What happens when a favorite event, that benefits a great cause, is happening the same weekend you're out of town?
Well, I don't know about you, but I opted to register anyways and run this event virtually.
The irony? This event is affiliated with the University of Iowa, and I was in the University of Maryland area for the weekend...and there may have been a football game happening with these two Big 10 schools.
Oh, and my team may have been the victors.
Also, I was meeting up with Debbie (from Deb Runs), and she'd decided to register and run the virtual event with me. How's that for a win-win?
The Kickoff to Kinnick 5K has been happening since 2014. I ran it in 2017, 2018 and 2019 (I had that cumbersome stress fracture last year, so I took a sabbatical from the 2020 event). The race itself ends on Kinnick Field, where the Stead Family Children's Hospital (pictured in the race bib) overlooks...the famous hospital that the football fans wave to on game day.
As an alumni from the U of I, this event is pretty meaningful to me. It benefits the Iowa Dance Marathon, which works closely with the University of Iowa Stead Family Children's Hospital in supporting and helping children (and their families) who have been affected by cancer (and other illnesses).
I respect that many runners are over and done with virtual events these days. When these events support such a special and significant cause, though, I just cannot turn my head. Sometimes, running virtual is one's best option.
Fresh off a big Friday evening Hawkeye victory over the Terrapins, Saturday morning had me feeling all kinds of giddy and celebratory. Naturally, I had to wear some black and gold, so the 2017 K2K5K shirt was perfect (as were the not-too-obnoxious Waffle House arm sleeves).
We arrived at Deb's house just after 9:30. If this would have been an actual live race, that would be a very late start time, but since this was our own virtual gig (and we were only running a 5K), it wasn't a big deal.
We walked about 3/4 mile to the W&OD trail - a perfect distance for warm-up of sorts. Deb had mapped out a portion of the trail for our 5K distance, and the "route" was pretty straight and flat.
We ran about a half mile, then made a quick turn-around and headed back to where we'd come from.
|Jazz hands...I need to learn a new running pose (pic from Deb)|
After we crossed our makeshift "start line," we continued on for another mile or so, and made another turn-around. Deb and her husband donated a bench that sits along the trail, so we got to take a quick break (#PhotoOp LOL) before heading to the "finish line."
|on the bench|
We kept a decent pace, while chatting the entire time (there may have been a few laughs as well). Even though we weren't anywhere close to a true "race pace," I don't think either of us really cared. Some events are more about the cause, and the experience, than the finish time. Besides, the trail was speckled with a lot of fellow runners, walkers and numerous bikes; it would have been difficult to "race" the course.
|flying ponytails for the win! (pic from Deb)|
As we ran that final mile, the heat of the sun was getting pretty warm. Deb told me to run strong for a big finish, so I did just that. And, she was right there with me.
|my splits showed 8:55, 9:09, 8:35|
Whew! That felt good!
As we walked back to Deb's house, we talked more about our love of football, and going to our alma maters' games (she's a Virginia Tech gal). She reminisced how, in 2017, they had waved to the children at the hospital back in Iowa City (via ESPN's College GameDay broadcast). So, we decided to do the same...
|Waving and supporting the children virtually, and in spirit (pic from Deb)|
The event swag was waiting in my mailbox when we returned home (late) Sunday afternoon from our trip to the DC/Baltimore/Virginia area. The shirt has a nice gender-specific fit (I detest boxy unisex gear).
The medal has a unique design, and the collapsible water bottle was a surprise bonus item!
So, although I wasn't able to run this race in person this year, I'm so glad that Deb and I were able to run it together. Running is such a gift; it's great when we can use that gift to benefit others. Plus, scoring some black and gold Hawkeye gear is a bonus (right, Deb?).
So, your thoughts?
Have you ever missed a favorite charitable race, but ran it virtually instead? Would you wear your team's colors the morning after a big victory (at an "away" game)? Have you heard of the Iowa Wave?