Two years ago, I was on my way back to my home in the frozen North from the Another Mother Runner Run + Refresh Retreat on Hilton Head Island. While I was enjoying one of the rocking chairs on the upper level during my layover in Charlotte, I watched a young woman in a face mask and latex gloves wipe down every square inch of the area around her. That seems a little excessive, I thought.

Before the start of the WMNRun Race on Hilton Head Island. Less sun this year, but a lot more fun.

On Sunday, two years after the running the WMNRun Half Marathon, I ran the same race but at a shorter distance. After, crossing the finish line, I went back and read what I wrote in 2020. There’s so much I didn’t know, you know? Like most Americans, I thought we’d be in for a few weeks of lock-down, then life would go on as it had. It would be funny how wrong I was, if my wrong-ness wasn’t still so painful.

We’ve all had a harrowing, edifying, and clarifying two years. I was right about one thing in that previous piece, though: It will all be okay.

Not perfect, mind. Real life isn’t a novel. “Okay” doesn’t mean “happy;” it means that you find a way to make it through the truly terrible parts to find some joy on the other side. That’s what my run on Sunday was: a celebration of the joy of finding a way through something that kept finding new ways to challenge my resources.

Sunday’s race was a celebration of community, too. Every runner (even when they were going through something hard) felt that joy.

Which isn’t to say this race wrote the final chapter (you know, the one where the hero rides off into glory after a job well done) on the last two years. For this weekend, life felt just a little bit easier. We could all take a bit of a breath. After two years slogging through everything the pandemic had to throw at us, we made it back to Hilton Head, like the loggerhead turtles do. Not all of us, no, but enough. Plus, there were some welcome new faces in the mix.

The paparazzi are relentless.

It’s been surreal to be back here. Two years that have felt like two decades passed in two seconds somehow. There have been tears over the last few days, and lots of laughter. All of our emotions are closer to the surface right now, as we take stock. We’re all different and more like ourselves.

I know that’s all kinds of deep thoughts to hang on a simple run on the beach. Even the simple runs aren’t simple, you know? And this one was definitely full of odd echoes, despite my joy.

Two years since I’ve felt such support. Two years since a runner tunnel. Worth every step of the 6.55 miles.

But this time around I did my very best to appreciate every footstep and every single runner out there with me. I ran with joy, even when it when I was running into the wind, because sometimes wind happens. This time, I did not get mad at the ocean, simply because I was so happy to see it again.



Adrienne Martini’s book, Somebody’s Gotta Do It: Why Cursing at the News Won’t Save the Nation but Your Name on a Local Ballot Can, is available where ever books, ebooks, and audiobooks are sold. It also received a rave review in the New York Times.