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  • Writer's pictureKatie Brown

I ran a virtual half marathon and I loved it!

“Every accomplishment starts with the decision to try”

Last month I made a choice; to stop beating myself up about my running times when I ‘raced’ as the more time I spent fretting the worse my times would be. I thought well I may be the person who set’s a personal best whilst out on a Sunday run or wake’s up on a Tuesday with strong enough leg’s to set a great 5km time and that’s just fine with me.

In celebration of my new outlook towards entering races I entered my first ever ‘Virtual Race’ and ran a very enjoyable 5km in 26.53. I could complain and say it was 1min 55second slower than my current PB but that’s not the sprit – What’s 1min 55 seconds between me, happy legs and a stress free medal?

At 3.30pm on Friday afternoon my dad called and asked if I fancied a run on Saturday morning as he’d just returned from a 6 week ski trip. I agreed and suggested a lovely reservoir as our location; it’s reasonably flat, around 6.6 miles around and very popular with local runners and cyclists. He then said we should run it twice, without giving myself any chance to worry think I agreed and then let the prospect of running 13miles settle in.

I’d love to say at this point I carried on my day in a relaxed mood; however I dived head first into blind panic..

‘I’ve not trained’ – ‘I’m not sure I can run 13 miles’ – ‘I only tend to run up to 10miles and I’ve got to bolt on 3 more’ – ‘I last ran 13 miles in 2009’ – ‘What do I eat?’

With a blast of steely determination, driven by the prospect of carb loading I went onto ‘Virtual Runner’ paid my £5.00 and entered a virtual half marathon. I was going to do it, I would not give up, I would cover the distance without training, I would stuff my face and I will tweet about it so I felt under more pressure to complete it.

I went home and googled various paces for the times I had in mind, I then ate an awful lot of peanut butter and drank a lot of water. Thanks to ‘#UKRUNCHAT’ I smiled at the suggestion that in my mind I could split my run into 4 5kms or two 10kms (plus a little more).  I laid out my kit with military precession, choosing the most comfortable socks, carpi’s and vest I owned, plus my rugged salomon trainers as the terrain can get muddy in places.

In the morning I bounced out of bed, demolished cereal and toast (I like food and I cannot lie) and whizzed off to run my half marathon. Slightly off topic but I went past the turning (ooops) and then a bunny ran out in front of me, which fortunately I missed but this sent my heart rate rocketing and I’m not sure that helped calm my nerves.

Once we started running the first 6.5miles flew by and I felt really good up until mile 10, so at mile 11 I made the choice to slow down a little and recover my leg’s and end on a faster note. My body had a different idea, at 11 miles I got a seriously painful side stitch and had to stop to take a moment and try recover. I then continued with a few steady jog but the pain was persistent and I kept having to stop and I was starting to get frustrated, emotional and I really wanted to just give up.

I had 3 choices – 1) Give up, 2) Walk the remainder, 3) girl up and walk/run the best I could and I went for option number 3. I would love to write that I ended the run feeling strong, content and in my goal time but I finished the run holding onto my side, slightly bent over and moving at a very steady pace.

On the journey back I started to feel elated; I’d ran my virtual half marathon, I CAN run 13.1 miles without having a complete melt down. Also whilst I hadn’t hit my first target time (2.05) and considering when I last ran the full 13.1 it had taken me 2.25 I was absolutely thrilled!

My mind is now buzzing with the prospect of including more long run’s into my week and setting another half marathon PB within the next 6 weeks – I’m pretty confident looking at my split’s that had I not got the stitch that I may have managed my 2.05 aim and I enjoyed the distance so much more than I expected.

I firmly recommend trying a ‘Virtual Race’ with ‘Virtual Runner’ as they are only £5.00, no stress, you can run where and when you wish and chose a distance to suit you and you even get a medal – Hurrah!  Tell me – Have you ever joined a virtual race before? Have you run a half marathon? Isn’t refueling with a wonderful meal after a long run absolutely amazing?  Katie  x

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