Virtual racing is an interesting phenomenon: typically, you pay an entry fee (often around $25-$30), you maybe print out a race bib, and you are shipped a finishing prize which is usually a medal. The idea is that you'll go run one of the "race" distances (usually 5k, 10k, or half marathon) on your own during a designated time period. For most virtual races, the entry fee largely goes to a charity or cause, and because there's no actual race production costs, a larger portion of your entry will go towards that cause than if you went to a full-blown race event.
It's a cool idea. Want to feel like you're racing, but live far away from popular race areas? Need some incentive to go running more often? Want to support some great causes? Love racing for bling? Virtual racing is probably for you. I wasn't sure if it was for me but I figured I'd try it anyway with the Skirt Sports 10on10.
I got my race packet in the mail earlier this week, and was surprised to find a couple extra goodies beyond what had been indicated in the registration fees. Not only did I get my race bib and finisher's skirt, but I also had a couple products to try! In addition to what was mailed, I also received an online gift card for $50 to the Skirt Sports store.
What a perfectly PINK skirt!
Then came race day! I could have run any day this weekend, but I picked Sunday because it's typically my long run day anyway. Participants had the option of a 10k or 10 miles; I opted for the 10k as I'm still building back up to distance after my half a couple weeks ago. I geared up with my new SweatPink tank top and set off - after getting the hubby to snap a pic, of course!
It's go time!
Fall has been hitting harder than anticipated already, and the days have been much cooler than a few weeks ago, so I opted for longer fleecy leggings. After the first half mile, I regretted my choice! The sun was out in full force, and it got hot quick. Thankfully, I managed to roll up the ankles of the leggings a bit about halfway through my run, which let a little more of the breeze through to cool me for the return trip. Other than my intensely sweaty legs, though, the run was beautiful! With the slightly cooler temperature and bright sun, lots of people were out, and my route took me through some of the lovely local parks in the area.
With about a mile and a half left, my left arch started aching. I was passing a convenient turning point to take me home more directly, and was sorely tempted to cut my run short to spare my foot a budding blister. I've never been so enticed by a shortcut in my entire life. It was at that moment that I remembered this was no ordinary training run, and thought about the dozens of other virtual racers out there, somewhere, running just like I was. I wouldn't take a short cut if they were all surrounding me, would I? Certainly not. I passed up the shortcut and plowed on ahead with newfound vigor.
That was all the push I needed. I finished strong, and was surprised to find I had hit a PR at the 10k distance! I finished in 1:04:11, which means I crushed my previous time by six minutes! I'm pretty sure if I had been running in smarter clothing I would have been able to knock even more time off, and possibly finish in under an hour. With that in mind, I've set my new training goal to a sub-hour 10k.
That's right - I made my own finish line.
So I ran a virtual race. It didn't feel any different from a normal run, save that one moment when I almost gave up but pushed through for the sake of the "race" and did the full distance. Though I enjoyed my run thoroughly, in the future I probably won't feel too pressed to participate in other virtual races. This one gave me a lot of bang for my buck, including a great running skirt and the gift certificate for more cool apparel, but even the medal races don't really appeal to me that much. I'm luck enough to live in Chicago, surrounded by actual races where I can be part of the bigger production; I think I'll stick to the "real" races and only sign up for virtual races when there's a particularly good cause attached.
Have you ever run a virtual race? What are your thoughts from your experiences?