Tag Archives: virtual races

A Slow 2017

I had one big running goal this year, and that was to qualify for the Half Fanatics.  While I didn’t do it the way I’d planned, I did check that off the year in February, and I turned my head to getting some other races in this year.

And then I didn’t.

I injured my hip in Olathe, canned my trip to Indy, and now, with Route 66 looming next weekend, I already know I’m not going to make it to Tulsa.  The allure of a Half Fanatics-themed race medal is why I chased HF so hard, and yet here I sit in the Da Lou.

So what happened?

Well, the injury during the Garmin Half really took the steam out of me, and collapsed any confidence I had about the half distance, and that torpedoed any running at all.  I’d put a lot of pressure on myself in 2015 and 2016, completing a fair number of “in person” races, but also signing up for any and all virtual races that were even remotely attractive to me.  It was that, I believe, that kiboshed my running this year.

You see, the pressure of having those medals in hand, and racing needed to “claim” them, put me in a bad spot mentally for running.  Every run was a chore, because there was a requirement to go a certain distance so I could claim each little piece of bling sitting in my office, crying out to be hung up.  I had to make the distance, and had to get “this many” done, because more were on the way in the mail.

That self-induced pressure simply shut me down, and I turned my running shoes into everyday shoes.

So I took most of 2017 off, spending my time off-roading and enjoying my recovery.  I kept watching running groups on Facebook, though, and lived vicariously through others’ successes.  And the more I watched, the more I realized I missed running.  I missed the crowds of runners, cheering each other on,  I missed the back of the pack, despite the solitary nature of running back there.  I missed the camaraderie.

So this weekend, I started plotting my comeback for 2018.

I haven’t yet signed up for anything, but I’m trying to focus on some longer races — half marathons — along with some 5k races here and there.  And I intend to travel a bit for some of these races, trying to recapture some of the fun I had with the destination races I ran in 2015 and 2016.

Short story — watch this space.  I’m planning to be back on the road this year.

#151 – We Shall Never Forget 5k

On what my mother would call a “bluebird day”, reminiscent of another one fifteen years ago, I ran today in memory of all that was lost on that terrible day.

As I ran, I thought about those that were lost, those left behind, and all the aftermath of that awful morning.  I thought about where I was when it happened, and how I’ve marked Patriot’s Day ever since.

I ran a meter for each soul lost, and I ran some extra, because sometimes that’s what you need to do.

Hug your family today.  Revel in your life.  Thank God for your blessings.  And thank Him for this great country.

Race Course

#148 – Proud to Be 5k

As has been my frequent routine this year, I started out the weekend with plans for two runs, one Saturday morning, and another on Sunday morning.  Being that the temperatures were very comfy (about 75°, and not a ton of humidity), I figured I should get out and do it.

Unfortunately, I waited until late morning to get out.  I did get out though, and that’s the important part.  However, that meant the air temperature warmed-up through my outing, which is something I’m not a fan of.

As I’ve watched the Olympics over the last couple of weeks, I realized that each of those fast, fast runners had something that I don’t usually have  that much of… sweat.  So, on this morning, I set out to sweat.  And sweat I did.

In fact, I had a pretty good run.  The first part was cloudy, and once the sun broke, I began to sweat like an Olympian in the 26th mile of the marathon.  I ran quite a bit of the course Saturday, with only one significant obstacle…

A cute golden retriever puppy.

You see, I have two hard rules for any event or outing.  I thank every first responder that’s securing a route for me, and I pet every dog.  It’s a great way to rest for a few seconds, and there’s something that’s just plain refreshing about getting a lick on the nose!

This event was sponsored by Moon Joggers, and benefitted Homes for our Troops.

Race Course

#147 – District 10K Run

Full disclosure… This is a story in two parts!

Saturday morning, the weather was glorious.  Becky and Bailey got up about 4:15am to head toward Columbia for a barn hunt competition, so I was left to start my morning slowly, albeit very early.  They got on the road, and I got my breakfast on, watching the opening matches of the new Barclay’s Premiere League season.

After dallying about for far too long, I started to get gussied up for a run.  I noticed that my Garmin had an update waiting, so I let it apply, and headed out.

I’d decided to run on the Monarch Chesterfield Levee.  This is the levee that, in theory, protects much of the Chesterfield Valley from the flood waters that area is prone to.  It wasn’t lost on me that the Great Flood of 1993 would’ve had waters above my head as I stood atop that mound.

I pulled in, and the weather was perfect — cloudy and about 74°.  I rolled out of the Jeep, stretched, and walked up the access path to the top of the levee.  This was the first time I’d run atop the levee, and as expected, it was very flat as it wended along the banks of the water.  I saw loads of wildlife — egrets, blue heron and turkey vultures who circled as though awaiting me to keel over.

I’d intended to run intervals, and set my Garmin to :15/:30 run/walk timing, and took off.  As I motored along, I kept noticing my times were pretty awful.  Now, everyone I’ve seen talk about intervals has said their times are faster when they run intervals.  I sure wasn’t seeing it, so a little ways into my run, I turned that feature off, thinking it was slowing me down.

Well… remember the Garmin update?  As part of the update, it had changed the default units on my watch from kilometers to miles, so all my pace numbers were based on the wrong unit, making it look like I was 60% slower than I should’ve been.  When I saw the first kilometer alert pop up, indicating I’d travelled 0.62 “units”, it was obvious what had happened.  Good ol’ updates.  🙂

The farther I got into the trail, the farther I wanted to take it.  It was that whole “I’ll go to the next power pole” ideology, and eventually I found myself at Baxter Road.  I caught my breath for a minute, looked at my Garmin, and I saw that I was lining up a 4-point-something-mile journey for today.  Cool!

And then I noticed the heat.

I was looking at the area so much, I hadn’t noticed that the clouds were starting to clear, and temperature was rising.  As I’ve mentioned many times, I melt in the heat, and this outing was looking to end on a very toasty, melty note,  And as excited as I was to see what was around each new bend in the trail on the way out, I was hoping against hope that each bend on the way back would have my Jeep in sight!

I finally saw the Lil’ Red Rubicon, and made it back, melty, but successful — and saw that it was now 85°.  And with that foundational run, I intended to go out later in the day and finish up this 10k event.  Little did I know that my evening plans would be interrupted by something totally unexpected…

What interrupted our author’s evening running plans?  Did he get his extra miles in?  What would the beautiful state of Montana have to do with anything?  Return tomorrow to hear how our intrepid hero finished his race… 

This event benefitted Action Against Hunger.

Race Course

#146 – The Puppy Run 5K

Thursday night, I was in bad need of a walk.

For me, running and walking are therapeutic.  I can clear my head, lower my angst, and get centered again.  I had had a “difference of opinion” with our headstrong little Roxy, after which I knew I needed to get out of the house and “walk it off”.  🙂  I got my gear on, fired up my headphones, and immersed myself in music and strides.

Of course, I didn’t look at the temperature before I left.  It was 95°.

I stuck to the neighborhood, much like I’ve done lately.  It’s less hassle not having to drive to a trail, and there are plenty of little neighborhood nooks and crannies to travel along.  On this night, I explored some of those nooks and crannies a couple of subdivisions over, and found the peace I needed.

By the time I got back to the house, though, I was melting.  A summertime 95° in Da Lou is miserable.  Not just hot, but typically humid, and Thursday lived up to that billing.  Blecch!  Done is done, though, and I was happy to get some miles in.

And given that this was a “puppy induced” run, I figured I’d finally get The Puppy Run completed from my “to do” box of virtual races.

I think that’s one of the great things about this sport.  You can literally do it anywhere and anytime, with planning or not, and be as competitive (or not) as you wanna be.  And when you just need to go let off some steam, you can do that too!

Race Course

This event benefitted Valhalla Rescue.

#141 – Freedom Run 5K

5km VirtAfter a weekend of busted runs, I finally got out yesterday and put some miles behind me before a family shrimp boil.  As you can see in the course info below, it was cool, and rainy.

And that was perfect.

I really started out to just walk.  It was wet, and the sidewalks here get snotty slick in that kinda drizzle you get around the edges of a storm, so I figured I’d take it easy.  But then something cool happened.

I started running.

It was one of those weird runs, where you look at a landmark down the road — a telephone pole, a driveway, a road sign — and you just run to that point.  And every time I got to one of those landmarks, I’d spy the next one, and make a deal with myself on how I was gonna attack the next chunk of distance.

This was one of those rare runs where I’ve gotten in a wonderful rhythm that seemed like it would never end.  In this case, though, it had to end, as I had that shrimp boil waiting for me.  However, despite cutting it short, I knew that this was a foundational run for me, one where the mental benefit likely outweighed the physical one.

And that was perfect!

This event benefitted Homes for Our Troops.

Race Course

#138 – Father’s Day Virtual 5k

5kmYesterday, I knew I needed to get out before the heat got too bad, and I had a virtual race burning a hole in my pocket.  This race was supposed to be run today, but I had a “live” race that I’d signed up for, so this Father’s Day race got an early slot on my calendar.

Da Lou has been sweltering awful for the last week.  I thought if I got out early in the day, I’d beat the heat.  Unfortunately, my plans didn’t quite go like that, and it was closer to lunch before I headed out.  As you can see in the image of the race course, it was 84°, which is still in the melt me into a puddle range for me.

I got going on this new course that I’ve discovered.  It’s all sidewalks, with no major road crossings, and is pleasant enough, even with the heat, due to a pretty fair number of trees around.  That’s probably the only thing that kept me from deteriorating into a puddle o’ goo.

And then there was the lemonade.

Wren Trail, which is the big east-wester on my course, has a bunch little neighborhoods that back up to it, and on one of those, there were some kinds with a lemonade stand.  Brilliant!  Hot day, captive audience on the trail, and some ingenuity.  I bought my cup for 50¢ (along with a little tip — I don’t carry change when I run), and guzzled it down.  It wasn’t the tangiest lemonade I’d ever had, but it was there, and so was I… a match made in heaven!

There’s not much to talk about typically for these virtual events, but in this case, the key takeaway is that kids really should be manning lemonade stands during the summer on running routes.  It makes the run so much nicer!!!

This event benefitted the National Park Service.

Race Course

#137 – We Run for Flint 5k

5kmYesterday, I woke to the news from Orlando, and yet another apparent reminder that evil lives among us.  I needed to put some miles under my feet, and put this out of my mind for a while.

I’d had this event on my calendar for a while.  I love running topical events, especially when there’s a charitable leg to them.  There’s something about looking at my medal shelf, and seeing reminders of not just my successes, but also events in the public eye.  This race, of course, brings focus to the awful situation in Flint MI.

Once again, it was hot.  There was some promise of pop-up thunderstorms with the heat, so I waited as long as I could before finally heading out into the neighborhood around 7pm.  The rain never came, and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky.  It was hot, and I was well on the path to becoming a puddle.

I took the same route as I used on Friday.  I’m growing to like it.  There’s just enough shade to make these sweltering days a little more bearable, and the distance is just about exactly what I need for a 5km distance.

Much like Friday night, there was nothing spectacular about my walk.  However, I did a lot of reflection on the day’s events, and tried to get my head around why something as senseless as a massacre could happen in the city of my birth.

This event benefitted the Catholic Charities of Flint.

Race Course

#132 – Honor Flight 5K

5km VirtAs I’ve written before, I’m a sucker for events benefitting patriotic causes, and this one, benefitting the Honor Flight Network, is as patriotic as they come.  If you don’t know who they are, check out their website, and their mission.

This was my first run since the St. Louis Triathlon last Sunday.  I know that it’s suggested to rest quite a bit after a long race — marathon, etc. — and I took that suggestion to also include the tri, which was my longest race of the year so far.

It’s really surprised me how little soreness I’ve had from the triathlon.  I was exhausted after the race, and felt that a little bit on Monday, but I really had no muscle soreness to speak of.  In fact, the only soreness I had was at the back of my head from where my noggin (ensconced in its bike helmet) tapped the ground in my stunning zero MPH bike wreck.  I was really expecting some upper body muscle stiffness to set in from the long swim, but that never materialized.

In truth, I really wasn’t feeling the run yesterday.  I’d intended to get up early, and get my feet on the street, but I didn’t sleep very well at all, taking a fair amount of coffee and breakfast to get me moving.  Unfortunately, by the time I got out the door, it was already 10am, and when running in Da Lou this time of the year, that means heat.

I melt in the heat.  Maybe not literally, but I feel like it.  My perfect running conditions are either rainy or temps around 40-50°, and yesterday had neither.  When I got on the Greenway, it was about 72°; when I hit the Jeep at the end of the run, the thermometer in read 83°.  Those are pretty extreme temperatures for me, and usually I don’t do well in them.

Despite the heat, this run felt pretty good.  It wasn’t the fastest I’ve ever run, but it was around average speed for me, and that’s a huge surprise, given the heat.  I had plenty of energy — and maybe that’s because I gave myself a good long rest after last weekend’s tri — and it helped make this a very comfortable run for me.

And that’s the reward.  On those days when it’s tough to get my feet pointed to the street, I’m usually rewarded with good runs, and a sense of accomplishment for having gotten myself out there.  Yesterday was no exception!

This weekend, we honor those fallen heroes who have helped keep our country safe and free.  Their sacrifice has made it possible to do what I do, and I can certainly honor their memory with a little fundraising to support our heroes.

This event benefitted Honor Flight Network.  From their website:  Honor Flight Network is a non-profit organization created solely to honor America’s veterans for all their sacrifices. We transport our heroes to Washington, D.C. to visit and reflect at their memorials. Top priority is given to the senior veterans – World War II survivors, along with those other veterans who may be terminally ill.

Race Course

#130 – Heroes Always Memorial Run

5km VirtToday was the last warmup before the inaugural St. Louis Triathlon on Sunday.  And, with a nice sunny day, it’s hard not to get out and enjoy it.

This was my first return to the Greenway in almost two weeks — two weeks filled with unseasonably cool weather, and a lot of rain.  For the Greenway, that meant that it was… well… green, as promised.

About three-quarters of the way through the run, I encountered the most wonderful scent.  I stopped, recognizing the smell, but not quite placing it.  I looked around and found it … honeysuckles!  It was like being a kid again.  When I was growing up, we’d pluck the bloom, pull the center from it, and put the tiny drop of nectar on our tongues.  I thought about doing that today, but elected instead to finish up, and get back to the Jeep.

I took it easy today, partly because it’d been a while since my last run, but also because I didn’t wanna risk injuring anything before Sunday’s event!  As it ends up, I kept a pretty regular pace, albeit not exactly blazing speed.  However, it was just a regular ol’ chug down the path, a little warm for me, but coming pretty easily.

This event honored the memories of David Bowie and Alan Rickman, and benefitted the Gastric Cancer Foundation.

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