After two months of our pandemic lifestyle, I still find that most conversations – whether with work colleagues or friends – include some commentary on our “new normal.” I suppose this reflects the depth of our surprise, and perhaps that the answers are still unclear. The most consistent observation I’ve heard is that we’re living more slowly. And this moderated pace means we’re more observant. For example, I’d say this is the first year I’ve fully appreciated spring.
Over the past month, Boston’s cityscape has been magically transformed by blossoming trees. Some neighborhoods have symmetrical awnings of magnolias, while others are dotted with various flowering species. In prior seasons, I considered spring meant renewing visits to Fenway Park, running outdoors with fewer layers and the start of the grilling season. Walking around to look at blossoming trees was not on my “to-do” list. These days, however, I’ve been grateful for this gift of nature that I suspect you’ve also enjoyed in recent weeks.
So let’s heed the benefits of living slowly and taking in all that’s around us. Those ballparks will be waiting for us next spring!
This past Monday, New England observed Patriots Day, which commemorates the start of the Revolutionary War but today, is best known for its signature sporting event — the Boston Marathon. First hosted in 1897 for a field of just 15 runners, it’s the world’s oldest, continuously run marathon — until COVID-19. Organizers postponed the marathon until the fall, but on Monday, it was top of mind locally, with our sentiments artfully expressed through a Boston Globe video (check it out on YouTube).
Instead of complaining about the marathon’s cancellation, people respected the decision and heeded advice to stay off the course on race day. To me it perhaps symbolizes where we are with this pandemic, which has greatly constrained our lives over the past six weeks. I firmly believe that we are optimists by nature and that we enjoy traditions because of the cumulative memories they represent. Maybe we’re moving past the fear and anxiety phase of COVID-19 and starting to gain confidence in getting to the other side. So understanding that our hometown tradition wasn’t really broken – just taking a twisted path – meant we could still smile when we saw pictures of the faded start and finish lines, and the Make Way for Ducklings and other iconic area statues dressed both for the race and for beating COVID.
Marathons have long been a metaphor for patience and resilience, and I think that works again here. Having run Boston in my younger, fitter days, I can still recall the training and race day experience pretty clearly. We probably haven’t made it to Heartbreak Hill yet, but it’s on the horizon. Keep your training shoes laced and be well!
Last Sunday, I laced up my running shoes to join 6,400 people running Maine’s Beach to Beacon 10-K. A lovely course that winds its way along the shoreline, it features world-class runners along with recreational participants, like me. I’ve been running since college, but I’m a lot slower these days, an honest reminder that time just doesn’t stand still.
On race day, we settled into the car just after sunrise for our hour ride to catch a bus to the starting line (yes, you can get tired just finding your way to the race!). As we approached the parking area, I reached down to put on my running shoes, but realized I’d forgotten to pack socks. Those who run can only imagine how foolish I felt. I always carry two extra pairs in my gym bag but was going to have to run a 10-K sockless. Naturally, given the early hour, there was nowhere open to buy an emergency replacement. My only hope was that more mindful fellow racer would have an extra pair that I could buy or borrow.
We parked and my search began. I went from car to car as bodies were sleepily opening doors to join the bus line, but no one had an extra pair. Next I approached the quiet group queued in the bathroom line –but again, no one had a pair. With time running out, I realized I was going to have to run sockless so joined my group to board the bus.
As I joked about my packing mishap, a woman standing nearby transformed into my guardian angel as she said, “You can’t run like that” and magically handed me the extra pair she’d packed for her teenage daughter. She’d been among those I’d previously asked and maybe she didn’t hear me, or maybe she needed to be sure her daughter didn’t need them. Regardless, she saved me from blisters and more.
Moral of the story:
- Even the most organized of us will occasionally forget something.
- You can believe in the kindness of strangers.
- Slow and steady – and socks or no socks – gets you to the finish line.