When I broke my leg in November of last year, the main thing on my mind was getting back to running longer distances. I was aware that I might be way slower and have a harder time recovering in the aftermath of my injury, but I was comfortable with that.
My plan was to run the St. Jude Memphis Half Marathon in December. Of course, that was until the pandemic came along and forced most large events to go virtual or cancel.
But then Team Nuun offered a virtual half marathon to its ambassadors. I wasn’t sure if I should put myself out there. Running a half marathon on my own didn’t seem at all like something I wanted to take on, but since Memphis was certainly off, I decided to give it a go.
The Weeks Before
Every week, Team Nuun sent out a training plan for the 2500 half marathon participants. It was a solid plan, although a bit more intense than I could handle. At the moment, I’m not comfortable running more than three days a week. I’d love to bump it to four, but I’m not there, yet.
As November 7 got closer, my nerves began to get the best of me. I waffled quite a bit about whether or not I was going to attempt the distance. It just seemed so very far out of reach. Of course, in my head, I knew I could actually traverse the miles, but I wanted to be strong.
I reached out to J, and asked if she wanted to join me for a few miles. She’s training for a 10K, so I hoped she might be in for a bit, whether I finished or not. We had a plan.
Virtual Race Morning
I woke up on the Saturday in question, not really sure what was going to happen. It had been one heck of a week and my nerves were frayed. The weather had been up and down, and my ankle was stiff and had plenty to say to me. Though it wasn’t raining when i planned to leave the house, it had rained overnight and the ground was slippery.
Failure to plan is planning to fail, however. I set up a small aid station in my driveway, with some Nuun tablets and a pouch of Justin’s almond butter. The idea was that I could swing by the house when I needed some hydration and fuel.
Miles 0 – 2
Before you continue, I want you to know this is not going to be one of those super exciting race reports. There was no cute outfit. I took no selfies of us making what seemed like endless loops of the neighborhood. I have no scenery or cool animals or wonderful sights to offer. This is just me, and my friend, and my husband, putting our heads down and gritting it out on a hot and humid Florida Saturday.
So I really wanted to get up super early and hit the road, to get the bulk of my run done by the time I met up with J. For some reason, I was so tired when the alarm went off, and I just snoozed for an inexcusable amount of time.
The fault is mine, but I managed to snag two miles before I came upon J leaving her house.
Miles 2 – 8
J really wants to race a 10Kk, so her goal is building up to that distance. I’m happy to be along for that ride, and so we took ourselves out for six miles together. It was great that I had set up my little aid station, because we both took part in it. Our neighborhood is perfectly laid out to make it easy to loop back to one’s house, so in that regard, we were well set.
Since her shins had been hurting, I dropped our intervals down to 1:30/1 (we usually do 3/1), just to make sure I could take my time on the wet pavement and she could keep an eye on her legs. It worked just fine.
Miles 8 – 9.5
When we hit 8 miles, we switched to walking. At this point, I had decided that I was ok with a DNF. My right toes were tingling with nerves, and I knew when we parted ways, I wasn’t going to have the motivation to continue on my own. This wasn’t really like me, but sometimes, it’s just not your day.
Enter Mr PugRunner.
J and I were just about to split up (me for my house, her for hers), when we bumped into Mr PugRunner. He had a rest day from his plan, but wanted to walk his virtual Alzheimer’s 5K. I did some quick calculations, and thought that if I had a walking partner, I could totally finish the half! He said he was ok with company (sometimes, he likes to be alone), and so off we went!
Miles 9.5 – 13.1
At this point, I regretted everything. I was so happy to be out there supporting Mr PugRunner on his walk, but it was hot and I was starting to get hungry for more than just almond butter. Ugh. At one point, I mentioned that I just wanted to go home, but it would be stupid to quit with just one mile to go. Mr PugRunner agreed (he’s good like that), and so we went on together until I hit the 13.1 mile mark!
While I didn’t register for this event with any hope of receiving anything (shocking, I know) but the joy of completing a half marathon, I did get a special bonus.
1500 participants received a special Team Nuun Half Marathon in the mail, and I about jumped for joy when I opened my mailbox to this sparkly package!
Friends, there is still a lot of work to do. This is not how I would want an in-person half marathon to go, but I am really grateful that I was able to complete 13.1 miles, less than a year from a truly major injury. I’m proud of myself for not giving up (although I think I would have been ok with the DNF in this situation), and I am looking forward to a chance to try my hand (or legs) at the next event)
Have you run a virtual half marathon?
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