Dispatches: Quarantined In Spain

As the coronavirus continues to affect the world, we check in with aspiring pro and former collegiate racer Molly Supple to see how quarantined life in Spain might be the future for others elsewhere.

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As of this writing, roughly 1.3M people have been infected with the coronavirus worldwide, according to the World Health Organization, and as the pandemic continues to spread, COVID-19 is something that will likely change the rhythm of our world and our sport for a very long time. 

We’ve connected with six triathletes—each in very different geographical areas, with different athletic experience levels, and in different coronavirus situations. They range from international-level pros to age-groupers to coaches to college athletes. We initially collected some of their initial firsthand experiences as the pandemic fully hit the U.S. last week, and we’re going to continue to check in with them to see how their situations change. 

Over the next two weeks, we’ll be posting expanded dispatches from each of these six triathletes to give you a closer look at how restrictions, wellness, goals, and personal decisions effectively “create” the smaller world that now surrounds each of them. 

Today, we’re checking in with Molly Supple, a 27-year-old former collegiate triathlete at the University of Arizona who is currently an aspiring pro living in Girona, Spain, where they are currently on near-total lockdown. As of this writing, Spain has roughly 146,000 cases of COVID-19 but recently saw a steady drop in both cases and deaths. Because of their area’s advanced level of spread, experts say that Spain is effectively “ahead” of the U.S. in terms of infection rates—Spain is now where the U.S. could be soon.

On Her Area’s Restrictions:

“Our situation is very restricted. Spain has been hit very hard with this virus, and the government is taking every precaution possible to keep people safe and at home. Everything that is deemed non-essential has been banned. You can leave your home to go to the grocery story, pharmacy, take out the dog, or throw the trash away, but all of these things can only be done alone (not even with your housemates). If you do drive, you have to have a sheet that has a detailed account of where you are coming from, where you are going, and the ‘necessary’ need for your trip.”

On Recent Events:

“Since last week, the death rate has decreased for four days in a row, which is really good news. For a while, it seemed to just continuously rise, and it was really disheartening because we had been in lockdown for over three weeks and the virus was continuing to wreak havoc on the community here. We have had our quarantine day extended to April 26, but they will only begin to lift restrictions and allow businesses to open after 14 days of ‘sustained reduction’ in the mortality rate.”

Advice For American Triathletes:

“Everyone is dealing with the virus on a different timeline. I would say, instead of doing the bare minimum of what the U.S. is recommending regarding ‘shelter in place,’ look to countries that are two to three weeks ahead and follow some of those restrictions—especially if you live in a densely populated city. As difficult as it is, now is a time to be a part of the solution and not part of the problem. I’d also say that although we are endurance athletes that are used to 15-30 hour training weeks, now isn’t the time to toe the line of overtraining. Exercise does stress your body and immune system when done in excess, and now isn’t a time to overtrain even though everyone has the time.”

On Experience With COVID-19:

“My good friend from college tested positive two weeks ago. She was sick for nearly 10 days before she finally got a test. She’s beginning to feel better, but she was extremely ill and was told by the hospital that she should stay home if she felt she could breathe.”

On Her Day To Day:

“I have actually really been into Zwift, and have a planned group ride almost every day, which is really helpful. I find I’m falling into a bit of a routine and trying really hard to use this time to rest, reset, and do whatever I feel like my body/mind needs. Sometimes that means reading, cooking, learning to play harmonica, or doing absolutely nothing. It’s been nice to have this time and not feel the Type A  ‘I should be…’ guilt.”

On Her Tri Goals For The Year:

“I had trained for the Barcelona Marathon on March 15 of this year. It was going to be my first marathon, and a big bucket list thing for me. We received the news that it was canceled one week before the event, and so I pivoted to my second big goal of the year which was Trans-Pyrenees, a 1200-kilometer ultra-cycling event from the Western Coast of Spain to the East and back. That event was canceled two weeks ago, and rolled over to 2021. I, like most people, have a completely empty calendar for the first time in a very long time.”

On Adjusting:

“Overall, I think it’s really important to remember why I started triathlon in the first place: It was to be a part of a community and to be healthy. Right now, with the state of the world as it is, the best thing that I can do for my community is to stay home. As for staying healthy, I have an indoor trainer that allows me to sweat, and right now, that’s enough for me. Although I am a very competitive person, I still value being able to move and sweat in the safest way for my community as a whole, even if there isn’t a build up to a specific race. I’m going to take this year as an opportunity to diversify my skills, build my relationships from afar, and really just put it all in perspective.”

On Encouragement:

“There are really amazing moments that give me hope in a dire situation. Every night at 8 p.m., everyone comes out of their windows and claps, bangs pots and pans, and whistles for the healthcare workers who are working tirelessly. People are buying extra food to give to our homeless community. A group of people worked together to buy fresh cut flowers from a florist who was concerned about losing her business—she was so inspired that she made bouquets to give to the hospitals.”

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