In November 2013, I walked the Warrior Dash 5k in Ripley, WV. I was out of breath by the end but I finished with a strong determination. (Cow love blog: HERE) I walked it alone, saw cows having sex, made decent time and felt accomplished afterward (not about being alone while the cows have sex, just the finishing part and decent time). Since that race, I ran the NYC Half Marathon (NYC Blog: HERE) and a handful of 5k races. I won a trophy for my bracket in one (realized I won after-the-fact and had to send Mander to a Huntington ghetto to pick it up). It was during that particular race that I realized I am not a fan of running races with other people (well, Mander=yes… Judy in NYC=yes… random strangers=no). Also around that time my friend Erin sent me a link to a race that had medals shaped like flip flops. I wanted a flip flop medal (in my head I hear that statement being made in the voice of Veruca Salt). So I clicked on the link which took me to a website for a sponsor of Virtual Races. I first thought, virtual race, does that mean I sit on the couch with a Nintendo virtual console over my eyes and game my way to the finish line? Well, butter my butt and call me a biscuit, I found the race of my dreams!
Um, no. It meant running a race but “on your own”. As I read further, I enjoyed the concept. I had found myself in a running lull and thought it might help perk up the motivation. You receive a finisher’s medal and are in competition primarily with yourself (or if you have friends that run with you, you can do it as a group activity in your own town, on your own time – heck, you could each put up a ribbon to bust through at the end).
Now I just needed to find the virtual race that appealed the most to me. In researching virtual races, I have found that there are two which seem to produce a good number of races with positive feedback: US Road Running and Will Run For Bling. I chose the second organization because upon clicking their link I was rewarded with a picture of their huge Top Gun medal. Top Gun is Bobby’s movie and I thought it would be kind of fun to run it with him in mind. http://www.willrunforbling.com/the-2014-top-gun-run-second-flight-5k10khalf-marathon/
The process goes something like this: sign up, bib emailed, choose a day within the timeframe noted, run the hell outta that race (with your printout bib), post your times, pictures and comments, medal is mailed to you within like two weeks. Early registration for these races average around $25, later registration is $30. So it is comparable to 5ks in my area (maybe $10ish more but you are guaranteed a finisher’s medal no matter what time you post – it’s worth the extra $10).
As the website says, “This is a virtual race, so run/walk/crawl where ever you are whenever you can. You can even complete this race on the treadmill.” I ran my 3.1 miles on August 2, 2014. My time was not a PR, it was 0:41:35. I was actually down 6 minutes from my best 5k time. But, I did not care. It felt good to run and know it was a run with a goal/achievement. I did not have to fight stroller runners who feel the need to be in front of people who hate to bang their shins on little people vehicles. I posted my time and my pictures on their website and received a personalized email of congratulations back from the event organizers (I noted that I enjoyed being in competition but only with myself – they liked that). My medal was shipped the week of August 17th and I was pleased as punch when I received it. It was a 4” medal shaped like a fighter jet with a beautiful ribbon. You have the option of running a 5k, 10k, Half or Full Marathon. So the ribbon notes all of those.
As an added value, part of the proceeds for this race went to The Muscular Dystrophy Association. They are dedicated to finding treatments and cures for Muscular Dystrophy, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS – all those bucket challenges and I ran a race who donates to the cause before the charity was “popular”) and other neuromuscular diseases. MDA helps families nationwide and fights through the use of advocacy, fundraising and local engagement.
Our Baltimore Half trip has been canceled because everyone but me is injured (and I am our slowest runner). So the next race I will take on will be this year’s Warrior Dash. The kicker, this year I will run, not walk and it will be the 10k, not the 5k. I feel as if I have come a long ways with my running. My overall healthy attitude is a little banged up and bruised at the moment (my goals have backslid). But, I have perspective now and am trying to dig myself out of the hole I created.
Overall opinion, it was a blast and I will probably do it again. After all, races are so much better with bling at the end…. Let me know if you have participated in one and what you thought!