Running My First Virtual Race…Learning How They Work

In 2013, I remember seeing a bunch of friends training online, running the Disney races, and wondered “Who in their right mind would run for fun, PAY someone else to run, and get up at the crack of dawn when the weekends were for sleeping in?” And then I bought my first pair of running shoes. I was absolutely CLUELESS on the journey I was about to go on, and it was going to be an expensive one! When you start something like running, there really isn’t a guidebook per say. I am sure Amazon carries something, but it’s all In the simplicity of tying up that first pair of shoes, feeling that pavement under your feet, and jamming out to the “Greatest Showman” soundtrack as you glide into that first mile. There is independence in it, there is freedom in it, and even though it’s exhausting, the thrill that follows is exquisite.

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I sit here writing this after another Half-Marathon is in my holster- and after the dry heaving, cold shower, and almost passing out- the high is actually amazing. Space Coast is one of my absolute FAVORITES to run here in Florida because I am a Space Nerd at heart. It is a connection I have with my Dad, he loves Space and I loved to have that to bond over with him.  After moving here in 2011, I was super excited to go to Kennedy Space Center, and then when I started my running adventure, I set sights on my FIRST Marathon ever being Space Coast. Your first Marathon should always be memorable and special, and mine sure was. Running amongst other liked minded runners, the thrill of the countdown, the nervous pit in my stomach, and then crossing over the finish line as they announce your name. Perfection. Why bring this up? Because doing it VIRTUAL was the opposite experience to today’s run.

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First off, let me explain my choice. I decided to run this virtual because of safety this year. No matter how staggered runners may be, or who is checked, the crowds that I have experienced in the past would make me uncomfortable with Covid right now, including the fact that the numbers are growing every day. That was my decision, and for those that made different ones, it’s ok. So this was the first year they offered a Virtual way to run the race, which alone made this a big deal.  When you do virtual, you do not get a bib or a number, you basically get what you paid for which is your medal or medals, your race shirt, and the finisher towel. I was mailed mine this past week, and then you run the race on your own time, which is why it’s a great thing for keeping you safe and also running it when you feel like it. I have run this specific race every Thanksgiving Sunday so the timing felt right to just do it again- so I did.

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Got up at 5 a.m. today, 11.29.2020, got ready with my pre-race ritual of stretching, hydrating, and a little bit of prayer. I hadn’t trained a whole lot for this one, so I was worried if I could go this distance. Craig dropped me off at my starting point, and with a funny podcast queued up, I was off! I use the “Runkeeper” app which tracks my miles, calories, pace, and more importantly, it is free. I have been using this app for 7 years, and the only thing you have to watch is that it is touchy, which makes it challenging to use when you have sweaty, Shrek fingers after miles ran. But then, any app is lol. I turned off all of my Cellular data for other apps this run, so I could use Runkeeper and run a podcast, without draining my battery. On my Marathon, I didn’t turn everything off and my phone died at Mile 15 when I had 11 still to go. It was a quiet 11 miles LOL.

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My run today went really well, felt great, and I didn’t mind it alone…for the most part. I had the sunshine, God smiling down on me, fresh air in my lungs, and the ambition to complete the task. What I missed was my family and friends on the sidelines, cheering me on. I missed the countdown in the beginning and that feeling of “taking off” with the group. I didn’t miss trying to find a porta potty, being in large crowds while I ran, or the mess after finishing. The finish line I definitely missed crossing, since I hit 13.1 on my Runkeeper and I just stopped the app and I was done- no cheering, although I am pretty sure I heard my knees screaming in delight that I was done. So would I do it again? Yes, because it was peaceful and I was safe. Would I suggest it to others? Not as a first race for anyone, but yes, because it gives you the freedom to do it when you are ready. It was a nice day, nice run, and now I sit and rest, with some writing on the side. I hope this helps you decide on a Virtual run, and whether or not it would work for you. Have a fantastic day!

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Going from “What If? to “Why Not” is my life motto and I work hard at living that every day. I share everything from moving to Florida to live near Disney World to road trips across the States. I love the cool, quirky, and crazy stuff that I can find on my Adventures, and every dollar you donate helps support my efforts and hard work. Thank you to ALL who support me!

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