I started training in the last week of December 2019 for the New Jersey Marathon in April 2020.
Recently, it was postponed until November due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Despite this, I decided that I was still going to run it, but instead I would run it around the same loop in my neighborhood.
Mapping out 26.2 miles around my small town of Colonie, New York was the easy part. But knowing what would happen during the run was the real challenge.
I chose to still run it because everything in life right now feels unknown. There’s only so much we are absolutely sure of, and even less that we can actually control. For me, running is one of those things I can control.
I have always run. But I never did races until my first one in August 2019. It was a 10k trail run, and I was hooked. When I try a new hobby, food, or music, I am usually all in or all out. And I knew after my first race that I was all in.
I did a half marathon shortly after, then decided to sign up for the real thing. I’ve been training now for months, and I chose the New Jersey Marathon because it is mostly flat and good for beginner racers. I had hoped to get a time under five hours. But really, I just wanted to finish and prove to myself that I could.
So when I found out it was postponed, I really was upset. But I had to remember that there are so many bigger issues in the world right now.
People are dying from this virus. Really dying. In scary numbers. I had to think, is my marathon being postponed really that big of a deal? No, it’s not. And it’s something I definitely couldn’t control.
For me, 2019 was a pretty rough year. I lost a lot of things. I lost myself, I lost people I never thought I would, and things happened to me that I never could have seen coming.
This is part of the reason I started running more. A marathon, a race, or any run is just like life. Things are going to go wrong. But so many things can go right too.
2020 came and so did COVID-19, affecting the entire world. But just like a marathon, life right now is throwing some things at the world that it’s not prepared for. It is brutal and appears hopeless at times. Just reading all the articles, statistics, and death rates can be enough to make you want to give up.
During a time of quarantines and social distancing, we are getting back to basics. We are stuck inside more often than we ever thought we would be. This forces us to look at ourselves and our lives.
There are no restaurants to go to, no bars to distract ourselves in, no movie theaters to spend a couple of mind-numbing hours. We are with ourselves, and, if lucky enough, with family members we love and cherish.
In 2019, I paused to look at my life and didn’t like what I saw. Now, it’s 2020 and we are all being forced to do it—except on a global level.
In a way, running is the most basic thing. It is just you alone, with your mind and legs. Sometimes the two can battle and the mind has to win over in order for you to keep moving.
On April 25, 2020, I ran the marathon around my neighborhood. I made my own bib for the race. My incredible family set up signs and cheered me on. They gave me water and tied American flag balloons on our street sign each time I did a loop.
The run was amazing and awful. Around mile 18, I started hurting, and at mile 21, I sat on the ground and cried. I asked myself why I was doing this. My legs felt like they were noodles, and I wanted to give up. But there were too many reasons for me to keep going. So I did. I made it through and finished the race.
Living right now is about staying strong and facing it. The world is racing an incredibly difficult race against a deadly virus but is still continuing the fight.
For all of us right now, it’s about knowing there are tough times ahead, things we can’t predict, and still moving forward anyways.