Quarantine: Week Two

Quarantine: Week Two

To run or not to run

The fear last week was that the mayor was going to close the Lake Front Trail here in Chicago because of over-crowding. Getting out for a run, even just every other day is so important to me! I’m realizing on days that I don’t run, my step count is less than 2000. This for someone who, until very recently, was averaging over 12,000 steps a day.  It’s really hard to move in a 2-bedroom apartment (one bedroom of which is still my sub-lessee’s even though she is back home with her family). 

At a news conference a week ago Wednesday Mayor Lightfoot said, “You cannot go on long bike rides. Playgrounds are shut down. You must abide by the order. Outside is for a brief respite, not for 5Ks.” Ugh. That’s typically the minimum that I run. Official word came on Thursday morning that the lakefront, the 606, and Chicago Rivewalk were being closed indefinitely. 

The streets are still open. There are less cars. I try to get out early. I still need to run. This IS my respite. And with all due respect to Mayor Lightfoot, most runners can run a 5k in less time than it takes most people to take a 30 minute walk. Of course I’m such a rules follower that I’ve been sticking to 3 miles…not 3.1.

Inside, I am grateful for our creativity and resourcefulness and the willingness (courage?) to further embrace technology. I scheduled  video calls with my siblings in Ireland and the UK and with some of my fellow furloughed Fleet Feet co-workers. Video conferencing has also enabled me to get to know my CARA colleagues and committee members although we are all working remotely.

My daughter and I continue to get a long okay, although she is reprimanding me for making messes and not loading the dishwasher properly. This is the teenager, who not so long ago, claimed she didn’t know how to operate the dishwasher. She turns 20 next week.

I’ve come to learn the cat’s routine. Sleeps for most of the day. Gets up at dinner time and spends the evening looking for things to knock off tables and dressers. I miss my dog. And of course I miss my boyfriend tremendously. 

After a three-month hiatus, I created a new FaceBook profile. The main reason, is that for my new job with CARA, I feel I need to know what they are doing on all social media platforms. I also miss the connections with friends and family far away.  This time around, Kurt suggested adding our relationship status. 🙂

Embracing my inner introvert, I’m doing okay with the quarantine/lockdown. I’m drawing on all my years as an only child, and my daughter is as well. We know how to work alone quietly and take-up our own space. She jokes, “I didn’t know my lifestyle was called quarantine.” But as we stay busy, its with a feeling of sitting peacefully in King’s Landing, aware that the White Walkers are in Winterfell and heading our way.

By the close of the weekend, the death toll in the US had reached 2,588. Last night it had climbed to 5,110. To put that in perspective, there were 2,977 victims of the 9-11 attacks. I saw posts on LinkedIn about the United Way’s response to this crisis. I recalled being on the “front line” on staff with Bergen County’s United Way in 2001 in the aftermath. It felt good to have a purpose. I’m not sure what to do now except stay home and keep my daughter and those around us safe.

Helplessness is probably the most accurate way to define what I have been feeling. I worry about my friends back east or scattered around the world so far away. I’m frustrated that there’s not something I can do to help alleviate the burden on healthcare workers, first responders, and grocery store employees. Yet I am feeling an enormous level of gratitude for this time with my daughter in a bright, airy apartment with a view of the street. Simple things.

The White House task force projects more than 100,000 Americans are going to die. That’s more than the number of US service members killed in Korea and Vietnam combined. Running seems so incredibly unnecessary. Then I learned about just one person that I knew. I started thinking again about the best way to get out for a run. To clear my head. To gain a sense of control. To feel some certainty in such an uncertain situation.

Still trying to decide whether or not its safe – or appropriate – to go for a run? Here are some resources that may help:

You can still go for a run during the coronavirus outbreak, Insider.com

How to Run Safely During Coronavirus, Runner’s World

Exercising outside during self quarantine: The do’s and don’ts, CNET.com

Chicago Area Runner’s Association (CARA) offers these guidelines:

Practice Safe Social Distancing

Adapted from guidance from the Road Runners Club of America

  1. Do practice social distancing. Running alone, or only with a partner is recommended at this time. If you run with a partner, ensure appropriate spacing between runners; the current recommendation is at least six feet of separation.
  2. Don’t run if you are feeling ill or have flu-like symptoms.
  3. Don’t share fluids. Carry your own fluids to avoid contact with others on course.
  4. Don’t share towels, food, gels, or any other item that runners normally share freely.
  5. Do wash your hands or use hand sanitizer after using the port-a-john or restroom.
  6. Do not spit or blow your nose in public.
  7. Bring along tissues or a small towel or a good old-fashioned hanky if you need to get rid of some snot during the run.
  8. Do avoid close-group selfies.  Safe social distancing applies to the post run as well!
  9. Do continue to follow safe social distancing even when the run is over. This include avoiding post-run meet-ups.
  10. Do not pressure your friends to run, either in a group or alone. People need to make their own choices about running during these uncertain times. Follow all guidance from your local authorities on group activities.
Quarantine: Week One

Quarantine: Week One

Last week, my daughter and I went back to New Jersey for Ann’s funeral. I know it wasn’t the best time to travel. We drove to limit our contact with others. We stocked the car with Clorox wipes, Lysol spray, paper towels and other assorted items to keep ourselves disinfected, safe, and healthy. 

We stayed at a hotel, waved housekeeping, and left only to visit with Ann’s family and get take-out. We practiced social distancing, although, admittedly it was impossible to stand six feet away from friends who just lost their precious daughter. I hoped the benefit of hugs outweighed the risk.

The funeral home requested that mourners be limited to 10 at a time in hour blocks. Only about 30 people were able to attend the wake. The church service was limited to less than 50 people – staggered in the pews, maintaining  a social distance.

While I was in New Jersey I got out for a couple solo runs. I ran on the old routes so familiar I could run them with my eyes closed. The same roads and paths I ran in the days and weeks following my mother’s death and my husband’s death. And now again thinking about Ann and everything going on in the world. There was something very comforting in being there; more opportunity for the mind to wonder. I meditated. I thought about how much I missed visiting with friends, while also feeling home-sick for Chicago. 

We had come in too-close contact with a few people, and we were in Bergen County, a suburb of New York City. I knew as soon as we got there that we would need to self-quarantine when we got back. That would mean staying at my daughter’s apartment, not seeing Kurt or my dog, Enzo, for three weeks, maybe longer.

Visiting at a social distance. Vernon Hills, Illinois. March 2020.

We left New Jersey at 4am Sunday with the goal of making it back to Chicago before Best Friends closed. They had my daughter’s cat, Reggie. We were hoping to get everyone home and secure that night. There was practically no one on the road. We made it with time to spare.

Kurt was concerned about us coming back on Sunday, since Illinois was going on lockdown effective Saturday evening at 5pm. We were fine and I’m glad we took the extra day to decompress after the funeral. We didn’t come in contact with anyone new.  There were a fair amount of people out in Chicago that afternoon, although seeming very cooperative, maintaining the six feet of separation.

Since the second day of my new job I’ve been working from home. I am grateful for that because it gave me the flexibility to pick up and leave when my daughter needed to be with her friend’s family. Technology is giving us an opportunity to stay connected with co-workers, professors, family and friends. I will admit since the first time since I logged-off permanently on New Year’s Eve, I am missing Facebook. I have been trying to stay connected with the most important people in my life through text, phone calls, and FaceTime. My sister in Ireland also set up a family chat in What’sApp (yes, I know it’s owned by FaceBook).

On Tuesday, my daughter and I spent what should be our last day out for a while. We proceeded cautiously and carefully, avoiding others and disinfecting as we went. We drove to Vernon Hills where Kurt left some of my things in the garage and I could grab Enzo and get him to a grooming appointment. He was overdo and would be a big bunch of matting if we waited this out. I was grateful the groomer at Best Friends was still working.

We bought groceries at Trader Joe’s, a few more necessities at Walgreen’s, and finally take-out from our favorite sushi place before getting Enzo home to keep Kurt company while we all wait this out. I’m now 30 miles away, back at my daughter’s apartment (where I used to live) in Lakeview. We have provisions that will allow us to stay isolated for a few weeks.

I will still go out to run. It’s always been my go-to for maintaining sanity, and I’m not giving it up unless it’s banned. Kurt and I used to be experts at going weeks without seeing one another. Living together for the last six months has made us weak. And maybe some of that is because the world has become a very uncertain place.

I remain optimistic and hopeful. And did I mention I’ll still be running?

Me and My Shadow in Lincoln Park. Chicago, Illinois. March 2020.
My first day with CARA

My first day with CARA

The last 6 years I have spent essentially re-grouping. This month in 2014 I was diagnosed with cancer. In June that year, a month after surgery, I lost my job and as my life spiraled further out of control that summer and fall, culminating with my husband’s death in October, I vowed to create a new and better life for me and my daughter. It took me a little longer than I thought it would.

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14 life lessons learned in 24 years running

14 life lessons learned in 24 years running

This week marks the beginning of my 25th year as a runner. On March 4, 1996 I laced up my shoes for the first time and with really no idea of what I was doing podded through a two mile ring of my apartment building in Hackensack, New Jersey. (Read about that HERE).

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