It seems inane, in the midst of a virus crisis, to write posts about running and travel. Now, there is no travel. There are no races. There is only stay at home and don’t become part of the problem.
So, over the last weeks, reports and footage from a number of areas across the country have set me thinking back to some of my most enjoyable travel and race memories as I see those same sites through the lens of the past month.
One of the many wonderful perks of traveling to races in other locations is the opportunity to revisit those locations each time I happen to see some of that same scenery on a movie screen or television.
That joy has lost its luster. As I identify cities and sites where I have enjoyed races, met local people and enjoyed regional food during my stay, I am seeing the pain of communities in health crises.
New York City scenes would appear on the screen and from the sites along the NYC Marathon course (think Run for your Life and Enchanted), I loved spotting the Veranzzano-Narrows Bridge in film footage as well as the spot where we entered Central Park and knew the finish was within reach. Films are a wonderful way to reconnect and relive those moments.
Now, in the past week or two the scenes in Central Park have been a gut punch. I watch the footage of the evangelical relief group Samaritan’s Purse building medical tents. I see hard-working medical teams, sick people standing in line waiting for a test or any kind of attention. And I can do nothing.
Even in the more rural Suffolk County where I ran the Hamptons Marathon a few years ago the scenes of that landscape changed. Having run through the small villages and woods and along the beaches and bays, it was difficult to again see medical tents constructed in the grassy areas. This was a far cry from familiar scenes from films (Weekend at Bernie’s, Somethings Gotta Give).
Chicago is a city I have enjoyed many times over the years. A few years back, I finally ran the Chicago Marathon. Millennium Park and Michigan Avenue were familiar to me from past visits, but what made the marathon special was the neighborhoods on the marathon’s course I hadn’t previously visited. This month, the scenes were of numerous hospitals with added medical tents outside their physical structures.
So, again, doing nothing is tough. I can run through rain, snow and heat to get my training in. I can plan my days to fit that training in with other obligations. I can remember communities that welcomed me as a runner and be with them in my thoughts. I can enjoy the fresh air and fitness I gain through that training process.
I can don my face mask, avoiding other people as I do solo training. I can donate to those communities in need, hurting physically and financially.
But, about this virus, I can do nothing. And, nothing is the best thing I can do. I can only run safely, stay at home, and do nothing that would add to the crisis. That is a tough thing to do, but the best thing to do.