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.

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.

My 2020 Running Goal: 750 Miles

I know, it seems strange. My goal for 2012-2018 was always to run 1000 miles. I came close in 2016 with a touch over 900. I did even better in 2017 with 968. In 2018, I nailed it: 1002 miles and some change. So why set a goal that’s less than what I’ve accomplished in previous years? Because I’m not in any sort of shape to do more. Even this is a stretch.

You see, I essentially took 2019 off from serious running. I ran 448 miles in total. I completed one half marathon (January – WDW Half Marathon). and one 5k (November – Wine & Dine weekend, and we walked it). That’s it. I did no speed work, I had no consistency, no strength. Whatever abilities I had after three solid years (for me) drifted away. I’m nowhere close to the shape I need to be to go for a more aggressive goal. 2020 is about resetting and rebuilding.

Because that’s what I have to do. Rebuild. I’m starting over from scratch, needing to build up my mileage, my speed, my mental stamina, my tolerance for the elements. I need new proofs of time for Disney races. I need to work towards my longer term running goals (sub-50 10k, sub-7 mile, sub-4 full). I also need to be better with consistency and build up true mileage. Looking at my decade of running, the most I ever averaged per week in a year was 18. That’s not gonna do me much good for my goals!

750 sounds like a decent goal. I can probably surpass it if I really keep to things. January is off to a pretty good start, and if I keep slowly building up I should be in good shape.

What’s your 2020 running goal?

Weekly Recap: May 15th – 21st

Another decent base week. The weather has been surprisingly awesome around here. Usually by this time of the year, it’s an inferno outside. The humidity comes later, but it’s typically in the 80s every day, and only getting to the low 60s at night. This year, it’s been much more pleasant, which has been great for running!

I also managed to get in two bikes during the week. The first was a 3 min x 3 session, and the other was 20 second sprints with two minutes of recovery. My butt still hurts a ton once I get to about 30-40 minutes though, which I need to fix. No way could I do an Olympic of 70.3/140.6 if my body hates me after 30 minutes. Not sure if it’s my saddle, my cycling shorts (they’re Pearl Izumi, so not some off-brand stuff!) or just my fit. I know my fit is pretty bad and I need to get it checked/reset…

We moved the long-ish run to Sunday, since we knew Saturday would be a recovery day from BBQ Fest. For those that don’t know, for one glorious week in May, Tome Lee Park in downtown Memphis turns into the mecca for BBQ: Memphis In May World Championship BBQ Cooking Competition (phew, that’s a mouthful). Here, everyone just calls it BBQ Fest. Basically, teams compete in three main categories (Ribs, Shoulder, Whole Hog) and a host of ancillaries (i.e. sauce, seafood, anything-but, etc.) to see who is the best pitmaster. Each team has a tent that serves as home base, where they cook, eat, relax, and party. Some teams take it more seriously than others….you could have one tent that has lots of trophies and is empty at night except for the guys watching the smoker, while the tent next door has a massive party going on. Our tent straddles the two, with a pretty good party scene but also some great food! Check out our tent (the honored country this year was Colombia…and you’d be amazed how many teams misspelled that!) and some of the shoulders while they were prepped/smoked:

As you can see by the picture of the tent, these aren’t some little Coleman tents. Our is two stories tall, has full plumbing and electric, a DJ booth, a bar, a solid floor (we build ours up a few feet in the air so we get an awesome river view), and of course the kitchen in the back. After dinner, the music starts and the tables are moved away and everyone dances until it’s time to go!

It was a great year, and we came in third for best booth! Since I joined the team in 2012, we’ve been in the top three for all but one year. It’s a ton of fun, great food, and the people watching is fantastic. I highly recommend a visit.