Spontaneous, Again

Presenting a webinar session internationally early in the morning, thanks to the time difference, I arrived at work at 5:50 AM and left around 3:00 PM on February 17, 2017. With a spring climate in forecast and ease of a virtual race, I, again, spontaneously decided to run a half marathon prior to my three-week business trip to Korea starting next Thursday. This time, I registered for Virtual Strides’ I Heart Running Half Marathon, partly because some of the registration fee is donated to the American Heart Association. Unlike for the Pizza Run 13.1M, I received an electronic bib upon signing up for the I Heart Running Half Marathon and thus color-printed and wore the number for the run, which likely confused many drivers and pedestrians I passed.

Because I explored west of Kearney the week before, I went the opposite route and ran around east, again landing in many locations I did not even know existed in the city. In two impetuous lone virtual races in one week, I covered all of Kearney in 26.76 miles. Normally, I take a mandatory week off after a long-distance race of half marathon or farther; nevertheless, after the Pizza Run 13.1M, I went straight back to training: swimming, cycling, and lifting to avoid any potential overuse injury common in running. I am eyeing a major race in late April; therefore, I do not have time to approach this training camp slowly or cautiously, especially with the upcoming business trip.

Traveling 13.47 miles in 2:09:40.5 on foot, I learned a tough lesson I should have realized last week. For the vast majority of competitive races commence in the morning, I had never had any issue running feeling even remotely undigested from previous meals; however, because I ran the two aforementioned half marathons only several hours after heavy Subway lunch, I felt nauseous for hours following each run. Nebraska will resume hosting large running events starting March, so, as much as I appreciated and enjoyed the flexibility and convenience of virtual races, I will return to standard competition.


With a potential 100-miler in the near future in mind and a lengthy business trip to Korea coming up, in spite of the brutal cold and wind standard to Nebraska in January, I picked up training again a month ago. Constantly wary of my right knee and possibly injuring myself before races, I cross-train rather than solely focusing on weekly mileage like most professional runners do. Since my first ultramarathon in South Carolina back in May 2015, I figured training every day of the week to be unwise for my body; experts would call me crazy running such mad distances in races on such low-mileage training, but I know my body better than anyone else does. Therefore, I have added the elliptical and treadmill and long-distance walking in addition to typical road and trail running, swimming, and lifting.

For weeks, I sought a half marathon in or near Nebraska and discovered the state over twice the size of South Korea holds hardly any running events in February due to the usual cold, making me envious of states where the temperature does not fluctuate as insanely and thus hosting running events all year round. Recently, I came across on the Internet the Pizza Run 13.1M that was taking place in multiple regions, including Omaha, simultaneously and wondered about the event’s backstory. The race is hosted by Runners 2 Life and a virtual race, where you sign up for a distance, run anywhere as long as you cover the distance, provide proof of your completion and finish time, and receive a finisher’s medal in the mail.

On February 10, 2017, Nebraska’s climate went berserk and the temperature reached 72 degrees from 30 degrees the day before. My boss decided to let the office out of work an hour early for us to enjoy the unusual blissful weather, and I, upon reading this email, without hesitation registered for the Pizza Run 13.1M. Within an hour of signing up, I took off. I was not tapered, properly fueled, or carbo-loaded and had just devoured a six-inch Subway tuna sandwich, a bag of Sun Chips Veggie Harvest, a chocolate-chip cookie, and two cups of Diet Coke. I called this “the most spontaneous half marathon I have ever run.” Because I chose the course, to live up to the adjective, I moved about impulsively and became enamored of the sceneries and countless rolling hills I did not even know existed in Kearney for the past year and a half. My unplanned route included all concrete, gravel, trails, and steep hills, and I was pleasantly surprised by how efficiently my body adapted to such an inefficient decision. I covered 13.29 miles in 2:06:42.5, far from my potential but decent considering the lack of mental or physical preparation; as I often say, I believe running to be as mental as physical. Aside from my stomach feeling upset for a couple of hours following the solo competition, I felt as strong as ever. I still do not have much opinion on virtual races, but I do not question their legitimacy and thank Runners 2 Life for providing a convenient way for me to fulfill my goal of completing a half marathon prior to my business trip in under two weeks.