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Virtual Runs Made Real

I began training in 2022 for all of the runs (“races”) that I did virtually in 2020. I wrote about my training for the Cincinnati Flying Pig half-marathon in 2020 and then, due to COVID, running virtually (but still running) in my neighborhood. I am thankful that it was an option. However, running loops in my neighborhood does not compare to running an in-person race, so I was determined to run the formerly virtual events in person.

I ran a test in-person Flying Pig 5k in October of 2021. After participating in that event, I thought it was a safe bet that all runs in 2022 would be in-person. I knew that with training, I could run all of the events that were virtual in 2020 as in-person runs. So, I signed up for the training program I began in 2020.

2022 Training:

The winter of 2022 was cold as I prepared for my in-person half marathon, and I was again thankful for the support of a training group.

Doing any activity with others is motivating and rewarding. As Shawn Achor wrote in the book Big Potential: “If you look at a hill alone, your brain perceives it at 20% steeper than if you are standing three feet from a friend. Our perception of challenge literally transforms when we include others in our pursuit of happiness and success.”

A big thank you to my training buddies, my coach Karen and the Tri-State Running Company Shoe stores for getting me ready to run the half marathon. We spent quality time running in the dark and on cold mornings preparing for all of my upcoming events.

The virtual runs that I wanted to complete were the Heart Mini (a 15k run), the half marathon (a 13.1-mile run) and the Big Ten Network 10k run. My training group was dedicated to training for the Cincinnati Flying Pig half marathon on May 1.   

The training surprise for me was that the only event from the 2020 training plan I did in-person was postponed 3 weeks in 2022 as the weather was too cold and “frozen” on the planned race day in early February. The Frozen 5k put on by the Cincinnati Cyclones  originally fit in nicely to our training program. The revised event pushed onto the training program created “the need” for a 9-mile run that weekend. My coach, and most of the others in our training group, weaved in a 9-mile run with the 5k event. We finished the last mile running back to our starting point in Kentucky. I had never done a “race” with a 5-mile warm-up run prior to the start.

I was happy to arrive at the starting line for the 2022 Cincinnati Heart Mini-Marathon on a cold day at dawn in March. About 1,500 runners were present at the start of the 15k run. I ran mostly with my coach and the running group, only getting separated on the one big hill during the run. This event gave me the confidence that after this run that I could keep my tempo (11-minute miles) on longer runs in the Cincinnati area. The training was paying off.  

Spring eventually came and warmer temperatures replaced the cold temperatures during the training. I was impressed with the training group practicing the “big hill” from the half-marathon course as well as running a lot of the course as part of our training prior to the event. Since it was training, we could spend all of the time we wanted looking at the river, enjoying the sights downtown, so we could concentrate when we were running the event.

The in-person Cincinnati Flying Pig was more exciting than I had anticipated. The buildup began with the Expo that was a few days prior to the run. Yes, you can pick up your bib and shirt. It was so much more than that with running accessories for sale, goodies from vendors available and a lot of people having a good time together because we are all runners and walkers.

The expo had a fan friendly Photo booth that allowed us all to see ourselves crossing the finish line. The expo was well worth the time to visit and see the sights. I was psyched up for a great run after leaving the expo.

The day I had been waiting to experience for about 2 years was here on May 1. I did enjoy the training runs, getting to know my fellow runners and more about myself. The event with all of the people everywhere and all of the excitement just radiated energy. It was so good to experience.

The half marathon is on the first Sunday of May. Running the event was an experience that I was totally prepared for physically, although I did not anticipate the crowd and all of the people running the event with me.

In preparing for the run, I realized that one of my running problems is starting too quickly. I really enjoyed the large crowd at the start of the Heart Mini because the crowd of runners and some walkers forced me to slow down at the beginning. The same thing happened on the marathon day as we started 11 minutes after the official start due to the large number of people running faster than I can. Others behind us took even longer to get to the starting line. We were so far away from the start that we did not hear the announcements. I think there were about 10,000 runners between the half and full marathon participants.

We are all looking good and ready to run. The sign helped keep us together for the first 2 miles.

For the first 8 miles the full and half marathon runners were together. The crowds were all along the route, even after the half group split off. The encouragement was contagious. I was so happy with my pacing and run management that I actually ended up exactly at my goal time of 11-minute per mile pace. I was tired, happy and sore at the end of the run and somehow sad it was over. Because of all of the other runners and the presence of the training group, I had the confidence in my training and was able to finish the half marathon.

I called my friend Bill from college (Michigan State University) who marched with me in the MSU Marching Band and asked him to join me in running the Big Ten Network 10k. I was thrilled when he agreed to join me to train.

Wearing the school colors, just no E flat Cornet and music to play and no plume on our hats!

In 2021, I ran this run virtually on the campus of Michigan State University in celebration of my graduation 40 years prior. That was the second year I had run this 10k virtually. 2022 was the year to return to in-person running, so we needed to go to Chicago and run the event. Bill was in, and we joined together for the Big Ten Network 10k run in downtown Chicago.

Hard to believe this is the first time we have been together in over a year. And only a few years from graduation!

The 10k excitement began with the packet pick-up. Chicago had positive messages for us even during the packet pick-up.  I was happy that my oldest could join me for the run, and I got to spend some quality time with him on the ride up and back. He ran much faster than us older guys, so we saw him prior to and after the run, and once we glimpsed him on mile 4 as we were completing mile 2.

The day began walking from the hotel; we stayed on Michigan Avenue so we were close to the start of the run. We liked the look of Grant Park and followed several other runners to the start of the run.

Not quite sure how many runners were involved. Some reports say 6,000 runners participated in this year’s event. No matter what the number, it looked to us like there was a lot of Big Ten supporters running on Sunday morning in Chicago. We were at the back of the run, and two waves of runners began prior to our start. MSU was the second most represented school behind Illinois. We were happy to be well ahead of Michigan and all other big ten schools. Bill joked during the run that next year we can run a 10 miler and have a 16.1k run due to the Big ten expansion to 16 teams.

The course wound along the shores of Lake Michigan, and it was a clear, sunny day. A perfect day in July for a run along the Lake.  All told, we did well during the run ending about half-way timewise for our age group. Bill and I finished together, and we were happy to have run the event and shared some more in life together. I was inspired by him as he pushed me to run this event during the event. He was in great shape for the run and I am sure that I held him back from running a faster race.

My son cheering us on at the end

Other Fun

My two oldest also ran half marathons on the same day as I did. I finished first, having started first. Their times were faster than mine. What great support they provided to me by running a half marathon on the same day as I did. Next year I am hoping we can all run the same event.

I participated in a virtual 5k with my daughter. I was at home and she was out in North Carolina. So, she did the run live, and I did another virtual run.

I was able to walk around downtown Chicago and explore the area with my son and Bill. We had fun in the windy city. I reminded my oldest that I took him and his brother here by train when they were 6 and 3. He did not remember. We had a blast visiting the city from a new perspective.

While in Chicago at Grant’s Park, named after US Grant, I was surprised to see the statue dedicated to General John A Logan. He was impressive, but I did not see a statue for Grant in the park.

General John A Logan

One of my kids joined me for a practice run (just about 1,000 runners) over the July 4th weekend getting ready for the 10k run. I set a PR for a 5k. Although I started too quickly, I did feel good running with the crowd and some of my running buddies from the half marathon training.

No bike rides but one more actual (bike) event coming soon.

No bike riding for the running blog