Saturday, March 21, 2020

Coronavirus Timeline: A personal day-by-day recap

Because I use this blog as my journal, I wanted to document the timeline of the events that have unraveled over the past two weeks. As I have said many times before, the primary audience for this blog is me and my future self, but I think others might find this timeline interesting as well.

I am not trying to be a reporter or a historian; I am trying to capture my own personal experience in the midst of this apocalyptic time. I'll start with Wednesday, March 11 because I last addressed this topic on Tuesday, March 10.

Wednesday, March 11: Anxiety and uncertainty
March 11 was the first day when I experienced physical signs of anxiety. Rapid heart beat, shakiness, sweating, etc. The anxiety was coming from multiple angles. First, I received some "you have no right to say this" comments in response to Tuesday's blog post. Some were posted in the comments section of the blog and some were posted on Facebook. I had stepped out of my comfort zone and written about something controversial, and was quickly reminded why I don't write about controversial topics or engage in political conversations.

These comments had me on edge and I tried to shut them down by being respectful of their opinions but not engaging in any further back-and-forth. I noticed a big shift in social media in general. Everyone seemed to be jumping down each other's throats and there were many heated debates. I tried to avoid Facebook and the news in general, but to no avail.

Wednesday: 12 x 200m
This was the day when many of the huge cancelations started. Several states declared a "state of emergency" as soon as they got their first confirmed case of the virus. All of this upheaval made me anxious and I could feel the adrenaline coursing through my veins. I was not okay.

I was also anxious because the St. Pat's 10K that I was scheduled to run on Sunday was canceled. I think this race would have had over 1,000 people and it was to occur in Washington D.C. I was upset, but not heartbroken. I registered for a smaller race that would maybe have 400 people in a suburb 20 miles outside of the city. I figured there would be no way that a small local race would be canceled. It took me a long time to fall asleep that night and I was not able to do so until after taking a Tylenol PM.

Keep in mind, Daylight Savings Time had started on Sunday, and that always messes with my sleep for the next 3-4 days, so I had that to deal with as well.

Thursday, March 12: Everything gets canceled, markets crash
I woke up after having gotten little sleep, and the sleep I got was thanks to the Tylenol PM. I was jittery on my run, and I decided that I needed to work from home because my anxiety was at an all-time high.

March 12: some stocks I own
I soon realized that working from home only made things worse. I was less focused on work than I should have been and I could not stop looking at the news and social media. Everything was getting canceled. Sporting events, concerts, conferences, you name it! I must have read at least 20 articles about the virus itself and scoured all the data, but there was so much conflicting information. Everything from "it's not as bad the flu" to "we will all be quarantined for the next 12-18 months".

I'm the Chief Marketing Officer and so for work, I did what all CMOs did last week: I sent an email to all of our customers addressing our coronavirus response! My company sells outsourced IT services and managed web hosting, so we wanted to reassure our customers that we were still able to support them if our teams worked remotely. In fact, the majority of our employees work remotely full-time so it would not be a big shift for us. With everything going on, I still had the ability to do my job.

At some point, my 5K race was postponed, with a new date in June. Less than 24 hours earlier, I was certain that this race would happen, and now, I was not at all surprised by the cancelation. Looking at my investment accounts was a horror show. I was losing thousands of dollars a day in the market, but I did not pull out because I kept thinking that it couldn't possibly go any lower. In fact, I consistently bought into mutual funds every day, and even some stocks. Buy low, sell high, right?

Then word came that the Boston Marathon would be announcing its plans the following day. This irked me a little bit because originally they were going to wait a few more weeks to make a decision. Surely they would be able to make a more informed decision in a few weeks? But because the situation was escalating at lightening speed, the B.A.A. was forced to communicate their plan earlier than originally stated.

I had also planned to celebrate my friends' 40th birthday at a party at a restaurant in D.C. They texted Greg and me and asked us if we were still planning to come. We said yes, but apparently most people said no, so that was canceled. With a completely blank slate in place of what was otherwise a busy weekend, I found the need to make backup plans. That's when I organized the 10K track race with my friend Amber.

Having the track race to look forward saved my sanity that day. I needed something I could count on. Sleep was an issue once again, so I popped another Tylenol PM. I don't typically rely on sleeping pills, but in the rare circumstances when I know it's my only chance of sleeping, I do it.

Friday, March 13: Boston Marathon postponed
I woke up and I still felt anxious and shaky. I decided that going into the office would help keep me focused on work and my mind off of everything else. I told myself not to look at Facebook and to limit the number of news articles I read. Before leaving the house, I took a Kava Kava supplement. I hadn't taken one of these in several years. It's a natural supplement to calm anxiety and I have found that it really works. It's not recommended for consistent or long term use, though.

This was the first day that Loudon County schools were closed. I live in Fairfax County, but Loudon is our neighboring county and my sister's children go to those schools.

I had a 9:15 meeting, and I was focused for that, but then the B.A.A. live press conference came on at 10:15. I had no doubt the race would be postponed (it had already been leaked to the media), but I wanted to find out what the new date would be. When they announced September 14th, I wasn't surprised because that's what I had heard from the rumor mill. That date wouldn't be possible for me, but I had my 2021 BQ, so I would just have to wait.

I have a lot of experience in waiting to run the Boston Marathon! I waited 8 years to run my first, so what's one extra year. Due to my history with mono, triggered by running in the heat, I realized it would not be safe for me to train in the summer. Furthermore, the average high in Boston at that time of year is 71, and since the race starts so late, that's the temperature we would be running in. No thank you! I ended up in the medical tent in 2016 from running the race in 71-degree temps, and I was not looking for a repeat. Finally, we have a trip to Africa scheduled and we won't return until September 5th, so turning right around to run a marathon is not really feasible with work commitments.

Greg has been training for the Providence Marathon for the past two months, so I figured I would register for that in the hopes that it would not be canceled. The Providence Marathon date is May 3, and even though I thought it had a high likelihood of being canceled, I didn't want to risk not getting a spot, should the race actually occur. We had secured our air fare and hotel a month ago. I realized I was probably throwing money down the drain, but I was already losing so much money in the stock market, what was an extra $100?

Thankfully, I had a number of meetings and conference calls to occupy me for the next several hours at work. Lots of emails to reply to, things that needed to get done. When everything was in a good place, I felt like I needed a pick-me-up. So at around 2:00, I left my office and went to Home Goods. Why Home Goods? We had just moved into a new office at work, and my office needed some personality. I ended up buying a funky lamp, some wall art, some cool knick-knacks, and a decorative plant. Doing this kept me away from social media and the news, and let me focus on something fun and peaceful, like a newly decorated office. I got back to my office, and my co-worker helped me place everything. It was a nice little escape from reality.

When it came time to sleep, I found that my anxiety had finally calmed down, thanks the the Kava Kava and the Home Goods trip. I slept well.

Saturday, March 14: Preparing to be homebound
My run was short because I was tapering for the 10K track race. Greg ran his long run and then went into the office where he would work the entire day. Throughout all of this, Greg was working extra long hours (70 hour week) because of a proposal.

I received an email from the Cherry Blossom 10-miler, stating that the race was canceled. I had no emotional reaction to this because I knew it would simply be a matter of time before they would officially cancel. That's when I decided I would probably plan a 10-mile time trial, but my first focus was on the 10K track race scheduled for the next day.

I spent the day deep cleaning the kitchen, which including cleaning all of the stainless steel appliances that had not been cleaned in over a year. I organized things, did all the dishes that had piled up over the past two days, and it felt great. I did several loads of laundry. I also updated my iTunes music library in an effort to replace some of the songs that had gotten lost when my computer crashed last year.

I went to the dry cleaners because we had a month's worth of clothing that needed to go. Plus, I wanted to support that business. Then I went to the grocery store and got some essentials: dishwashing liquid, laundry detergent, fresh produce, cookie dough, salmon burgers, buns for the burgers, yogurt, milk, and eggs. Unfortunately, they were out of butter and we were down to just two sticks. They also didn't have the laundry detergent that I normally use, but I found another kind that I thought would be fine.

Sunday, March 15: The Social Distance 10K
I woke up and headed for my local track to race a 10K with my friend Amber. Greg was the photographer and official timer. I wrote a blog post to capture that experience.

The 10K was the highlight of my week. A truly bright spot in an increasingly dark world. Unfortunately, I was reprimanded by a few people on Facebook for doing this. The criticism was that Amber looked to be running too close to me in the photo. Couldn't we have waited two weeks?  Shouldn't we have run farther apart? I basically ignored those comments. Emotions are at an all-time high and if it makes people feel better to criticize me, then let them. But I will not engage with them. In this blog, I have posted a less controversial photo of the race: Amber pulled ahead, and to do so, she had to pass me!

That 10K was exactly what Amber and I both needed on that day, and we plan to run a 10-mile time trial soon.

Monday, March 16: The last day in the office
I went to Starbucks on my way to work, and there was a sign on the door that said "Grab-and-Go only." That was fine with me because I was planning to grab my mobile order and go. But it dawned on me that not being able to hang out at a Starbucks was now a reality. It was eerie. Greg worked from home on Monday, and planned to work from home for the foreseeable future.

Additionally, Fairfax County schools were closed for the first day. There was no traffic on the way to work, no cars to dodge during my run.

I met with the senior leadership team at my company first thing Monday morning. Even though three of us were in the same office location, we took the meeting from different rooms to avoid being in the same room. We decided to highly recommend that employees to work from home. Unless they absolutely had to be in the office, they would be discouraged from coming in.

As I said earlier, we had just moved into our new office two weeks ago and I was enjoying it quite a bit. It would be sad to leave the office and not have face-to-face interaction with my colleagues, but I accepted it. If I remember correctly, the financial markets dropped sharply again, and employees across the country were starting to get laid off.

Tuesday, March 17: St. Patrick's Day
There was no buzz around this holiday at all, but I was determined to be festive. At a time like this, it was important to cling to any tradition I could find. I wore a green tank and green shorts for my run. Greg wore green shorts, too.

Before starting my run, I drove to Bagel Buddies, my favorite local bagel shop and got a dozen bagels and a tub of cream cheese. They had green bagels, which are so much fun! I know the owner, and I really wanted to support that business. They are my go-to for bagels and by far the best bagels in Northern Virginia! Probably in the whole state of Virginia! I also popped into the Walmart next door and grabbed butter, pasta, and rice. They were pretty well stocked compared to the Wegman's.

I got home, grabbed my husband and we went for a run. He ran 13 miles, and I ran 12.6 (my schedule had 1 hour, 45 mins). Lots of people were out walking their dogs or simply walking. We got many compliments on our green outfits and people seemed friendlier in general.

Sticking to a schedule and routine had become extremely important to me. One of the reasons I love running so much is that it provides a structure. Something I can do every day that makes me feel good. My coach has been amazing through all of this and he has adjusted my training several times with all the cancelations.

I worked from home on Tuesday, which would be the first of many days to come. I kept busy and my spirits were generally higher than they had been a week ago. I was adjusting to the new normal, which meant new closings, cancelations, market swings, social media drama, and more. Meal planning with our "rations." Dressing up to work from home so I didn't feel like a bum. Making lunch every day instead of going out. Not making plans.

On Tuesday evening I got a pedicure. Greg didn't love this idea, but the technician's face was about six feet away from my face. I am 5'5, and her face was about 2 feet away from my feet, so that's more than 6 feet. She also wore a mask, as nail technicians tend to do. I typically get a pedicure every four weeks, and it was time, but I also wanted to support the salon because it would probably be forced to close soon. The dry cleaners. The bagel shop. The nail salon. These are all local businesses that I appreciate so much more now.

Wednesday, March 18: Feeling Zen
By this point I had accepted everything and I was starting to feel more zen-like on my runs. I ran 8 easy solo miles, using my Aftershokz headphones. It was weird running around my normal areas with no school busses to get annoyed at. I decided to run to the track to make sure it was still open. Fairfax County schools had shut down, and I wanted to see if I'd be able to use the track the next day for my workout. Thankfully, it was open and there was another runner on it.

We ran two laps together (he was going a lot faster than I should have been going on my easy run) but I briefly learned that his spring marathon (Charlottesville) had been postponed to October, but he was still keeping up with the training. I had seen this guy at the track before and we always waved but never chatted. Afterwards, I found him on Strava so now I have a new running connection in my local community.

Wednesday, March 18
I wore an outfit that matched really well. The adidas Ultra Boost 20 was white with navy stripes, which perfectly complemented my top. And even the headphones were navy blue. These little things are what I am clinging too, trivial as they may seem. I like having nice running outfits that match.

Again I worked from home and Greg and I ate the meals that we had planned out. I was staying on top of the laundry and the dishes, so things felt controlled in my world. At work, we started having conversations about how the coronavirus would impact us. Thankfully we deliver a vital service (keeping websites up) and I don't imagine our customers would want to shut down their websites or switch to a different provider at this time. It might be challenging to acquire new business, however, with many companies putting their projects on hold and budgets likely being slashed. As a marketer, it will definitely be challenging, but everyone in my profession is learning together.

Even though our investments were tanking, Greg and I both felt relatively secure in our jobs. Although we realized that feeling of security could change in a heartbeat. Nothing is guaranteed. Anything can change at a moment's notice.

One Day at a Time
I think this blog post is now longer than a marathon race report so I will stop here. I might continue on, or I might not. Right now, my attitude is to take things one day at a time, and to not speculate about the future. Nobody knows what will happen next week, next month, next year and this situation is rapidly evolving. All I can do is stick to my routine and take it a day at a time.

7 comments:

  1. I had the experience of being attacked in a FB group about a post as well. I consider myself to be somewhat of an expert, being a medical provider, but I have to remind myself that there are people who don't believe in science. A woman on IG that I follow posted something absolutely crazy, a conspiracy theory, and that was enough for me to unfollow. In fact, I've unfollowed quite a few people on FB and IG. I don't want to see that kind of stuff and I don't want to see negativity right now.

    Thank goodness for running. Just keep moving, Elizabeth. Say safe!

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  2. Well Zebra quite a nice timeline synopsis, but it really started earlier in year when it all centered back in China. I will respect Wendy's perspective about "negativity" and "conspiracy" though I confess I been really negative on some aspects of this whole pandemic thing as it ends up presently in US. I won't go there and in past if I be negative, basically venting frustration that I watched my retirement investment funds value decline en-masse to the tune that it no longer worth what it was 6-yrs ago, and I see no sign of the "bottom" yet. I wasn't smart back there in early January when this thing was smoldering and should have cashed out and re-invested in low-yielding bonds or similar...as being 66-yr old....not a lot of long-term time to rebuild...that likely take at least 3-yrs, if not 5-yrs of my life.

    On the other hand I see you report BAA simply postpones 2020 Boston Marathon until early fall. That's cool, but in a sense, cause I old and not re qualified for 2020, disappointing as would have loved the opportunity to end my Boston marathoner career experiencing a fall version of it!

    No big deal and in fact it now being postponed to September, opens up door or opportunity to go back, be a spectator and maybe volunteer for helping out on the course.

    Good that BAA postpones the event to early fall. I was contemplating if they canceled it totally...quite a bit...including you showing up to run it "virtually" and "unofficially" as we know the course route well!

    Let's pray this great country weathers this CV19 storm and we get back to normal...sooner than expected based on news. CHEERS to you and all those Boston runnahs!

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  3. Definitely a harsh new reality and one that requires rapid adjustment. For a long time, we were pretty isolated from the abnormality: I am working as I always do, and baby's daycare (which serves my hospital's doctors) stayed open. Then David's work went mandatory WFH, and finally, on Monday, we got 24-hrs notice that daycare was closing. I scrambled and hired a nanny in under 12 hours so I could keep working (I can't work from home, and it's not safe to bring him here. We are literally the epicenter of the pandemic in the US - rates here are higher than anywhere in California and match Spain!). We are so lucky that we have not lost jobs or income (yet) and that friends and family have been mostly healthy, but the isolation and sense of risk are hard. Every day I come home wondering if I am carrying an infection home to my family. And I know that the economy, especially our local economy, which is tourism-driven, is going to be crippled. We are looking at grim belt-tightening here, and many more homeless and hungry.

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    1. It really escalated so quickly-- in a matter of days really. One day everyone is shocked that colleges are closing, and then a week later, people are shocked that some were staying open! I know that NOLA has a high infection rate due to the tourism and Mardi Gras. I will keep you and your family in my thoughts.

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  4. First rule of social media and blogging in the modern era: never read the comments :)
    We're thinking of you and Greg out here in SF quarantine land and thanks for inspiring us to slip on running shoes for our allotted get-fresh-air time and actually head out for a jog instead of setting up workout equipment in the living room but then binge watching The Manadalorian instead. Be well.

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    1. Hi! How great to hear from you!!! It's been a while. It's good to hear that you are getting some runs in. Wishing you the best.

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  5. I'm glad that as of the date you posted this, you seem to be managing this mess well. There is so much I can say about how this has been handled (in particular trying to get tested) that it's not worth getting angry over. Hope you're still feeling well and are able to get runs in to relieve any anxiety or stress you still have. But I'm on the mend and hopefully will be back to 100% and relieved from my quarantine soon!

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