So... what's new? This past Sunday I ran the Virgin Money Virtual London Marathon. It was my 2nd Virtual race--- after saying how ridiculous they were-a virtual waste of time and money. That was before I realized that in addition to missing the US Open this year, I was going to miss out on running my favorite race- the New Haven Road Race, which went from a 20K to a Half a few years ago. The race fee wasn't much so I figured why not? I entered -at the last minute and promptly recieved my race shirt and number. I worked out a tentative course and headed out on the Saturday before Labor Day (the traditional race day). My course was somewhat different than my usual running route from my mother's house in North Haven, CT.
I started off on Rimmon Road, went up to Clintonville Road and out and back on Pond Hill Road, which turns into Clintonville Rd. in Wallingford and then back on to North Haven's Clintonville Rd. through Clintonville School and Chapel Hill.
My Course- I decided it would be much easier to run in Las Vegas-there are so many parks and paths, it would be simpler to find a traffic-free route. AND even though it may be warm, like 90 degrees warm, it would unlikely be raining and humid which was most likely the case in Connecticut.
Cornerstone Park, where we ran the Jackport 6 or 12 hour run in February was my first thought....until I remembered the hills and the many walkers and dogs the park attracts every morning. The lack of shade also made me think it would be too warm and dusty.
What to Wear? I decided not to wear my number, as I thought it looked rather silly running through the neighborhood my myself. Comfort was going to be a key factor, so I just wore my black and white, Nike top with black Nike shorts and a white cap. Instead of my traditional race day hairstyle of braids, I simply tied my hair up in a bun.
The App and The Electronics- The race provides an app for you to track your miles and syncs into their system. Great idea! However I was worried about using it with my Strava-also tracking miles and streaming my music as well as the fact that I'm running very slowly and expected to be out possibly over 6 hours-the battery life of my head phones. What I ended up doing- another last minute decision, was to use my radio and wired headphones for at least the Countdown on KLUC and then switch over half way-- I ended up listening to the radio for the entire race.
The app was kind of cool. I didn't use the wireless headphones so I missed out on hearing the announcements and encouraging words however I did hear the last push to the finish line and congratulations -as I slogged myself to the "finish line", I heard the announcement that the Queen was watching out of her window and even Paula Radcliffe was watching as I "sprinted" toward the finish line. Ahhh, not really, however nice thought!
I've been running every day since June, however my mileage has been 4 to 6 miles, nothing like marathon training! And to top it off, a week before the marathon, I bruised my ribs leaning over the bathtub washing my hair! Talk about a freak accident! It wasn't that bad that I couldn't run, however there is still quite a bit of discomfort.
All in all, the Virtual Marathon was a good experience, although, it was a tough time without the proper training and some injuries. Fortunately, my hamstring injury which caused my DNF in Berlin last year was not an issue, I barely noticed it. Only issues I did have were with my hip and back. I think with more stretching and weights, I can expect better results.
Will I do another virtual race? Never say never, I may depending on the race. It was a good training run for a "real" race, however it really doesn't give you the same sense of accomplishment you feel crossing an actual finish line---whether you're first or last, it's still an amazing feeling. Anyway, we'll see when the finisher shirt and the race medal- "bling" arrive, that may sweeten the experience.