This piece is written from the founder and race director of She.is.beautiful, Melissa McConville during the spring of 2020 when the state of California and many others are under “shelter-in-place” during the COVID-19 pandemic.
My run today is dedicated to the women from the 1800’s who for the first time hopped on their bikes, rode where ever they wanted to go, leaving the rest of the world and worries behind them. Yes, I’m comparing my experience running from my doorstep during ‘shelter in place’ COVID-19 pandemic to the liberation that bicycles gave women…and I don’t think it’s a far stretch.
Long before the right to vote, in the late 1800’s bicycles liberated women; giving them a sense of independence in transportation, emotional freedom, and necessary adjustments made in their clothing (like leggings and showing their ankles-gasp!). In the same way the bicycle was a multifold freedom for women, I believe the women running movement is both parallel and different. Fast forward to current times and that feeling of freedom when I leave my home and run into the distance, it feels like magic.
When I start to feel trapped or out of control, I put on my shoes. While I did this before the pandemic, I can tell by my neighborhood that many people are using running and walking as a way to move through this time.
I move my body forward and amongst the sound of my feet and rhythm of my breath, I come back to my strength. I come home ready to take on kids, work, and heaviness of the world. Out there I gained perspective, hope, health, and love.
“The woman on the wheel is altogether a novelty, and is essentially a product of the last decade of the century,” wrote The Columbian (Pennsylvania) newspaper in 1895, “she is riding to greater freedom, to a nearer equality with man, to the habit of taking care of herself, and to new views on the subject of clothes philosophy.”
As one of my virtual running buddies has said, “When Disneyland closes, everyone realizes the mountains are the happiest place on earth.”- @mamainthefastlane . I’ll be running down my street today, because I can. I’ll turn up a favorite playlist of mine (that contains explicit language that I can’t rock out to at home because of my kiddos) and rock out as I move. I’ll send gratitude to my friends and strangers in the medical field, grocery and service industries. I will hold onto the idea that the generation of positivity and love that I will send out into that world in that moment will do good in some way.
I invite you to move your body forward because you can. Take good care of yourself during this time. Nurture yourself, look inward. The world feels different but don’t stop looking for the good. And please, self isolate and wash your hands. Follow suit and it will make you a hero.
What the interested public wishes to know is, Where are all the women on wheels going? Is there a grand rendezvous somewhere toward which they are all headed and where they will some time hold a meet that will cause this wobbly old world to wake up and readjust itself?– The San Francisco Call, 1895
So as I pass my neighbors while running by if they are wondering what I’m smiling about in this incredibly sad time in this world, it’s because in this moment I’m doing what I can to ground myself in gratitude, find my sense of freedom, and bring more love and peace to myself so I can spread it all around me.