The Great Virtual 1000K Across Tennessee

This summer, I ran and completed The Great Virtual 1000K Across Tennessee. Here’s how it all went down…

It started with the Tokyo Marathon. All runners who were not considered elite were no longer qualified to race, due to COVID-19. The next up, LA marathon, it slipped under the radar, and went on as planned. But the following weekend the New York City Half Marathon, cancelled with out hesitation. It became a domino effect and all the races seemed to be cancelled with a few postponed. And even though it was just a race, when each race cancelled, it stung. It was March when things began to close. COVID-19 was here in the States, but it most likely had been circulating for a while.

Business has to continue, but in a new way. To be innovative race directors started to promote a virtual option for their race, or create a new virtual race that would excite the runner. The one that really appealed and motivated me, was The Great Virtual 1000K Across Tennessee.

Virtual races were not unheard of. They have been around, and are a great “fund raising” option, but in the past, virtual races just didn’t do anything for me.

However, when I heard about, The Great Virtual 1000K Across Tennessee, I signed up without hesitation. It was the first of it’s kind. It was created by Laz, the creator of the Barkley Marathons, so there was no doubt in my mind- It was going to be the most EPIC race of the summer. Oh, what’s that you say – you haven’t heard of the Barkley Marathons, well let me clue you in.

The Barkley Marathons is a marathon distance race in the back country, mountains of Tennessee. It is a mystery race, with very little marketing. The date is a mystery. Runners have to apply and be accepted to run the race. Once accepted, and at the start, runners are required to camp out the night before. The start time is a mystery, but you know the race has begun when the race director, Laz, lights his cigarette. The race course is a map that runners have to follow, and very few runners actually complete the course and make it to the finish line. If that’s not a unique challenging race, I don’t know what is.

The Great Virtual 1000K Across Tennessee was not the Barkley Marathons but created by the same race director, I knew, after all of the races being cancelled, and nothing to look forward to, this was just what I needed.

A 1000K is equivalent to 622 miles. That is a lot of miles, especially for me, who normally on average runs 100 miles a month. However, the race started May 1 and all miles had to be logged by September 1 which gave me four months to complete the distance. That means, I would have to run 155.5 miles a month, which would up my monthly mileage by 55 miles (give or take) to what I’m use to running. With that being said, walking counted toward the total mileage, which in the later months the walking mileage became a necessity to log in order to complete the race.

I am a marathon runner, who over the years while training for long distance races, realized extremely high mileage burns me out. I actually feel my best mentally and physically with lower mileage training plans – I’m talking about 25-30 miles a week, maybe peaking at 40 miles a week during peak week during marathon training. I’m one who believes in quality mileage, over quantity mileage. I’m one to believe in every mile should have a purpose behind it. So I have never done a run streak because I believe rest days are an important part of training. However, at this point in the year 2020, there are no “live/in-person” road races happening, so I decided to not follow any organized training plan, and to just go for it.

When May passed by, and I realized I was slightly behind on mileage, I doubted myself. I thought, “Well if I don’t finish this thing, at least the registration fee went towards a good cause, an organization called Feed America.” But being doubtful, didn’t mean I was quitting. It was then that I realized, if I’m going to play catch up, it’s time to start a run streak, and run EVERY DAY. So my first run streak began.

Running during this Pandemic has really saved me. When there is nothing open, and nothing to do, the one thing I could do was grab my running stroller with my girls in tow, and hit the trail to log some miles. It gave us the opportunity to be outside every day. We soaked up the summer sunshine and heat, as I pounded the pavement up rolling hills. We spotted all sorts of animals on the trail – turtles, deer, snakes, butterflies, caterpillars, lizards, ducks, geese, and many more. I stopped to let the girls pick wild flowers, and feed the ducks. After many of our runs, I allowed my girls to explore the sandy beaches right off of the trial barefoot. One day, we found tea cups that had washed up on shore, and took them home, as my four year olds treasures.

As the memories continued to be made on these daily stroller runs, my mileage became easier and easier. Soon I realized I had run 150 miles for the month of June. Most weeks I ran, 35 mile weeks, some were 40 mile weeks. My girls were enjoying being a part of this running challenge, just as much as I did. And to tell you the truth, I was feeling amazing, and extremely proud that I was running this type of mileage. I wasn’t feeling burned out, I was feeling energized.

July came and went, and I had another awesome month, averaging out 140-150 running miles, most days with the stroller. When we weren’t running the beautiful trail, I had discovered a really fun 4-6 mile route in my neighborhood, that included some gigantic hills, and views of the Monuments, Pentagon, Capitol, Arlington Cemetery.

August rolled in, and I was still going strong, but decided to start including all of the walking miles that we had done in order to guarantee my finish. After almost every single run, we would walk at lease a mile, sometimes two miles depending on where we were. We have a wildlife habitat, called the Dyke Marsh Wildlife Habitat, right off of our running trail. My kids call this “The Forest.” We would hike this after every run, it is about 2 miles. This was important to do, to give my girls that chance to explore and get their own exercise.

I also ran a couple 9 mile runs with the stroller. I couldn’t believe my kids sat in the stroller for that long, but they did without a complaint. Sometimes, Ava my 2 year old would fall asleep. Other times, Zoe and Ava would play with one another. When we ran under bridges they would yell, “Gecco,” “Owlette” and play PJ Mask. Sometimes they would play flaries, someone being Shimmer, Glimmer, or Shine.

Seriously, my girls were so good, and I am forever thankful. I love them being there with me on my runs, and will cherish this time for now, because there will be a time when they will out grow the stroller.

The system used for logging miles for the 1000K was on an honor system, but the best part was you were able to see a map of where you were running in Tennessee every time new mileage was updated. Another fun part about the race was connecting with others on social media. I followed quite a few runners on instagram who also were logging miles, some were friends in my local area, others were people I had just discovered, some were actually in Canada.

I finished the Great Virtual 1000K Across Tennessee on August 26th, 2020, after a 100 day run streak. I received a congratulation email from the race director, and a couple days later my race BUCKLE arrived in the mail.

I am now considering myself a Virtual Ultra Finisher.

Along with many other industries, COVID definitely rocked the running community this year. There is no doubt about that. And although, races were cancelled, it is very cool to see how resilient the running community is, and how innovative this community became, in order to keep us all connected and running. It is actually a very powerful positive thing. I probably would have never run this type of mileage, or started a run streak, if it wasn’t for the whole situation, but I did with my girls at tow.

I did it, and I have the BUCKLE and race T Shirt to always remember, the summer of COVID, when I ran all the miles, across Tennessee.

Virtual Ultra Runner, with my Buckle.

My friend went on a date with another runner… and it didn’t go well!

THE DATE

A friend of mine went on a date with a guy the other night. They were chatting and having a great time. Because they were both runners, the conversation naturally gravitated towards their race experiences. The guy, being an ultra marathoner, finally asked my friend, “Why did you downgrade from running full marathons to halves?” It was then that my friend knew a relationship between the two of them would never work…

DON’T ASK STUPID QUESTIONS

The question, “Why did you downgrade from running full marathons to halves?” was a deal breaker for her, and honestly it annoys me to pieces.

I just completed my 3rd full Marine Corps Marathon (read all about it here.) I have run all distances excluding the ultra marathon, however I am considering trying one in the near future. My favorite distances to run, and the ones I run most often are 10 milers, half marathons, and the full marathon. However, I do not think the full marathon is a harder distance to conquer then the half marathon. All of these distances are equally challenging in their own way. All of these distances are challenging, but the training focus is different. In other words,  it takes a different kind of running depending on the race distance. And here is why…

HALF MARATHON

When I am training for a half marathon, my goal is to run faster. My training focus is on pace and speed work. I am doing shorter runs during the week, at a faster pace. I am running hill repeats. I may, even though, it is rare, jump on the treadmill to do some HIIT. I am also focusing on running form, and strength training. When training for a half marathon, I have more time to weight lift and do yoga. And last time I trained for a half marathon, I ran less, but when I did run, my runs were quality runs. The running less left more time to weight lift. The combo of more quality runs, and more weight lifting, made my body stronger and my runs faster.

FULL MARATHON

When I am training for a full marathon my ultimate goal is to build endurance by running far. My training focus is on increasing my weekly milage by running longer runs. I am not worrying too much on running a fast pace, and actually my pace slows down significantly. When it comes to pace, I am just trying to stay consistent. I practice negative splits on my longer runs. Nutrition and proper hydration plays a huge role when training and racing this distance.

HOW IT EFFECTS MY BODY

Depending on the sport you play, your body may take on a different shape. Gymnasts have a distinct gymnast’s body, Swimmers have a swimmer’s body… and you may have heard people say Runners have a runner’s body… but when it comes to runners, it becomes a little more complicated, because there are different types of runners. Sprinters or those running shorter distances then the marathon  at a faster pace tend to be more muscular, then those running full marathons and ultra marathons. This is definitely true for me.

When I train for a half marathons I have more time for other exercises, such as weigh lifting, cycling, and yoga. When I train for a half marathon, I am able to fit in 4-5 times a week of weight lifting. Therefore, I maintain more muscle. I am stronger and overall look more fit.

When I train for a full marathon, my weekly milage has significantly increased. The mileage has increased so much that it is nearly impossible to fit any other exercising in. During marathon training, I was able to squeeze one weight lifting session in a week. And out of my four month marathon training, I went to yoga once. I tried to maintain as much muscle as I could during marathon training, but it was hard because I wasn’t lifting as much as I usually do, and because I didn’t have much fat to burn. When running long distance the body uses fat as energy. If there isn’t any fat to use, it will then use muscle for energy. This is why marathon runners, and ultra marathoners are so lean.

So as you can see, one distance is not more challenging then the other, they are just very different, even effecting the body differently.

Stop having an ego!

Just because you run a full marathons, or ultra marathons, it doesn’t mean you are more fit or a better runner then someone who chooses to run half marathons.

I choose to run a full marathon when I am craving to run far, consistent, slower, longer runs. Marathon training is a huge time commitment, and because I usually get really into my training, it is important for me to have the proper time to train. Yes, you can always make time, and make marathon training a priority but things get in the way, for example wedding planning, getting pregnant, traveling.

I am tired of hearing, “Oh I just ran the half…”

Don’t feel like less of a runner, because you only ran the half marathon. Feel proud, running a half marathon is an amazing accomplishment.

Honestly, sometimes I choose to run a half marathon. It lets me focus on running a faster pace. For a travel race, I may choose to run the half marathon over the full marathon, if I am in a cool city that I want to visit and explore, and not be too tired after racing. Sometimes, I choose to run a half because I want to be able to fit in weight lifting and yoga.

SO at the end of the day, I like to switch things up, and that is healthy physically and mentally.

“In some ways, an ultra isn’t even as hard as a marathon.” ~ Scott Jurek 

Questions for You…

  1. Have you ever dated a runner?
  2. Which race distance is your favorite?
  3. Have you ever come across a runner with an ego?

© 2013 sweatdaily

While I ran my 15 miler, Scott Jurek runs the Leadville Trail 100…

Social Media is an incredible thing.

It is way more than just posting photos and connecting with friends, it is the fastest source of information.

I have never watched or followed an ultra marathoner before. The opportunity was just never available. But because of Social Media I am able to follow Scott Jurek run the Leadville Trail, by receiving updates from his Facebook and Instagram page in my news feed. Just like following your favorite baseball team, checking the score. I was excited to see how Scott Jurek was doing during his race. It was also quite funny to read all of the comments people posted.

All photos were found on facebook.

All comments are from people posting them in referral to the photo.

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Good morning! Have a great day all Leadville Trail 100 runners! Mt Elbert and Mt Massive in the distance around mile 25.

“Go Jurker!”

“Man of the hour is Vegan Powered!”

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Leaving the halfway point, Winfield aid station, in 5th. Hal Koerner taking Scott back over Hope Pass, he’s in good hands!

“Go, Scott! Plant power!”

“Go scott! You’re my plant based runner hero! U paced our group in Mardi Gras marathon! Loved it!”

“Awesome! Do you have pasties? Also, is the dude behind you a runner? In sandals?”
“What’s with the blue nipples?”
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Refueling at Treeline in 4th, swapping pacers, running strong!

Go you crazy vegan!”

“where is Dustball??

Only three more runners to pick off!”

I doubt the citizens of Leadville would agree, but this should be televised!”

So today, while I was out on the trail, running my 15 mile training run, Scott Jurek was busy running the Leadville Trail 100.

He is now in 4th place. Still running strong.

If your not following Scott Jurek on Facebook yet, you totally should… and on Instagram.

Who is your running idol? Do you follow them on Social Media?

© 2013 sweatdaily