The Virtual Run Experience


After completing the 12-week Hal Higdon Half Marathon training plan at the end of July, I have been at an in-between place in my training during the month of August. Hal Higdon’s Dopey training plan doesn’t kick off until September 10th so I’ve been left with about 5 weeks of downtime. Don’t get me wrong, it's nice to wake up and not have a 10+ mile training run on my calendar, but I do want to make sure I maintain the cardio fitness I have built up. During this 5-week period, I signed up for a couple of smaller, local races (see last week’s post for one of those races) and decided to participate in my first virtual race. RunDisney has a virtual series, but to be completely honest, virtual races never truly interested me. I love the crowds, expo, music, start and especially finish line that live races have to offer; not to mention the immediate satisfaction of having a medal placed around your neck. But after completing my first virtual race this week, I’m starting to see what the hype is all about.


Each year, Lululemon hosts the Seawheeze Half Marathon in Vancouver that is open to approximately 10,000 runners. It has a ‘runDisney-esque’ feel to it in that there's high anticipation among runners who would like to participate, although runners can only officially register via a random drawing. This leaves a large group of runners who would’ve liked to participate but weren’t selected, without a summer race. Enter the virtual half option! For $28, virtual runners registered for the Seawheeze Virtual Half Marathon and agreed to complete a 13.1 mile run in one session between August 17th – 24th all tracked via the fitness tracking app, Strava. Each finisher will also receive this year’s gorgeous medal in the mail! This was the first year Lululemon offered the virtual half marathon option (open to all runners) and it seems to be extremely popular based on the participation I saw on Strava on only the first day of the virtual half. Some Lululemon stores (including the one here in SF) are also organizing local runs for virtual runners to complete their half marathon as a group. My local store’s group run, unfortunately, didn’t work for my schedule, so I headed out solo to complete my mileage.

On an unseasonably warm day in San Francisco, I laced up my Hoka’s and headed for the flattest route in the city, The Embarcadero. This felt very similar to a long training run and I felt relaxed with that familiarity. A few immediate ‘pro’s’ of a virtual race include no 3 am wake up call, you get to choose your own course, and there are no long porta-potty lines. I also used this as an opportunity to try out some new nutrition…lets just say I’ll be sticking to Honey Stinger. After a no line porta-potty stop, I was off to complete my half marathon. My goal was to focus on my running form, breath, and heart rate. I felt great throughout my run and finished with a view of the San Francisco Bay. One other thing you don’t get by completing a virtual race is the obligatory post-race banana. Luckily, I had my husband on hand for banana duty (thanks, Ariel!).


After completing my first virtual race, I signed into Strava to see other runners who completed their races. I was blown away by the community’s encouragement and congratulatory messages that continued throughout the day. I even got a shout out from Lululemon on insta! Overall, I feel virtual races are a great option for those who need a little more flexibility than can be offered within a live race. It also makes you accountable for completing a certain distance and I could see myself using a virtual race in conjunction with completing a longer, scheduled training run. So while virtual races won’t be replacing live races for me anytime soon, I do appreciate the differences between each type. Now I just have to check my mailbox twice a day until my medal arrives!

Thanks for reading, Sparkles!

Xoxo Jerica


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