Monday, May 23, 2016

Let's Talk About The Incredible Virtual Run!

Hey, remember when I signed up for that 10K virtual race back in March?  Yeah, I ran that!  Let's talk about it!

To refresh your memory, the race was The Incredible Virtual Run, organized by Level Up Runs.  This was the first virtual run I ever participated in, and it was a unique experience.  I signed up for the 10K option because I thought it would be easy-peasy to fit in a 6-ish mile run during the last couple weeks of training for the Flower City Half.  (This run was supposed to be completed between April 15-30, and Flower City was the 24th.)  Um, that was not a good plan, because I kiiiiind of forgot to factor in the pre-race taper, so I wasn't running a whole lot the week before Flower City.  That meant that I had to save the run for the last possible day--April 30, because it was far enough from Flower City that I felt recovered and was able to put in a good effort.

Even though this race wasn't "officially" timed (beyond what I saw on my Garmin), I still had a goal to try to beat my current 10K PR of 55:55.  Because I was making up my own race course, I could have totally cheesed out and done a flat/downhill route, but I didn't!  I purposely worked in some of the bigger hills in my area, because I wanted the challenge.

Long story short: goal achieved!  I finished in 54:16.  :)

Not a huge gain on my PR, but a gain nonetheless!  And I considered it a win, given the hills I threw in and the fact that I was only 1 week post-half-marathon.

So, given that this was my first virtual race, what did I think?

Pros: I loved that I had a big window in which to fit the race--you can plan around various weather conditions and scheduling conflicts to find a time that works for you.  You also get the advantage of running your race on whatever surface or route you prefer.  I liked that I was "racing" without all the pre-race adrenaline/pressure that comes from racing in a large crowd.  I was more in control of my pace than I usually am at a big, chaotic starting line.  And because there was a (pretty awesome!) medal coming to me at the end, I was motivated to hit my goal, even without the cheering crowds.
(As predicted, my kids are totally jealous of this medal and have already tried to steal it from me 5,462 times.)
Cons: I don't feel like I can call this race time a true PR, because it wasn't done with an official timing chip, and because I got to set my own race conditions--something that is not reflective of a "true" race setting.  Not a huge deal, but something to consider if you really want 100% confirmation of a PR goal.  My only other caveat is that, other than the race medal, the other swag I received was a $25 gift certificate to SLS3--something I was very excited about.  However, when I received it, I was bummed to find it was more of a coupon than a gift certificate--I can't use it in conjunction with any sales (and they are having a ton of good sales right now), or other promotions, and it does have an expiration date.  I wish they had referred to it as a coupon (granted, a high-value coupon) rather than a gift certificate, because it was a letdown to find that all these stipulations were attached to it.

Overall, this was a fun experience, and I think if I find myself between road races and need a motivational boost, another virtual race could be a great option.

Have you ever done a virtual race?  What other races do you have coming up??


  1. Congrats on your PR!! And I've never heard of a virtual race until now. Interesting. I think I'd do better with the adrenaline of the actual race.

    1. Thanks! Yes, I find the adrenaline of a real race is both a positive and a negative for me. Positive because the energy boost is always helpful! Negative because I can forget to check myself, and end up fading in the later miles.


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