Grieving the loss of racing
I know what you are thinking- this is a pandemic. People are getting sick. People are dying- how can you talk about grieving the loss of racing? Here’s the deal- I’m not undermining the unbelievable seriousness of the COVID 19 pandemic or the people who have gotten ill and especially not those who have lost their lives. I’m also not so short sighted to see that there are folks who have had their lives completely turned upside down, life cycle events that have been postponed and cancelled. So yes, I get it. But here’s what else I get I’m allowed to grieve too. Yes, grieve- that’s the feeling that we’ve been having about the normal parts of life that have been lost, basically ripped away from us. For example, pre-school graduation, end of the school year traditions, the fact that my kids only see their friends through a computer screen. Yes, I know it’s not High School graduation- it’s not going off to college. But it’s sad and it’s upsetting to watch as a parent.
So my point is we are entitled to grieve the loss of racing. Ask any runner who trains for a race- it’s the thrill of all the runners lining up to run. It’s hearing “on your mark, get set, go.” It’s the people along the course of the run cheering you on. It’s pushing yourself to run the very best race that you can. And it’s that moment when you cross the finish line. Win, lose or draw knowing you gave it your all! Finally, for me it’s knowing that my husband and boys are waiting for me. Proud of my no matter what time I come across the finish line.
There have always been virtual running opportunities. Once racing was cancelled for the indefinite future even more virtual opportunities sprang up every where. You know what, for the first several months they fulfilled a real need. Nearly every time I went out to run it was a virtual race. Whether it was the Un-canceled Project, Rock n Roll Virtual Series or a variety of others, I was pushing myself harder and my times continued to improve. But then the “real” race cancellations start to pile up. First it was a 4 miler with my sister, our first race together. Then it was a 10K that was supposed to be a fun course. Up next came a half marathon that also included a race for my boys the day before. 2020 was supposed to be this amazing racing year. I had carefully selected a variety of races and locations. I was training hard and it was all leading up to running the NYC Marathon, November 1, 2020.
Today is May 28, 2020. Today the Boston Marathon, that was previously postponed to September was cancelled. While this isn’t the first marathon to be cancelled. It’s the first major marathon in the United States. Am I surprised? No. I knew it was coming. Just like I know that shortly hereafter the marathons in London, Chicago and NYC will follow. But you know what, knowing something is going to happen and having it be final are different. Right now, the NYC Marathon is still on as scheduled, but in my heart I know that I will not be running in NYC on November 1st. I know that I won’t be taking part in the 50th running of the NYC Marathon, in honor of my Dad who suffers from Alzheimer’s. I also know what you are thinking. Racing isn’t cancelled forever. If it’s so important you’ll do it another year. But you know what- you’re right. I will run the NYC Marathon. It will happen. But there was just something special about this year. I turn forty in January. It was this perfect combination of 2020, 50th Anniversary and a milestone birthday.
I also know that there’s a flip side to look at this situation. I know it could be a blessing in disguise. That I could be in even better shape next year. Trust me, I’m the kind of person that believe that everything happens for a reason. But right now I’m not past the grieving stage. Right now, I’m sad for what I know is coming. Yet, I’m still in denial until it becomes official. I’m full of questions. Will I be able to defer to next year? What happens to the donations that people so generously made on my behalf? What if I’m not able to run next year? Do I start my training cycle? Do I run 26.2 on November 1st regardless? Can I really run a full marathon without the adrenaline, the fan support, the full experience?
The answer to many of these questions are beyond my control. The truth is time will tell. I also know that as long as we all stay healthy this is just a blip. But you know what else, I’m going to give myself the grace I need to be sad before I move on. So for now, I run and I wait.