You know when you’ve just finished a long plane journey, and your plane lands, and you’re all eager and poised ready to get off and start your holiday, but then a tannoy tells you that there’s no gates and you’re going to have to sit on the plane for an undetermined length of time, and everyone starts queuing in the aisle and bickering and if only someone would tell you when you could get off then you would sit quietly and read a book but the lack of certainty just makes your brain explode? That’s how I feel about this lockdown right now, but with an added dose of “oh actually this delay has been caused by a big plane crash just down the runway which has wiped out ten thousand people so stop being so selfish and sit down and be quiet”.
And despite the disconnect between the eerie calm at work and what I see on the TV, I know it’s getting closer. Yesterday saw the death of one of our paramedics, the third member of London Ambulance staff to die from coronavirus. I am actually amazed that it isn’t more. One friend has lost his father, another her grandmother, a colleague his mother. My mother’s neighbour has died, and so has one of our regular callers. (“We should all go to the funeral! Oh wait, we’re not allowed”.) I have lost count of the number of my friends who have been ill – thankfully, only one was ill enough to need hospital treatment and he is now fully recovered. I guess this is the upside of hanging around with a bunch of uberfit runners – but although the odds are stacked in my favour I’m careful to remember that I could be the unlucky one.
In some ways I felt better when it was busier at work, because at least then I had a role in trying to mitigate the unfolding disaster, and now all I can do is sit back and wait for people to die, and eventually stop dying, and wonder whether everything will ever get back to the way it was. The tiredness from the overtime (I have worked an extra one hundred and thirty two hours on top of my normal shifts since March 23rd) and the sinking, sludgy woe from the lack of light at the end of the tunnel is eating me up. I’m finding call taking particularly difficult. I can still deal with the people who are seriously ill, but I find it hard to maintain a professional and caring demeanour when someone reports a bursting boil or a dislodged toenail (both real calls I have had in the last week). I am not a people person at the best of times. My patience is hanging by a thread.
Running after work is another thing that I am finding difficult – once I am cacooned in my cosy flat away from the general public and their increasingly bizarre and irritating behaviour I find it very hard to go back out again. I think Les Mills is an altogether more pleasing option and it is what I intend to do when I finish this entry. For my last long run, I headed north up to Enfield Island Village (where, for the first time, I did not get lost) and back and was absolutely amazed to pull of a pretty effortless and perfectly paced eighteen kilometres. Of course I have finally found my fitness when everything has gone to pot, I am living on ginger nuts and Coke Zero, hardly sleeping and training sporadically for non existent events. I expect it’ll last right up until the end of lockdown.
I was missing parkrun so much that I decided to walk the 6.5km to Finsbury Park and do the parkrun course. It was a bittersweet experience – treading the familiar paths, remembering parkruns past and knowing that one day, eventually it would be here again gave me a much needed boost. It was nice to not worry about getting lapped and to run the course at a relaxed pace without worrying about it bringing down my average finish time or putting me within two metres of the tailwalker. But unceremoniously grinding to a halt at the finish post with no funnel, volunteers or patient friends cheering me in was hard. I walked another 6.5km home and made the sort of lunch you’d get from an overpriced vegan cafe (smashed avocado and homemade salsa on sourdough bread) and tried to have a conversation with Samuel Snail but it wasn’t quite the same. I miss my fellow parkrun idiots more than I care to admit.
I look back on posts that I made on this blog a couple of months and am almost tempted to delete/edit them because they seem unbelievably naive and lacking in foresight and unrepresentative of my opinion now. I had absolutely no idea how bad this thing would be and the damage it would do to our lives in so many ways. But I will leave them untouched because I think it is important to record just how unexpected this was and how unprepared I was. I think it’s fairly obvious which bits I considered retracting – things to the effect of “I have seen absolutely no evidence that all this fuss is necessary and I don’t think we should shut anything down” though I stand by things like “everyone has completely lost the plot” and “I wish people would pay as much attention to other aspects of their health”.