Is it race season yet? (Checks calendar. Checks news.) Ok, nevermind. While it’s disappointing to not be able to travel to races, see friends and teammates, high five the crowd coming down the finish chute, or chow down at the finish line buffet, I think we can all agree that missing a few triathlons is a pretty lucky problem to have these days.
But still. The quarantine is impacting all of us in different ways. Many of us work best on a routine, and had to scramble to find new ones. Now that we are a month in, it has been interesting to ask people about their new rituals and if they now find themselves doing anything on a regular basis that would have sounded ridiculous to them in February. Here are mine.
In the pre-quarantine era, I woke up around 5:30 AM, rolled out of bed, did a 1 minute plank, scarfed down a quick breakfast, and headed out the door to the pool or to begin my first workout so I can start work around 8. Now, I don’t set an alarm but usually wake up by 7:00 to the sound of birds chirping outside my window. I turn on a meditation app for a few minutes, then sit down breakfast with tea, toast, and yogurt, update my journal, and write a few postcards to friends or family. (If you’d like one, email or DM me your address!) As I type this, I’m texting with a friend who is working a stressful job from home while trying to take care of her toddler, so I feel a bit self-conscious sharing about my leisurely mornings. Parents, if there’s anything I can do to help, please let me know!
The 8:00 hour is reserved for writing. For years, I’ve told myself that I’d like to write more often and stretch myself content and style-wise, but it was always the easiest thing to postpone. But now it’s on my calendar. I’ve managed to get into the writing rhythm (you’re seeing this post, aren’t you?) but haven’t nailed the editing and review process yet. Rest assured, I still have about 15 browser tabs full of draft posts that need photos, links, tightening, etc. Please help hold me accountable!
What day is it?
The rest of the day is a mix of video calls, work emails, and taking advantage of the approximately 123,291 free or cheap webinars offered each day. Some of my favorite series are NatSecGirlSquad Goes Anti-Viral, Centers for Adaptive Warfighting CAW Cast (I was a speaker at one!), and the Riveter. Since I’m not able to see my colleagues in person these days, I’m making a point to stay active on LinkedIn, with a goal of three thoughtful comments and one original post per day. It is still a work in progress to overcome the imposter syndrome and remind myself that I know things and have meaningful things to say, but I’m learning things and meeting new people every time I face the fear and do it anyway. This is how we grow, right?
While the days tend to blend together, one important afternoon ritual remains unchanged: cookie o’clock. At the beginning of quarantine, my husband and I made a batch of cookie dough, shaped it into a log, and put it in the freezer. Every afternoon, we slice off two cookies’ worth from the log and bake them in the toaster oven. It’s delightful. The first batch was a chocolate chip-oatmeal-walnut recipe from the Tartine cookbook. Then a chocolate chip cookie with oats and brown butter. Then came ginger snaps. Now we are on to the famous DoubleTree hotel chocolate chip cookie recipe. As I write this, I’m detecting a strong chocolate chip theme. If you have a favorite recipe to share to get us out of (or firmly into) our rut, please share!
Enough about you; what about sportz?
As I mentioned earlier, race season is somewhere between on hold and a total bust. I was able to squeeze in an 8k running race in early March, but my half marathon and sprint triathlon in April were both canceled, as was Blue Ridge 70.3 in early June. I’m still waiting to hear about Coeur d’Alene 70.3 in late June, SwimRun Maine in August, ITU Aquathlon worlds in September, and SwimRun NC in October. (My original plan was to use one of the 70.3s to qualify for 70.3 World Championships in New Zealand, but given all the cancellations and New Zealand’s strict quarantines for foreigners, it’s all one big shrug emoji at this point.)
You’d think that lack of upcoming races would send my motivation into a downward spiral, but I’m (mostly) pretty zen about it all. I (mostly) enjoy training for its own sake and see races as an opportunity to travel to new places and see friends, not the primary goal of my work. That said, especially with the pool closures and solo workouts, I’ve had to make some changes to keep things fresh.
Like many people, I’m a sucker for gamification. Show me a virtual badge and I want to collect them all. If there’s a finish line–even an arbitrary one–I will cross it. Luckily, a lot of companies have figured this out and are now milking my attention span for all its worth. On one of the first days of quarantine, I learned that the Peloton app is now free for three months. (If you sign up via the app, you don’t even need to enter a credit card.) Yes, we all rolled our eyes at their holiday commercial, and their bikes are insanely expensive (fine, pot meet kettle there), but the app is pretty great. There are thousands of classes available on-demand, ranging from audio-only outdoor runs, to mindfulness, to strength, to yoga, and yes, the cycling classes. I’ve been using the app for daily meditation sessions and the occasional yoga or core class, but my main use is listening to the cycling and running classes while I do the workouts that my coach assigns. That’s right, I’m not actually following along with their instructors (shhhh!). But their playlists are good and sometimes it’s nice to hear, “You are amazing! You are strong!” in my headphones during a hard set. Plus, they award all kinds of badges for hitting class milestones, working out with friends, taking classes focused on female or latino artists, etc.
Speaking of games, Zwift is huge right now. For those of you not familiar, it’s a game in which you bike indoors to power a virtual avatar that rides with other virtual avatars, powered by real cyclists around the world. So in other words, from my bike in Virginia, I can race against someone who is biking in Paris, and our avatars are riding in a virtual version of New York City. If the avatar goes up a hill, the resistance on my bike gets harder. If I pedal harder, my avatar goes faster. This opens up a world of possibilities for type A athletes: timed segments to race against yourself and others, teams, dozens of races a day, group rides, badges for completing each of the ~100 routes, etc. I’ve raced four times so far and joined a Zwift team, which has been really fun. As you may recall, I raced a season of road cycling a few years ago and liked the team aspect, but a) wasn’t as fast as I hoped to be against pure cyclists and b) was very nervous about crashing so tended to lose position in the pack, on corners, etc. With Zwift, it’s impossible to crash and the ease of logistics mean I can race more often and practice. There are also live streamed races with commentary so I can learn about race tactics. This paragraph is taking a super nerdy turn, so I’ll just stop there.
Virtual worlds are fun and all, but what about actual travel? Sigh. Luckily, there’s an app (website) for that as well! Elliott and I are using the site My Virtual Mission to map out a route (in this case, from our apartment in Virginia to my parents’ house in California) and every day, we enter our combined bike/run mileage and it plots our progress across the map. When we see where we land each day, we do a bit of research with the town’s visitor bureau, explore a bit with google street view, pick a restaurant where we would have dinner, etc. So far, we have made it to Tennessee, after a few days in Virginia that happened to coincide with wineries (added to our list for when we can travel for real).
Enough about me. How are you creating a new normal in your sportz (or other) life?