I can’t begin to sum up or encapsulate the strangeness that has been this quarantine. I am, by nature, a very independent and introverted person so this has been no stretch for me. I can’t understand why people are so up in arms about wanting to get out and about (I mean, duh, of course I UNDERSTAND, it’s just not something that speaks to my own lived experience which is, admittedly, privileged and fairly well off). I’m still working, and working safely, which is largely because so many of my students continue to work in situations decidedly unsafe.
I know that people want to get out and be with others – humans are, by nature, very sociable creatures. I spent the most part of this time in the house where my largest worry was what would happen when we ran out of TP (I only just yesterday saw toilet paper in a regular grocery store, and it was already starting to look picked over, to be honest). I am embarrassed to say that one of my favorite mental movies to play as I’m trying to go to sleep is the one starring me and Straxi, of course, after some sort of world-wide disaster from which she and I had been spared. I enjoy spending time with people well enough, and when it does happen I’m happy about it, but I’m not running out there willing to sacrifice my lungs to have it happen.
So my time has been spent in rather benign, banal ways: for instance, rearranging the downstairs so that Gary and I both have office space in which we can work without feeling the need to stab each other in the face with a pencil. I decided this was urgently needed early on when Gary turned to me at one point and said, “You type really loudly, did you know that?” I was wearing my headphones at the time in a sad attempt to prevent him from speaking out loud to me, because we were still trying to work out the etiquette of when an interruption was acceptable (Narrator: No interruption was acceptable, except when it was). We never really got that worked out, as far as I’m concerned, and I’m eternally grateful that I have a door I can shut. And that I’m aware of how rare that is…thank you, Virginia Woolf.
So after a bit of arranging and rearranging, we decided that the only way to really do this was to remove my dad from what he viewed as his room (he doesn’t live here, he just comes to visit and leave stuff, like this is a massive storage bin that we just happen to live in) and put his bed in my studio. This is not a problem for me, because I have a certain someone who is making great use of that space and whose company is terrifically soothing. There’s nothing like composing creatively, or creating assignments and such for students while also listening to the rotund and vibratory snores of a very comfortable dog.
But fortunately, I haven’t let my running fall by the wayside. I have been actually trying to increase our miles…and I’m using the pluralis majestatis correctly here, as my runs have only been completed with my beloved and everpresent running buddy who would would bring home the gold in Olympic Pouting were I to attempt a run without her (unless it was raining. If it was raining, well then, fuck me, she’s never met me, and really, if I want to run in the rain that’s my problem but keep her out of it, thanks).
I increased our miles slowly, I thought, and wisely, by increasing the times we ran, but shortening our runs. So we went from 5 mile runs every few days to 2 miles, every day or so.
Well, lo and behold, guess what happened? My back started hurting like the dickens. I came home from one run and did my best to stretch it out, but the spasms were real. I realized that I had a lot of things factoring in here, that needed to be addressed.
First off: my beloved chiropractor, Dr. Matt, was closed. He’s since opened, thank God, because I’ve not been this long without his services since I started seeing him. Two weeks without his enthusiastic demeanor and twisting of various parts of my body is the most I’ve been able to stand in the past. But going without him is just not an option, and by that point, it had been well over two weeks – closer to two months.
Secondly – my core, she is not strong. My core is in DIRE need of strengthening, and while I have frequently begun exercises and stretches to improve this, I’ve not been able to incorporate that biggest and hardest of stretches for me: consistency.
Thirdly – my waist leash has turned on me. I’m afraid that the combination of the two things above, coupled with the way that Straxi has begun to just throw on the brakes suddenly so as to enjoy a particularly odoriferous blade of grass, right next to another particularly noisome blade which needs just as much sniffing – well, those things together have made the use of a leash around my waist a really bad idea.
I still love the leash, and still use it when we walk, but when we run, I’m sticking with the old fashioned one. I’ve been able to see Dr. Matt a couple of times, and I’ve found and used a good set of exercises for my issues in a more consistent manner than I have previously. So I haven’t experienced a return to the unpleasantness of lying on the floor gasping for air and hoping that my back unclenches enough for me to get to the freezer and grab the bag of peas we keep on hand for just this sort of emergency.
I have also decided to change up a long standing habit I have related to my running. Since I was in grad school I have used the app “Zombies Run” to motivate me, and entertain me while I run. It’s essentially a role playing game, and it’s brilliant. Intermixed with “radio broadcasts” from Sam Yao and others, I listen to my own music in my playlist. The radio broadcasts are related to the zombie apocalypse that has occurred, leaving the world fighting the undead and trying to restructure itself. I do a terrible job of describing this thing, and it’s much better experienced than described.
But as brilliant as this game is, I wanted to try something new – I’m finding that I sort of just blank out on the story sometimes, and it’s not as captivating as it used to be (hopefully I just need a break). So I’ve begun listening to Finding Ultra by Rich Roll (Gary refers to him as my “love interest” because yes, I really am entirely too knowledgeable about this person. It’s embarrassing but I just can’t help it – he’s the coolest person on the running trails, as far as I’m concerned). My best gift ever was when Gary got me an autographed copy of his memoir for my birthday – a picture of the signed front of the book, complete with “Happy Birthday” is my lock screen. I probably need to seek some sort of help.
My response to my birthday gift…via GIPHY
So I’ve changed up a lot, and it feels like the right thing to do – I was feeling stale and like things were rote. I’m enjoying my time on the road and on the trails with Straxi even more, especially now that Rich is in my ears. I may have to start listening to his podcasts over my runs, but I do miss my music. My running always makes me happy.