*RECAP* Gone For A Run Sole Sister *Virtual* 7-Miler

Wouldn't you like to end every training run with bling? Okay well that might just be me, but seriously I wish I could. I have been known to come home from a run and put on bling from a past race just to make myself feel that extra sense of accomplishment. ;)

Enter virtual races. I love using a virtual race to jazz up an otherwise hum drum training run.

So I used yesterday's 7-miler (which I wasn't really looking forward to) to complete the Gone For A Run Sole Sister 7-miler

I've been struggling mentally during my runs this week so I hoped giving myself that race atmosphere might help snap the funk. I filled up the wife's Camelbak with Essentia water. I know you never try something new on race day, but I took the exception. ;)

I mapped out my route so I would end at American Fresh, Slumbrew's Beer Garden, and I actually ran with the medal tucked in my shorts. I will say it wasn't as uncomfortable as you may imagine.

I set out just before Noon to get the run done before a weekend away on the Cape.

The humidity had "broken" a couple of days earlier, but it was still hot and humid. I miss you winter running. I do. 

My training plan called for 7 miles at marathon pace. Well since I still don't know what my marathon goal is I wasn't sure what this meant. I decided to shoot for sub 9 min/mile pace. I know I want to run a sub 4 hour marathon, which is a 9:09 min/mile pace.

This would mark my longest run in my new New Balance Vazee Pace sneakers. I am loving them so far so hoping I can still love them after some distance. :)

I opted to run through the running paths near my house, which line the Mystic River. I know I run them often, but I find running in the familiar is safe especially on hot days. 

I set out and already felt 1,000 times better than the run the day prior. Thank goodness! 

Mile 1: 8:26

While I really wanted to be running with someone on this day, I was kind of excited to have the path to myself. 

From this pic, you can barely even tell there is a highway on the other side of the River. I love having spots in the city where you feel like you have escaped - even for just half of a mile or so. 

Mile 2: 8:38

As the heat rose, I was pretty pumped to have the water with me. Now it wasn't really staying in place like I wanted it to so I kept fidgeting with the straps, which I'm sure wasn't the smartest move. I just couldn't get it to lay comfortably. Probably a user error on my part.

During my second loop of this section of the path, I could see my KT Tape starting to come off. C'mon now.  I don't know what is going on, but my last couple of rolls have been duds. :/ I always adhere it the same way so I know it isn't something on my end. Hopefully my next roll will be better.

I had already stripped off the outer part of the KT Tape before snapping this pic.

Mile 3: 8:29

I quickly dashed under Route 16 to continue my route on the other side of the highway.

I mean how gorgeous? So lucky to call this my normal running route. :)

After a quick incline and a dash along the highway, I dipped back on to the path along the water.

I made sure to snap a quick mid-run selfie at the halfway mark.

As I snapped my pic an older gentleman walked up to me:

Me: "Good Morning" (yeah I forgot it was afternoon)
Him: "Hi. Is there a race today?" (pointing at my race bib)
Me: "Well sort of it is a virtual one."
Him: "Great... I hope you win!"
Me: "I'll try."

It was just the little laugh and smile I needed.

I really do enjoy how my normal route has pavement, dirt and grass. I can get a feel for all of the terrains I could encounter during a real race.

Mile 4: 8:31

I was surprised how comfortable the 8:30-ish pace was feeling. I know I can normally do a 3-5 mile run in the low-mid 8s with greater ease now, but that still baffles me sometimes. I always remember struggling to hit a 12 min/mile pace when I first started running. That self-doubt of what I am capable now will creep in from time to time. It's usually when I am debating pushing my comfort zone and the "then" me starts chiming in with disbelief.

It was this check-in that lead me to ponder what my goal should be for the Rock 'n' Roll Savannah marathon over the next few miles. Since I don't run with music, I tend to do most of my thinking and questioning during runs. :) Or singing to myself. One or the other. :P

Mile 5: 8:21

I was ready to pass under McGrath Highway and head to Assembly Row. The running path I use connects to Assembly Row's running path by a wooden bridge that goes under the highway. This has been a huge help since I hate stopping and waiting at lights mid-run.

I could taste the post-run beer... in my mind at least. I had also promised myself a soft pretzel if I hit my pace goal! I was well ahead of it after 5 miles so I knew the pretzel was all but mine. 

I had brought a Luna bar with me for fuel, but really felt good enough with my water.

Mile 6: 8:35

Holy headwind my friends!! I think it is easy to tell on the pace which miles had more headwind than the others. :P I tried to focus and say "think of it as strength training." Ummm it sort of worked. Sort of. Haha.

I was ready to be done. I knew I had a longer run on the docket for Sunday so I wanted this one to be over.

It was until Mile 7 that I realized this day marked the 5 week anniversary of the dog bite. It really has healed quite well since then. Still some progress to be made, but overall soooo much better.

Mile 7: 8:18

As soon as I paused the Garmin, I grabbed the medal out of my shorts and put it around my neck. YES! That medal was definitely earned!

Final Time: 59:18 (8:29 min/mile pace)

I felt strong the entire run. I didn't feel like I was pushing myself too fast or too far at any point. Hallelujah! I needed a good run for my mental state.

Now there is still pain in my right hamstring, but it wasn't any worse than any other run. Really hoping that starts improving soon. I'm just tired of having that nagging pain.

Once I mopped up the sweat pouring off of my body, I popped into American Fresh and got my Porter Square Porter and soft pretzel.

Ohhhh boy did it hit the spot.

If you can't tell I take my virtual races as seriously as I do my in-person races. :) 

I love that Gone For A Run will send you the entire swag bag before the race so you can have your bib, shirt and medal ready for race day.

The Sole Sister 7 leaves me thinking: what will my marathon pace be? But that's for another post. ;)

What do you love the most about virtual races?