The Dingbat: I took up running in quarantine and all I got was stuck in an endless time loop

I’ve been feeling like my life has been put on pause for much too long now. I feel like the old-timey DVD sign that would move around the blank TV screen, bumping into the edges every three to seven seconds. Sometimes I scrunch up my body and fit myself neatly into one of the corners of my room to feel whole, like the rare occasions when the DVD sign would fit perfectly into a corner of the screen.

So, I decided that I should take up a hobby to distract myself from the grand stoppage of time that we’ve all found ourselves grappling with, so that potentially maybe possibly perhaps I could feel a sense of the unpaused, chaotic, run-of-the-mill arriving-late-to-class type of normalcy again.

I thought I would pick up running, and it seemed to me like it would be something that would be easy for me to get the hang of. I have some experience already, since I’ve been running away from my problems ever since I can remember. A great way to jump onto the quarantine fitness bandwagon as well! If I’m going to get peer pressured into doing anything, it might as well be the intoxicating and nauseating thirst that BC locals seem to have for anything related to the outdoors, nature and mushrooms. It was either this or drugs. No wait, did I already mention mushrooms?

So off I went, slipping into my sneakers, tying up my hair like I was in a motivational advert for probiotics, attempting to put the anxiety chemicals that are produced organically and free range in my body to good use.

It’s exhilarating to go out at 8 p.m. on a chilly January night with too few layers on and a deep desire to compete in a full marathon within the year. Add the fear of raccoons and coyotes taking a keen interest in you, and you’re ready to fly. As I made my way up to Main Mall and toward the flagpole, many thoughts raced through my mind. Will my life ever feel like it’s moving again? Will we ever find out what on Earth they are constructing around Martha Piper? Will they ever finish? Who even is ‘they?’ Is Tim’s open? My god, I am freezing.

I kept going. Every day. I would wake up, take a nap, then wake up for real. Eat an object resembling food, log on to Canvas, sit through a class, text my friend about the same thing I have been texting him about since October, eat more quasi-food, stare out my window and log on to my next class. If I was lucky, I’d see a dog from my window and tell my mom about it. I would then slip into my sneakers, tie my hair up like I was in one of the Rocky movies and go on my quest to avoid the coyote. I would run up to Main Mall and toward the flagpole, yearning for Birb. I would then race back to my residence and douse myself in a hot shower.

Another day, another Vancouver sky, another false awakening, a nap and a fake breakfast option. I refresh my Canvas feed to find something new – hoping for a new announcement, maybe even a surprise assignment – nothing. I send the daily text, I look out the window and I ask myself why I’ve taken a three-hour-long seminar to sit through on Zoom. I log into my sneakers, I tie my hair up like I’m an Olympic athlete and off I go. As I run up Main Mall and toward the flagpole, I think to myself: “Wow! Running outside is great. How sad it must be to be a hamster stuck on a hamster wheel. No change of scenery, no wind in your face, no imminent coyote threat. Rough.”

It’s day 41 and I haven’t even noticed that ‘they’ have removed a significant portion of the construction material around Martha Piper. The coyotes howl every night. I still haven’t figured out how to throw a party on Canvas and my friend is wondering why I keep sending him the same text over and over again. I’m carrying on with my running – creating this regimen has been great, as it turns out. I’m glad I found a solution to my life-on-pause problem.