And therefore after this post I will only post about running. I won’t go as far to say that I will never mention The Corona again, but I’m sick of talking about it, and sick of adding a caveat about not knowing what will happen next to everything I dare to wish or plan for. So from now on I am going to believe everything is going to be okay, and I am not adding any caveats.
I wouldn’t have said this six weeks ago. Six weeks ago, not only did I not believe anything would ever be okay again, I didn’t want anything to be okay again. The feeling of being sat at my desk on Christmas Day frantically trying to keep up with the utter deluge of calls, not even being able to keep up with viewing them let alone sending anyone to help, with so many of my colleagues sick or isolating, and others feeling they had to come to work even though they were feeling just a little bit coronaey, wondering if I would be next, wondering if I would be lucky again… while well meaning friends said things like “I hope it’s a quiet day” and ill meaning idiots said “covid is a hoax”. It felt like the world was ending and that we were the only ones who could see it. More well meaning people talked about mental health and “it’s okay not to be okay” and I wanted to scream “It’s not okay to be okay! The ship is sinking, the plane is crashing, this is our dinosaur moment, nothing can ever be okay ever again. And even if it could, we don’t deserve it. So no, I am not okay, and I don’t want to be okay either.”
Things changed, of course. The effect of the vaccine was like the sun coming up. The number of corona-related calls dwindled and dwindled to a trickle, to the point where it’s hard to believe that so recently were were completely unable to cope with the workload. Of course, the ambulance call rate declines before the number of deaths and people in hospital, and one of the effects of the vaccine is to decrease the proportion of sick people who need to go to hospital, so the feeling of “it’s all over” isn’t real, yet. But for the first time in ages, it feels like it will be.
Today – here’s the bit where I finally start talking about running again – we got the news that parkrun is coming back on 5th June. It’s still three months away, but just to have the date on the calendar is wonderful. Of course, this news (and the fact that my eight cancelled half marathons will not become nine) means that I should probably do some proper training. It’s not that I haven’t been running, in fact I have been running more than ever, but my training plan has been “run as far as you like at whatever pace you feel like”. It has also been too cold and too lockdowny to do any runs that don’t start and finish at home. As well as not being terribly good training, this sort of running does not lend itself well to blogging. Be grateful, I’ve spared you posts like “Ran 7km at a middling pace today. Trod in a puddle. Saw some ducks.”
My attempt at RED January lasted 21 days after I gave myself a sore knee (not sure if it was the running or overenthusiastic jumping in Body Attack) which led to less running and more eating doughnuts and then to a button parting way with my work trousers because I have got so fat. Therefore, as of today I am turning over a new leaf and doing some constructive running and non-consumption of doughnuts. This started with hill sprints on the infamous Mile End parkrun Green Bridge and setting a new segment personal record where my pace started with an unusual number. Unfortunately this nearly killed me and I looked like a beetroot for the rest of the day.
I got the news about the parkrun restart just after the Green Bridge ordeal ended, as I was walking up to Roman Road to buy a cable for my phone and some conditioner. (This is what passes for a big day out for me now.) The sun filtered through the trees in the cemetery, the daffodils and crocuses jostled for position and the music on my Aftershokz reminded me of the places I would soon be able to go to again. I decided to pick up a vegan sausage roll and chatted to a stranger in the queue for Gregg’s, through our masks. (Mine had Easter bunnies on, hers was pink). It’s the first time I’ve spoken to a stranger in person in months, other than to argue about social distancing and mask positioning. I went home and argued with Rob via Whatsapp about which parkrun we should go to first. It was a good argument to be having.
And yet, as much as I feel full of joy to finally be seeing the light at this extremely long, bleak and cold three stage tunnel, there is the feeling that things might never really be the same again. So many people didn’t come out the other side. Some people very important to me will never know the world after coronavirus. So many people were ill, and many of them didn’t fully recover. So many people lost their parents or other close relatives. So many people are still suffering, physically, mentally or both. I got lucky, with my mysterious antibodies and my failure to entirely lose the plot (it may have been touch and go for a while), but I didn’t feel lucky at the time. And many people showed their true colours, but others also showed their intelligence and kindness, and if I was too busy despairing at the bad ones to be grateful at the time, I am now. We have a lot of rebuilding to do, but I think it can be done. And I’m so looking forward to the future, and writing lots of posts about running.