Virtual Whale Challenge

As this weekend approached, I honestly didn't know if I would run the races I had signed up for by myself, or virtually, or if I would just say forget about the missed races and run whatever. To be honest, I had a lot of anxiety about what I would do. Considering the real problems in the world and the pandemic we're dealing with, my anxiety about running seemed very trivial. On Friday, I made mention to Dan that I wasn't sure what my plan was and he was quick to say of course you run the distance, why wouldn't you.

Honestly, he was right. I was imagining what I would feel like at the end of the weekend if I just decided to walk away and forget about Shamrock altogether for this year and I realized that would feel so rotten. So the first ever Virtual Whale Challenge was on.

Had the Shamrock weekend gone on as planned, I would have run the 8k on Saturday and the marathon on Sunday. I would have also been off on Monday and able to sleep in have a fairly lazy day, except for riding 7 hours home in the car.

I woke up on Saturday and I really felt like I needed to just tackle the marathon. The weather was going to be decent both days but I knew it would be weighing on my mind until it was done. Also, I cancelled my day off for Monday once the race was cancelled because I had too many meetings (which are now calls in the work from home universe) that were not worth getting coworkers to cover if I wouldn't be traveling. I have a bit more ability to be relaxed working form home on Monday but I need to be online and available at 8am and I wanted to be able to sleep in and move slower on the day after the marathon.

By mid morning Saturday, I was walking out the back door of my house for my first ever virtual marathon. I was not sure of my exact route. I thought I would run the same route I ran for my last 20 miler and I have a 6+ mile route I often run so I would tack that on to hit a marathon. The first 10ish miles ticked by really smoothly. I physically felt really good and my mental game was strong. I decided to alter my route a bit and run to 13.1 miles and then turn around and run the same route back so I was sure to be at just the right distance. I felt pretty good until about mile 16 when I realized that I needed to move to a run/walk. My hope was to run at least 20 miles before I transitioned to a run/walk but my mental game was still strong so I had the wherewithal to know that I would rather slow down to a run/walk than getting to a point that I was hurting so bad that a walk was a struggle.

I had high hopes of running the PR that I planned to run in Virginia Beach and even up to the halfway point, it was still very possible, although unlikely because I had very little room for error. My ultimate goal when I set out to run was to do the distance. I took all time expectations away because I just didn't need that pressure on myself and I was really glad that I already had that agreement with myself.

The temperature was wonderful although in the first half, there was some chilly wind. I was worried that as the miles went on and I slowed down that I would get too cold but for once mother nature cooperated. In the second half as I was moving slower, the wind really dissipated and I was borderline hot!

My time was certainly not fast but I was not my slowest marathon! The course I ran was certainly not the flat, fast course we've all come to love in Virginia Beach. I ran up and down hill after hill. Actually, as I continue to work at getting faster and improving my endurance, I'd like to run the same course again as a benchmark.

My marathon course looked a lot like these photos, although I actually took theses photos on Sunday during my virtual 8k:

I finished 26.2 miles feeling pretty darn good!

In order to complete the Whale Challenge, that left me with an 8k to run today. If I didn't have time expectations for the marathon, I really didn't have expectations for the 8k. I knew I'd have some soreness and I was just looking to finish it. Altogether, I ran about half and walked about half. My legs actually felt pretty good considering I ran a marathon yesterday.

You can see, I was pretty happy to have finished the Whale Challenge, regardless of the circumstances:

I re-hydrated plenty of cold water from my Neptune glass:

Although I was disappointed that this weekend didn't go off quite like I planned, I realized today when I was finishing up my 8k, I the weekend was really representative of the grit and toughness that's required to be a marathoner. I wish this weekend included cheers, beers, and all the pomp and circumstance of Shamrock weekend but there was something so accurate about the way that I ran from my house and came home to shower and relax, just like any other Saturday long run. There were no photographers or aid stations or funny signs and neighbors cheering. The race is supposed to be the victory lap after months of training and just maybe the victory lap was meant to be more of a quiet victory than a rock concert party.

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