Disclaimer: I received free entry to the virtual Salisbury Marathon as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review, find, and write race reviews!
As runners, we’re adjusting to this “new normal” of virtual races instead of the in-person variety. Thankfully, I think I’m very enthusiastic about virtual races; I’ve always been a fan, because you can run on your own time while still snagging some awesome bling in the process.
I’ve run virtual 5Ks before, and I even hosted one myself to benefit Girls on the Run back in the day, but when the Salisbury Marathon was cancelled for 2020 (and my entry was deferred to 2021, phew!), it was a little daunting to even fathom running a virtual full marathon solo.
Heck, I originally even thought, “Hey, since my entry is deferred until 2021, I don’t even have to think about running it this year, score!” But the more I thought about it, the more I knew I mentally needed this challenge in my life right now.
I told my family ahead of time that my plan was to load up water/gear/etc. into our car and drive to a nearby neighborhood where I knew several families and where I felt safe. The neighborhood is a one-mile loop, so I figured I would simply run around it as many times as I could before I went stir-crazy (because that sounds like fun and sane, right?!), and then I’d see where my feet took me. There aren’t any porta-potties along that route, so I knew I wanted to have our car with me in case I needed to go to the bathroom badly—I’d just drive home quickly to make a pit stop.
I started around 7 a.m. on Saturday, April 4, 2020. I really wasn’t sure what to wear, because I’ve been treadmill running for quite a long time now due to the pandemic. (Not that there’s anything wrong whatsoever with running outside, but I figured if I were fine with running on my treadmill, why not stay inside?)
I wore black pants with pockets in them (which were a lifesaver to carry my phone and gels easily), my BibRave tank top, and my Allstate Hot Chocolate zip-up jacket, among other things. It was gray, gloomy, chilly, and a bit windy out. Here I am right before I started off:
Notice how I say I’ll check in every few miles or so? I completely forgot to do that via video. I did, however, text Hubs, my mom, and my sister at literally every single mile. I also texted by Best Running Friend (BRF) Jennifer, whom I normally run long runs with on weekends.
Now, one thing you should know is that I’m used to running solo most of the week (aside from texting everyone and their brother). I listen to music, podcasts, or audio books, and I could run for hours that way. I don’t get bored easily plodding along by myself, but there is something to be said for changing your scenery every now and then.
I think I made it about eight loops before I thought I’d go mad, so then I ran around our old high school area, which was very close by. That loop is only about a half a mile, but if I did that a few times, I figured that would be enough of a scenery change before going back to the one-mile loop. Lo and behold, there were some landscaping workers directly in my path, so I quickly changed my plans. I texted Hubs to complain (thanks, sweetie!) and ran back around my trusty one-mile loop until I hit the halfway point. At that time, I decided to ride back home, change my shirt, and take a bathroom break. My time and pace at that point weren’t my best, but I really only cared about finishing the distance.
After a quick wardrobe change (because my arms were freezing when I had my jacket off, but I was sweating too much in my jacket), I went to the bathroom and refilled one of my water bladders. I didn’t wear my Orange Mud Gear Vest Pro hydration pack, because I really wanted to run with as little as possible. That’s partially why I brought our car with me, so that I could run around the loop and stop each time to take a sip of water or grab a gel. I did run with my handheld Orange Mud bottle for a bit, but only for a loop or two.
After my pit stop, I decided to leave the car at home and see how many miles I could kill by running up and down parallel streets around our house. That didn’t last very long, because it started to drizzle a bit, and the wind was picking up. I had to strategically run in certain directions to avoid the wind. Here I am during this time:
to our local park, and around our downtown area in Dover. Here are some pictures that I took while in Silver Lake Park. It was kind of eerie as I entered the park, because I literally saw just one person fishing down by the stream.
I did see plenty of squirrels, geese, and ducks in the park, and I may have muttered to them once or twice. There’s a dam at the park with a narrow bridge over it, and I ran as fast as I could over it a) to change up the pace and b) because I’m freakin’ scared to go over it. I mentally cheered to myself after crossing that sucker!
I was able to make it to about Mile 20 or so before heading back to my trusty one-mile loop. I texted Hubs to say that I’d love for him and the Angry First Grader (AFG) to meet me around Mile 24 so that the AFG could ride her bike while I ran the last couple of miles. I had this plan that they would meet me with signs, and that the AFG could put my medal around my neck when I finished! (I literally received my race bib and medal the day before.)
Just before Hubs and the AFG got there, I saw the AFG’s school BFF and family out walking their dog. They knew what I was out there doing, and I was so happy to yell to them to say hi from a safe distance. Seeing a friendly face during a race, albeit a virtual one, is so heartwarming to me. I was also stopped by a woman in a car who asked me if I had been out there running since 7 a.m., because she recognized me when she left her house that morning and also when she returned around noon. I told her what I was doing, and she politely laughed at me as she wished me good luck.
Shortly after that, I spotted our car, which made my heart jump. I was nearly done! Hubs and the AFG got out of the car and showed off their amazing signs:
The AFG rode her bike next to me (which was painfully slow, but it didn’t matter at that point) for the remainder of my race. We chatted about what she had for breakfast, if she had fun making her sign with Daddy, and so on. She complained that her legs were getting tired and that she was hot at one point, which made me giggle. (Yes, I did carry her jacket for her!)
At the end of the race, the AFG put my medal around my neck, and I was beaming with pride.
I finished my virtual full—Marathon #7—in 05:33:46. It certainly wasn’t my fasted by a long shot, but it’s definitely my most memorable to date!
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