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A Word From - Melanie Ray

Preface: During this unprecedented time of a once in a generation pandemic, economic recession, and civil rights movement happening in concert Bmore NOMA looks to its members to share short stories on how they are personally managing these unique moments in history.

It feels like I’m getting an email from my gym every week explaining how things are ‘back to normal’, that they have increased disinfections between classes, that they miss me. The last one had the nerve to suggest that going to the gym actually prevents the spread of COVID-19 (I think the jury is still out on that one). But I’ve used this time away from the gym (and everything else for that matter) to focus on building my skills in one area that I had always wanted to improve upon: running.

I had always wanted to be a casual runner. Once you got past the initial purchase of the shoes and a decent set of headphones, it was a much cheaper way to stay physically fit than going to the gym. Not to mention it gave me a regular reason to get outside when all signs directed us to stay in.

My journey to running started slowly. I would go out maybe once a week and struggle to reach 2 miles before congratulating myself for achieving something I had put on the back burner for so long. But then the world was rocked by the release of the video of the brutal murder of Ahmaud Arbery. I get most of my news by reading online newspapers these days, because cable news is just exhausting. But no one could avoid the news that day. I was distraught by the idea that a black man could be killed by doing nothing other than going for a run in a quiet neighborhood. Later that week, a national call for a unity run, the #runforahmaud, had me outside again, this time running 2.23 miles representing the day one which he was killed. It was the first time I had been out twice in one week, and that was progress! I kept running more, in my own way defying the idea that we as Black people aren’t allowed to run without the fear of getting shot.

Lately, running has also been a way for me to get out of my own head for a few hours. It’s a way to disconnect from a constantly connected world. I’ve even surprised myself, running the majority of the virtual Baltimore Women’s Classic back in June, and finishing my first 10K in August (although I still walked most of that distance!).

Running has been my way of coping with everything going on in the world, and there is A LOT. My advice to anyone reading this is to find that inspiration behind the habit or skill you’re trying to develop. Let that inspiration keep your eye on the goal.

Written By:

Melanie Ray


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