Day 254 race report “Centreville Marathon”
I used my first virtual run I ran on March 21 for the Maine Coast Marathon.
I didn’t post about it but I think on Tuesday, I got an email from the race organizer about the race being canceled. Not a surprise at all after getting so many of this kind of emails for the last two/three weeks. Boy we are in the third week already of staying in place. Anyway, the race offered a virtual run, no swag. It was a cry fest on its facebook page. I guess all the big races were already canceled the first week CDC released its guideline about social distancing. This one was a bit far out in early may (May 9), so there was no word until this week. I have been checking its facebook page daily. Other people have been asking the same. A little can be said about the communication process here – share early and be direct. Yup, it erupted on its social media page. The community was not too pleased. You can read the anger people had. I can’t believe so other races, runners took it in stride, but this we just pour our anger at the race management – not really their fault, but we want them to hear us – “Enough with this Covid virus thing: we are angry and we won’t take it any more”. I just shrugged it off and moved on. I elected the virtual race option.
So I went out again this Saturday and did my virtual marathon run. People think, virtual mean we run it on the computer or internet. No. Distance-Running (like distance learning) is a better term. We literally run 26.2 miles. Some do it on the treadmill, some on their balcony, some in their yard. Luckily, I could do mine in my neighborhood.
I woke up late. Actually just poor planning. As you have read if from my other race reports, I usually take my race with upmost seriousness. Going to bed early. Layout all my clothes and gear the night before. Surprise for you non-runners, there are a lot of stuff to bring for a run like this: hat, clothes (layers) – undies, jacket, belt, watch, flashlight (for night run), reflector, socks, spares, towel, etc. Lot of lot of stuff. Usually I pack the night before. Not only that, you have to think food and drink. Since this is a virtual run, you would really have to consider what for each aid stop.
I didn’t prepare none of those until I woke up and said I will do a marathon today. My morning was actually interrupted by my boss, who had an IT issue and couldn’t wait until Monday. He called me and then my immediate manager. It had to be solved right now. So my blood pressure shot sky high. Not having eaten breakfast yet really put me in a foul mood. But the work got to be done. I logged into my work from my machine and fixed the issue. Everyone was happy but me. It was near noon by then.
I made lunch while also planning for dinner – with a virtual race still at the back of my head. Hey, you are going to run 5-6 hours and by the time you get back it would be dinner time. Then there is laundry too. Another surprising thing is when you work from home, shouldn’t clothes needed to be washed be less? I just did laundry like two/three days ago and now the hamper basket is full again. What give? I guess I have been running more while working from home!
Yup, another hiccup, there was no more food in the fridge. Wait before that, my most important piece of equipment for a virtual run, my gps garmin watch was low on battery. No watch meant no proof that the run actually happened. I forgot to charge it after my last run. It wouldn’t last for 5-6 hours out there. While that was being charged up, I made a quick drive to the market. Surprise, surprise. I brought everything but stuff for preparing my dinner. I only later realized this while running, what am I to eat after finishing the run.
During that time, I was filling up my water bottles. Prepared my one and only aid station (my house). I planned to do two loops around my neighborhood. On my second loop I would stop by my house to fill up and eat – have it set up like a real aid station. Really, by the time I left my house for my run, it was 3 pm. It was a late start. If the race would take 5 hours, I wouldn’t finish until 8 pm. Knowing it would take that long was demoralizing.
We were blessed with ‘nice’ calm weather. Sky was overcast. Orignally the forecast called for rain the whole day, even as late Friday forecast indicated. But rain had stopped by time I woke up. So the whole time I was out, was a cool 55F (12C), perfect running temperature. There were some mist, but I remained dry. I just hate running when it is wet and cold. I had one short sleeves and shorts. I didn’t lube up, and surprising did not get burn too badly. I had worn a normal underwear and it was rubbing the wrong way during the run, but I survived. Talk about lack of planning there.
Unlike the first virtual run, the whole run was slow and just draggingly slow. I went in the opposite direction this time to spice thing up. The loop I chose is really only 12 miles and so I would need to add two more miles to make it a 26.2. On the last virtual run, I did the two extra miles at the beginning. This time, I decided to add them in halfway. So it is more like a out and back. You add just enough so each loop would be 13.1. That what I did. I ran an extra half mile (out and back made it one mile to the Chantilly Library) in the middle of my loop.
One thing I did not notice on my first virtual run is how beautiful the neighborhood is. The cherry trees are blooming. The soft petals flow down as the wind blows. The ground is covered with white and pink petals. There is a lake. The lake reflects the trees and flowers. I could just stay there. No I got to continue on my run.
There were more runners out and about this weekend. Actually every day I woke up and I went outside and looked, everyone was staying put. But on Friday, half the people were gone (their cars were gone). On Saturday people cars were in their driveways but I saw a lot people being outside.
I generally love my run. I use the time to reflect on things. This virtual race was anything but peaceful reflection. It was more like when will this run going to end.
I saw the time elapsed. As usual, I tried to ignore and avoid looking at my watch too much. Half hour gone by quickly, then an hour and two. I got to ‘half way’ of my first loop around after 4 pm. I stopped for a break and my mom came out (she lives in the neighborhood) and took my picture. She didn’t get to see me on my first virtual run. I said she should be social distancing. She is considered to be in the at risk group – due to her underlining health issue and age.
Any way after the break, I added in the ‘bonus’ mile so I would end my first loop with 13.1 mile. It was way after six when I finished the first loop. I really did not want to run another loop. But I want that 26 miles. I told myself it is still not too late to turn around. I could have my dinner and we could attempt it on another day. How tempting that was. I arrived at my house. I was out of water in my bottle so I needed to top off. I grabbed an orange previously prepared to make it easier to peel while on the go. Off I went for the second loop.
I was not doing great with my time. I already calculated that it would be impossible to finish by 8 pm. With three hours on the first loop, I wouldn’t finish until 9 pm. I kept on praying, Dear Supreme Being, I don’t want to be out here till 9 pm. Have mercy. I was hoping maybe just 10 mins slower than my normal run. Passing my mom’s place the second time, but this time I did not stop. I continued to the Library for the extra mile. The sun started to set. It was a cloudy evening, so no pretty sunset. The cloud was so thick it was just a haze when you looked up. There was no golden glow. Just gray. I had my flashlight on me but I hoped it wouldn’t too quickly get dark that I would need to use it. 7:30, then 8 pm. I was counting down miles. 5 miles left. Five miles is five miles too far. On a normal day it means 40 more minutes. But tonight, who knows, it might be another hour.
I know the route well, completely had it in my head. I know if I get to that traffic light, I would only have about 2.5 miles left. I turned on my flash light by then. I did not check my watch but it got to be after 8 pm. I told myself, only way forward is to finish. To finish means I have to keep on running. Pushing on is the only way to finish. Surely my legs were hurting. Old wound too. Put that out of your mind. Got to keep running. I got to the traffic light. There was only a straight-a-way part now (rt 29 Lee Highway). Passed the sign that said 29th Infantry Memorial Highway. wohoo a piece of history. Never saw it there before. Now where is the sign of welcome to Centreville? The neighborhood became more familar because this is my hood! I ran passed all the stores. My house is outside the business district. Only a mile to go. There was still a hill to climb. It felt like downhill to me.
I imagined some of my last miles of previous marathons. Morgantown came to mind. I told myself, did you remember that crazy last mile? Or the JFK? It was dark and we (me and a lady) ran through the neighborhood just like this one. It was a joy reliving the moments of my previous races. But there was no actual finish line to cross for this virtual race. No one would greet me when I finish. No medal or celebration. It was just a virtual run. But I had to press on. Last mile.
I was so close. There the 26th mile marker I told myself. In reality there was none like that. Come on, only point two mile to go, I said. I got to get to the firehouse where I started. Can’t stop now. Yes the finish line was arbitrary decided to be the firestation. The last mile is always the hardest. There was no cheering as I reached it. I calmly stopped my watch. Good Lawd it was 8:40 something (actual time, not bib time). I did not look at the elapsed time. I was completely drained. No matter how tired I was, make sure that watch data was saved. I’m not gonna run this all over again. Now that felt like a real marathon. I haven’t experienced this for a long time (at least since January).
Imagine though running another marathon or even the third time with no rest in between, how would the body handle it. Yet I plan to do just that in couple weeks, I would do a 52 mile run (a double marathon for my Roanoke virtual race) and in June, if the race is still on, I would be doing a 70 mile run (8 miles shy of doing a marathon three times).
For naming – I haven’t decided which race I will apply this virtual marathon toward. For now it will be called the Centreville Marathon. Hey, we might make it an annual event. FYI, Centreville has no running club, and we don’t have our own marathon ever. Yup, this is the first.
Epilogue: my mom was at my house since 8 pm because she heard me saying I would finish by 8. The last virtual marathon (same route) only taken me only 4:45, so a 5-hour marathon finish is very reasonable estimate. She had prepared dinner and brought a lot of other stuffs, soy milk, pears for me too. I was dead tired though but did eat after a long relaxing shower. Then I couldn’t keep my eyelids open. That concluded the day.