Reflecting On a Global Pandemic and Its Effects

Nobody’s asking – because nobody reads this – but if they did, they might ask why I stopped posting for nearly four years. If they saw the dates of my last posts before that time and saw December 2019, they’d probably have a guess, and that guess would probably be at least partly right.

Everybody knows about the Covid pandemic and experienced its effects. What most don’t know is that I kind of got a jump on it, at least for someone living in the US. 

In the middle of January, I lost a friend to suicide, and it really hit hard. In some ways I’m still trying to process it.

I did a couple of races before Covid closed down everything here. The second was just about a week before people starting going home to work.

I actually did pretty good during a lot of 2020. I like being out and around people, but I also have hermit tendencies that (if my mom is to be believed) might be genetic. And unlike so many people, I wasn’t at home by myself. Kris had already been working from home for a few years at that point so she was an old hand at it. And we also had the cats. It was kind of a cozy time, at least when we were at home. Stressful doing just about anything outside.

I kept up running for quite a while, continued okay through the spring and summer. I wasn’t doing training-level running because I didn’t have anything to train for. But it was okay maintenance. The nearby campus of Chandler Gilbert Community College turned into a ghost town, and I fell in love with running there – I’ve always had a fascination with abandoned places and it was wild to see it so empty for so long.

I was able to do a lot of backpacking. Mostly just weekend (or long weekend) trips, but quite a few of them looking back now. At the beginning of the year, I had decided I was going to make a goal to cover all of the AZT (Arizona Trail) that year. Covid derailed that plan pretty hard, but I did make some good progress on the trail even in spite of it. I had a really good time doing that.

But… remember that I said I did pretty good for “a lot of” 2020. As the year moved on, I started falling off of just about everything as we got into fall and winter. I’ve never been that good about being self-motivated without a project of some kind, and recognizing that there was no way I was going to be able to do my AZT project that year, I was left without a project. And of course there was a lot of sociopolitical stuff to try and live with too.

The first half (or so) of 2021 was the real struggle for me – I became deeply, clinically depressed, and left the house very little for several months. And when I did make it out, it felt like a monumental task to prepare and get out the door. Some of that feeling still pops up whenever I’m packing for a weekend camping trip or something like that. I’d really like to move past that, but so far it’s still there.

I mostly got out of it, eventually. Starting to reconnect with friends helped a lot. So did riding a bike and having fun doing that – that first time zipping along the downhill side of Pemberton (out at McDowell Mountain Park) was like a desperately-needed jumpstart to the part of my brain where “fun” registers.

There is a lot to say about all this, but a lot of us went through the same thing. I’m not sure I need to spell it out, and I have a tendency to overwrite anyway. It’s enough to say that for a very long time, it didn’t seem like there was any point to writing here, and then I just didn’t know what to say. I still don’t, but this is the best I can do and that will have to be enough.