Running In The Time of Quarantine

At the beginning of all of this, before the world went to shit, my running was actually improving. While February wasn’t a great month, I did much better in March, both in terms of distance and consistency. I started working from home on March 12th, and I managed to keep at it the rest of the month. I was pretty proud of myself. Of course, that was early in the pandemic, things didn’t seem so serious, and I had no idea how crazy things would get.

April wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t great. As the weeks in isolation continued, motivation started to wane. Even when I would make it out, it was hard to enjoy it. First, every cough or difficult run made you start to worry that you have the ‘rona. You think well shit, this is it, this is the end of me. I’ll surely develop a fever and have difficulty breathing soon, go to the ER, end up on a ventilator and die alone in some room in a hospital.

Second, the problem is the other people. Everyone is a bit on edge, which is a given. But every time you come across someone else walking or running, you feel paranoid. You try to give a very wide birth, at least six feet. Sometimes that’s not possible, and you have to get closer. You imagine a wake of deadly particles behind you as you run, or that you’re running through a fog of virus when you pass someone. It gets to the point where you just want to be home.

The world has turned to at-home workouts, given gyms and studios are closed. Thankfully, we have an old exercise bike, a balance ball, and a mat. Unfortunately, you can’t find any other equipment as everyone has bought up all the inventory. Very limited selections of dumbells to be found. Other equipment is on backorder for weeks; the soonest delivery window for a Peloton bike is in mid to late June.

So, we’ve been trying to do our best. A few rides, a few runs, some classes on apps to get you moving. That’s about all we can do right now. And once the world opens back up again, I won’t be rushing to go back to my gym. I’ll just let me one year membership expire and cancel, and just shift to at-home stuff on a more permanent basis. It is what it is, but it’s what I’m comfortable with. Just the thought of sharing a bench with someone else’s sweat and nastiness…no thanks.

Finances In The Time of Quarantine

I’ve been staying home for five weeks now – well, a few days over five weeks. If you had told me a year ago, heck even in early March, that I would barely leave my house for five straight weeks, I’d have said you were nuts. But here we are. Stay at home, avoid getting sick, try to maintain sanity.

Sure, I’ve left the house a few times, though dramatically less lately. In the first eight days, I left the house and went to stores three times. Since then, twice: once to run into a store to see if they had toilet paper (they did not), once to pick up some to-go food. That’s it. My wife has left four times in the past 30 days, and one of those she didn’t leave the car. Everything else has been via delivery services. And that adds up.

First, the good news. I’m saving a shitload of money in certain budget categories. I haven’t needed to get gas in over a month. I’m not paying the $200/month in tolls I would be if I was going into the office every day. No work lunches out. No trips to the bars or restaurants, no Disney Springs for cocktails, no happy hours at Bosphorous. Even insurance companies are starting to drop their rates because no one is driving.

Now the bad. Delivery is expensive. There’s service fees, delivery fees, tips (and you gotta tip a lot, these people are risking their health to get you groceries and stuff), ancillary fees. A $100 trip could balloon up to $130 or $140 or more. So our grocery shopping is happening less frequently, but much more expensive. Normally I spend around $300 in a month; in March, it was $600. We don’t normally keep a ton in our pantry, but not knowing how this would all shake out, we bought a lot of staples. It forced me to reorganize the pantry and fridge!

Then there’s “entertainment.” Instead of spending $50 here, $100 there, going out to various bars and stuff, I’m spending just as much with Instacart deliveries. $100 for sushi, $200 at the liquor store to stock up, etc. Shit adds up!

I’m not even getting into non-food purchases; that’s for a later post.

Restless Energy in the Time of COVID-19

Most mornings, I get up, shower, eat breakfast, and head upstairs to my office. From 9AM to around 4:30PM, that’s where I sit, other than trips downstairs for water and lunch. It can be a bit lonely, communicating only via Slack or Google Hangouts. I mean, I’m incredibly thankful that my wife is here and I can always talk to her, but you get my point.

Running and going for walks is truly a godsend. 3-4 mornings a week, I go for a run before starting the rest of my day. Most days, after we eat lunch, we go for a short walk around the neighborhood. That time outside really helps keep me level, and prevents me from going crazy. And based on the amount of people we see out, lots of others have the same idea.

Is it the safest thing to do right now? Probably not. While the CDC and others say going outside is fine, provided you maintain social distancing guidelines and wear a mask, that doesn’t work out as well for running. We do a good job when walking to maintain a lot of distance between us and others (including sometimes crossing the street just to avoid others). When running, I try and keep away from others as well, but it’s a bit harder. And no one is sure if the six foot rule is as applicable when moving. And running in a mask? No thanks.

Without running, I’d be going crazy. Even with it, I find I have energy that is just sitting there. I feel like I should be doing something, I just don’t know what. I’ve seen the meme talking about learning a new skill, a new language, something like that. I’m sure my wife would LOVE it if I learned some Spanish, so that’s an option. I’d love to start a business, though I struggle for ideas on what that business would be. I’m more of a COO than a CEO, which makes getting started tough.

But I’ll keep thinking of it. I thought about setting a rule where I have to come up with X number of ideas in a week, then spend some time evaluating them. That seems like a good start. If nothing else, it puts some of my energy into searching for problems and possible solutions, which is a key skill for entrepreneurship. A start is a start, no?

For now, it’s running and working and trying to keep sane in this strange time.

What World Is This?

Well, well, well. My how things have changed.

Normally, when I start a post like that, it’s because I haven’t written anything in awhile. Like in 2016. Or 2017. Or 2019. Or this past February. This time, the things that have changed, are everything.

My wife and I have been social distancing since 3/11. Neither of us are sick, or were sick, or if we were, we were asymptomatic. Who knows. Can’t get tested so you’re just left to wonder.

Everything has changed. The simplest things we used to do are now either impossible, or dangerous. Theme parks are closed. I’m now full-time working from home. Going to the grocery store can be scary, not knowing if the person searching for bread next to you is an asymptomatic carrier.

It can be boring. Whereas we used to go out and do stuff on the weekends, we now stay in. Sure, we go for runs and walks, and sit outside on the porch or lanai, but it’s not the same. We can’t go the parks or Disney Springs to ride an attraction or grab something to eat and drink. We can’t hang out at the bar and have silly conversations. No sushi date nights. No breweries. No shopping.

It can be stressful. We didn’t panic-buy a bunch of stuff as the world started closing. We had some food, I bought a bit more, no big deal. I chuffed when reading about people buying toilet paper and cleaning supplies, wondering why they didn’t already have them. As time went on, I started thinking ‘wait a minute…<i>should</i> I have been buying that stuff? By then, it was nearly too late. Shelter-in-place orders, curfews, limited hours and supplies. It took two weeks to find toilet paper. We were down to our last few rolls, and the tone of our pooping conversations got more and more serious.

It can be terrifying. I used to love going to the grocery store, wandering up and down aisles as I thought about dinner plans and meals I wanted to cook. Now, you only go in emergencies. You try to stay six feet away from everyone, which is nearly impossible in a cramped bread section. You Purell your hands before and after touching anything. You wipe down the boxes and bags with disinfecting wipes when you get home. Then disinfect the counter. Then the door handles. Then yourself. And all the while, wondering if you’ve done enough. The consequences could be nothing. Or death.

We’re trying to maintain as best we can. We still go for our runs like we’re training for races that were long ago cancelled. We try and eat our usual meals. Thankfully she’s been full-time WFH for a few years now, and has a well-put-together office. I work out of a spare bedroom which I just happened to turn into an office a few months ago for those random work-from-home days. We still do date nights; we even got dressed up this past Saturday. Anything to keep things normal.

We use a lot more video chats than we used to. Once reserved for only the most serious of times, now we do weekly meet-ups via FaceTime and Zoom, just to get some more social interaction. Humans are social creations, and it’s ironic that the thing we need to do to survive, is the one thing that humans most crave. Being around others. Togetherness. It’s how we’ve come out of every previous crisis we’ve faced, and now we can’t. It’s rough.

Who knows when this will end. Our state-wide stay-at-home order technically expires around 5/3, but that’s a dream. June? July? August? No one can be sure, everything is a guess at this point. You want it to be soon, but not too soon, to avoid a second wave of outbreak. Maybe that’s unavoidable. Again, who knows.

Running Goal – January Recap

January has come and gone. Usually January feels like it has 100 days, it seems to drag on and on forever. I think it’s the fact that the end of the year is always so busy, so filled with parties, events, holidays, get-togethers, you name it. Once you get past New Years Day, it’s a long slog through the rest of the month. This year, January went pretty quick. We still had some of the wife’s family here until 1/10, then we had a half marathon that weekend, then a friend came to visit on 2/1 so January felt pretty short.

So how did my running go in January? Not good, not bad. I managed 15 total runs for 65 miles, which puts me on track for my goal of 750 miles this year. There were four weekends in January, and I did a long run on three of them: 8 miles, 13.3 for the half marathon, and 7 the following. I still missed a weekend, for which I really have no excuse other than laziness (and one too many beers Friday night).

My January 2020 running calendar

I’d call the month a win, even with the caveats. Missing a long run can’t happen again (though it already has in February, and I’ve got a trip planned that’ll cause me to miss another) and I had an aborted run with some weirdness going on.

On to February!