How many times over the past few months have you paused to reflect on your current reality and marveled at just how much had changed in such a short amount of time? If you told me on March 1 that on a sunny morning in mid-May I would find myself trying to finish a two-mile training run along the streets of Framingham, I would have assumed you were crazy or perhaps I had quit my job and I had gone crazy.

But that was indeed where I found myself a few weeks ago. As I plodded along at my snail-like pace, I thought about where I would be if all were normal. At that moment, I would have been walking out to our athletic fields with our Grade 8 students for one of their last Rashi fitness classes. Later in the day, I would have been coaching one of our baseball teams. As I finished my training run, the longest run I had completed since high school, one word kept repeating in my head: bizarre. Everything right now is just bizarre.

This bizarre new reality was a major factor in introducing the idea of a virtual 5K for Rashi students, parents, faculty and alumni. The goal was to design a process that would motivate our students and our community to embrace at least some aspects of our bizarre new normal and find opportunity in the midst of all the upheaval to our lives. My hope was that training for and running a virtual 5K as a community could help keep us all active, keep us all connected and perhaps offer an opportunity for some of us to try something that we wouldn’t have had the opportunity to try if all was normal.

The process was fairly straightforward. In early May, participants were given a four-week training plan with the end goal to have the body trained to run a 5K (3.107 miles) on May 31. The eventual 5K course could be created along the roads of their neighborhood (while following social distancing guidelines), or they could run the distance on a treadmill. Throughout the four weeks leading up to the “race,” there were frequent group check-ins and updates via email and Google Meet.

Students would mostly tell me how easy the training was while parents would let me know about all their sore muscles and injuries. I found out that I have limited flexibility and balance and should never lead an online group stretch again. We had some participants drop out and others join late, and at the end we had over 40 runners complete a 5K on May 31. We had runners from each of the grades in our Middle School as well as parents, teachers and alumni. It was a new experience for many of us; 35% of runners had never run a 5K distance. Some of the more experienced runners finished in around 21 minutes. I was part of a crowd that was closer to 40 minutes, but I was just happy to finish.

We invite you to join us in our virtual 5K. While summer has begun, with some of the temperate days we’ve had, it’s a great opportunity to get outside with your kids and stay active. We have a 2-Week Program or a 4-Week Program, so whatever your comfort level, you can be running a 5K in no time!

JoshI can’t be sure what each participant got out of the process, but my hope is that many will look back on it and feel good about taking the opportunity to do something positive for their physical health and general well-being. I’d like to think that some of us discovered just a little more about ourselves than how far we can run. I’d like to think that we grew a little closer as families and as a community. I’d like to think some of us will keep running even though the training is over and summer has begun. That’s what I’m about to do right now! How bizarre.

Josh Horowicz is the Rashi athletic director.

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