(Virtual) Runner Woman Wonder Woman

Disclaimer: I received an entry into the Atlanta DC Wonder Woman Run (now virtual race) to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!”

So, the last time I was on here was the end of March when we were about 3 weeks into quarantine and I talked about the FitnessBank Des Linden Spring Step Challenge as one of the many virtual challenges that I’m using to keep motivated. Well, we’re now through week 8 so time to chat about part 2 of social distance training, running, virtual challenges, and more.

I’m going to be 100% honest here: what I’m now calling “The Great Pause” has actually been pretty beneficial to me in many ways. My husband and I feel very privileged that we have steady income (I’m actually paid to be a student, which is a privilege in itself, regardless of COVID19), we’ve enjoyed our extra time together (truly!), we’ve spent a ton of time cooking, riding bikes, watching movies, catching up on tv (Yes, we’re finally watching Ozark), we’ve saved money, and I’m pretty sure I’m in the best shape of my life and still going. We don’t have children so, outside of work and our general well-being, we don’t have any other responsibilities. We’re using this time to the best of our abilities, completely realizing how lucky we are and we can’t waste it. I truly believe that the lack of distractions (what else are we gonna do?), has enabled me to nearly finish my dissertation and maintain a running/fitness streak where I’ve run for 55 days in a row and often do 2-3 workouts a day.

When you have a choice between just being a regular roadie or a unicorn, ALWAYS be the unicorn!

That’s not to say that everything is 100% perfect, rainbows and unicorns. I’m about to finish a degree that was supposed to offer me more opportunities (and more compensation), but the offers that I had in the works have been delayed indefinitely or dried up completely. The anxiety of being so close to the end and not knowing where or when I’m going to land has definitely kept me up at night. On that same topic, in the last couple weeks I have realized how close I am to the light at the end of the PhD tunnel. I should be over the moon. Instead, every time I get a little excited, the bittersweet reality of it all sets in and it’s difficult not to feel an overwhelming sense of sadness. I had built up the PhD endgame I’ve worked so hard for, so much in my head: visualized the people in the room at my dissertation defense, imagined what it will be like to get my Doctoral hood at graduation from my advisor, planned what I want to do after defense and/or graduation (Porsche track driving experience followed by dinner at Porsche headquarters), thought about the epic party I want to have for all my friends who supported me with open hearts and vast amounts of patience for the past 4 years, and, of course, dreamed about so much more. None of this will be happening. My defense will happen behind a computer screen, no PhD hooding ceremony, no party, no celebration. Yes, it’s 100% all first world problems. Hardly problems at all in the grand scheme of things. However, we’re all entitled to our own experience of the world and I’ve allowed myself just a bit of sadness about all of it. It’s ok to not be ok. Plus, my dear friend Stephanie said the other day, “we’re all experiencing this differently, but we’re all in the same storm.” For me, sometimes bouncing on the waves in a choppy sea is fun; sometimes it makes me want to vomit and crawl in a ball.

Can’t wait to lace up for this next Saturday, whether alone or with a small (socially distant) group.

Where does this bring me back to then? Many of the events and things we were expecting are canceled, postponed, or indefinitely delayed. However, the greatness in this Great Pause, for me, has been found in the joyful things that aren’t canceled. Running isn’t canceled. Races and group runs in person may not happen for a while, but the surge of virtual activities has given me (and many people new to the sport) motivation to find joy in my runs every day. I’ve run a virtual ultra challenge, a virtual team race across the states, a virtual half ironman, currently running a virtual 1000k across TN, a group effort run around the world, and a weekly challenge that’s added variety to my daily runs around the same neighborhood routes (like running a route shaped like a unicorn). Next Saturday, May 16, was supposed to be the Atlanta DC Wonder Woman Run. Nearly every runner I know in Atlanta was planning to be there. It’s obviously been canceled and turned into a virtual race. We received all our awesome race swag last week and some of us our still holding out hope that we may be able to gather and run it together (in a socially distant way) next Saturday on the original race day. I may still be on my own. But, when you think about it, all of these virtual challenges/races/events, etc. mean we’re never truly running alone. Next Saturday, whether in my own neighborhood or with a small group of friends, I’ll still put on my Wonder Woman running gear and know that many others are doing the same. What’s more joyful than that really?

Peace, Love, and Many Miles,

Jessica “Fun Size”

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