• Dylan Roche

Summer Running Update: Virtual Races for August 2020

I’ve finally found the ultimate running challenge for me to undertake during the pandemic.

At the beginning of this mess that we know as the year 2020, I had a lot of big plans as far as my running goals. I told myself I wanted to run 10 races in at least five different states, and I wanted to run 100 miles consistently every week, ultimately exceeding 5,200 miles for the year. I also had a few offers to coach running for some local schools. Pretty exciting, right?

Well, 2020 obviously had other plans.

Rethinking Running Goals

I’ve stayed on track to run those 100 miles a week, I’m happy to say. But as far as those races go…well, I’ve had to rethink those goals a little bit. Originally, I thought I would have to scrap them entirely. But then I remembered that I run races for me, not because I’m competing against anybody. That’s how I ended up running my own personal marathon back in March. I figured that just because the race was cancelled, that didn’t mean I couldn’t run 26.2 miles anyway.

Then I discovered virtual races. I’ve registered for a few of them, and while they don’t give me the opportunity to travel and see new cities and meet new people the way I do with in-person races, they’re still a great way to stay connected with other runners during the pandemic. (I recently shared my full thoughts on virtual races with the Canaan Valley Half-Marathon’s blog here.)

My Upcoming Virtual Races

I have two other virtual races coming up before the summer is over: the Islamorada Half-Marathon and the Annapolis Run for the Lighthouse, both of which have me very excited because they benefit good causes. (I’ll blog about both these virtual races as I undertake them, so stay tuned to hear how they go.)

Here’s the thing: As much as I enjoy doing these virtual races, I haven’t really felt challenged by them. I mean, I run basically the equivalent of a half-marathon every day normally. What I need is a change of pace (so to speak, of course). I want a race that’s going to challenge me.

Well, I might have just found it.

It’s called the Yeti 50-Mile Ultra Challenge, and it’s pretty extreme even by my standards. The idea is that you have to run 50 miles over the course of a day, breaking it up into runs of 8.35 miles every four hours. If you’re doing the math, that means you’re doing six runs over a 24-hour period.

Honestly, this sounds good. This sounds challenging. This sounds like something that scares me and something I can work toward. This just might outdo my crazy decision to run two marathons in the same weekend last fall.

I am officially registered. That means I have between now and October 1 to do this. I’ll probably wait for the weather to cool off a little bit. Not that 8 miles is really an extreme distance to go in the 100-degree heat of August in Maryland, but still.

Why Running Matters So Much Now

What I’ve found is that sticking with my consistent running routine helps me focus on my writing projects. Sure, I have my professional work with hard and fast deadlines, but as responsible as I am with journalism and copywriting and ghost-blogging, I’ve been really bad about working on some of the novels and plays I have sitting in my queue to be completed. I love the ideas behind all of them, and I’m enthused every time I actually get around to writing them.

So why aren’t they finished yet? It’s not as if I haven’t had plenty of time while quarantined during a pandemic.

I think it’s just a lack of motivation.

That’s why running is important to me. It teaches me discipline. There are some days when it’s easier than others, but that doesn’t mean I skip my morning run. There are some days when it totally sucks. But I still do it. And sometimes, when the opportunity presents itself, I’ll register for a virtual run so I have an excuse to get on social media and brag about running.

Writing should be the same way. I should be dedicated. I shouldn’t let excuses get in the way. I need to meet my 1,000-word minimum every single day, without fail, no matter how I feel.

2020 is a crazy year, and it’s not a time when a lot of us are going to be meeting our goals. That’s all right. We just have to keep an open mind and accept what opportunities do come our way, even if they aren’t the opportunities we originally expected.

And for me, the big opportunities toward the end of the summer are going to be these virtual races. I can’t wait.


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