Over the Independence Day weekend, I ran a virtual 5K with my friend Michelle. It wasn’t originally supposed to be a virtual event, but like so many others, it had to switch because of Covid-19.
The Hilltop 5K is put on by the Columbus Westside Running Club and benefits local veterans. A few of their honored guests included local VFW posts and the Columbus Mounted Police. They offered a traditional 5K and a rucksack 5K where you fill a backpack, rucksack, or other bag with 35 pounds of stuff and run/walk for 3.1 miles. I’m already carrying an extra hundred pounds of fat on my body, so I passed on the rucksack challenge. (Michelle told me that the Columbus Westside Running Group is completely free, I just joined today and added them to my Strava. I need all the motivation I can get.)
Since it was a virtual event, volunteers dropped off the t-shirts, race bibs, and medals in advance. Michelle had completed it last year, so she also received a dog tag with her name and last year’s race results on it. Last year the event kicked off around 9am and was blazing hot. She said she walked the last mile and begged someone to spray her with a garden hose to cool her down.
This year, Michelle wanted to PR it and crush last year’s results. We met at Westgate Park before 6AM. (I have to say running in Ohio in July has me on a super weird sleep schedule! I am up a few days a week at 4:50AM to run at 5:30AM! Other days I sleep in until 7am. Either way, I still go to bed at 9PM like a grandma and take naps every chance I get.) But I digress, we each got up at the butt crack of dawn and met at the park to beat the heat.
We wore our bibs and left our medals in our cars for afterward to make it more “official.” Michelle had never run a virtual 5K before, and I had only run a couple before this year. It was cool- only reached 66 by the time we were done, but we worked up a sweat doing run walk intervals anyways. It was nice to catch up and talk about work, our mutual friends, home remodeling projects etc in between sprints. I think my favorite part was when we saw someone running down the road wearing the Hilltop 5K t-shirt, probably doing the same virtual race. If there’s 3 of us doing it at the same place, that makes it a non-virtual, in person official race, right? Especially since one was a stranger!
We completed it in 46:14, which crushed Michelle’s last attempt. She was very happy, and then went on that day to work with her husband delivering packages and more than doubled her step goal. All in all, it was great. It made me realize a few things. Not all virtual races are a cash grab- some can benefit your community. Running early is the way to do it. And last but not least, having an accountabili-buddy is really helpful