
Stay safe, everyone. If we keep to Ironman’s legal drafting distance, we’ll all be fine.