Wednesday, August 08, 2007

The Virtual Training Club

Last week I joined e-rod, hitme and a few others on a virtual training run. That is, we were actually running, virtually together. Get it?

I think the idea behind this was a little group motivation. I frequently find the hardest part of running to be simply getting out the front door. If I have a friend that I am meeting to run, it is very unlikely that I will talk myself out of my run for the day, or procrastinate until I'm running in the dark. (Not that I would ever do those things!) So we agreed to meet for a run. Except, we were meeting in all different parts of the world. But we were still meeting, and running, at the same time. Group motivation!

I never got around to my recap of last weeks run, so here's the report on my first two experiences with my virtual partners (last Wednesday and today.)

Wednesday August 1st

I arrived in Seattle at 9:30am. I would be spending a few days with family, culminating in a family reunion on Saturday. After finding my way on the bus to my cousins' house, I made myself useful in preparations for the arrival of a mass of other family members. Our run was scheduled for 1:30 pm Pacific Daylight Time. At 1:40 I was still hauling old wooden tables out of the barn and hosing the rat poop off of them. Well really, what could I say to my hosts, "Um, sorry, but I'm late meeting some friends for a run."

"Oh, you have running friends in Seattle?" my cousin said, surprised.

"Well, they're not actually in Seattle." Yeah, I could see this was not going to go over well. I kept my mouth shut and continued hosing off tables.

By the time I had my shoes laced up and was heading down the driveway, it was close to 2:00. I was holding up the group! Runners in the Phillipines had risen at 4:30 am for this run only to stand around and wait. I could hear my virtual partners in my head.

"She's late again," one said.

"Typical," sighed another. A roll of the eyes and an exchange of glances that clearly said "let's go," and they were off without me.

But wait.

They're only virtually here, right? I mean as far as they know, I'm right on time. Hallelujah! This whole virtual thing is the saving grace for people who have trouble getting places on time! I set off down the road, virtually surrounded by training partners, happy to be running with me.

I wasn't too familiar with runs in the area, but headed initially towards a park that I knew was about a mile away. I also knew that there was only about a mile of trail to run in the park. I wasn't too keen on the idea of running continual laps.

Then it hit me: mile repeats! When was the last time I had done any speed work? I couldn't even remember. Since I was running with a group, this seemed like a great opportunity. I mean, I am just not motivated to run speed work on my own.

The Kingsgate Park is a little pocket of pacific northwest forest. The tall douglas firs provided the perfect shade for a warm afternoon. I took off on my first repeat, driving hard up a steep hill. Woah, I have to admit it felt weird to run this fast. But I liked it! My heartrate climbed quickly. I flew along the forest floor, crowded by giant ferns, leaping over hidden roots and vines that reached across the trail to trip me. I was Luke Skywalker flying on my speeder throughthe Endor forest. If I could just catch that second storm trooper, the universe may yet be saved. Around tight corners, up, up, and now back down. I took deep gulps of air coated with the thick scent of ripened blackberries. I could feel my training partners beside me, in front of me, pulling me up the hill. Nearing the other end of the park, I dove down into a ravine and drove hard up the opposite bank.

One mile down, three to go.

My next three repeats went much the same. Running fast on a narrow, turning trail is challenging. I must confess to enjoying my speed session. I also must confess that I was not wearing a watch, so the word "speed" is used broadly here. Who knows how fast it was exactly. Who cares.

VTR #2: Wednesday, August 8th:

I was feeling kind of groggy, and not much like running today. Last night after yoga, it seemed every ache and pain in my body came alive. Yoga usually has the opposite effect, so I was not very happy. I was a grumpy runner today.

Thank you virtual partners for motivating me to run today!

My run was my standard trail loop that I run from my house. I do this run frequently because it's convenient, and I can bring the dogs and let them off leash. Usually it's about 5 miles, but today was only 3.5. I decided to make it a "photo documentary" in order to distract myself from the actual running. So enjoy!

Mile 0: Out the door and down the front steps with my actual running partners: Cap on the left, and Gus on the right.

Mile 0.25: Up the private road that leads to the trails.

Mile 0.4: Gus leads the way up the hill.

Mile 0.5: The view fromthe top.

Mile 0.5: I love my mountian trails! Donner Lake in the background.

Mile 0.6: The ceremonial removing of the leashes. We hit the trails and the dogs run free!

Mile 0.7: Singletrack!

Mile 1: Gus takes one of the many log jumps in stride.

Mile 2: After the turnaround.

Mile 2.5: Singletrack with a view.

Mile 3: On the road again.

Mile 3.25: Cap says hi to Ollie, another border collie in the neighborhood.

Mile 3.5: Rehydrating.

All in all a fun run. I love the virtual club! Want to join in next week's run? Just let me know. See y'all next week!


  1. I was hearing that sound...pantings...and thought, OMG, Henry isn' t here, WHo is this??? It were YOUR poochies!!!

    It definitely was tough to run today. Seems quiet a few people weren't in running mode - but still, FUN!

  2. what a great post :) Glad the 'group runs' are motivating! If I'm not busy during one of these, I'll definitely join it. Sounds like a great group to be a part of :D

  3. great recap, gretchen! hey, how did you know we rolled our eyes as we impatiently waited for you at the start? :)

    i thought i was the only one who wasn't feeling the run today. i'm glad i came out today though, otherwise i would've missed running with cap and gus.

    gadzooks!!! is that your stomping ground? sweet!

    hey, so you're the writer. maybe you can come up with a cool name for this virtual training club.

  4. Beautiful pics! I love the whole virtual running club thing. Eric's a clever guy.

  5. Damn you rock girl! awesome trail photos and the dawgs as well!

    Stellar job at TRT, looks like a beauty of a course. Glad to see you put the potter on the backburner for TRT and from the looks of it some great tasting swill!


  6. I love your mountain trails too! See ya in a couple of days:)

  7. Next thing ya know you'll be putting in 5 miles using your Nintendo Wi with the special running attachment.

    You missed a great run on the PCT with Doc Horton! Send word next time and we will set up a run with the group.

    Have fun with Olga next weekend. That should be a Cool Run ;-D

  8. Sounds like a fun concept with lots of extra motivation and support. Great virtual run report and photos. Happy virtual running!

  9. Your trail run sure beats our roads in manila. Next time, could we hold our virtual run in your backyard instead? Much more scenic over there.

  10. "I must confess to enjoying my speed session. I also must confess that I was not wearing a watch, so the word "speed" is used broadly here."

    If someone runs fast and there's no watch there to measure it, are they still running fast? If you get pulled over for speeding and tell the cop, "sorry, I wasn't looking at my speedometer", is he going to let you out of the ticket? Sounds like an excellent workout! I loved the pictures too. I miss California!

  11. Oh my GOD, look at those views! Detecting jealousy? You should be.

    Excellent recap!