In the 20+ years I’ve been running today marked the third time I’ve run a race without being anywhere near my fellow runners. The concept is called virtual running. The race I ran is called an #Anywhere5K.
What makes this particular race special is that together with a few friends we organized, promoted, and hosted the race. We invited the world and about 40 showed. From New York to California. From the Australia to the Philippines to Lithuania to Singapore to the UK. Runners really did run the Inaugural #Anywhere5K from wherever they were.
So what is an #Anywhere5K? It’s simple really. Instead of registering for a scheduled race at a predetermined location, #Anywhere5K says, “Don’t bother. Go run your own race.” No waiting for Saturday or Sunday or whenever. No more registration fees or stale bagels or long bathroom lines. Just roll out of bed and go.
The night before, as I attempted to print an official #Anywhere5K bib my printer died. I improvised by taking a sharpie to a blank racing bib I had in my junk drawer. In the morning, in spite of the rain, I met up with my Saturday group. We chatted for a few minutes then stepped outside for the National Anthem. My friend held the U.S. flag and I did the singing (if you can call it that). Following my performance, we cheered, shared a few words of encouragement, and then I took off.
My run started with a quarter mile warm-up. Legs were a bit flat from the long runs earlier in the week. Once I pressed start, I tuned that out, and turned on the gas. At 6:50, my first mile went by a little slower than I had anticipated. The second, 6:54, went even slower. Suck! Come on legs! I stepped it up a hair and rolled in mile 3 at 6:52 where I hung out for the last tenth of a mile. I cooled down with 5 more miles at 8:00 pace. After all, I still have a half marathon in May. Overall, great race.
What really surprised me is the fellowship among virtual runners. Loads of people talking about their run; some even talking during their run. The truth is, social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter helped create a real sense of community. Very inspiring.
My time surprised me a little. I used to buy into the philosophy that runners couldn’t set personal records (PR) if they ran by themselves. That people need real flesh-and-blood face-to-face competition. After today I can totally say, “Poo Poo” to that. I took a year off of racing and high-mileage running, and have only recently (past 6 months) been loggin’ 30-40 mile weeks. Today, I ran my butt off. I raced the clock. I raced the virtual runners. I raced myself. In fact, today’s race was one of the fastest 5K’s I’ve run in three years.
Go Run Your Own Race
Get out there and go run an #Anywhere5K on your own—whenever and wherever you want. I’m confident you’ll enjoy yourself.