The race itself hasn’t been held for two years. There is no way to socially distance a hundred teams of seven runners who spend a day running 77.7 miles around Seneca Lake. There just isn’t enough hand sanitizer on this earth to make it feasible, to say nothing of the lack of PPE made from wicking fabric.
But 2022 was going to be our year. We’d made do in 2020, mind, but this year would be a celebration. We had our tutus at the ready and were sorta trained. Lisa’s cowbell arm was strong. Team Flockstar was back in business. Until it very much wasn’t.
The bad news started a week out. Heather gave us a head’s up that she wasn’t feeling great. While it wasn’t COVID, it was something that made her not want to run. No problem, I thought. I can come up with a fill-in. At any given time, I know at least one regional runner who can pinch-hit. I started to put out feelers.
On the Monday before race weekend, two more Flockstars were on the DL. It was COVID this time. Just when I started to wrap my head around finding two more replacements, Central New York, which is where I live, was hit with a doozy of a spring snowstorm. Eight inches of the wet, heavy stuff fell on us. When I woke up on Tuesday ready to make calls, we had no power and no idea when we’d have it back.
While we were luckier than most (it took a six days to get the lights back on in some spots), living in a pre-electrified and increasingly cold world sucked away all of my moxie. My can-do spirit was replaced by a this-is-too-hard gloom. Finding one new runner was do-able. Three was impossible. When the lights came back on, the choice was clear. Our team would be a DNS.
There’s no shame in a DNS but there is a lot of sadness. For me, that sadness felt much larger than one missed race. Newsflash: the last two years have been hard, y’all. Our collective re-entry into being around each other again has been harder still. You still never know when the rug will be pulled out from under you so you just stop looking forward to stuff you enjoy.
I’ve been lucky in 2022. I made it to Hilton Head and had a rematch with the beach. I ran down Nevada’s Mt. Charleston in April. Two of my three Spring trips came off without any pandemic-related hitches. In hindsight, it was foolish to think I could complete the trifecta. But I dared to dream.
While I’m not Jewish, I’ve been to more than a few seders. Two things I’ve learned are 1) always eat first because four glasses of wine on an empty stomach is a bad idea and 2) “Dayenu” both an earworm and a life lesson. Just getting to enjoy one race this year would have been enough. Two is a miracle. Content yourself with that. Don’t dwell on what didn’t happen. After all, you are not trying to survive for 40 years in a desert.
I wanted nothing more than to do something totally unnecessary with six other women who feel like my sisters. I yearned for a trip to Wegmans for subs and sushi. I wanted to laugh and laugh and laugh. On paper, this loss is a minor one. In reality, it is enormous.
Three years ago, I would have been bummed for a few days and moved on. Right now, my well of resilience has run dry. It’s not just this, mind. All of the pivots and accommodations and postponements add up, like death by a thousand Zooms.
If you haven’t already had someone tell you: it’s okay to not be okay. Let me also admit that I am not okay right now. My reactions to any change of plans have become operatic in scope, what with the crying and the wailing. This isn’t my usual behavior. My keel tends to be pretty even, which is why I made an appointment with my neighborhood mental health profession — and you should, too, if you’re feeling a little bit fragile.
As for Team Flockstar, we’re plotting trips to the Maine mountains in July and a run in Connecticut in September. Will they actually happen? I hope so. But need to be better able to handle if they do not.