The garage isn’t the most scenic place to complete a 5K, but that’s where my treadmill is—and where, three times a week, I am grateful to run on that treadmill and stare at the lawn chairs, which are folded on the shelf in front of me. Through the power of imagination, I unlock a world in which those chairs have a life of their own and that life plays out reality TV-Housewives-Below Deck-style. Oh, the fun! (Example: Chair 1, which is holding a flute of champagne: You just like to talk smack about everyone and then you interrupt me all of the time when I’m talking. I’m important, damn it! Chair 2: I don’t know where you get off disrespecting me like this—and I caught you staring at my husband—the cup holder. Really? Really? Chair 3: I will throw you both from this shelf right now. I’ve had it!)
This is the place where I also just completed my first ever virtual 5K run. I’ve done “real” 5Ks before, in the past, but I’ve never done a virtual 5K, which I thought must involve making an avatar of myself and letting it loose on a virtual course filled with rainbow colored mountains and unicorns. But that’s not it at all. A virtual 5K just means that you run the race on your own, before a deadline, and then you post your finishing time online. (There’s also an entry fee.) It doesn’t sound very exciting, I suppose, but the thought of receiving a finisher’s medal for something I already do three times a week, just really got my pulse racing.
So, I entered the Dick’s Sporting Goods’ Run Your Run MyK Virtual 5K race. How did I train? Well, it all started 27 years ago, when I went to Spain and accidentally joined a mountaineering club, probably because my Spanish was not very good back then. Basically, I think I ended up on the Pyrenees, and I was wearing a pair of Penny loafer type shoes. I didn’t have any water with me, and I was scared *@##less. That’s when I knew I needed to be in better shape, so I joined an aerobics class when I somehow made it back home alive from my study-abroad trip to Spain. After about six weeks, I could actually do the full 30-minute high impact aerobics routine. Then, a friend, who was probably drunk, told me that if I could do that, I could probably run for 30 minutes. I always believe all of my drunk friends, so I found a nice grassy field and started to run. I lasted five minutes, but I dedicated the other 25 minutes to jumping jacks and aerobics. After a few more weeks, I was able to run for 10 minutes and just do 20 minutes of aerobics and so on. Eventually, I could run for 30 minutes at a 9-10-minute mile pace. I ran every day. I tried to do a marathon when I was 28 years old, but I got an overuse injury and, in my 30s and now my 40s, I’ve resigned myself to the fact that running 31-34 minutes a day, three days a week, on a flat, predictable, unexciting surface is good enough. And now, I’ve got a finisher’s medal to prove it.
Of course, virtual 5Ks could be a little more exciting, especially if you’re like me and just have a run-of-the-mill treadmill without an interactive screen with mountains, oceans, and trainers all yelling at you to just “go.” I think it should be easy to add a headset to any treadmill—much like what gamers use. Then, virtual 5Kers could talk to one another like this:
Me: Hey, Runner #6,053, tell me what you’re looking at as you run.
Runner #6,053: I’m actually outdoors today—and I see cows.
Me: Lovely! I’m looking at some rowdy chairs and they might throw champagne at one another here soon. Tempers are really flaring today.
Runner #6,053: Okay, well, stay focused. You’ve got this.
Me: Oh, don’t worry. This happens all of the time. So, what are you going to do after the race?
Runner #6,053: Laundry.
Me: Yeah, I’ll probably do that too.
Runner #6,053: I’m also making chicken noodle casserole for dinner tonight.
Me: Oh, now that sounds good. There is sooo much you can do with chicken, right?
Runner #6,053: Right.
And just like that, the miles will fly right by.
In any case, on the day of my run, I had Alex to keep me company. He was my “accountability expert” and he helped me calculate my exact time. He came up with 28 minutes and 59 seconds and I believe him. So that’s the time I entered online. Some participants actually said that they ran the virtual 5k in ten minutes, but I don’t believe them. My name appears on the first page of results. There are 500 people listed per page, with three pages total online. So, I’m guessing that I came in 223rd place out of 1500 runners, which isn’t too bad for someone whose legs always feel like they’re just going to spasm. My legs, in fact, have been secretly planning to dislodge themselves from my hips and beat me over the head while shouting, “quit making us run!”
But I’m going to keep making them run because my finisher’s medal, which came in the mail a week or two after the race, is just so darn shiny and pretty and I want more. And there are tons more to be won. Virtual 5Ks are advertised everywhere on the Internet. In fact, I think there should be medals for other things I do each day, such as the following:
–Find my keys
–Eat a “normal” breakfast
–Blog—for which there ARE awards!!! And (drumroll please . . .): I just got nominated for a Sunshine Blogger Award. Sean D. Layton of The Land Manatee blog, was kind enough to nominate me. You should definitely go over and check out his blog. There’s a great variety of humorous pieces, poems, and “cautionary tales” to read.
Getting nominated for a Sunshine Blogger Award, though, involves answering about 11 questions, so I’ll do my best to answer the 11 that Sean provided for me:
- What is your dream job? Testing out pool floats.
- Describe your perfect day. Testing out pool floats, followed by a finisher’s medal and drinks.
- What inspires or influences you as a blogger/writer? Other writers/bloggers. I look forward to reading others’ blogs and stories.
- Where would you like to live someday? We already moved to Washington state from Ohio. It was a really big move and we love it here, so I think we’ll stay a while before thinking about picking up and moving again.
- Name a famous celebrity (alive or dead) that you would like to meet. What would you talk about? Jan Hooks, from Saturday Night Live passed away in 2014. She was my favorite! Every time she and Nora Dunn did the Sweeney Sisters Act, I would just lose it. I think we’d just talk about what makes us laugh.
- How have you changed over the years? I’ve started writing more. I’m also noticing a crinkly/wrinkly spot in the middle of my neck. I’m not sure if it’s a result of the writing. I might need to buy scarves.
- What do you like about your writing and what frustrates you? I love beginnings, but I hate endings.
- What is your advice for someone who wants to become a writer/blogger? Keep healthy snacks nearby because you will get hungry. Writing makes you hungry—and perhaps you might develop a wrinkly spot on your neck. But other than that, it’s pretty fun. Just do it.
- Pet Peeves. Well, I hate it when I forget to close my office door and the cat sneaks in to lounge on my keyboard. This messes up all of the settings somehow. The brightness level is all wonky and the screen saver kicks in every 3 seconds.
- Favorite book/TV show/movie: I just got done reading All The Light We Cannot See and—wow! It has inspired me to try to aim higher in my writing.
- Where and when would you like to be sent in history? Would you be a participant or an observer? I think I’d like to visit the first every Tupperware Party in the history of the United States. I definitely want to be a participant. The “why” part had me puzzled though, so I turned to Nate:
Me: Hey, Nate. Why would I want to go to the first ever Tupperware Party?
Nate: Well, you DO love Tupperware and storage items. What would be better than going to the first, ever Tupperware Party?
Me: True. Very true. What do you suppose people did with leftover items before Tupperware?
Nate: They put them in tins.
Me: Nah. That can’t be right. I think they used animal pelts.
Nate: They did not use animal pelts.
Me: I’m going with animal pelts.
And there you have it—my answers to the Sunshine Blogger Award questions. I’m supposed to go ahead and nominate someone now, but I really feel like nominating everyone. You can use the same questions above to answer—or make up your own questions and answers—that’s fun too. Cheers!
Your Turn: What are things that you do every day that deserve a medal? Or, feel free to answer any of the Sunshine Blogger questions above.