“A lot of people run a race to see who is fastest. I run to see who has the most guts, who can punish himself into exhausting pace, and then at the end, punish himself even more.” ~ Steve Prefontaine
As we are settling in to the new year, it has been patently obvious that on January 1, 2021 – a magic button wasn’t pressed and our lives immediately returned to how they were in January 1, 2020. Life is still pretty un-normal, and they likely have been changed forever, at that is not necessarily bad. That is inevitable with global events such as we are experiencing the last year. While parts of our everyday lives are hoping to get better soon, some of the best things we have learned we will continue to adapt and use once the pandemic is under control. For example, I for one do not hate having the people that serve food wear a mask. I also prefer to wait in my car and receive a call when my appointment is ready, rather than sitting in a waiting room. But that is just me. And there are plenty of things that I miss and can’t wait to see come back – live music, holidays with my family, hugs – and beer gardens at races. 🙂
My point being is that we have evolved over the last year; society, technology, human interactions – life has changed rapidly, and in some parts for the better. Technology has allowed us to stay close while being isolated, it has opened up new work spaces and environments, it has given us the tools to adapt and survive while most of our day to day lives were taken away.
As runners, we are social creatures – we love our group runs and our post-race beers, the sharing of times and PRs, the friendly competitions that encourage us to be be better. While we were still able to run in locked downs, the physical interactions of that were taken away. However, technology allowed us to adapt and survive. We as a race company were essentially shut down these last 10 months. We also as race directors had to adapt to survive. And much like online race results have replaced a local newspaper listing, our running community and road racing is continuing to evolve with technology.
At our core, our mission at Rhode Races is to promote running and fitness and be a good partner to our community. While not being able to host a traditional “goal” race for many, some floundered in quarantine (and many of our partner charities lost much needed funds) while others found ways to change to our new conditions. Personally, I had a milestone birthday this year, and had a calendar of races to help mark the milestone. But we all know this story…… So we adapted, personally and professionally, like much of the world – and found a true love and benefit to virtual events.
At its core, virtual events and challenges can allow you to keep your goals, set personal bests, find new limits and achieve milestones – if you approach them like a true “event.” The essence of any race is typically to set a a new record or personal best for you. For a virtual event, approach that day as you would any race day, but relish in the fact that it is all about you.
You get to be your own race director – think about the things you love the most about a race. Think about something that inspires you or intimidates you and really embrace that as something to conquer. There will be no missed shuttles, or late starts, or early wakeup calls, or crowded portapotty lines – you get to define how the race is going go. This can include not only where you want those aid stations but what would inspire you at that location – you could have your kids make a sign or a PB&J sandwich. Celebrate what you love about the competition and go all in on that. You get to be in total control of your own race for the most successful outcome. It may take the pressure off the actual distance, and more about the experience – allowing you to have the most memorable event possible. Take it seriously, but make it fun, customized and engaging. You get to be the star athlete and best race director that day!
- When you do want to start? What is the best time of day for you to run? What day doesn’t conflict with the rest of your calendar? (Not that there is a lot on a calendar these days…..)
- What do you want the course to be? Hilly or flat? Loop or point to point?
- Where is the optimum location for your aid stations?
- Where do you need your most support in the race? What parts of the journey can you invite someone to join you – to pace or just for support (they can ride a bike along side you, which would be impossible in an actual race).
Listen to your favorite music, choose a course that you have always wanted to do. Have you family be there for part of it, for all of it.
A virtual event can be a celebration of all the things you love about racing or running and still allow you to embrace your competitive side. In some cases, a virtual race allows you to feel more comfortable about committing to a goal race or distance, without the additional pressures of a full-scale event, or travel logistics, or time constraints. But make no mistake about it, there will still be a results page, there will still be leader boards, there is still a public display of your effort and how you matched up against others in your gender or age. There is still a robust and engaging community surrounding virtual events that will help you achieve those goals, be inspired by your community and satisfy your competitive nature.
And yes, solo events can be hard, without all the glitz, glamour, noise of an actual race day. (And don’t get me wrong, some in-person races can be harder than a solo race. I did one marathon in snow in October and one year of Boston in April with 80 degree heat. Those SUCKED!) But races are supposed to be hard. (“My sport is your sport’s punishment.”) That is what makes the accomplishment so rewarding – the all out effort of achieving your best on that day.
We know that virtual races and challenges aren’t for everybody. But we also know plenty of runners and “lapsed” runners that don’t enjoy races. Or runners that can’t make it to an actual race day for one reason or another. But virtual events are no longer 2nd class events in our running world – they are now true alternatives, sometimes a first step into the world of racing, and a complimentary part of our community. And virtual events allow us to be even more charitable as we don’t have many of the risks and costs of in-person events!!!
For these 3 months of winter, when it is typically difficult to have a road race even in non-COVID times, it can even be a struggle to get out of the house. We have created 3 virtual events to help engage your fitness, give you some goals and connect you to a larger community. January is our Run Streak Challenge – run one mile a day each day. Just because NY’s has past doesn’t mean all is lost – it is never too late to start a streak! February is our Rhode Rambler – each week we will showcase a different 5k course. Break out of your running rut and try some new places to run in RI. Use it as a weekend stay-cation run or amp it up for a race. March will be our Providence Art Mural Running Tour. We are working with The Avenue Concept to create a few course in downtown Providence that will give you a little audio tour (run or walk, it is up to you) of all the amazing art that has cropped up in the Capital city. Learn more at https://runri.us/list-of-events/
Our mission continues to be to foster running, support our community and be charitable in our causes. Our goal is to evolve with technology to support this mission as well as your own personal mission – whether that is to be fit, challenged, solo or part of a larger community – we hope to offer you an event that will allow you to meet those goals – now and into the future.
Thanks for being a part of the evolution this past year. We will all come out better at the other end!