I was a student-athlete at Springfield College when the initial waves of the pandemic began to hit the U.S. It was during my junior year, and I had just finished my indoor track season. As a runner, you don’t really have an off season, so I had already begun preparing for the outdoor season. After running a personal best 15:35 in the 5k, I was determined to shave off another half minute in the spring and make the New England Meet qualifying standard. That dream eroded quickly as everything came to a screeching halt with COVID-19 sweeping the nation.
Over 2 and a half years later, I now can no longer consider myself an avid runner. Whether it was the pandemic taking away my final seasons, or just the postgraduate blues, I lost my competitive edge and the passion I once had for a sport I had been involved in since 4th grade. I had tried to get back into it multiple times over the course of the past year but I would give up after a few days or weeks, not feeling the same as I once did.
Flash forward to now. At least two times a week, I’m hopping in my car and scooting over to Marblehead to go cover a game, or try some food at a local restaurant I haven’t been to yet. Every time I drive into town, I pass the rail trail entrance near Gatchell’s Park, and I wonder where it goes and what the trail is like. I also see some of the cross country runners for Marblehead’s High School team cruising along the sidewalks. So many others are out and about running and walking and it truthfully has given me the itch to start running again.
A few weeks ago, I met up with Marblehead’s boy’s cross country Coach Brian Heenan, and girl’s Head Coach William Herlihy and their teams to discuss the recent success they had been having. As a former runner, conversation flowed naturally and hearing the coaches and runners talk about the team’s races made me remember how good it feels to run and accomplish goals. I can’t say that I would be able to immediately get back to the performance level I had in college, if at all, but conversing with the teams and writing about them has made me want to get back out there and accomplish something. That something might not be running a sub 15 minute 5k, but it might be regaining the love/hate relationship that I had with the sport or just getting exercise every day and feeling better.
Every time I pass the rail trail, or drive out to the Marblehead neck, I think to myself “this would be a nice place to run”, and the thought grows stronger with each trip. So many people are out running on these little trails and paths, bettering themselves and making the most out of their day. Each one that I pass by helps me to remember why I ran for 12 years and how I used to get that “on top of the world” feeling when completing some hard earned miles. Somehow, some way, driving back and forth between this town and my work has rekindled my passion for running, and I’m glad it did. It may be November, but after I buy a new pair of shoes, I’ll still have time to get a few jogs in on the coastline before the first snowfall.