Many changes, cancellations, and tough times

It’s been hard to know what to write here.

First, let’s talk about races, since that’s top-of-mind.

All races I was registered for, or thinking about registering for, have been cancelled for the spring and early summer. This includes my big goal race of Ottawa Race Weekend, which they officially cancelled a week ago. Sure, we’ll be getting a virtual race of some kind, to complete any time before the end-of-the-summer. And that will be fun, once physical distancing measures are relaxed and it is safe to run longer distances.

But let’s be real: I’m sad! I was looking forward to finally running Race Weekend. I was looking forward to a ‘come back’ race of sorts after all my knee issues. I’m hoping to be back at Ottawa for 2021 instead. And I’m sad other races have been cancelled or switched to virtual due to the current pandemic. It’s all for an extremely good reason, but I’m still disappointed and sad.

Can you relate?

I think it’s important to acknowledge things are hard right now, and pretty well all of us have had things cancelled. Races. Festivals. Family events. Weddings. Heck, we’ve even had to get creative with the upcoming April holidays, given we can’t get together in person.

This was posted online in various places. I think it’s particularly relevant right now.

I’ve been going between 💚 to 💜 depending on the day. Yesterday was a solid 💚, today feels more like a 💙. I hope you’re all holding up ok with all of this.

Am I still running? Working out?

That’s the million dollar question, isn’t it?

The honest answer is I’m taking it day-by-day. Indoor workouts, absolutely. I have a yoga mat, bands, balls and have a variety of exercise routines I’m doing. Yoga with videos, bodyweight and banded exercises, and of course my usual list of rehab exercises I do regularly.

My indoor workout setup. Yoga mat, bands, balls and a foam roller.
My indoor workout setup. Silly socks optional.

But running?

Well, a week ago I said I’d given up outdoor exercise aside from walking as my neighbourhood was too crowded for safety. But over the weekend, the crowds had thinned and people were being extremely respectful about space – crossing the road, not walking three-abreast, and ‘pulling over’ into walkways to get off the sidewalk so folks with mobility issues could pass before continuing on their way.

Given that, I decided I could try going for outdoor runs but do them at times it would likely be less busy – weekday mornings when kids are doing online school and anyone who is still working will likely be at work. And of course, sticking to local streets and not choosing spaces that are far more likely to be busy, like High Park or the West Toronto Railpath (two popular running spots near me).

Yesterday I managed to get out for a short run and was very grateful for it. It was a beautiful morning and it was easy for me to keep my distance from others.

Me, waving to the camera half way through a run.
About half way through. Roads were empty here.

However, it’s still a bit of a strange environment out there. Part of the issue is that until the last few days, a lot of runners were still running in groups and not listening to all the public health measures that have been brought in. I think there are still a few people not listening, but for the most part, it looks like the vast majority are now running solo.

But as well, some people have made it clear they don’t think runners should be running at all right now unless they own a treadmill and can do it at home. People have expressed frustration with others going outside -even solo! – when we’re asked to stay home unless absolutely needed. Of course, exercise is one of the things we are allowed to do outside at the moment, but there are mixed views on this. A quick walk around your block or to walk your dog, sure. But a run? “Isn’t that frivolous?”, some have said.

Even the Premier of Ontario said yesterday that while he understands people need to get out for exercise or walk their dog, he doesn’t understand why runners think it is ok to be on the Lakeshore right now. Or why people are leaving their own neighbourhoods for exercise in general.

So it’s a tense environment for runners in Toronto. As someone who already deals with anxiety, it has made it difficult for me to feel safe going out for runs. Even though I am very strict about following all protocols, I know my very presence running on the streets is a source of anger and frustration (and even anxiety) for some.

Although let’s be honest: we’re all angry and frustrated in some way at the moment. We’re all experiencing some level of grief over the situation we now find ourselves in. That’s something that unites us, even as we argue over what is an appropriate outdoor activity right now.

I wish I had an uplifting conclusion for this post, but with the situation changing so quickly, there really is no ‘conclusion’ right now.

I guess I’ll focus on the positive: I am safe. My family is safe. We are healthy. Our friends have remained healthy. We have ways to communicate with others online – with Zoom, FaceTime, emails and text messages. The world is in upheaval right now, but I’m grateful to at least have that.