Borrowed from the CDC.

This started as a single post on the novel coronavirus, COVID-19. When I started on Wednesday, I thought I’d hit “publish” on Friday. We are now living in a different world, and that single post is MUCH too long to be a single post. (Click here for the second one, A Practical Guide to COVID-19.)

Top Five Tips for COVID-19 Sanity

1. Get news and information from reliable and trustworthy sources.
Your two best sources are the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and your state or local (county, province, city) health authority. The World Health Organization (WHO) is another reliable resource. Unless your people are citing to similarly fact-checked and reliable sources, skip Facebook. Skip the well-meaning mommy bloggers. Skip the fear-mongering fake news sites. Sadly, skip any source that reports the current president’s public statements about the virus are credible (because, in fact, they are not—we’re well behind the ball on developing and implementing effective testing, a vaccine is only just now starting phase 1 human trials, and you only have to read about the experiences of a few travelers to learn we have not “closed the border” and kept COVID-10 out). Skip anyone who is peddling a cure, too–there is no cure, and megadoses of vitamins and other fake cures promoted on YouTube can make you sick.

When you’re sharing information about COVID-19, whether online or in person, stick to the known facts—what you’re reading on the CDC website, your local health authority website, and MAYBE (sadly, also not a given) MAYBE your local news affiliate. Spreading false information doesn’t help anyone, may incite more panic than is reasonable, and has the potential to hurt others. This includes well-meaning but false statements that imply COVID-19 is just a flu.

2. Save your money. Skip the slick marketing campaigns, and the snake oil.
This past week, the FDA and FTC issued warning letters to Vital Silver; Quinessence Aromatherapy Ltd.; Xephyr, LLC doing business as N-Ergetics; GuruNanda, LLC; Vivify Holistic Clinic; Herbal Amy LLC; and The Jim Bakker Show. All of these companies were claiming they have a product that can prevent or cure this virus. Read more here.

There is currently no vaccine (they’re working on it), no reliable (evidence-based) preventive lotion or potion or pill or serum or drug or herb or anything else, and no “miracle cure” for those who are already ill. (This doesn’t mean everyone who gets sick is going to die—far from it. It just means it’s not like an ear infection where you can take an antibiotic and it will go away.) You can’t prevent yourself from getting sick by mega-dosing on vitamins (though megadosing vitamins can make you sick), or diffusing “thieves” essential oil blend, or putting potatoes in your socks, or slathering your body with “flu cream” (thanks for that ad, Instagram), or whatever else people are proposing on Facebook.

Sadly, health and fitness professionals are sending out misinformation (Jorge Cruise just sent an email titled “The superfoods help fight coronavirus”), nutrition companies including Nuun, FNX, Kuli Kuli, and The Feed are holding sales on their “immunity” products (none of which have evidence that the enhance your immunity in any way, and none of which and even some doctors are trying to make a fast buck by claiming their test can diagnose, or their magic powder can cure, COVID-19. Many companies are not saying/writing “this product will protect you from coronavirus” but are implying it by serving up ad campaigns and sales on products for “immunity” (I’m looking at you, nuun: there’s no evidence that adding all the trendy ingredients du jour to your drink will do anything to help your immune system stave off COVID-19!). If the pleasant scent of lavender essential oil calms you, great. If drinking extra vitamins in your water makes you feel better mentally, great. If you’re buying it to “protect yourself,” save your money. You’re better off using it to stock your pantry with essentials in case you need to stay home.

3. Don’t panic—and don’t panic buy anything.
It started with face masks, even though the most effective thing to do with a face mask is to put it on a sick person to help them not spread germs. There hasn’t been any credible recommendation that the general public wear them for COVID-19 prevention, and there is little to no evidence that they are effective in the general public for keeping healthy people from catching the virus. Yet try to buy any type of mask—from the hospital face covers to the white 3M masks intended to keep dust out of your mouth—and the stores have none. In some places gloves were similarly popular, and I saw at least one article reporting people buying condoms to put on their fingers so they don’t have to touch elevator buttons.

If you’ve been in Costco lately, you’ve noticed the shelves that usually hold toilet paper, tissues, and hand sanitizer are bare. Why? Did people just suddenly start wiping their noses, butts, and hands? Look, I understand that people associate being sick with running from both ends…but unless your last name is Duggar, you don’t need a truckload of toilet paper to make it through the next two weeks. While we’re at it, why are people panic-buying bottled water? Did I miss the CDC announcement that COVID-19 has the power to turn off the municipal water supply or something? Look, you’re not doing yourself any favors by stockpiling cold and flu medication—and at the moment, people who are actually sick can’t buy those things because the shelves are empty! If you’ve got to spend money to feel like you’re prepared, stock your pantry and fridge, refill your prescriptions early if you can, and set aside money to pay the bills

Remember that hoarding doesn’t help you, and it hurts your community. Personally, I’d like all of my neighbors to have enough toiler paper and soap. Oh, and while we’re at it, please DO NOT support virus profiteering. Yes, there are people hoarding-for-profit.

4. Stick with the basics.
The first lesson of kindergarten? Keep your hands to yourself! Unfortunately as the #MeToo movement illustrates, some adults never got the memo. We currently understand the COVID-19 spreads primarily by coughs and sneezes that propel little water droplets into the air or onto other people. It’s also possible to share those droplets by shaking hands or being in similarly close contact. While it isn’t the primary manner of spreading, current best knowledge also says that the virus can live on surfaces for quite some time after contact. (This is why you keep reading about “deep cleaning” or “enhanced sanitation” and seeing pictures of workers wiping down concert venues and shutting down schools and office buildings for cleaning.)

If you are currently healthy, your very best course of action is to get a little germophobic. Wash your hands like you’re Adrian Monk—and if you’re tired of singing “Happy Birthday,” look on Twitter for dozens of other options—using soap and water. Do it often. Wash ‘em after riding public transit, after handling things other people touch (like door handles), after going into a bathroom for any reason, and before eating or touching your face, eyes, nose, or mouth. When you can’t wash, use 60% alcohol hand sanitizer. Use bleach wipes or similar to wipe down your home and office (keyboard, phone, and door knobs among others). Wipe down your cell phone too—what’s the point of washing your hands if you phone is filthy?

Gotta sneeze? Cover your nose and mouth! If no tissue is handy, use your elbow—NOT your hand. (BTW, regular ol’ runny noses are not a known symptom of this virus.) Speaking of hands, did I mention to wash them? Consider a fist bump or elbow bump instead of shaking hands.

5. Be kind to others: if you are sick, stay home!
If you are a generally healthy person, be kind to those with weaker immune systems. Chances are good that someone you know has a weakened immune system that makes them more susceptible to viruses. That’s anyone who has had chemotherapy, for example, or who is elderly, but also anyone with an autoimmune disorder like lupus, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis (MS), type 1 diabetes, psoriasis, Guillian-Barre syndrome, Grave’s disease, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, and more. Evidence to date shows that “older adults” (which appears to be anyone over 60) and those with chronic health conditions such as heart disease, lung disease, or high blood pressure, are at a higher risk. The best things you can do to help those who have weaker immune systems or are known to be at a higher risk? Stick with the basics (wash your hands, etc.) and if you are not feeling well, stay away from public spaces and gatherings—stay home if you can.

BONUS TIP: Be kind to others: help if you can. (more on this in Part 2)
The most common advice in circulation is to prepare in advance by stocking your home with at least two weeks of supplies, and staying home if you feel sick. This is sound advice, I’m following it—maybe you are too—and I’m glad to see it being repeated. If you can join me in following it, you’re facing this virus from a place of privilege. No matter where you stand, I encourage you to remember those who don’t share in that privilege.

Millions of Americans do not have paid sick time or paid vacation. This means they don’t get paid for time they don’t work. Worse, if they are not working because they are sick, there are probably medical bills and other costs stacking up too. Two weeks of lost wages might be the difference between paying the rent and getting evicted.

Even with some paid sick time—let’s be real here, most of us don’t get three weeks of paid sick time—or paid sick time and paid vacation (because some employers are telling workers they need to use vacation if they get sick—that’s right U. Conn, I saw your notices), lots of people don’t have the ability to stock up for two or more weeks at home. Looking just at medication, if you are in the early phases of a methadone treatment program you are required to go pick up (and take) your medicine at a clinic. Some medications are restricted by federal law, and that’s not just limited to opioid painkillers; you might have to go see a doctor in person to get a refill, or wait until you have taken your very last dose before you can get more. Other drugs are limited by insurance coverage that won’t allow you to refill “early” (which is anywhere from 5 to 10 days before the medication runs out) unless you can afford to pay the full cost out-of-pocket. Some drugs, including some injections, have a very narrow window between opening the container and the expiration (loss of effectiveness of the medication).

Please don’t think I’m implying that only the economically disadvantaged are going to need help. Plenty of people are facing reduced hours and cancelled shifts as concerts are postponed, flights get canceled, tourism is down, conventions are nixed, and the economy takes a nose-dive.

Reliable Resources:

  • Simulator that explains why “social distancing” works. https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2020/world/corona-simulator
  • How I’m tracking today: https://projects.oregonlive.com/coronavirus/
  • For those who are visual learners, a compilation of charts that explain the COVID-19 pandemic. https://www.vox.com/future-perfect/2020/3/12/21172040/coronavirus-covid-19-virus-charts

Disclosure: Today I have a guest post from Colleen Cleary. In January this year I put on  my brave pants and went out to a fun run where I didn’t know anyone. That’s how I connected with Colleen. If I didn’t already have plane tickets for a non-negotiable event, I’d go to RunAway Girl’s Weekend! When I heard about it, I offered Colleen the opportunity to write a guest post because I think it sounds awesome and I wanted to share with you! All of the words and images below are from Colleen (if I make a little edit, I’ll put it in brackets so you know).

Make New Friends!

A big thank you to Elizabeth for inviting me to share with all of you about a passion project of mine. As a health coach and distance runner, I created RunAway Girl’s Weekend because I had the desire to bring together women runners for a weekend retreat at a local venue. In the summer of 2018 I was inspired by a visit to Abbey Road Farm in Carlton, Oregon. I immediately knew I had to host an event there and couldn’t wait to invite my BRFs (Best Running Friends).

This weekend celebrates everything beautiful about women’s running. From sharing the challenges of our sport to sharing laughs and stories and finding commonalities as well as a sense of belonging and community. [ERB here: one of the things to love about having a running community? You can engage in your favorite solo sport and be social at the same time. I think I’d love this retreat because Colleen’s about to give you permission to run like a rabbit or a tortoise or just take a long walk to kick off the weekend.]

 

Take Time to Opt Outside!

RunAway Girl’s Weekend happens October 19th & 20th this year and starts with a trail run at the Our Lady of Guadalupe Trappist Abbey in Carlton, Oregon. This year the route takes runners on a one mile warm up loop then uphill for 1.5 miles to a gorgeous view at the top and the joy of running those same 1.5 miles back downhill to the start. It has been confirmed that the running police will not be in attendance this year so participants have the option to complete the one mile warmup only, to repeat the one mile warmup loop, or tackle the entire course. I completely understand and welcome anyone who feels like that they just need a relaxing walk, a combo of walk/run or full out run. [ERB: check out the photos of the area around the Abbey on their website!]

Once finished on the trails, participants can grab some hot coffee or tea & a snack before heading just half a mile to Abbey Road Farm where the rest of the retreat takes place. Samantha Baker With Radical Wellness is returning again this year to lead a yoga class on the lawn designed just for runners. The combination of Samantha’s sweet spirit and understanding of runner’s needs won over everyone last year even a couple of yoga skeptics.

Stretch Your Limits!

The day continues with yummy food and a class taught by Brooke Galster-Boston of Cypress Counseling Services. Brooke has put together a talk with a focus on the pursuit of happiness and how it effects our mental health.

The fun doesn’t end there! There are optional massages, wine tasting and visiting with the adorable farm animals that reside at the farm to also enjoy.

For overnight guests there will be s’mores around the fire pit and a dance party in the ranch house. The next morning everyone will gather for breakfast and an optional group walk.

Spots for this weekend continue to fill up but there are still both overnight and Saturday only options available. Pricing and further details can be found at colleencleary.net/events

For all of you that kindly took the time to read this blog post today you may take $20 off your event fees just by mentioning TrainWithBain at the time of registration!

Picture of ColleenWant to connect with me further? I hang out on Instagram under my name here, and the event has it’s own page here. I’m also on Facebook and would love to connect with you!!

Happy Running!

~Colleen

[ERB: Don’t be intimidated! Colleen is an adult-onset runner too! She’s also a RRCA Certified Running Coach. Can’t make the retreat? You can always sign up for her mailing list to be the first to hear about next year.]

 

 

 

Disclosure: I participated as a member of the “Insider Launch Team” to help promote the May 2019 release of The Latte Factor. As a participant, I received a complimentary review copy (advance reader’s edition paperback) of this book. The hardback book that is the giveaway prize? I purchased that at full release price. I was not asked to write a blog post. As always, all opinions below are my own.

As a runner who could easily spend all of my disposable income on travel to races, and a woman who statistically will live longer than any man I might marry, I know that managing my personal finances well is in my best interest. While I’m putting money in my 401(k), and saving to buy a house, and otherwise trying to be responsible, it never hurts to read another book.

The Latte Factor is the latest offering from David Bach (author of a dozen books on personal finance) and John David Mann (author of a dozen books on leadership and business). Initially, the book reads like a novel, with all the classic elements that you studied in English class: an interesting opener, characters you care about, starting en media res. Finance doesn’t enter the picture until page 10–and the book only has about 120 pages. If you have read any of Bach’s prior books (e.g. Smart Women Finish Rich), nothing in this book will be new to you; I suspect that you are not the target audience. If you prefer a novel to a non-fiction book, or are a Millenial who never learned how to balance a check book (or even write checks, actually), this is your book.

The main character, Zoey, starts out as a 27-year-old New Yorker, working at a magazine. Her spending habits are based on a client composite Bach has used in at least one prior book. (I can’t remember which one, though I clearly remember the pattern of her spending habits: pre-work Starbucks, mid-morning Jamba Juice break, lunch out every day, afternoon decaff.) The other central characters include a caring boss who befriended Zoey when she first started, a cafe worker, and one of Zoey’s friends who works freelance in app development (who is the mouth-piece for what I believe are supposed to be “skeptical things Millenials say about money”). Instead of following the more impersonal and direct finance lessons of his prior books, this book is a novelization where the lessons are communicated to Zoey by other characters. These lessons take place while Zoey is facing a major career decision, and the story includes Zoey’s internal thoughts and feelings. You might find yourself comparing Zoey’s life to yours–as I did (even though 27 was a long time ago!)

The core concept, and the book’s title, is “the latte factor.” It represents all of the small, unimportant things you spend money on that don’t contribute to living richly in the moment. The concept is not that lattes are bad, or that you should always make your own coffee; maybe that latte contributes immense happiness to your day. Instead, the concept is that spending $4-5 (or more) per day on things that don’t really add to the quality of your life isn’t your best bet; rather than spend $150 each month on coffee you don’t think about, you could use that money for purposes that would better enrich your life: paying off debt, funding your 401(k), or a savings account to pay for the things you really want to do with your life. Or, say, lots of race entries and some airplane tickets.

Got friends who could use a boost in their financial savvy? Sharing is caring!Click To Tweet

Like Bach’s other books, this one also touches on financial concepts like the magic of compound interest, paying yourself first, and using automation to make it easier to manage your money. If you are interested in learning more, you could buy your own copy (and claim bonuses from the authors); you might also check out The Latte Factor Podcast, available on Stitcher and iTunes.

Or you could win your copy here!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: I returned to the Blue Ridge Marathon races in 2019 as one of the official race ambassador-bloggers. Race ambassadors receive free entry, swag, and the VIP experience in exchange for assistance in promoting this race. Speaking of the race, you can register for 2020 RIGHT HERE.  See you then?

Funny story, I distinctly remember getting to mile 19, but all of my notes from 2017 say I stopped at mile 17… If you missed Part 1, I recommend you start there.

Avenging a DNF Begins With…

Molly Bullington gives the 2017 course preview lecture

When registration opened for 2018, I signed up to run. In the interim I changed jobs and moved back to Oregon, so the 2018 race didn’t happen for me. In 2019, I signed up again. I also applied to join the ambassador team again, to help spread the word about how much I love this race. I also signed up for the training program again. I also did not finish the training program again….yeah, so life happens sometimes, and you have to put o your grownup-pants and decide what to do. Undertrained, a little fatter, but basically eager to return to Roanoke and give it another try anyway, I decided to go for it. Jackie also planned to return and run the double, but unfortunately she injured herself and had to drop out. I ended up rooming with Jessica, which was perfect (though I’m bummed Jessica and Jackie didn’t get to meet, as I’m sure they’d get along famously!). This year I flew into Raleigh, met friends for dinner, and spent the night before the drive up to Roanoke. The drive is pretty and green, and not very stressful even though it took me about three hours; Google maps sent me up largely on state highways that I would not have guessed were highways, and I saw lots of both North Carolina and Virginia. (At one point I pulled off the road to make sure I was still getting directions!)

Expo 2019 at the Patrick Henry

The Finish Line That Eluded Me in 2017!

In 2017 the Expo was in a different location, so it was a bit like going to a new race. On the way into the hotel, representatives from Foot Levelers greeted each runner with a cinch-backpack and stickers for the appropriate distance. Packet pickup was upstairs, and the traffic flow was pretty much perfect to get your packet, walk past some tables for local races, and then head back down the stairs. One thing I love about this expo is that the race-specific merchandise is all high-quality, with a smaller (but awesome!) selection. Since I have sweet ambassador swag to rock, this year I bought one of the Deneen pottery 10th anniversary ceramic mugs. There is always a tasting for the hydration on course (Skratch fluid, as well as the gummies) and the local Fleet Feet had a selection of race-day essentials on hand. I snagged a Squirrel Nut Butter (that stuff is the best!). This year, Get 2 Know Noke sponsored a happy hour lounge, with one free beer or flavored non-alcoholic seltzer for everyone who signed up for their mailing list. The Roanoke area is right next to the Blue Ridge Parkway (you know, the race goes there?) which is managed by the National Park Service, and the hiking, biking, and running are all high-quality. Jessica introduced me to some of the other BibRave Pros running the event, and we took a break before heading over to dinner.

They don’t build hotels like the Patrick Henry anymore.

Pasta Dinner & Galloway Running School

I love these chairs at the Roanoke Library–functional but also art

I knew from the 2017 event that I wanted a ticket for the pasta dinner. Not only was it the easiest pre-race dinner, it also meant seating for the Friday night concert, and shelter from the rain (it rained a little bit, but it wasn’t a big deal—no more than sprinkles). This year, Jeff Galloway came to run the Blue Ridge Marathon for the first time and as part of his appearances he was offering “Jeff Galloway’s Running School.” I signed up because I wasn’t sure when I’d have the opportunity to attend again, and as a certified run coach I figured it would be neat to hear from an Olympian.

 

 

 

 

When you run up the mountains, you ought to enjoy the views.

Running School was not what I expected. First, there were no handouts or outlines. I took plenty of notes though, so here are the highlights (at least as I saw them). Jeff is very big on some material I’m not familiar with yet, a book called Spark that is supposed to recap research showing running promotes brain health, and another book called The Story of the Human Body that emphasizes that running was a short distance activity for most of human history. That led to an explanation of how and why to use “walk breaks,” which are key to what has come to be called the Galloway method. He explained how he lays out his training plans, as well as his observations—most of which are based on his experience coaching, as opposed to data from weekend-warrior types runners—which include using a long run that is longer than the distance of the goal race. (On the theory that people tend to hit the wall within a mile of the long run they did in the three weeks prior to the race.) This is the opposite theory of the Hanson’s Method, which also seems to be producing fine runners.

Jeff Galloway is now in his 70s, and has run six days per week, every week, since he was 16 years old. This turned out to be both an advantage and a disadvantage, as some of his advice on injuries and performance nutrition haven’t kept pace with the most current research. For example, he doesn’t recommend ANY type of warm-up prior to running, and instead uses the first mile as his warm-up. This might be great for someone who has run six days a week for several decades, but it doesn’t seem like great advice for those of us who drive a desk five days a week and don’t run as often. (He’s right that pre-run static stretching is a terrible idea though—the research tends to show stretching before stressing the muscle decreases performance and increases the risk of injuries). He’s also still a fan of ice, which I agree has its place but shouldn’t be used on joints or after every run—inflammation is a result of the healing process, and is necessary for muscles to repair themselves. I disagree with some of his very broad-brushstroke nutrition advice, including what to eat the morning of the race (he says nothing, unless you need it for “gastric motility;” I’d pass out if I ran without eating some carbs and a wee bit of protein an hour or 90 minutes before the race) and salt (he says avoid salty food on the grounds that it takes plasma from the blood and makes it harder for the body to replace lost fluids; I notice that I need salty foods to replace the electrolytes I lose through sweat—I could be a DIY salt facial after a race). He’s down on cross-training (which makes sense if you’ve been running all your life) and only does weight training for postural muscles (useful trick, even if I disagree with his conclusion on the grounds that it doesn’t work on my body).

Pre-race kiss to #HeiferBelle for good luck

After running school, I met up with Jessica and we went back to the hotel. I had a glass of wine while we set up our flat runners. Neither of us slept much that night, because Jessica had to be at the starting line for the Double Marathon at some ungodly hour like 3 a.m., and because I always have a hard time sleeping the night before a race—this one more than any other, because I wasn’t sure what was going to happen the next day: Just like 2017, I arrived at the starting line in 2019 underprepared. I hadn’t stuck to the training plan (for all new reasons, sigh). I had gained some extra weight. In the interim I had learned I have exercise-induced asthma.

If Only The Days Started Later…

The alarm went off after what seemed like ten minutes of sleep, and I dragged myself out of bed to suit up and drive over to the start. There was plenty of nearby parking, so I arrived with plenty of time to head to the VIP breakfast in the library and on the patio. While there was a fantastic spread with plenty of coffee, I chose my snacks conservatively and packed a “to go” waffle (the Honey Stinger kind). One last use of the indoor plumbing, and it was down to the starting line.

The starting line area was well organized with highly visible information mavens!

As in 2017, the corrals were self-sorting. Friendly runners were mingling, taking selfies, and shaking out the pre-race jitters. I found Jessica, who looked fresh after having run the whole marathon, and was ready for her second loop. She was hanging out with the 6:30 pacer, and I decided to join them. It wasn’t long before we were off. Our pacers chose a “steady effort” method, which makes sense on a super hilly course. The idea is that instead of aiming for a specific time per mile, the time per mile would vary (uphill and very steep downhill are both difficult; flat and gentle downhill are easier) but the amount of effort would stay as even as possible.

I stuck with the pacers up to the first mile? Maybe second mile? I can’t remember. It was fun running with a group for a bit, but as we started to take a relatively easy jog up the first gentle climb, I couldn’t catch enough air to keep running and busted out the inhaler. I passed the turnaround for the half, and ran into the national forest section. I remembered the rolling hills, and then crossing the highway to the first serious climb, up Mt. Roanoke. In my head it was a hard climb in 2017, but this year it was even harder in my body. Abut 1/3 from the top of the climb, I had to start taking breaks to catch my breath that included stopping completely. Step, step, step, step, stop. Over and over. I felt very wimpy. I must have looked equally awful because at several points as I was climbing up, runners passing me on the way back down asked if I was okay instead of cheering for me.

Always follow the directional signs…

I have never had my lungs act up so obnoxiously as they did going up Roanoke Mountain. After my 2017 DNF I learned I have exercise-induced asthma. I had my inhaler with me. (I have never had any serious complications, and I had both my phone with extra battery and my RoadID with me. I promise that even if I am crazy, I take health and safety VERY seriously.) After that, I couldn’t run at all—my legs were willing, but my lungs not so much. But since I took a DNF the last time I tried this, I was determined to finish. Even if it didn’t happen until Monday.

At the very top I took just a moment to pause and admire the hard-earned view. Then it was time to head back down, down, down Mt. Roanoke. I tried to make some runs, as I’m usually pretty good at downhill, but my lungs couldn’t suck in enough air to make it happen. At that point I began to suspect there was no way I was going to make the race’s 7-hour cut-off. You know how runners talk about distance being a mental game? This was that, exactly. There were a few others in front of me, and I think one or two behind, so it was pretty quiet as I continued on my way back towards Roanoke and Mill Mountain.

Suddenly, It Was Just Me.

Amazing views reward those who keep climbing,

As I approached the aid station at the turn to Mill Mountain, all of the volunteers cheered and offered me water, Skratch, and snacks. The aid station is right at the split, after you descend Roanoke but before you go up Mill, a very nice race official/volunteer said, “You know you missed the cut-off, right?” Inside, I cried and thought, “damn, I hope that is not a problem…” Outside, I said, “Well, I do now…” Mr. Race Official asked if I needed anything, or if they could do anything for me. I should have said “please save me a medal, because I WILL finish.” Instead, I said, “no, thank you, I have plenty of fuel and fluid.” Mr. Race Official did not tell me that I had to stop. (I’m also not a jerk. If a race official tells me I must do something, 99 times out of 100 I will do it. I will always seriously evaluate a black flag on the course, an EMT or similar who is looking at me like I might die.) So I kept going, up to the top of Mill Mountain. Another race person stopped as they drove past and asked if I was okay, and when I explained that all I wanted to do was finish, I ugly cried a little bit but promised I’d be okay.

Photographic proof

Atop Mill Mountain I took the world’s lamest selfie with the Star. The aid station was all packed up neatly. For a minute I thought seriously about taking a bag of pretzels, but they were big bags and I wasn’t sure how I’d carry one once I opened it. Besides, I did have plenty of snacks. So it was down Mill Mountain, where I saw a really sweet looking dog who I assumed belonged to the moo-mosa house, but didn’t (I asked when I went by). The moo-mosas were gone by the time I got there, which I expected. It looked like a good time was had by all!

Every volunteer I saw asked if I needed anything (I had packed nutrition and hydration, but did take some water and chips). One woman, who appeared to be the head of a stop on the way up Peakwood, apologized that the aid station was closed! I assured here it was supposed to be closed, and she had nothing to apologize for, since I knew I was late and expected the aid stations to be closed. she still offered me one of everything in her car, and when I accidentally left my tube of Tailwind in her van, one of the younger kids (teenager) ran to catch me to deliver it!

Sure, I missed out on the moo-mosas (I had one in 2017, so that’s okay) and the champagne on Peakwood (I had some later, so that’s okay too). But I kept rolling. Every time a volunteer drove by, they waved and cheered. The guys taking down the course cones and signs all asked if I was sure I was okay. (Clearly I’m a head case, but yeah, I was fine.) When I hit the point where the cones had been picked up and traffic was back to normal, I side-walked myself. I wanted a DNS–Did Not Stop.

Nothing like a moo-mosa to speed that next mile along!

The app was great for the map, though I took a minor re-route on (Jefferson?) as there was a bridge/flyover with no apparent sidewalk. Unfortunately I got off course after the loop in south Roanoke and when I realized it, I was 2 miles away from the finish line (but my watch already said 25.xx). I ended up taking the shortest route back from wherever i was, which still had me over 26.2. I saw some yellow birds with a pretty song that I’ve never seen before. I saw a billion cardinals, and some dogs, and the easter bunny.

At several points I thought I might be going crazy, because only a crazy lady decides to finish a marathon on her own, right? But again, phone with extra battery (I was prepared to call a Lyft at the first sign of lightning) and plenty of fuel and fluid. Two different cars stopped on my way down Peakwood, asking if I needed a ride. (Roanoke-ians are so nice!) The one thought I was nuts to be walking in the rain, I’m sure. Then I passed a cooler that still had extra water pods and one bottle of cold beer inside. The crews dismantling the course’s directional signs, cones, and road barriers were all surprised I was still out there–asked if I needed anything (including a ride back to the start) and wished me good luck.

Here’s The Theme: Persevere

Obligatory watch shot here. Thrilled with the battery and performance of my Coros!

At almost 9 hours, and over 27 miles, I trudged into Elmwood Park. One of the guys dismantling the rest of the chute recognized me and said, “Hey! You finished!” Hell yes, I DID! But…not within the official posted time limits. When I crossed where the finish line used to be, I cried. (Wouldn’t you?) As I was climbing up Roanoke Mountain and my lungs were screaming, I thought, “I’m glad I’m here this year, I can’t do this again.” But…now I feel like I have to go and finish within the time limits.

I posted my story and asked the race officials if they would send me a medal. I know not everyone would agree with me receiving a medal–I finished, but not within the time–but I’m not posting it on social media or sharing photos. At least not until I make it a special little “Finisher & DNF” sash.

Seriously, if you’re looking for a challenge you should try one of the Blue Ridge Marathon Races. If you’re not up for a full marathon get a team together for the relay, or run the half or the 10k. For a fairly chill race-cation, volunteer at the race and join the runners for the Slow K on Sunday.