Category Archives: Race Recap Review

Review & Recap of Races

18 Mile Tune-Up – 18 Miles is a Lot of Miles – Sept 17, 2017

In the corral behind the 12:00 pacer – look at the hazy sky!

Yesterday I ran one of my favorite NYRR races – the NYRR 18 Mile Marathon Tune-Up in Central Park.  It’s three full 6-mile loops of the park and geared towards runners with fall marathons.

 

Although it’s supposed to be specifically timed for the NYC Marathon, because of my “beginner” training schedule it was 4 miles more than I was scheduled to run.  My trainer said it would be ok if I ran it, and that I could lower my mileage earlier that week and/or just bail after 14 miles and not finish the race if I didn’t feel like it.  “You’re the boss!” she wrote.

 

I tried to keep that in mind as my nerves got the best of me in the week before this race.  I’ve been having some left calf cramping issues (that’s the leg I broke last year which withered away) and I still can’t quite mentally believe I can run long distances after being a gimp for so long.  So my mantra heading into this race was “go slow, don’t step in a pothole, and you can always stop.”  Not very catchy but it was effective.

 

I stuffed my running belt and bra with Gu, gummies, and a last minute addition of candy corn pumpkins (which turned out to be really great since they were a tasty way to get sugar that didn’t stick in my teeth like the gummies always do!) and hopped in a cab to the upper east side.  I wasn’t going to exert any more energy than necessary that morning!

 

I lined up in the last corral so I wouldn’t feel pushed to run too fast at the start.  That strategy didn’t work as well as I had hoped, as many late, fast runners blew past me during the first mile or so.  But it wasn’t just the super fast runners blowing past me – for some reason my stupid calf decided to seize up right at the start of the race.  Maybe it was because the first thing we had to run was down the Harlem hills – not an ideal way to start any race.  Whatever it was, I had to walk and even stop and stretch my calf several times, being careful not to overstretch it and send it into a real spasm.  Eventually I felt like I could run a few steps on it, and a few steps evolved into a few more, and after about 1.5 miles it finally started to loosen up and feel almost normal.  By mile 4, I finally felt pretty good and was even cautiously optimistic about my chances of finishing the whole race.

 

 

It was a hot, humid day with a “real feel” of 86 degrees by the time I finished running.  It was so humid you couldn’t even see the skyline in midtown from the park!  At least it was overcast, and one could even argue the heat and humidity helped keep me honest and slow.  I would argue my out-of-shape body helped keep me slow, but whatever.  I plodded along mile after mile, sometimes hurting, sometimes feeling ok, but mostly thrilled that I was out there actually doing what seemed impossible only a few months ago.

 

A couple of random things I saw/heard on the course:

  • A man in a business suit on a Segway with giant tires, speeding up Cat Hill, with spectators laughing at him behind his back.
  • A runner so sweaty that his legs had soap bubbles all over them – maybe from the detergent still on his shorts?  It was unclear and I didn’t stop to ask.
  • At the start of my second loop, the announcer saying “That’s a big smile!  That is a… big smile…”

 

And just like that, I was finished.  Haha, no, just kidding, it was endless and took me almost four hours.  But yes, eventually I finished with a big smile still on my face and a bagel in my mouth.

So happy I found the finish!

Along the 6-mile looped course, they had water stops at every mile (aka 6 times), Gatorade twice, and PowerGel once (so you passed the Gel station three times during the race).  At the finish, however, they only offered cups of water and Gatorade, cut up bananas, and plain bagels.  Luckily I had a ton of food waiting for me at home (ground beef burrito for the win!), along with a massage and a lot of Netflix to catch up on.  Not a bad way to spend a Sunday.

 

In other news, the tech shirt for this race was quite a bit larger than the tech shirts earlier this year.  Maybe they got the memo that a woman’s extra large shouldn’t be skin tight on a size 10?  There’s no medal besides your aching legs.

The tech shirt for the race (front and back, women’s XL). It’s nice!

Today I have done a lot of nothing except realize that I have three NYRR races in three weeks – this one, the Bronx 10 Miler next Sunday, and Grete’s Great Gallop the Sunday after that.  Hope to see you out there!

 

Have your legs ever gotten soapy while running?  What’s your favorite thing to eat after a long run?  Have you ever tried the Trader Joe’s Pita Chips with Cinnamon & Sugar?  Share in the comments!

NYRR 1 for You 1 for Youth 4 Miler – I Have Friends – Sat, July 8, 2017

Now, he is known only as… the Falconer!

Despite it being 1000% percent humidity (not a typo), this morning my friends and I had a great time at the NYRR 1 for You 1 for Youth 4 miler in Central Park.  I originally signed up for this race because instead of a race shirt you got a free* pair of shoes!  Despite it being a smaller race (for NYRR – only about 1900 runners instead of 5000+), I was able to run with 3 of my friends – two who I knew were going to be there, and one that I found along the way!

 

But first, the shoes.  Every entrant got a pair of shoes, and for each entrant one pair was donated to a child in the NYRR youth program.  That’s a lot of shoes!  When you first signed up, you had to indicate your preference between two different pairs of New Balance shoes – the Fresh Foam Zante v3 (neutral, men’s here ($64-$129) and women’s here, $80-$105) and the 860v7 (stability, men’s here ($112-$178) and women’s here, $110-$190).  I chose the Zante because… well, it was cuter, and I knew I probably wouldn’t run in either pair since you can pry the Hokas off my cold, dead feet.

The Fresh Foam Zante v3 (it comes in other colors but we only had this option).

I think they are nice-looking shoes, but they feel like… nothing – no arch support and very little cushion.  After trying them on I described them as “cardboard.”  Hopefully when I actually wear them more I’ll like them, but I’ll stick to (very) short walks in them first.

 

When you picked up your shoes you also got to measure your foot on this high-tech machine that worked no better than a standard brannock device, but it still was a nice reminder we’re living in a pointlessly high-tech future.

They only had people stand on the machine, no running involved.

When my friend picked up her shoes, they didn’t have anymore Zantes so she got the 860s, but luckily they still had some in her size (which was incorrectly measured by the fancy machine).  She also said they had good arch support, so maybe she was spared the pain of the cardboard Zantes.

 

Have I mentioned the new NYRR digs yet?  Last (?) year they moved from an Upper East Side brownstone to a temporary location on the Upper West Side, but now they’re in their new permanent location in midtown west.  It’s big and nice, but part of me misses that old brownstone charm.

It’s a big HQ! There are bathrooms (no showers) and lockers, plus places to charge your phone.

On race morning I texted my two friends who were running the race and we met up in the corrals.  I was already sweating like a pig from my warm up mile that I ran at a blistering 12-minute-per-mile pace.  Pretty sure I frightened them.

I think they were pretty excited to start running away from me ASAP.

Because it was a relatively small race, the corrals were close together and we crossed the start in only about three minutes.  I wasn’t running with my friends because they’re both much faster than me, so I lost them in the crowd almost instantly.  A little less than a mile from the start, however, I saw a very familiar back ahead of me.  After I checked to see if he was wearing minimalist shoes, I felt bold enough to try calling out his name (and steeling myself for the possibility it wasn’t him and I was just going to be some jackass screaming a name out in the middle of a race).  But it was him!  I have friends!

At the start of the race on the 72nd Street Transverse- can amazingly almost see the starting line.

I spent the next three miles running as fast as I could while pretending it was no big deal, and chatting about this and that with my running friend who I hadn’t seen in ages.  I felt bad because he’s training for Berlin (he ran 8 miles today, no big deal) and he’s much, much faster than me, and I didn’t want to ruin his race, but he stuck with me until the end (which was really good because I felt like I might die at the end – there was only water and pollen in the air at this point – no oxygen – which made breathing difficult).

 

But after sitting in the shade for a while, we all recovered and had a huge brunch/lunch at Fred’s.  It was an amazing morning and a super nice way to (1) get some shoes, (2) get some exercise and (3) eat a bacon club sandwich and then buy ice cream on the way home.

Proof we survived the race. My other runner friend is not pictured. But I swear he’s real.

*Free with your $50 race entry fee – but still not bad considering a typical NYRR race is $18-23 anyway.

 

Do you wear New Balance shoes?  Have you ever run a race with friends?  Do you watch Crazy Ex-Girlfriend?  Share in the comments!

Achilles Hope & Possibility 4 Miler – A Hot & Sunny Return to Racing – June 25, 2017

😀

Today I ran (actually ran!) my first race since my injury last May!  It was a relatively hot and sunny morning, but Central Park was beautiful as usual and the crowd was energized and inspiring.  My goals were to hit 10:15 to 10:30 per mile and to not break any bones.  Mission accomplished!

 

Achilles International is an amazing organization that helps runners with all types of disabilities participate in road races.  Years ago, before various injuries kept me sidelined, I volunteered as a runner guide on a couple of training runs with Achilles.  It was amazing to run with blind athletes who ran better than I did with sight.  If you have any interest, I highly recommend checking them out.  I also wanted to return to running with this race, since it helps put my (relatively) small injury in perspective (especially as I get smoked by blade runners!).

 

This morning I scarfed a nectarine and headed out to the park.  According to my training, I was supposed to run a 1 mile warm up and a 1 mile cool down.  I actually managed to do a slow 1 mile warm up, which is honestly shocking to me because I never do those sorts of things.  Run more before a race?  No thanks.  If I wanted to run more, I would have signed up for a longer race.

These hot dog vendors know their audience.

After plodding around “warming up” in the hot sun and stretching like I had accomplished something, I got into my corral and listened to Jon Stewart (yep, that Jon Stewart) joke that he would need to be carried across the finish by his son.  I looked around to see who I could get to carry me, and cursed my lack of foresight on this important issue.  My starting corral was so far back that multiple waves went off before we even moved, and I wondered if the winners had finished the 4 mile race already.

Several waves had gone off and I’m standing here taking pictures.

I ran the first mile in about 10 minutes, which was faster than I thought I’d run and pretty exciting.  I guess I got too excited because my next mile was about 9:30, which is much faster than I had intended and I still had 2 more miles to run in the 83 degree heat.  I slowed down on the third mile and then picked up the pace again for the last mile, sprinting through the finish chute like a total poser.  I beat my time goal and averaged just under 10 minute miles, which at this point in my training I will accept!  I collected my medal and an apple, but I did not pick up a bagel because I have the iron willpower of champions.  Plus I still felt guilty about the pizza, cheesy polenta, meatballs, and frozen yogurt I had the day before…

 

All-in-all, I was really happy with the race and my run in general.  I’m so happy to be back out there running again, even if it is for only 4 miles (and slower than I was a year ago, let alone a few years ago).  I’ve also noticed the runger is back (i.e. the “running hunger”) as I want to consume everything in my kitchen all at once like a fat tornado.  So are the blisters on my toes.  And the stupid calf tan lines.  Welcome back to running!

It’s thin, white, see-thru, and small. 😐

I’ve also officially started the NYRR 20-week online marathon training program, finishing the first week today.  Yes, that means the NYC Marathon is only 19 weeks away!  Eeep!

 

How was your weekend?  What are your tips to beat the heat?  What do you like to eat when you feel unstoppable hunger?  Share in the comments!

Bronx 5K – Beautiful Day – Sun, Sept 25, 2016

The finish area of the NYRR Bronx 5K leads to this track in the shadow of Yankee Stadium.

The finish area of the NYRR Bronx 5K leads to this track in the shadow of Yankee Stadium.

On Sunday, September 25, 2016, I was supposed to be running 26 miles at the Clarence DeMar Marathon in Keene, New Hampshire.  Because of my injury, I was instead walking 3 miles in the Bronx.  Surprisingly, I was not terribly depressed about this, partially because it was a perfect fall day, partially because my ankle amazingly didn’t hurt too much during or after, but mostly because the rest of my weekend was so fun, I wasn’t disappointed that I wasn’t in New Hampshire.

 

There are two things I don’t recommend doing before the Bronx 5K – getting only 3 hours of sleep and taking the A train.  I don’t have much advice about how to avoid the former, but the latter can be avoided by either doing whatever you can to take the D train straight to 167th Street, praying to the MTA gods that another train will be in service that weekend (like the 2), or take a taxi or an Uber.  I waited so long on a hot, crowded platform for the A (and the D) that I actually arrived after the start of the race, despite allotting an hour and 15 minutes travel time for an estimated 40 minute journey.

I seriously thought I was going to die waiting here.

I seriously thought I was going to die waiting here.

Despite the transportation hassles, I perked right up when I finally got into the Bronx and had to hustle a few blocks back past the start and slip through a barricade so I could get into the chute and cross the starting line (about 10 minutes after the official start at 7:30).  There were still quite a few stragglers who began even after I did, probably also due to train delays and/or excessive Saturday night celebration.  Still, my slow pace and late start made for a blissfully empty course, which I enjoyed all the way to the finish.

I was just heading out when most of the pack was heading back in to the finish.

I was just heading out when most of the pack was heading back in.

Due to the pain I felt during and after my last attempt at walking a 5K, I forced myself to slow down even more than usual (to about 18 minute miles) which seemed to help.

The highlight of the race was seeing two of my friends who were running the 10 miler option.  Because I was so slow, I was walking towards the starting area when the 10 miler took off.  I got to see the elites sprint by and the rest of the hoard heading out strong – the sound of feet on pavement was stunning.  Because there were so many thousands of runners (about 10,000 total that day), I walked past several blocks of runners still waiting in their corrals to cross the start.  I’m still amazed I saw my two runner friends in that crowd!

The finish line is down on the left, Yankee Stadium is hulking on the right.

The finish line is down on the left, Yankee Stadium is hulking on the right.

I had a huge grin on my face for most of this race – the weather and taking my time really seemed to help.  Also, I love the Bronx 5K and 10 miler series!  Food afterwards included the standard apples, pretzels, a bagel, and a PowerBar protein bar.  There was a medal for the 10 miler but not for the 5K.  However, we did get an excellent (although unisex) technical New Balance race shirt included in the $15 registration!

A nice tech shirt? Yes, please!

A nice tech shirt? Yes, please!

Since my ankle held up so well for the race, after some stretching and PT work, I was able to walk another 5+ miles around Brooklyn that afternoon and night (not continuous, but still!).  And yes, the rest of these photos have nothing to do with the Bronx 5K, but my outing put me in a good mood so I’m gonna count it as part of my running life… (ok, yes, it’s a stretch…)

Sunset under the Williamsburg Bridge.

Sunset under the Williamsburg Bridge.

So, despite my ankle, it was a great weekend.  Today my ankle seems no worse for wear, so I’m cautiously optimistic about what the doctor will tell me on Wednesday… (knock wood!!)  Plus it’s fantastic because I clearly deserve at least 5 million dollars from the city for my injury – mine sounds much worse than hers!

 

How was your weekend?  Have you ever run the Bronx 5K or 10 miler?  Do you love, hate, or hate to love Williamsburg?  Have you ever sued the city?  Share in the comments!

Percy Sutton Harlem 5K – A Pain in the Ankle & Bonus Candy Review – Aug 27, 2016

Waiting at the start of the Percy Sutton Harlem 5K.

Waiting at the start of the Percy Sutton Harlem 5K.

Today I walked my second NYRR race since spraining my ankle in May, and while it was a really nice race overall, my ankle started hurting more than I expected and now I’m a little worried I overdid it.  Good thing I have chocolate.

 

Race Review

Gradual uphill with views of Yankee Stadium in the distance off to the right.

Gradual uphill with views of Yankee Stadium in the distance off to the right (not captured but it’s there).

The Percy Sutton Harlem 5K Run (honoring the former Manhattan borough president who was a supporter of the 5-borough NYC Marathon and NYRR in general) is a typical NYRR race but the course actually is in Harlem instead of following the typical Central Park loop.  It’s a pretty delightful loop starting at 135th and St Nicholas Ave, heading north to 155th, cutting west a few blocks, then south along St Nicolas Park before rounding back north at 127th to finish basically where it started.  The neighborhood looks beautiful, you can see Yankee Stadium in the distance for part of the race, and you get to walk run past some beautiful architecture that’s part of City College.  At the beginning of the race the announcer said that in the first year of this race there were only a few hundred runners, but in this, its 7th year, there are over 5,000!  (Actual total finishers was 4,803.)

 

The start of the hill at about mile .4.

The start of the hill at about mile .4.

The course does feature some hills, most notably a 1/4 mile hill about .4 miles from the start, but there are a few other shorter uphills and downhills scattered along the 3-mile course.  Despite the hills, I foolishly walked about as fast as I could for the first mile (slightly under a 15 minute per mile pace, too fast for my still-healing ankle), until about mile 1.3 when my ankle screamed in protest and I stopped to roll it around a bit, as if that would do anything.  As much as it killed me, I slowed down my already slow pace and tried to baby my ankle a bit, but by mile 2 I was pretty obviously limping.  I limped my way through the last mile, and despite the pain and the frustration, I was actually having a good time and even got a bit emotional from all the lovely people cheering all of us slowpokes.

 

Weirdest looking bagels I've ever seen.

Weirdest looking bagels I’ve ever seen.

He made me take off my shoe to "ice properly."

He made me take off my shoe to “ice properly.”

At the finish line we were greeted by the standard apples and non-standard deli rolls (I guess they ran out of bagels?).  I got ice from the med tent and actually sat on a park bench to ice my ankle while chatting with a friend.  My doctor friend told me to take Advil and my physical therapist friend told me to ice it, so I did both because I’m very obedient.

 

While I didn’t take a roll, I did have pizza after the race because my ankle hurt and thus I deserved it.  I also had some ice cream and the chocolate featured below, because I am a glutton.

Bonus Candy Review!

I didn't make the cleanest breaks but you get the idea.

I didn’t make the cleanest breaks but you get the idea.

I got this delightful chocolate as a gift, but you can actually buy it on Amazon.  It’s somehingsomethinggreek Ion brand milk chocolate with almonds.  (It’s not the first Greek chocolate I’ve tried, and it won’t be the last.)  The milk chocolate is better than standard American candy bar chocolate (ok, I know that’s not a high bar, pun intended), and the almonds are crunchy, but the best part is just how thick and large each square is.  Why is that the best part?  Because you’re basically forced to eat at least one large square every time you encounter this candy.  I mean, it’s not that you want to eat a ton of chocolate, you’re a delicate flower and only take the tiniest nibbles of things, but if that’s how the bar is divided, I guess you have to.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

 

Now I’m sitting on my couch, icing and elevating and wondering if I could eat more chocolate.  They didn’t mention that it heals ankles in this recent Runner’s World article on ankle sprains, but I’m pretty sure it helps, right?

 

Have you ever run the Percy Sutton Harlem 5K race?  Have you ever had Ion chocolate?  Are you able to justify your food choices based on lingering pains in your body?  Share in the comments!

France 8K – May We? – Aug 21, 2016

The announcer and a French cheer squad at the start!

The announcer and a French cheer squad at the start!

I just finished my first race since spraining my ankle back in May!  I walked the entire thing (couldn’t even run a few steps at the end because it hurt too much), and it took a long, long time, but I finished!

 

I've had a bad summer, so I get one free attempt of a glamor shot of my costume for the race.

I’ve had a bad summer, so I get one free attempt of a glamor shot of my costume for the race.

The NYRR France Run was an 8K (4.97 miles) loop of Central Park, starting on the east side south of the 72nd Transverse, continuing up and around Harlem Hill, then back down and finishing on the 72nd Street Transverse.  In the middle of the night I decided to wear a “French costume” for the race, which meant that in the morning I cut my red buff from the Philly Marathon, French-braided my hair, and put on a lot of red lipstick.  Once I got to the park I realized nobody else was wearing a costume except for the women who were forced to by Air France.  C’est la vie!  I started in the very back since I was planning on walking the entire thing.  I might not have mentioned doing this race to my physical therapist but since she ok’d me to walk a 5K a week ago I figured this would be ok, too…

I'm 98% sure this is the pothole that got me back in May!!!

I’m 98% sure this is the pothole that got me back in May!!!

I was pretty nervous before the race since Central Park is hillier than what I’ve been walking during recovery, and this would be by far the farthest I’ve walked since May.  When I got to the start it had just begun lightly raining.  After crossing the start the rain picked up, and pretty soon it was a total downpour for miles.  It was some of the hardest rain I’ve ever run (walked) in, and I was totally drenched in minutes (shirt soaked, shoes wet, hair looked like I took a shower).  Luckily it was warm and it was only a 5 mile race instead of a marathon (ahem Jackson Mississippi Blues Marathon).  I was mostly just worried my phone would get soaked even inside my waist belt (since my shirt and tights were totally soaked through).  When I did risk taking my phone out to take a picture of the pothole that felled me, there was no dry spot of clothing to wipe it on!

 

My favorite race photo ever - if you don't recognize this guy, you don't run NYRR races.

If you don’t recognize this guy, you don’t run NYRR races.

After about 30 minutes of hard rain it started letting up, and for the last couple miles the sun even came out (and reminded us just how scorchingly hot it would have been had it been sunny the whole time).  Besides getting my favorite race photo ever with an icon in NYRR, I was mostly wondering if the bagels would be dry by the time I got to the finish.  I was also pretty determined to win the free trip to Paris, although I was so slow I didn’t even get to enter the raffle.  🙁

 

The little Air France cheer area about 400 meters before the finish.

The little Air France cheer area about 400 meters before the finish. No free tickets, though. 😐

Snacks after the run - bagel not pictured, as it was in my stomach.

Snacks after the run – bagel not pictured, as it was in my stomach.

Post-race, my ankle started hurting more (during the walk home) and I noticed it was a bit swollen after my shower, but now I’m icing and elevating and plan on having a lot of quality couch-time this afternoon now that I have a new A/C (it broke earlier this week, which was pretty dreadful).  Perhaps time to start a new Netflix series?  I’m considering Black Books or Father Ted (both from the creator of The IT Crowd), or maybe Wentworth, or Stranger Things, or The Fall, or W1A… So many options to be lazy!

The race shirt (front and back).

The race shirt (front and back).

 

Have you ever run an 8K before?  Have you ever walked an entire running race?  Have you ever been to France?  Share in the comments!

NYRR R-U-N 5K – Lightning the Load – Aug 11, 2016

Fun acrylic glass and temporary tattoos for the NYRR R-U-N 5K.

Fun acrylic “glass” and temporary tattoos for the NYRR R-U-N 5K.

My plan to triumphantly return to road racing tonight by walking the ironically named R-U-N 5K was, as many of my race-related plans have been recently, foiled, this time by heat and then severe thunderstorms.  At about 3:30 pm, the race officials emailed us saying the race would be an untimed, unscored fun run due to the weather (it’s about 1,000 degrees and very humid here).  The good news was that runners would get a marathon credit whether we ran it or not.

 

I debated on whether to still walk it because as much as I wanted to get back out there (even just walking), it was also as hot as heck and I have an early morning flight tomorrow and didn’t want the hassle of getting to/from the park and stressing my ankle before a special getaway.  Luckily the decision was made for me at about 6 pm when officials told all runners and volunteers to seek shelter immediately due to severe thunderstorms.  As I’m sitting here guilt-free in my air-conditioned apartment, I can hear nasty cracks of thunder and am waiting for the deluge.

 

The race was advertised as a “social” race – when I signed up I had to select whether I wanted a corral according to my time or if I wanted to be “social.”  I chose “social,” although to be honest I think I would have gotten the same corral anyway since I’m so slow.  It was supposed to start at 7 pm in Central Park, with drink specials for the runners at various restaurants after the race.  It would have been my first race that started in the evening (not counting Ragnar, since that lasts multiple days) and of course my first race since The Injury.  Ah, well!  There’s always the France Run (8K) in a little over a week!

 

Have you ever had a race completely cancelled?  Have you ever done an evening race?  Have you ever been to Nashville?  Share in the comments!

Healthy Kidney 10K – My First DNF – May 14, 2016 – Race Recap

The start of NYRR's Healthy Kidney 10K, before my face-plant.

The start of NYRR’s Healthy Kidney 10K, before my face-plant.

You run long enough, and it’s bound to happen – a DNF and a running injury.  I just didn’t think it would happen in Central Park during a 10K this morning, and I didn’t think the injury would include my face.

The typical long line of runners at a NYRR race in Central Park.

The typical long line of runners at a NYRR race in Central Park.

 

The Healthy Kidney 10K started out well enough – the day was beautiful and warmer than expected (already in the mid 60s at the 9 am start), and I was finally on the downhill of my cold that started last week.  I felt pretty good considering I ran 26 miles 6 days ago, and was able to run the first three miles at about a 10:35 pace (fast for me at this point).  Everything was going well!  I came up the final Harlem Hill, passed the 5K mark, and was enjoying the flat stretch near the 102nd Street Transverse heading towards the reservoir.  But then, BAM!  My foot got caught in a little pothole, and I went down HARD.  Harder than hard.  I hit my face, hands, and then the rest of my body.  Hard enough to rip my CW-X tights.  Hard enough to make me wonder if I broke my cell phone around my waist.  Hard enough to make me worried I broke the bones in my face.  And apparently hard enough to give me a concussion.  But I’m getting ahead of myself.  (Blame my recent concussion.)

 

Right after I went down, there were plenty of kind runners who stopped to make sure nobody ran over me and to make sure I was ok.  I kept saying I was ok, and eventually I rolled over, got up, and limped to the side because I didn’t want to cause a(nother) accident.  My friend Ben was actually there, too!  He was running by and came upon my prostrate figure and recognized my Discover Bank Delaware Marathon hat (which, by the way, I got blood on – it was the first time I wore it, too)!

 

Props to the on-point race volunteer who immediately radioed for an ambulance the second I fell, saying “runner down,” which sounds very dramatic, but was effective.  I was sitting on the grass next to the course when the medics arrived (probably not more than 1 or 2 minutes after my fall – it was really fast).  I assured them I was ok, until I suddenly wasn’t – my vision started to go dark.  That’s when I really started to worry.  I’m too youngish to die!

 

Originally I thought I would walk the rest of the race – I clearly had no idea how bad my fall was.  But when the world started to go dim, they offered to transport me to the med tent, and I accepted – I didn’t want to pass out 30 seconds after they left and cause a huge hassle.  So, onto the stretcher and into the ambulance I went!  It was… embarrassing.   And it felt almost like I was playing out a scenario for class, except I was actually injured.  The ambulance was a small “van” ambulance, so it was cozy inside, but still familiar.  I feel like I’ve jinxed myself by becoming an EMT – just as I’ve started working on an ambulance, for the first time in my life I find myself as a patient in the back of one.

 

After a leisurely ride down the west side of the park, my vision had cleared up and I was feeling beat up but better.  They delivered me to the med tent where Dr. Stu (the head NYRR doctor who I knew from training sessions, but who of course didn’t know me) checked me out.  He pushed on the bones all over my face and determined nothing was broken (thank god).  He said I had started blacking out probably because I had a mild concussion.  And as I sat there icing my face, I finally noticed how much my ankle was hurting.  I got an ice wrap for that, too, and after sitting there for more than enough time to make sure I probably wasn’t going to die from an aneurism or whatever scary fake medical thing I was worried about, finally made my way out of the park with my friend Ben, who had found me at the finish.

 

I painfully, slowly limped out of the park, still thinking my ankle was just bruised or something, but I did take a cab for the 5 blocks home.  Only after a quick shower did I realize just how bad my ankle was – it was stiff, painful, and looked like there was a lemon implanted underneath my skin.  As a first-time ankle sprainer, this really freaked me out.  I thought maybe something had ruptured and there was blood pooling under my skin or something – there’s also a small bruise and cut on the side of my foot, probably from the jagged edge of the pothole (and I suspect there’s a tear in my shoe, too).  So, I immediately emailed Ben and started googling “sprained ankle.”

 

After icing it and wrapping it, I still wasn’t satisfied with my self-treatment options, and since it hurt so much that walking was incredibly difficult, I decided to go to a nearby urgent care center to get an aircast (as recommended by Ben).  After a surprisingly long wait, the doctor there checked me out, pushed on the bones around my foot and ankle, thankfully determined without an X-ray that there were no broken bones, and diagnosed me with a sprained ankle.  He put me in an aircast, gave me instructions to take naproxen (aka Aleve) and to only ice 3 times a day, and sent me off with some crutches.  The crutches help a lot, but I quickly learned that walking with crutches is about 80 times more difficult than just walking, and I feel like I got a full day’s workout by crutching the two blocks home.

 

Ugh.

Ugh.  Ugh.

Now I’m sitting on my couch with my leg propped up, feeling some sweet relief from the painkiller (although it still hurts, it doesn’t hurt like a mofo anymore), and feeling both angry at and sad for myself.  I know “these things happen” but it was a stupid mistake to step into that pothole – I should have been looking down more than up.  And now I can’t work my EMT shift tomorrow, nor can I run the Brooklyn Half Marathon next weekend, not to mention that I can’t walk or run for several days (plus the pain, plus the current inconvenience, plus the lifetime threat of re-injury and arthritis (“In a 10-year fol­low-up of patients suffering ankle sprains, 72 percent showed signs of arthritis in the ankle joint.”).  Ugh!  (And yes, the more I read online about this, the more freaked out I’m getting.)

 

The funny thing is that my face feels (and looks) bruised but it’s definitely not the most painful or lasting injury I sustained in my fall – it reminds me of the “distracting injury” thing we learned about at EMT camp.  Of course, hitting your face is more life-threatening than spraining your ankle, so it didn’t distract in that way, but it certainly made me ignore my ankle for a long time.  (“But not anymore, b*tch!” said my ankle just now.)

 

But before I start feeling too sorry for myself, I do want to send out a big internet “thank you” to all the runners and medical people who helped me today.  It was seriously nice of Ben to stick with me for so long, both at mile 3 and at the finish, and for emailing me a lot of info about sprained ankles.

The shirt this year.  I didn't get a medal because I didn't finish.  :(

The shirt this year. I didn’t get a medal because I didn’t finish. 🙁

So, please pray to the running gods for me that I’ll recover in a relatively rapid fashion…  Till then, I’ll see you on the couch.

 

Have you ever sprained your ankle?  Have you ever visited an urgent care?  Have you ever ridden in the back of an ambulance that wasn’t for your job?  Share in the comments!

Delaware Marathon Recap – Happy Mother’s Day – May 8, 2016

A cool bridge along the Delaware Marathon course.

The cool bridge along the Delaware Marathon course that’s featured on the medal.

I tried three four new things for the Delaware Marathon this past Sunday, because, as the old marathon saying goes, “Everything new on race day!”  (That is the saying, right?)  What new things did I try?

 

  1. I finally wore my Marathon Maniacs shirt!
  2. I tried fueling with PayDay bars!
  3. I ran with a sore throat!
  4. Bonus – I saw a woman cheating!

I can recommend two of those four things, but you’ll have to read on to find out which ones!

 

The view from the Doubletree Downtown Wilmington.

The view from the Doubletree Downtown Wilmington.

The number-one thing Wilmington has going for it is its location.  On Saturday morning I zipped down on Amtrak (if “zipped” includes a 30 minute train delay) and walked two blocks to the outdoor expo.  Because of all the rain, there was a bit of a mud “situation” that the race organizers tried to combat with piles of straw, but it wasn’t entirely effective and I left with my shoes and jeans spattered with mud.  Luckily, they were not my race shoes and the mud hazard was worth all the goodies – I picked up my bib, two free Gus, a shirt, a pint glass, a hat, a cowbell, and a bag.  Before heading to my hotel I continued down the riverfront a couple blocks to Harry’s Seafood for some sea bass and a ridiculous chocolate peanut butter dessert.

After eating too much I hauled all my stuff to the Doubletree Downtown.  At check-in I got another goodie bag (with another Gu, a Kind Bar, a marathon door hanger, a marathon oval magnet, and marathon info) plus a warm chocolate chip cookie.  Later that afternoon I went out for some water and fun sized PayDay bars, which I planned on eating during the race for the first time ever.

 

To be clear, it’s not the first time I’ve ever had a PayDay bar, but it was the first time I’d ever eaten them during a run.  They ended up working out pretty well!  I’m in an eternal process of tweaking my marathon nutrition, but I’m trying to move away from gels/gus because I think they’re yucky.  Instead, I’m trying to eat things I actually enjoy and using races as a way to eat (more) treats!  I picked PayDay bars because they don’t have any chocolate to melt and the peanuts are salty, which is something I often crave during a race.  Their nutrition profile also isn’t too far off from “typical” race food, but is a little heavy on the fat – each fun size bar is 90 calories, 90 mg sodium, 5 g fat, 8 g sugar, and 2.5 g protein.  Compare that to Salted Caramel Gu at 100 calories, 125 mg sodium, 0 g fat, 7 g sugar, and 0 g protein, and 2nd Surge (my standard go-to) at 90 calories, 115 mg sodium, 0 g fat, 13 g sugar, and 3 g protein.  PayDay bars don’t have potassium listed (so I assume it’s zero?) and they don’t have any caffeine, so I did supplement with 2nd Surge and some Gu chomps on race day.

The start of the Delaware Marathon 2016.

The starting area of the Delaware Marathon 2016.

Race day morning was cool (in the 50s), overcast, and very humid, but cleared to sunny skies with a bit of wind a few hours into the race.  Considering the rain we had had the entire week before, we certainly lucked out on Sunday.  I dropped off my bag on the bag check tables behind the tents (nothing very formal) and got into a long line for the porta potties (definitely needed more of those, in my opinion).  It only took me 3 minutes to cross the starting line (even with my back-of-the-pack starting position) and I actually jogged across the starting line since it was so open/uncongested.  It got a little more crowded a few blocks into the race because of the narrow walkways and I felt like I was running in a sea of “HALF”ers (which I was).

Running along the river, reading "HALF HALF HALF" all the way home...

Running along the river, reading “HALF HALF HALF” all the way home…

Luckily I had been warned about the hills on the course, so mentally I was prepared to walk a lot.  But since I expected big hills, the actual hills didn’t seem that bad.  They were very gradual but looooong, and everything had to be done twice because of the looped course, but at least every uphill came with a corresponding downhill.  The worst hills came at approximately miles 5-7 and 12 (and again at 18-20 and 25).  Since I compare everything to Central Park, I’d say the hills were similar but stretched out and stacked end to end, leaving longer portions of flat and longer portions of uphill/downhill.

 

While the course was more beautiful than I expected, Wilmington is certainly a city of contrasts.  We ran through some very fancy suburbs with nice parks only to turn suddenly into run-down neighborhoods with payday loan shops (not to be confused with PayDay candy bars) and vacant storefronts.  The most shocking thing I witnessed during the race had nothing to do with the course, however.  Around mile 20.5 a woman blew past me, which was surprising since at that point the course was very empty and I was still trotting along at a decent pace (for me).  A little farther ahead I noticed her turning around at a non-turnaround point – basically cutting the course.  I joked with the guy standing at the intersection that I was jealous of her getting to cut, and he said she told him she had gotten lost and run extra, so was cutting it off now.  I raised my eyebrows but didn’t think much of it until after the race when I realized just how much she had cut – two small loops including the entire portion through Little Italy, or a little over 2.5 miles.

 

Now, even with the cut, at this pace the woman wasn’t qualifying for Boston or winning any awards (maybe… she looked youngish so I don’t think she’d win an age award… and I didn’t get a look at her bib number so I don’t know what she ultimately got), but it was startling to see someone cheat during a race, especially with all the publicity cheating has gotten recently.  Did she really get lost?  Maybe, who knows?  But if you make a mistake like that should you still have to run the full regulation course?  I’d lean towards yes, but I’ve also never had to run 29 miles for a marathon before.  Is it really cheating if you run at least 26.2 miles that day?  What do you think?

 

Because I was sick (my sore throat was slowly developing into some congestion, but the real waterworks, headache, and fatigue didn’t really kick in until Monday – and I’m still battling what turned into a pretty bad cold), I was keeping the option of only running the half and still getting a finish time (which was allowed, according to pre-race communications).  And while I hope not to run while sick again, it didn’t seem to affect me much that day.

 

Marathon Maniacs shirt Delaware Marathon May 2016As usual (at least for the past several marathons), my plan was to run the first 20 miles and let myself walk after that if I wanted (since I’d make the cutoff time by then).  I ended up walking most of miles 18-20 because of the hills, so I kept running afterwards, and was able to keep all but one of my miles under 14 minutes.  Ultimately I finished about half an hour faster than I expected, and while my knees were quite puffy (as you can see I had them iced at the end), I felt pretty good.  A nice touch at the finish was having your name, hometown, club affiliation (like 50 State and/or Maniacs), and number of previous marathons announced.

 

So, the PayDay bars were a success, the illness, while not recommended, wasn’t bad, but the real home run was wearing the Marathon Manaics shirt.  I’m not a runner who needs crowds or lots of distraction during a race, but I do love the social aspect of races, and wearing that iconic yellow shirt got me a lot of cheers and high-fives from other maniacs during the race, plus I got to hang out and chat with some maniacs after the race, too.  Again, not that I don’t chat with maniacs without the shirt, but it does make a great icebreaker.  (The hot pink gloves and the rhinestone necklace were just extra…)

 

The medal!  It is so nice.

The medal! It is so nice.

The best thing I overheard:

“Same day finish!” – from a runner and fellow back-of-the-packer.

 

All the Delaware Marathon swag!

All the Delaware Marathon swag!

Thinking of running the Delaware Marathon?

 

There were 459 full marathoners, 1101 halfers, and 938 people in the two relays (about 2,500 runners total).  The start was staggered (full and halfers started before the relay runners) and there were no pacers allowed.  Because of all the relay runners, the finish area takes on a party/tailgate atmosphere and seems like a fun way to spend a Sunday morning.

 

All categories on a scale of 1-10, 10 being the best.  Note this review is based on running as a “back of the packer,” with a finish time over 5 hours.  Your experience may vary.

 

  • Getting There (Transportation & Walkability) – 9/10 – From NYC (or Philly, or Washington, DC), Wilmington is easy to reach via Amtrak.  Once there, hotels, restaurants, and the start/finish are all within about a half mile or so, so you don’t need to rent a car.
  • Staying There – 8/10 – The Doubletree Downtown Wilmington is old and showing its age, but it was fine for a night or two, and the price was pretty good (total with tax was $240 for two nights, but they also offer late checkout or “very late” checkout at 5 pm for an additional fee if you don’t want to stay the whole night).  I’m not sure if there was an additional parking charge since I didn’t have a car, but I’d imagine there was.  The location was good for the race – about 1/2 mile from the start/finish/expo area, and only a block or two from a Rite Aid and several restaurants, both sit-down and takeout.
  • Cost & Registration – 9/10 – You get a lot of stuff!  I paid $97 (with processing fees) in September 2015, which got me a short sleeved tech shirt (same as the half marathon), headsweats hat, pint glass, cowbell, and a couple packets of Gu.  During the race there was decent on-course support (water, Gatorade, Gu/cookies, porta potties, and medical).  After the race, you get a really nice medal (this year’s had cutouts and a spinner portion!), beer, champagne, and food (the quantity and quality depended on your finish time, but after 5 1/2 hours there were still some sandwiches left, along with lots of bags of chips, some cold pizza, little cups of pasta salad and fruit salad, bananas, chocolate milk, and sugary drinks).  I thought photos were included because they promised “access to digital photos” but that just meant they had on-course photographers and you can buy the pictures afterwards.  I will say the photographers were better than average and took a lot of scenic photos during the race.  There was no memo pad that said “Memo from a Delaware Marathoner.” 🙁
  • Organization – 8/10 – Pre-race communication was good – I particularly liked the trio of race-week emails with all sorts of info included.  The expo was very small and a bit muddy.  The course support was pretty good, but they were missing some volunteers at intersections so you had to keep your eyes open for cars.
  • Course – 7/10 – For a looped course, it was a lot more scenic and less boring than I expected!  And while it did have some hills (most notably at miles 5-7 and again at 18-20, because of the loop, plus a final hill at 25), they were quite gradual, although quite long.  The mile markers felt really off, though, actually coming a lot earlier than they should have according to my watch (which never happens – usually I’m .2 or more ahead of the markers due to weaving), but the course itself wasn’t short (unless you cut it…).
  • Crowd – 1/10 – Basically no spectators except at the finish party area – and it really was a party in that park, with all the relay runners and family members enjoying a sunny May day. There looked like a lot of tailgating and fun going on, and it was painful to run past it to do another 13.1 mile loop.
  • Other Factors – 4/10 – There’s really not much to see in Wilmington.  If you’re from the area, it’s easy to get there, and if you’re not from the area, Philly is incredibly close, in case you want to do some sightseeing there.
  • Overall Rating – 6/10 – The race was decent, the swag was nice, the maniacs were great, but the overall trip was just “meh” – there just wasn’t much else to the weekend…  And yet I’d consider coming back to do the half just so I could enjoy the post-race food (before it’s gone or ice cold) and relax in the park.

 

Delaware is “The First State,” but it was number 24 for me.  26 to go!  My next marathon is the Missoula Marathon in Montana on July 10th.

 

Have you ever visited Wilmington?  Do you try new things on race day?  Do you think that woman cheated or was she justified in cutting?  Share in the comments!

Virtual Races are a (Big) Thing

Some of the swag you can get running virtual races (131's Brew HaHa Race's swag pictured).

Some of the swag you can get by running virtual races (131 Event’s Brew HaHa Race‘s swag pictured).

Ok, so maybe you already knew all about them, but last night over the past few days I fell down the rabbit hole of virtual races, and I still can’t believe how many are out there.  Basically, a virtual race is one that you can run anywhere at any time.  Typically you sign up, pay some money, commit to covering a set distance by a certain date, and the company mails you a prize (like a bib, shirt, medal, or some combination of those things).  Many, but not all, virtual races have a charity component, too.

 

A typical first reaction when hearing about virtual races is, “that’s stupid.”  And that’s not entirely wrong.  Without a set time, course, or race “experience,” why would you pay money to sign up for one of these?  But then again, why would you line up and wait (and wait and wait) in a huge pack of people to run a certain path at a certain time, even if it’s raining and you had to get up at 6 am and you’re sick?  And beyond that, isn’t any pastime ultimately stupid?  Golf, baseball, stamp collecting – why do any of these things?  Because they’re fun (to you…)!

 

Ultimately, virtual races are about fun and motivation – if paying money to commit to running a certain distance and getting a medal to celebrate that run gets you out there, then that’s great!  Virtual races are also a way to participate in a “race” without pressure or intimidation.  If virtual racing is a way to get more people interested in running, I’m all for it.

 

What follows is a list of all the virtual race companies I could find (29 of them!), presented in no particular order, but grouped into somewhat meaningless categories for fun.  I’m not vouching for any of these races, and I’ve never run a virtual race myself (yet…).

Themed Virtual Races

  • Hogwarts Running Club – For Harry Potter Fans!  Price:  $25 gets you a medal and virtual bib, and a portion goes to charity.  Shirts can be purchased on another site for $20 (and a portion of that also goes to charity).  They have a suggested day for you to complete the run, but no hard or fast rule of when you should run.
  • Run Disney Virtual Running Shorts – This is the first time Disney has gotten in on the virtual bandwagon, so you know it must be a way to make money if Disney is doing it.  Price:  $39 per race gets you a virtual bib and medal ($142 for the current 3-race series which includes an additional medal and tumbler).  Nothing goes to charity, and there are no spoilers of what the medals will look like.  There is a suggested time frame for completing the distance and a hashtag you can use to share your results, but no reporting requirement.
  • Nerd Herd Racing Series – Good for fans of SciFi, Harry Potter, and Disney.  You’re supposed to run the distance during a certain week, but you can break up the distance (even if only 5K).  Price:  $25 US ($35 international) gets you get a bib and medal.  A portion goes to charity.
  • Zombies Run! Virtual Race – For fans of the Zombies Run! running app, this one is popular – the 5,000 entry spring race is already sold out!  Price:  Unfortunately they don’t list the price after it sells out, so I don’t know how much it costs, but you get a medal, bib, certificate, badge, and bonus content on the app.  For more money you can get a tech shirt, and even more money gets you a long-sleeved tech shirt.  You use the app to post your results – no need to separately report your time.  You can do either (or both!) the 5K and the 10K, and you can do them multiple times.  They can also be walked with no penalty.  They also say that even if you don’t normally use the app the story is stand-alone and contains no spoilers (it’s a prequel).  You do need a phone that can run the app (iPhone or Android).

Companies with “Virtual” in the Name

  • Virtual Strides –  They have two current but several “past” races available.  Price:  $28 get you a medal and bib, and some small donation is made to a related charity, with shipping maybe included?  You can also do “past” races as long as they still have medals.
  • Virtual Running Club – They have a lot of races scheduled in 2016!  Price:  For $35 you get a shirt and medal ($25 to get only one or the other, $15 to just run and get nothing), and some portion is donated to a charity.  Not sure if shipping is included.  The run is supposed to be completed in certain time frame (you must report your time by a certain deadline to qualify for prizes, but I think if you miss the deadline you’ll still get your shirt/medal).  I’m considering the EMS run!
  • Virtual Run World – Many of their medals are large (6 inches) and feature glitter and intricate designs.  Price:  Varies, but about $30 gets you a medal (shipping included), and some (not all) of the races have a charity component.  No dates specified for the runs, and it’s optional to report your time as a comment on the race page or their Facebook page.
  • Virtual Run Events – Pretty good selection of various races for this year, and the medals are kinda funny (e.g. a running toilet is one of them).  Price: Varies, but generally $20 to $24 includes a medal, bib, and shipping.  You’re supposed to run/report time on your race by a certain date (generally you get a certain month, like July, to run the race).  Looks like about 20% goes to various charities.
  • Triumph Virtual Racing – They have two current races and 5 past races, as of today.  Price:  $10 (for “past” races) to $28 (for “current” races) gets you a virtual bib and medal (includes shipping), and a portion goes to a charity.  There’s no set date you need to run by, and it’s optional to post your finish on their Facebook page or Instagram.
  • Pure Play Virtual Race Center – A self-described newcomer to virtual racing.  Price:  $25 gets you a medal and unspecified “goodie bag” (shipped within 10 days of registering), and a portion goes to charity.  Note that they don’t show you what the medals look like beforehand.
  • Virtual Runner UK – Based in the UK, they offer tonnes of races.  You must report your time (with proof, like with your Garmin data) by a certain date to get your medal (and the window for reporting is very small – you’re supposed to run on a certain day and report by the next day).  Price:  Varies, but ranges around £10 to £15 plus VAT for UK residents, £15 to £18 for international ($22 to $26 USD) and gets you a medal (assuming you report appropriately) with a portion going to charity.  All payments are through PayPal.  Note that some of the races are open to UK residents only.

Companies with “Bling” or “Medal” in the Name

  • Will Run For Bling – They only have three current races but have many, many past events (which you can’t “run” but you can buy the medals for $10 to $30 if they’re still available).  Price:  Varies, but generally around $25 domestic (plus a bullsh*t $2.50 “SignUp Fee”), $35 international gets you a medal and bib (with maybe shipping included?  Although after that bs fee I don’t trust them to include shipping).  You’re supposed to complete set distance within a certain time frame (although no reporting is required), and some charity component is included.
  • Bling Runners –  Only 2 races are currently listed.  Price: $25 to $45 depending on the race, you get a medal and virtual bib, and a portion goes to charity.  No suggested date to run, no reporting your time, and your medal will be mailed within 60 days of the race’s window.
  • Run Bling Repeat – Three current races available (and one past event that still has medals available).  Price: $29 gets you a medal and a virtual bib, and a portion goes to charity.  Not clear if it includes shipping.  Shirts are available but extra ($19-23 depending on style).  No suggested dates to run, and I don’t think there’s a reporting system, either.
  • I Love Race Medals – Eight races currently available.  Price:  $25 US, $30 Canada, $35 international, gets you a medal and a portion goes to charity.  Some of the races have a suggested time period to run (like a certain calendar year or month) and you can post results/pics on their event page, but it’s not required.
  • Full Medal Runs – They have a lot of runs/medals available.  Price:  For $20 to $30 you get a medal, electronic bib, and online results (with free shipping to US).  A portion goes to charity.  Oddly, the prices of some of the past races are not marked down (e.g. the April Showers Run or the February Leap Year Challenge), but non-date-specific races are (e.g. The All American Family Run is currently marked down to $20).

Real Events with Virtual Options

  • ODDyssey Half Marathon – This real event offers a virtual option partially because they have pretty cool medals (wall-mountable bottle openers) and people who couldn’t travel there wanted to get the medal.  You can run the race at any time, but must complete it in the calendar year.  Price (for the virtual option):  One of the most expensive options out there, for $53.74 you get a shirt, medal, and “various goodies.”  Also, you can’t live within 30 miles of Philly.
  • Run 10 Feed 10 – This is a real race series in various locations in the US ($35 for the 5K, $40 for the 10K, both early bird pricing), but they have a virtual option as well.  Price (for the virtual race):  $28 provides 10 meals to families in need and gets you a limited edition FEED bag (no medal – but the in-person event doesn’t provide medals either).  You’re supposed to finish your miles by a certain date (Nov 29, 2016).

I-Couldn’t-Think-of-A-Category-For-These-Races Races

  • Races for Awareness – This series is more focused on the charity aspect (claiming 80 to 100% of the net proceeds go to the respective charities), however all of their charities are “awareness” charities, not charities that do research or anything else.  Price:  Ranges from $22 to $26 and you get a medal, downloadable race bib, snacks, coupons, and shipping.  No deadline/timeline to run the various races.
  • Moon Joggers – Lots of current races, and medals for past races are available at a discount.  Price:  Varies depending on race, but around $25 gets you a medal and bib with shipping, and a portion (they say about 20% of race fee) goes to the respective charity.  They offer suggestions of dates to complete your race, but it’s just a suggestion.
  • 131 Events –  This company also does “real” events around the Indianapolis area (I wish they were in NYC!).  They seem to have really nice medals and even include a shirt as standard.  Price: $28 (plus a $4 processing fee) gets you a medal, bib, shirt, and shipping ($10 less if you don’t want the shirt).  You’re supposed to complete the run by a certain date (several month timespan).  The photo at the top of this post comes from this race series.
  • Gone for a Run – You might know this company for selling BibFOLIOs, medal hangers, and other random runner stuff, but they’re also currently offering two virtual races.  Price:  Varies, but about $37 gets you shirt, bib, medal, and button (shipped as soon as you sign up, not sure if price includes shipping).  Some portion is donated to a charity.  Your run is supposed to be completed during a specific week, and you can post your photos and results online, but nothing is required.
  • Fit Fab and Lean – They only have one race listed right now – not sure if they only ever have one race at a time or if this is unusual.  Price: $25 US, $35 international, gets you a medal and virtual bib, and 10% goes to a charity.  They give you a certain time period (a month for the current race) to cover the distance, and some races have a reporting requirement, some do not (and they’ll ship your medal whether you report or not).
  • Agent Outerwear – The only company which I noticed tags all of their medals with their name (“*Agent” is embossed on every medal somewhere).  Price:  Ranges from $20 to $30, gets you a medal and virtual bib, and a portion goes to charity (they give coats to kids in need).  They have race dates but no suggested date to run, but there is an option to submit times/photos to their Facebook page.  Note that you can add on medals from “old” virtual races for only $5 when registering for another race.
  • Make Yes Happen Virtual Races – You have to click on each individual race to find out the price, what the medal looks like, and other info.  Price:  $25 for a medal, and some races have a charity component, but most do not.  Distances can be completed piecemeal (e.g. however long it takes you to run 66 miles or whatever the various race distances are) and has no time limit/ending date.  You also unlock some digital content as you hit “mile markers” like photos of the virtual course.
  • Stridebox Run – Stridebox is a subscription box service for runners.  For about $15/month they ship you a small box filled with various runner-type goodies like gels, drink mixes, and usually one non-food item like a mini towel, water bottle, LED light, phone arm band, etc.  Apparently they also have a virtual marathon.  Price: $29 gets you a tshirt, bib, and medal, and $5 of it goes to charity.  They also hint you might get other goodies in your race pack.  You’re supposed to run the 26.2 miles over the course of two weeks, all at once or in any amount of segments.  Once you send a photo of your log, they’ll ship you the medal.

No Charity Component

  • US Road Running – They claim to own the trademark on “virtual race,” which they define as “a race that can be run/walked any time, any place or any location.”  (Note that I’m not a trademark attorney, but I’d love to hear from anyone who knows whether their supposed trademark is legit and/or enforceable.)  Price:  $17, includes a medal, bib, and shipping.  Nothing goes to charity, even though some of their races seem like they’d go to charity (i.e. they have an EMT race and a Police race, neither of which support EMTs or the Police).  No time limit on when you have to run the race, although each race has a “date.”  You can post your finishing times on their website but it’s not required.
  • Best Race Bling aka Miles 4 Medals – Not sure why it’s two different companies/websites.  They have 9 current races.  Price: $22.50 gets you a medal and bib, which ship out 72 hours after you register.  There’s no charity component (despite some of the runs being linked to causes – they suggest you do your own fundraising), no set time period to run, and no reporting requirement, but you can post to their Facebook page.
  • Running on the Wall – This site is more of a store that also offers virtual run “packets.”  The English/editing is a bit off on this site, and when you register they offer “add ons” like extra medals or charms or such.  Price:  Starts at $30, includes shirt, bib, bag, and medal, but shipping is another $10.  No time limit, no set dates, no charity component.

 

If I designed a virtual race it would involve eating candy during the run and the medal would have a piece you could detach and wear as a necklace, keychain, or bottle opener (or all three!).  Or maybe I’d just make the medal a spoon

 

Have you ever run a virtual race?  Would you?  What would be your “ideal” virtual race?  Share in the comments!