Finish Line Unknown

Run the mile you’re in

As someone who picked up running at age 14 on the Severna Park High School track and hasn’t stopped since, I can find a running analogy for just about any life situation. In the case of the COVID-19 pandemic, the comparison is obvious. We’re in a marathon—not a sprint—but we don’t know where the finish line will be. All we know is that there is one, and that the miles will get more painful before they get easier. 

The marathon is a mental game. You train, you prepare, but miles 20 through 26.2 will hurt. Early in the race, anxiety can creep in and take hold. You can’t help but think of the later miles looming. The fear of what’s to come can be crippling.  

For a lot of people facing the drastic changes of social distancing and fearing the virus itself, the pandemic is crippling. I have found that, as in a marathon, my anxiety is fueled by the future unknowns. 

How bad will it get? What if someone in my family is infected? How long will we have to keep paying tuition at a daycare and school that our kids can’t attend? When will we have gatherings to look forward to again? 

Every week, I (and plenty of other Marylanders) have waited with dread for Governor Larry Hogan to address the public, knowing that each speech would bring more dire medical predictions and more drastic social limitations. The changes to everyday life have come so rapidly that there aren’t too many social interactions left to limit. Most of us are hunkered down at home, feeling like we’re in a state of limbo. 

This is where my marathon mantra comes in: Run the mile you’re in. When you take off from the starting line, you cannot be consumed by the fear of how mile 22 is going to feel. You must focus on running mile one, which will bring you to mile two. Stay fixed on mile two, which allows you to reach mile three, and so on. Run the mile you’re in means keeping your head in the mile you’re running right now, the only thing you can control. 

With our typical lives on hold, now is the time to run the mile you’re in. Instead of lamenting all the calendar events you’ll miss this spring, throw yourself into this stay-at-home moment. Maybe you noticed a beautiful flower because you took the dog for an extra-long Saturday walk. If not for social distancing, you might have had a busy Saturday of commitments, cut the dog’s walk short and missed that beautiful flower altogether. 

My four and two-year-old sons do an excellent job of staying in the right now. They’ve never complained about losing their schooldays, playground access, or birthday parties. They simply enjoy having both Mommy and Daddy home all day—a rare circumstance with two parents in journalism. 

At Bay Weekly, we’re working hard to keep your paper coming. We’re filling it with things you can do right now (Get fresh, local farm produce delivered! Fish for your dinner! Get married!) instead of what you cannot. None of us know when we’ll reach the finish line of the COVID-19 marathon, but we’ll help you get through this mile.