Run 647: The first pandemic run

Run 647
Average pace: 5:48/km
Location: Brunette River
Start: 1:42 pm
Distance: 5.03 km
Time: 29:13
Weather: Cloudy
Temp: 12ºC
Humidity: 55%
Wind: nil to light
BPM: 166
Weight: 171.5 pounds
Total distance to date: 4845 km
Devices: Apple Watch Series 5, iPhone 8
Shoes: Saucony Switchback ISO (205 km)

Technically today was not my first run since the global pandemic started, but it was the first since, to frame it colorfully, shit got real, with lots of closures and a huge emphasis on “social distancing”, which I will get to in a bit.

First, this was my first run in three weeks. I’m not sure how I managed to go another three weeks without doing an outdoor run. I swear I’m not lazy. Today I headed out in mild conditions wearing my light long-sleeve shirt and would have been fine in a regular t-shirt, as it was not cool in any way (in all senses of the word).

I wasn’t sure if I was going to run at the lake or the river, so I walked to the end of the river trail to give me more time to decide. Given how many people were about, I chose the river trail, as it would be easier to keep some separation between myself and potential plague carriers.

This turned out to be surprisingly difficult, despite the river trail actually being a gravel service road that is wide enough to (barely) accommodate two vehicles passing by each other. Why? Because people are dumb or indifferent. Observe below.

Good people: Walking close to each other, staying on one side of the trail. Lots of room to pass by without getting close.

Bad people: Spreading themselves as far across the trail as possible, making it impossible to keep the recommended safe distance away, which is six feet or two meters, depending on how metric you are. For example, two friends (?) were walking down the trail, but they were walking down the middle and also had some strangely large gap between each other, effectively providing three narrow channels for me to choose from. This would be like if every chalice at the end of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade was poison. You can’t help but to choose poorly.

There was another pair that did the opposite, which creates nearly the same issue. One was walking a dog (all dogs were leashed today, which was nice, if odd, to see). One walked on the left side of the trail, the other on the right, with a gap between them that again left me insufficient space to squeeze through as per social distancing recommendations. Why would you even walk like this? It would be like walking on opposite sidewalks down the street. Do they secretly hate each other? Does one of them have dog allergies? These two ended up making me alter my run.

Oh yes, the run. It was surprisingly stressful because I did not want to have to keep carefully dodging around people who could potentially be carrying COVID-19, I just wanted to run. I almost felt like stopping early to I could just get out of there. After going between the two–let’s call them “space” people–I realized that given where they were, I would have to pass between them at least two more times to complete my run. I opted to turn around early before getting to them the second time and when I got back to the entrance I was at about 4.5 km done. I ran off the trail and onto the sidewalk on North Road, figuring I’d do the last 500m by running into and through Lower Hume Park. It was then that I saw directly on the sidewalk a huge group of people. I mean, this is something I never see. It’s like they specifically appeared to induce anxiety in me. I waited a few moments for a gap in traffic, then crossed over to the empty sidewalk on the other side.

I didn’t hit 5K as soon as I would have liked, so had to turn out onto the field and finished as I ran across the baseball diamond. It felt a little weird.

The actual run itself was fine, especially given the three weeks away. My pace was 5:48/km, better than expected (though as always the river trail is more forgiving than the lake), though my BPM ticked up a bit to 166, though it’s possible my general fretting may have contributed there. I was pretty tense the whole way, only relaxing a bit during those rare moments when no one else was in sight.

I actually wished it had been raining so these people would have stayed home to watch Contagion on Netflix.

I’m not sure when I’ll run outside again. Maybe when the weather is miserable, which will ironically make me happier.

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