I have been an ambassador for a local running club three years in a row. Represent Running is a group which promotes running locally, meeting and running with awesome people and promoting 3 Bay Area races in three different, but equally beautiful cities: San Jose (408k), San Francisco (415k) & the East Bay (510k). Each race highlights the beauty and culture of the city it is representing. My job as an ambassador is to promote the races, spread running joy and discounts on social media. In the past years, I have been able to to run/walk the races “live” meaning I am there at the event toeing the start line along with everyone. Unfortunately for this year, I was sidelined for all three of the races! I had to run the races virtually – This type of virtual running does not involve virtual reality glasses while sat on the couch.
The 408k ( 8k-4.9 miles) is my favorite local race. After all it represents San Jose, runs through downtown and local neighborhoods. Accentuated by the Mariachi mile at around the 4 mile mark. The finish is at the tony Santana Row where area restaurants lure in finishers with bottomless mimosas. The week of the race I was struggling with vertigo. Staying on my feet made me incredibly nauseous. I was hoping the symptoms would go away that weekend. Vincent & I picked up my bib at Santa Row. We walked the Row for a bit, but after a couple of stores I thought I was going to hurl on an overpriced shawl (tbh, I probably felt sick about the price too). I was feeling optimistic so I got my race gear ready, set my alarm and went to bed early with hopes that I would be able to stay on my feet next day. Unfortunately, when i got up on race morning, I felt like I just came off a triple loop roller coaster instead of my comfy bed.
The 415K is the San Francisco installment of this race series. The backdrop of this race is the Golden Gate bridge. The 12k takes runners across the bridge and the 5k runs along the Pacific Ocean. The weekend this race was on, the Bay Area was experiencing a heat wave. My silly, dumbass self thought it was a good idea to walk a couple of laps at the Relay for Life for our city. The day of the race, I woke up with excruciating neuropathy on my foot. It felt like I was walking on hot coals.
The 510k was the final installment of the Run the Bay series, this one is set in the East Bay. I missed that one too, I was scheduled for cranial angiogram the next day and my anxiety was running high.
The virtual race:
For those uninitiated, a virtual race is where one signs up for a specific race, for a distance specified by the race but instead of joining the hundreds of people on race day, one would set their own date & location. I find running a virtual race challenging. There are no cheering crowds, no aid stations, be no cheery faced volunteer handing me my medal at the finish line. Instead, the medal arrives in the mail and the only race photos are selfies (at least they’re free!).
The race becomes a battle in my own head. I have to fight the voice that tells me it’s time to quit, the voice that says I don’t need to put myself through this. I could just stop no one is watching.
I am quite fortunate that I only had to run one of these virtual races alone. My long time friend and partner in insanity Tammy has joined me in most of my virtual races.
Writing this makes me sad. I am realizing that I have been experiencing setback after setback. I have not reached goals that I have been working hard for. I thought I would have been further along in my recovery. Instead, I gave up on a 10k earlier this year. I have two more 5ks coming up before the end of the year and I really would like to do them live.
As much as I love being an ambassador for Represent Running, I am debating if I will apply to be in next year’s team. I do not feel that I am representing if I am not running.
The connections between my brain and leg have not yet established my need to run. I still have to constantly remind my legs I am running. Otherwise, I will start walking . This constant dialogue is mentally and emotionally exhausting.
I long to run with my friends again. I want to be an active part of a running community. I will continue to work hard to get my running legs back and to get my body and mind stronger.