96. ZombiesRun Virtual Race, Halloween 2020, 5K

Distance: 5K
Start Time: 35:17
Chip Time: 31:27
Zombies Run Virtual Halloween Spring 2020

I’ve been a bit bummed out about not running in regular races these days, but COVID-19 has me sold on virtual races. It’s going to be a long time before I’m comfortable in a crowd again, so I’m glad to have the ZombiesRun app available.

We’ve been pretty lucky throughout the pandemic. We sold our house in Rhode Island before it hit, and wound up stuck at my in-laws’ place in Vermont for about five months during the worst of the first wave. Vermont has some of the best COVID numbers in the country, so it was a good place to be planted. Like I said, we were lucky.

COVID-19 also changed our minds about where we wanted to live. My wife and I decided to go back to Maine, where she could start her business again and we could enjoy 7 acres in a very low-population area. The whole thing seems like a million years ago at this point, but we’ve only been here a few months.

My running schedule wound up in shambles and I’ve put on some weight, so I was happy to have something to train for. I recently bought a treadmill and set it up in the garage, so I used that until I was ready for the actual race.

These virtual races are active for a couple of weeks, so you can work it into your schedule. This time, they also included Estimated Times, meaning that somebody runs on a treadmill and just tells the app what their pace will be. This allows people to participate in the VR without taking extra risks during the pandemic. If I were still in a city, I would definitely use a treadmill or just run in place rather than exposing myself to a crowd.

I live way out in the country, so for me it’s not a big deal to go outside. I’ve been out there a few times over the summer. The road has plenty of paved space outside the lanes and people around here are pretty nice about giving runners plenty of room as they pass. I can run on the road until the snow piles up on the sides, or until the weather drives me inside to my treadmill.

But enough catching up. It’s time to talk about the race.

The Race Itself

These days my races are less exciting than they used to be. There aren’t any crowds or cool things to take pictures of. It’s just me, running along the side of the road past a bunch of farms. It’s peaceful, but not the sort of thing that I would make into a Flickr album.

The only noteworthy thing here is the weather. It’s getting colder, of course. But more than that, there’s pasture on either side of the road so nothing blocks the wind. Normally I would just run a little harder to warm myself up, but I’m way out of shape and the cold air gave me a stitch in my side. I had to walk a little.

After a minute or two I was able to run again, as long as I didn’t push it. I had forgotten how many things the weather can do to a runner. Just little things, like being cold until your body warms up enough to counter the air around you. COVID-19 has disrupted things so much that all of my old life pattens seem like ancient history from another planet.

Shortly before my turn-around point, I felt a the mild sting of hail on my face. The wind was driving it sideways and I was grateful for my long sleeves. Fortunately the hail didn’t build up. It annoyed me for maybe ten minutes before letting up, and I was able to get home before anything else happened.

And that’s it. I wound up with a much better time than I expected, hitting the 5K mark at 31:27 according to my phone’s GPS. Once again, the ZombiesRun app provided an excellent story to listen to as I ran, and once again the final audio clip was still going when I reached home. (Plan these virtual races with some extra distance so you don’t have to stand around with the app running until the final clip is done.)

Thanks again to the developers who make the app and to the community of runners who use it.