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I Should be in Chicago Right Now, but the Coronavirus Told Me, “Not So Fast, Girl!”

Updated: Aug 14, 2020

When I woke up this morning, I realized I should have been in Chicago. Right then, I probably would have been nervously excited as I got ready to head to packet pick up along with one of my dearest friends and running mate. Nonetheless, it didn't happen. At least not this time! I was about to cross off another item from my bucket list: run the Chicago Half Marathon. I guess it will have to wait a bit longer . . .

After training for over two months, on June 12 I received the email confirming the race had been canceled. It's undeniable that, from the beginning, I knew I was most likely training for a race that would never take place, but regardless, I had to prepare for it. And while it sucked to run all of those miles knowing it was only a matter of time until I found out if it was “unnecessary,” I reminded myself the value and importance of staying committed. Although I felt really discouraged at times due to the pandemic and the fact that I wasn't able to train with my running mate during the week, I would be lying if I said I didn't have a good time anyway.

I had to reinvent ways to enjoy running by myself. My dog, Oreo, came along not only as a companion, but also as my guardian, given that crime has risen since the economy was hit with the shutdown (I heard there was a police report filed by a lady who was robbed at gunpoint around the area during the day—not something we are used to hear around here).

Yeah . . . about Chicago Half, I'm not going to lie and say it's all good. Part of me is a bit sad since I don't know when I will be able to do it, but the grown-up part of me tells me it's all right; I will get over it. While it sucks to feel stuck, this is just about being patient. As a matter of fact, a couple of days ago I was chatting with a friend from Brazil about how our plans got messed up this year. On the other hand, it doesn't mean our dreams won't be accomplished later on. Something we should keep in mind: waiting and giving up are two completely different things.

While I am a bit bummed I had to cancel so many planned trips (Naples, FL; Orlando; Chicago; and Brazil), I am also glad to see most of my friends as well as my family are doing well. Since March, I personally know of only one person who was diagnosed with the coronavirus. No one at the run club has been sick, at least the runners I hang with, and pretty much every one of my friends still have a job. Some, indeed, got some pay cuts, but they have been able to do just as well regardless. Still, what keep us together while apart is the love for this humbling sport and the magic it does with our minds and souls (and, of course, our bodies because we do burn some good calories while we get some therapy on legs).

To be honest, running is what has been keeping me sane during this tough time. Not only the lifestyle itself, but I’ve been still able to see and spend a little time with my runner friends, even if from a distance. We were used to meeting early in the morning for a run, and after, would head for breakfast. That routine broke apart abruptly and the social separation was very hard to deal with, but just by being able to see some of them from afar made a big difference. After all, staying connected, even with some distance between us, was better than nothing.

I know it has been a while since I took the time to share a couple of thoughts here with you guys, but these times have been crazy. Thankfully, now crazy in a good way: Since March when the lockdown started, I became my daughter's teacher, dedicating most of my time to doing school work with her. So many things changed in our routines, but we’ve been able to pull through it and she finished the year on the honor roll once again. (Forgive me for bragging about it; I am not the kind of mom who does that, but it’s just for the record, if you know what I mean. I guess I'm just proud of her).

To top the great amount of school work thrust upon us, my husband had a health issue right at the beginning of the lockdown, which brought us to the emergency room on a Friday evening where my daughter and I had to wait in the car for a couple of hours. My husband ended up having emergency surgery. Along with this medical journey, I have been taking care of household chores, my daughter, and my husband as well, who at a times wasn't even able to dish out his own dinner. Thankfully, after the long journey and many doctor visits (when he was finally able to get into the doctor's offices, since appointments kept being canceled due to COVID-19), we were able to figure out what was really going on and finally reach the right professional to take care of it.

At this point, things are pretty much back to normal and my daughter and I have been able to enjoy the summer break and spending more time with her dad since he has been working at home since March; it seems like he won't have to endure the 45-mile daily commute for a while. As I learned in business school, difficult times bring opportunities. And this right here is a great example of it: We haven't only been able to spend time together as a family, but we are enjoying this period the difficult time brought upon us. I also have been able to work at home some and do other personal projects I had been postponing. So, I can say with confidence that good things have been coming out of this pandemic. Well, at least for me.

Unisinos — Sao Leopoldo, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil

The fact is, we are dealing with the first pandemic of our generation and are having to learn how to adapt. Even though I do not work in business, sometimes life takes me back to my university’s classrooms and reminds me of the lessons I learned, like the one I mentioned above. When I look around and see how many new and exciting things I am doing because of the virus, I feel blessed—I have been attempting new things I would never have tried if it wasn't for the pandemic. The time to reflect on current events and the lessons I've been learning has been priceless.

I know these times have been harder on some than others. Given that, I would like to share a lesson I learned and took to heart on one of my first days in business school.

“As managers, our job is to predict and prevent problems.

When not possible, our role is to find a solution.”

As a manager of my own life, that taught me how fundamental it is to focus on the solution and not on the problem. There's always an opportunity to find the good. Do whatever it takes to find joy and stay focused on that, not on things you don't have control of.

Next month, when schools starts again, my daughter will be studying from home using an online program. Instead of wondering "What about me and all the projects I have?" I am finding ways to be able to do both; to help her and to focus on the things I need to get done, even if that means going to bed late and waking up early. When you really want something, don't waste your time looking for excuses or misuse your energy. Where there’s a will, there’s a way. Just find it!

I hope this message finds you well!

Stay safe . . . and optimistic.

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