This was an interesting week to say the least. Tuesday, I finally got the confirmation that my marathon had been cancelled, and just like that I knew there was no way for me to Boston Qualify this season. I knew the email was coming, but reading the words, I had that feeling so eloquently described in Mean Girls. When Kady says “my stomach felt like it was going to fall out of my butt.” That one. I wrote all about it in My Marathon Was Cancelled, so I won’t recant. But within a few hours, I fully committed to the decision of running a virtual marathon. Not quite sure what a virtual race even is, take a look at this explanation on Active.com. I want to go into that thought process a little more, and how I’m planning on executing what might be my most difficult race in a bit.
I had previously decided to keep training for the marathon until I got official notification of the cancellation. So Monday, I did what ended up being my last speed workout. I went to CrossFit that evening, and came home looking forward to a Tuesday of rest. Since my kiddo’s been home with us, I decided Tuesday to get him out and took him for a 3 mile hike at the Freidrich Nature Preserve. As hard as this coronavirus quarantine business has been, I have to say that I have not hated having more time to find creative ways to entertain my 6 year old. Taking him for that short hike was truly a breath of fresh air.
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By Thursday, I had received notification of the race cancellation. So I decided to just give myself a break and run my prescribed 12 miles without the tempo pacing. As pissed as I am about the loss of the Boston Qualifying opportunity, it was nice to let go of the pacing that’s been kicking my butt. Friday was my first non-box CrossFit workout after the governor issued the mandated closure. It’s been a whirlwind of a week; I’m sure you’re feeling it too. Thankfully, the box I’ve been working out at in San Antonio was gracious enough to loan out some pieces of equipment. My husband and I have a set of dumbbells, but they’re not my favorite. So I certainly appreciate the loaner.
On Friday, I decided to use my workout as an opportunity to get my kid out of the house as well. He’s got no shortage of energy, so I’m looking for survival opportunities here, people. I took him to the elementary school that is just down the street from where we’re at, and while I did my 45 minute workout, he rode his skateboard around the empty parking lot. It’s been interesting trying to find creative ways to get him outside without going to playgrounds, and I felt like Friday was a definite mom win.
Running a Virtual Marathon
I don’t think I ever anticipated running 26.2 miles without being surrounded by at least 50 other insane people doing the same thing. No start line, no corral, no national anthem, no aid stations, no crowd support, no finish line. When I type it all out like that it sounds….boring. I mean, I like running. I like running far. But even I get a little bored sometimes from miles 18-24. It’s a lot time to be moving without a running buddy. So why on Earth did I decide to run a virtual marathon, where I’m guaranteed to have even fewer distractions and course entertainment?
Well, I wrote about my thought process in my recent post, My Marathon Was Cancelled. But I want to give a little more context. Everyone knows running a marathon is hard. 26.2 miles is a long way to go on two feet. It takes hours. But after you’ve run a handful of endurance races, you should come to accept that running a marathon is going to hurt. A lot. No matter how well you train.
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When people ask me why I willingly sign up to do something that I know is going to make me feel like I drank a frat party’s worth of alcohol and then got into a fight with a bear the day after, I almost always give the same answer. I like doing hard things. I like pushing the boundaries. I’m not good at following rules. And marathon racing breaks a lot of rules that society constructs for us. Rules about our strength and limits as women. Rules I’m not particularly fond of. I like seeing how far I can get when I decide that pain isn’t enough of a reason to stop.
And as hard as marathon racing is on the body, it is a really fun experience. It’s exciting to show up race morning and see your fellow runners warming up in the corrals. Your heart beats faster when you hear the countdown and the gun finally go off. You smile at dumb things like cowbells and signs with trite innuendos. The excitement of the race helps you push the pain to the side and focus elsewhere.
So, I’m doing the virtual marathon because I want to know that I have what it takes to look at the pain straight on; no distractions available. Because right now there are so many things out of my control. I can’t personally create a cure for the virus; I’m not that smart. I can’t force schools to reopen so people can work without the distraction of being asked for more cheerios. I can’t even choose to sit in a coffee shop, have a latte, and enjoy 3 minutes to myself if I want to. But I can choose to keep pushing the boundaries. So that’s why I’m not deferring.
I hate following rules so much that I would rather run 26.2 miles than submit to them. And what the Hell else am I going to do during a statewide quarantine, anyways?
How It Will Be Different
So now that I’ve made the (somewhat insane) decision to run a marathon unsupported, I’ve started preparing myself for what is going to be a very different experience. Just how different will it be? Well I’m not completely sure, but there’s a couple of things I’m working on.
For one, I know there obviously won’t be any aid stations. I don’t normally rely on gels or gu’s provided at aid stations, because you just never know what kind of stuff the race is gonna show up with. But water is definitely something I leave for the course. Not this time though, friends. This time I’ll be carrying my own water in my Nathan Hydration pack, along with my tailwind fuel.
I also won’t be relying on the course for any entertainment, since uh, there won’t be any. I usually have 1-2 podcasts lined up for a marathon. I know I don’t listen to anything the first couple of miles, because I honestly like to soak in most of what the course has to offer. This time, I’ll be spending a little more time the night before making a few selections so I’m not left counting my steps 13 miles in.
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I’ll also be taking my cell phone. Most marathons, I have my cell phone on airplane mode for the majority of the race. Especially if I am trying to PR or Boston Qualify. Since I won’t be doing either of those, I plan to have my cell phone charged and ready to go. I plan to share my marathon through my social media and hope that I have some virtual encouragement from the amazing running community to get me through those hard miles. If you’d like to follow along and laugh at my pain, please follow me on Instagram and FaceBook..
And finally, I won’t be running this distance with any speed or pacing in strategy in mind, other than keeping it reasonable. I want to run these miles for the joy of running, and the strength of pushing limits. So if that means I average 10 minute miles for the last 10k, then I’m not going to fight it. The only thing I plan to fight against is my own mental weakness, and there’s no pace needed for that.
How I’m Preparing
Because the format of this race will be different, it only makes sense that how I’m preparing for this race will be different as well. Since I’m not worried about hitting specific paces, I’m not going to taper quite as hard as I normally would. Will I be running a 65 mile week right before the weekend? No. But I’m also not going to stress about making sure I get 9 hours of sleep every night the week before. I’ll be decreasing mileage; just not quite as drastically as I normally do.
I’ll be acting as race coordinator for this little endeavor, which means I’ll be planning out where I can meet my husband and (hopefully) cousin. It also means I’ll be at home so I don’t need to worry about pre-race packing, which is a special project management relief.
One thing that won’t change is that I fully plan on carb-loading. It’s one of my favorite parts of the marathon experience, and no matter how slow I plan on going, I will gladly fuel up.
So, that’s the whole deal on why and how I’m running a virtual marathon. I know it’s a little insane, and I’m sure there are plenty of reasonable people out there who would defer for next year. I’m just a special kind of masochist. And I’m running a virtual marathon. We’re facing strange times, and unchartered territory, ya’ll.
This Weeks Workouts
Total Miles: 59 miles
Hansons Marathon Method, Week 16, I guess
How the Runs Felt
If I am completely honest, my runs this week felt crappy before I got the cancellation notice. I knew it was coming, and I think I just wanted to get the notice and move on. The stress leading up to it made my runs feel forced and anxious. It was not ideal. As disappointed as I am, once I got the notice, it almost felt like a relief. Like when you get a bad grade in elementary, and you spend all week trying to find a way out of telling your parents, only to feel relieved once you finally freaking get it over with.
I’m definitely not happy with what’s going on, but I’m starting to feel somewhat excited about what’s to come. I think having that vision in mind made me feel better during my runs later in the week. Plus, the pacing didn’t make me feel like I was in respiratory distress without a virus, so that’s always a plus.
Saturday I was lucky enough to meet up with my cousin and run my long run on the Howard Peak Greenway. It was drizzly and slightly cold, so I was certainly very happy to have the company.
What I’ve Been Listening To
I’ve been listening to a few more real estate investing podcasts than usual this past week. I’m pretty sure there’s going to be some substantial economic ramifications from this quarantine, and I feel better when I’m somewhat prepared for what’s to come. My personal favorite this week was the Bigger Pockets series of podcasts; in case you happen to be interested in finance or real estate investing. I’ve also been listening to Up and Vanished and Atlanta Monster quite a bit.
How the WODs felt
I have to say, I’m not loving the fact that I can’t workout in my CrossFit box. Yes, I know it’s selfish, and yes I also understand the need and value of this whole social distancing thing. But again, the honest truth is that I feel like I’ve been hitting some amazing strength gains, and it sucks to have that interrupted by a freaking virus. It’s just, lame.
I’ll likely be doing a combination home WODs from my CrossFit box, as well as some home Workouts that I am programming myself. I’m sharing these workouts on my social media as well if you’d like some home workout ideas. I do think I can get in some really solid workouts with the equipment I have here: a set of resistance bands, dumbbells, a kettlebell, and a jump rope. But will I lose some strength gains in my squat, clean, and deadlift? Probably, and that sucks. Not as bad as finding out grandma caught the coronavirus, so I’ll suck it up. But it sucks none the less.
What Went Well
I did a good job letting myself feel all the feelings that came up this week. I took care of myself. I baked some muffins. I spent more time with my boys. I made sure I moved and worked out consistently. A few years ago, all of this upheaval would have resulted in me sitting in my closet, stress eating, and social media scrolling, while the worst case scenario’s of economic collapse and the impending apocalypse played on a loop in my brain. I’m proud of myself for being honest and acknowledging how I felt, and also for allowing myself to begin to move on.
What Went Shitty
Ummmmm, do I really need to spell this part out? My damn marathon got cancelled. My CrossFit box closed. My two main stress management strategies got major kicks in the ass this week. It was not fun times for me, or anyone else in the world to my knowledge.
Plans to Improve Next Week
Next week I’ll be tapering for my virtual marathon, which is a weird thing to try to wrap my head around. I plan to keep being flexible with myself and how I’m feeling. I plan to make sure I stay on top of my hydration, my nutrition, and getting enough rest. Because what the heck else do you do when everything is shut down? Saturday will be my marathon, and I plan to stay connected through my IG stories, so please feel free to hop on the social media (what else are you honestly doing) and cheer me on!