A week or so ago, on the Saturday after Thanksgiving I went to a local downtown area near my house called Cocoa Village to pick up my “race packet”. From 2007-March 2020, picking up a race packet meant walking through the vendor expo, seeing a few friends and talking about how we thought we’d do in the following days race.
There was always some anxiety over how I’d perform. No matter if it was a 5K or a half marathon. Or even a marathon… I ran two… Nov. 2007 and Jan. 2009. The past 12 years however have only been 5k’s to half marathons. The longer the race though, there would be some dread as to “why do I keep doing these things” 🙂
I’d come home and have the wife pin my race bib to the shirt I’d picked out to wear at the race. It was a ritual we had, I’d put the shirt on and she’d line it up just right so as not to annoy me during the race. There would be more anxiety that night as I set the alarm for whatever time I wanted to get up the next day. I’d want to sleep in as long as I could. I’d also want to have enough time to properly and hopefully leisurely get ready and travel to the race.
I’d always have a restless nights sleep which would just add to the anxiety. I’d wake up tired and worried about what lay ahead of me. A 5K or 10k would be less worrisome but a 15K or Half Marathon caused LOTS of trepidation. Most of my races have been half marathons. I’ve run 100-125 races in my lifetime and 44 have been half marathons.
Getting ready and driving to the race, I’d have to manage the nerves… all while anticipating and managing bowel movements. In the first year of my racing, I learned all the places open at 5 or 6 am that I could swing in and use the facilities. I always built in extra travel time to accommodate such activities 🙂
Once the race began, the first 20-25% of it involved settling in on my pace, my breathing and my nerves. The halfway point would allow for a big release of anxiety and bring a bit of peace that I was gonna be able to do this… and maybe be happy with my results. The last quarter of the race would either involve pushing the body for a certain result, or sometimes just letting the body survive this kind of an effort.
Completion normally allowed for a bit of elation… maybe a bit of “it is what it is”… and certainly a lot of “I DID IT!!!” For years I’ve had people ask me “How’d you do?” My answer was ALWAYS the same… “I finished, I was smiling and still standing” 🙂
The drive home almost always felt good, I’d usually stop and get a coffee and be on an emotional high. That “runners high” mixed with a “caffeine high” 🙂
The rest of the day involved going online looking at all the results, recording all my info of time and placings in age group, males and overall. I record these in my daily journal so as to be able to pull them up easily for future viewing/comparison. The rest of the day would be filled with reading a Sunday paper, watching some football, having a big meal in the evening and an overall sense of LIFE IS GOOD!!! 🙂
I wrote ALL of that to say… I kinda miss some/most of it. Since the pandemic, we’re now allowed to run these races “virtually”. Don’t know if this will last forever, but it’s convenient for me at this point in my life.
Now that I’m a lead pastor at a church I feel guilty missing Sunday mornings so I run all the races virtually…. and it’s kinda bittersweet. I fully retired almost exactly 6 years ago. I have no need to earn a paycheck and work for almost nothing, but still feel selfish if I miss a week to do a race. In fact I haven’t taken a week off yet, for a race. I’m sure I will one day. I’ve been a lead pastor for about a year and a half.
“Virtual” runners are required to run the miles in some fashion. All at once is not required. I usually just run the total number of miles in a few different runs, two or three runs normally. Last February, I did run 13.1 miles in one run, just to make sure I could still survive it. Usually the races ask you to email screenshots of your runs that total the mileage of the race.
At my most recent half marathon, I asked the girl who handed me my packet how long I had to send in my proof (each race sometimes has different rules). She said “There’s no need for that, it’s all on the honor system.” Feels weird…
FYI, I’m still running some of the Saturday races in person… they’re normally the 5K’s, occasionally a 10K. The longer runs are almost always on Sunday. I prefer doing the longer ones but they come with the extra training and anxiety. Oh well…
The Merriam-Webster website has the following…Essential Meaning of virtual 1: very close to being something without actually being it… sounds about right.