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This Week in Freudenfreude: When Life Hands You Lemons, Run a 5K

It is hardly a secret that most Americans did not cope well with the COVID pandemic. Some bore up as best they could, but nonetheless suffered the privations that come from that kind of enforced isolation or semi-isolation, things like restlessness, depression, weight gain, ruined occasions (weddings, graduations), loss of employment, etc. Others responded by lashing out, and turning into antisocial jerks, refusing to take protective measures, indulging in conspiratorial thinking, etc.

Meanwhile, if there is anyone who did better at coping with the pandemic than Mae Dean Erb, we do now know who that person is. Erb is a citizen of the Cherokee Nation and lives in the tiny town of Blackgum, OK. When the pandemic hit in March 2020, she was cut off from her usual social activities and also from the people and facilities that were part of her exercise routine. So, she decided to run a 5K. And then she decided to do it again the next day, and again the day after. Sometimes she ran, sometimes she jogged, sometimes she walked. And as 5 days in a row became 10, and 10 became 20, and 20 became 50, she just kept the streak going.

This week, the streak reached 1,000 consecutive days. That means that since the pandemic started, Erb has piled up mileage equivalent to the distance between Los Angeles and New York City, with enough left over to head down to Durham, NC, for some of that excellent BBQ. She is not sure when she will end her run of runs (and walks), but does not expect it to be anytime soon. "I'm afraid good habits are as hard to break as bad ones. I can't imagine getting up one morning and not doing a 5k after doing this many," she observed.

There's one other thing worth noting. In a couple of months (on May 7, specifically), Erb will celebrate her 80th birthday. "I don't hurt anywhere. I have knee issues every once in a while, with, I guess age, but it's really wonderful thing (walk/run) to do," she explained. "It's just something you should do for yourself and your family, and when you have a 4-year-old grandson, you want to stay young enough to pick him up and run with him and catch him if he's going in the wrong direction." She also added that her grandson is "very fast."

The linked article includes comments from friends and neighbors who say that Erb is an inspiration to them. That seems pretty on point to us, particularly given that all of this came out of a pandemic that caused so many others to lash out in unproductive ways. So, a tip of our hats to Mae Dean Erb. And our best wishes for a good weekend to all! (Z)

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