I love the Internet.
I will never forget when we first had it in my house. I was 19 years old – yeeeah…my old is showing – and my mom got a brand new, top-of-the-line PC. You know, the kind that looked like a giant old tube TV and weighed about a billion pounds. It had a state-of-the-art AOL dial up and I would surf the web, check my email, and chat with my friends on instant messenger. It even had Microsoft Paint. I was so high tech.
It’s amazing how much things have changed in the past 16 years.
I spend a lot of time on social media, both for my job and in my personal life. I’m a graphic designer and have long since traded my Paint for Creative Suite. (Amazingly enough, not every “designer” in the world has done this.) I have met some of my best friends on Internet message boards. There are many miles between us and sites like Facebook and Instagram (my FAVORITE!) keep us connected.
Take my running friends, for example. I met every single one of my running friends online. We are a virtual running group. A couple of them are local, but many more are spread out across the country. I credit one of them for getting me started with running in the first place and another has been the invaluable source of information as I trained for my half marathon and now will be moving on to the full. We are all each others’ coaches, motivators, and inspiration.
The Internet has even made it possible for me to run a race with these friends if we felt so inclined.
Until I picked up the mail yesterday, I totally forgot that I had registered for a virtual race. For those that might be unfamiliar, a virtual race basically a run that you do on your own, but it must occur during a specific time window. You pay a small fee to register for it like you would a regular race and many places will send you a bib number and medal. If you are already registered for an organized race during the time window, you can submit that time, or you can go out and do it as a solo run on your favorite route, or you can even do it on a treadmill if that’s your thing. There are 5Ks, 10Ks, half marathons, and I imagine you could find a full virtual marathon somewhere. A couple months ago, I decided that I wanted to test it out and registered for a virtual half through the Fit 4 Life Virtual Race Series. I’m participating in the Fitsy Bitsy Spider and am required to run my 13.1 miles at some point between October 28 and November 3. I suppose this is all honor system based, but I’m not shady and I hope other people aren’t either. The package I received in the mail was my medal. I haven’t really looked at it yet and won’t until after November 2, but from what I could see through the bubble wrap, it will be a cute addition to my collection.
Imagine if you could go back 100 years and tell a runner that one day people would race against each other without even having to be in the same place at the same time. Hell, someone with a 1990’s AOL dial-up would probably look at you like you had two heads. I likely won’t do many of these, but I’m very goal oriented and with the colder months coming up and race season taking a winter hiatus around here, it might be a fun thing to occasionally work into my routine.
Have you ever done a virtual race? What did you think?