Reckoning With a Global Pandemic and Its Effects

Okay, time to take this thing out of the mothballs and blow off the dust.

Nobody’s asking – because nobody reads this – but if they did, they might ask why it’s been (at this point) nearly four years since the last posts here. Or maybe they’d have a guess when they look at the next date in sequence and see that it would have been 2020. They’d 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.