Here’s looking at COVID-19

New resource: https://www.howardluksmd.com/sports-medicine/covid-19-update-3-14-2020-concerned-physicians-unite/ This one has pretty good explanations of how the virus spreads, and why as a country we need to act now. #CancelEverything #SocialDistancingWorks

If you missed yesterday’s post, it’s here: Don’t Panic, Do Act Responsibly.

How About That Last Week??

Greetings from not-quite Ground Zero, West Coast. When I first started this post (which is now a series of posts) I had no idea how annoying I would find this new block-based WordPress editor. (We hates it.) At that time, OHSU had just announced the first confirmed case of COVID-19 (short for “COronaVIrus Disease 2019,” also known as the novel coronavirus) in Multnomah County, and Oregon had 14 confirmed cases. Oregonians who had a legitimate reason to believe they had been exposed to COVID-19 were just starting to learn about the frustrating inability to get tested–our whole state can currently process 80 tests per day–and reading stories like this one.

Testing capacity is still pretty limited, by the way. This means there are not enough test kits to go around, and not enough lab facilities to process them. Do not expect test-on-demand any time soon. These facts mean we also do not have an accurate count of actual infections. First, people who die who may have had COVID-19 but are unlikely to be tested. Second, people with “milder” cases (those who are not sick enough to need hospitalization) are unlikely to be tested, at least for now. Numbers from Italy and other western European countries indicate we should expect to see exponential spread unless we practice social distancing PRONTO. Please read this article in The Atlantic, and start to be St. Louis.

Law firms and courts started getting nervous last week. Well, more nervous–my firm’s Seattle office is closed. Early in the week, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington effectively shut down the Seattle and Tacoma courthouses. (Logic: these are relatively high-traffic spaces, people travel to them from all over the place, with many high-touch surfaces, where people are in close-proximity to each other.) Email from the Washington Supreme Court (deferring to the counties) soon followed. As you likely know Seattle’s King County has the largest number of COVID-19 cases. Monday they had a 50% no-show rate for summoned jurors. That means the there were not enough jurors to cover the criminal trials (which have priority due to the Constitutional right to a speedy trial), and the court warned us that no civil trials would go forward until further notice. I don’t blame the jurors, as the seating arrangements don’t allow for even 3′ in between seats. In the Pierce County Superior Court last Friday, I noticed an abundance of boxes of tissues and hand sanitizer everywhere, plus a giant bottle of Clorox wipes on the shelf (though I didn’t check to see if the bottle was empty). Defense counsel greeted each other with fist bumps, not handshakes. I started tracking Washington and Oregon numbers, since we have upcoming trials and therefore need jurors. Various legal news outlets reported office closures and even the death of a Washington paralegal.

The Day-to-Day Impact on Actual People

Some of us can work from home; others cannot. My Seattle friends who work at Nordstrom HQ and at Fred Hutchinson who shared their work restrictions two weeks ago (e.g. no air travel, no meetings of 5 or more people) are on mandatory work-from-home for the remainder of the month. My own Portland office is on a “Level One” plan, which means if you feel you’re at risk you can work from home, and the firm will pay for parking if you usually rely on transit but feel unsafe. Cancellation of large sporting events means that the hourly-employees who work there are out of work and going unpaid (think large basketball arenas). While some team owners (Mark Cuban, for example) and NBA players have stepped up and pledged to cover some of the lost wages, not all have. Baristas, bartenders, and waitstaff cannot do their work at home. Neither can drycleaners, hairdressers, and many others,

Many races and events are cancelled. In my personal universe, the Mercer Island Half Marathon and Portland Shamrock Run were canceled. The Oregon Brewery Running Series postponed all of their March events. My friend Jim Diego has started a spreadsheet of distance races (half marathon and longer, with some inherently famous races of other distances). You can access it too. In the rest of the fitness world, the IHRSA trade show was canceled, and SCW’s California Mania event was canceled. While COVID-19 is not transmitted through sweat, larger gatherings pose an inherent risk.

Independent contractors are taking a hit, especially in California. The spread of the coronoavirus hit my friend “Alex,” an executive business coach, with a double-whammy. First, she’s fighting California’s #AB5, a law that labor unions promised would target gig-economy workers but threatens the livelihood of all small business owners from certified interpreters to entertainers. The Grinch AB5 even took away Santa’s job! Worse, the federal government is trying to replicate it, which would run Alex out of business. Alex has a California LLC. She’s worked a corporate gig, but prefers the challenge and flexibility of project-based work. California companies are afraid to hire her and run afoul of AB5. Out-of-state companies are less excited than usual about bringing in someone from California, a state hit early by COVID-19. With the self-quarantine and social distancing recommendations, Alex isn’t thrilled about getting on an airplane and living in a hotel, either. Yet when she doesn’t work, Alex doesn’t get paid.

Outside of California, contractors also suffer. My friend Jennifer Canale is a professional spokesmodel who works trade shows and promotional events as an independent contractor. While she wasn’t scheduled to work the recently cancelled Natural Products Expo West–a gathering of 85,000+ people in Anaheim–every single one of her March shows has been canceled. This means Jennifer is losing a significant chunk of her income each time a spring show is canceled or postponed indefinitely. Jennifer and her colleagues often book shows six months to a year in advance. As independent contractors, they make and pay for their own hotel and travel reservations, and don’t get reimbursed for until a month or so after the show. In addition to losing income today, some of them are also eating big cancellation fees.

Act Practically, Act NOW.

There are things you can do to help everyone affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. I’m assuming you are already on board with social isolation (see The Atlantic), washing your hands like your grandma’s life depends on it, and not hoarding resources. So now what?

STAY HOME. I know not everyone can do this (because we have systems of employment and education that make that impossible, and even in ideal situations we’d still need first responders and medical personnel). The best thing you can do is prevent the spread of the virus, and the best way to do that is to stay away from people. Please take a minute to read the article linked at the top of this post. #CancelEverything #SocialDistancingWorks

Again, DO NOT SHARE FAKE NEWS. I can’t say this often enough, as so much bad information is circulating. (So much that entire cities went out partying for St. Patrick’s Day, putting huge swaths of the population at risk. COVID-19 can stay alive in the air for up to 3 hours, and lasts for days on hard surfaces.) My last post had a brief list of resources generally, but you can also pay attention to your local and state department of health. Your governor may also have a website with the latest recommendations and protective measures locally. Don’t panic, be informed!

Share knowledge: What’s for dinner? Jennifer Canale has been posting photos of her creative (and super cheap!) dinners. A recent Mexican-inspired dish was under $5, and could have been stretched to feed more people inexpensively by adding tortillas and more vegetables (more steak optional). That was a splurge dinner, too–several meals have been $3 or less per serving. Not everyone has mad cooking skills, and what Jennifer is posting are easy-to-cook, non-fussy recipes that don’t require measuring. Check out twitter and the #QuarantineKitchen tag for more ideas.

Share knowledge: Where are the resources? Locally, I’ve seen many people share what is available and where via social media. Even better, I’ve seen people post that they need something specific (e.g. hand sanitizer) and watched people who have extra respond and offer to share. I’m not an expert on how to apply for public assistance programs, but maybe you are, or have time to help a friend or neighbor figure it out. Same with unemployment–which sadly lots of people may be facing.

Look out for your neighbors. Not everyone is financially able to stock up on the supplies you need to stay home for two weeks, especially if they are facing cuts to their income. If you can help, please do. You can cook extra food for people you know (it’s not hard to make two casseroles/lasagnas instead of one). You can help your elderly neighbor sign up for Meals on Wheels. (You can also donate cash to your local food pantry or food bank–they can stretch dollars better than canned goods. I can pretty much guarantee that every non-profit that feeds people needs help.) Depending on what’s going on where you live, your neighbors may need help removing snow from the walkway so it is safe to collect the mail.

PLEASE Support food charities. If you can only give $5 to help others, please give it to a charity that will fill empty tummies. Food insecurity is still a big problem in the US. Many kids rely on federally subsidized school lunches–and for some that is their only meal of the day. Others have school breakfast too. When schools close, those kids go hungry. It’s not just a few kids: 22 million children rely on free or reduced-price school lunches. Some schools and area food banks have a backpack program that provides kids with food so they don’t go hungry over the weekend. Check Feeding America to see if your area has one. In Oregon, please give to the Oregon Food Bank.

Give blood if you can. (Yes, I understand our blood donation rules–set out by the federal government and not the Red Cross–are outdated, and that sucks, and now would be a great time to leave the 1980s behind and learn to science.) If you can give blood, schedule a time and do it. The Red Cross has a website that makes this really easy. In general, very few eligible people donate blood even though blood has a limited shelf life, there is no substitute for it, and the need for blood is constant. The donation network suffers any time there is a major illness (as the need increases, and fewer people give so the supply decreases). I’m terrified of needles, and I signed up. You can do this too.

Call, email, or write to your friends, family, synagogue/church/temple/coven members. This is basically free, and can make a big difference in someone’s day. Introverts are joking about how they’ve been preparing to self-quarantine since birth, but your extrovert friends are probably going nuts. Reaching out to the senior population is something a Girl Scout troop could do remotely–and so can you. People who live alone are at a higher risk of feeling depressed or anxious due to social isolation. Reach out and let them know you care. If they are struggling, please point them to virusanxiety.com (if it is COVID-19 specific), or to other appropriate resources (USE GOOGLE!) including the National Suicide Prevention Hotline 1-800-273-8255 and https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

Support your local businesses and small businesses. This one is more of a challenge, perhaps, as you’re supposed to be staying home and engaging in voluntary social distancing. Think creatively. Can you shop online? Order dinner for pick-up from that local restaurant? Place an order for pick-up over the phone elsewhere? Big box stores are going to lose revenue too, but for most of them your business is not a matter of life and death–but for your local wine shop, no income means no business. P.S. if you like the stickers I’m holding up, those came from Pixelated Science on Etsy.

Finally, keep your sense of humor (and your wits) about you!

What are your best ideas on how to help during the COVID-19 outbreak?

The Roses on the River event was originally slated to start on the west side of the river. For those unfamiliar with Portland, the Willamette River runs through town, separating the west side from the east side. (Not to be confused with the Columbia River, which runs east-west and separates the north-most part of Portland, Oregon form the south-most part of Vancouver, Washington.) Downtown Portland is immediately adjacent to the river, and there is a paved promenade/walkway next to the water in addition to Tom McCall Waterfront Park. Part of the draw of the Roses on the River run is that the race is sponsored in part by the Portland Thorns, our winning women’s soccer team (which played short several team members at the beginning of the season as they were busy kicking butt as part of the U.S.A. women’s national soccer team…you know, the national soccer team that actually wins World Cups). This is a BIG draw to the event; instead of yet another race shirt, participants receive Thorns scarves (that’s what soccer fans wear) and a ticket to the Thorns game.

RosesThis year, the racist groups Proud Boys and Patriot Prayer decided to come to Portland from out-of-state and hold a “rally” on the same day as Roses on the River, a decision they announced what seems like just a few days before the race. For those of you not playing along at home, Portland fancies itself to be a liberal and inclusive town. In a state with a significantly racist history, modern Portland is at least trying. This makes white supremacists angry enough to don matching polo shirts and/or riot gear, board rented school buses, and head to Portland to…find people to beat up? I’m not sure what they actually plan to do, because they just seem to end up brawling in front of local businesses and breaking windows downtown. Maybe they want their closeted-white-supremacist-brethren to “come out” as modern Klansmen? Maybe they just wanted to mess with Roses on the River? At any rate, they aren’t local, and they seem to show up to antagonize protesters who identify as anti-fascist (some of whom are also not-from-Portland violent thugs, so at least they have that in common).

Race organizers for Roses on the River reacted by moving the entire event out of downtown, and over to the east side of the river (which does not have a gigantic stretch of park like the west side, but which does have a paved multi-use trail for running, biking, etc.) to what is apparently called the “Eastbank Festival Plaza.” This was entirely sensible, leaving the Portland police less to worry about downtown and providing runners with a ton of free parking. It also put the starting line within walking distance from my apartment.

yellow rosesThe Thorns? They pulled their sponsorship of the race. That’s right, no Thorns at Roses on the River. While runners still got a ticket to the Thorns game, they did NOT get the limited-edition Thorns scarf—one of my big reasons for signing up for the race. The Thorns officially cited “liability,” which is a bogus excuse given that (1) all participants sign a liability waiver, and (2) the race moved across an entire river, away from the “rally” area, and police shut down the bridges. I suspect the REAL reason the Thorns pulled out is that they were afraid people would lose or abandon their scarves, which the white supremacists might grab on their way to the brawl, and therefore might end up in pictures of rioters and thus become “bad optics” for the Thorns. Nevermind that they could have avoided this by only handing scarves out at pre-event packet pickup (and changed the rules to DQ anyone wearing one), or mailed or otherwise made them available only a day or more after the event. Nope. They just pulled out. Race organizers didn’t even have time to change the website to show that runners wouldn’t get a Thorns scarf—I found out AT the race!! (I later found out the Thorns also forbid the race organizers from handing out any leftover scarves from 2018. Seriously.)

Due to the change in location and change in space, I suspect several companies that had planned to be at the start/finish area also pulled out of this year’s Roses on the River. Like I didn’t see Jersey Mike’s, which was supposed to give finishers a half sandwich (not that I cried over this too much, since races often don’t provide vegetarian sandwiches). It almost makes no sense, since there was MORE parking, and plenty of space under the bridge. I was very pleased to see my favorite race supporter, the Franz bakery grilled cheese truck! After the race I grabbed a grilled cheese bite and a loaf of delicious glutenous goodness to take home.

White rose with colorful roses in backI arrived about ten minutes before the starting time. (I want to say the race had self-sorting heats, with the walkers starting first, but I wouldn’t stake my life on that.) There was no line to pick up my bib and attached timing chip, and no worries about where to put my scarf because I didn’t get one.

The race was a 5k only this year (some past years did have a 10k option) starting from the Eastbank Festival Plaza, just north of the Hawthorne Bridge. The course was an out-and-back, south past OMSI, past the Ross Island Bridge, and a bit further south before the turnaround and return north to the start. The path was not closed to other uses, but the few other runners and cyclists out there were pretty reasonable.

In the spirit of “I am supposed to be training for the Chicago Marathon–and you should definitely donate to my fundraiser for Team Imerman Angels–I had intended to run/walk intervals. Unfortunately, I was still learning how to make the intervals on my watch work, and so the entire event was timed as a warm-up. Oops. After I realized my mistake I did some self-timed intervals. The plan was to run 3, walk 2, but my lungs were not game to play, so I did more run 2 or 1, walk 1 or 2. Near the end I got inspired to kick my own butt and turn on the speed, and ran right past some folks mustering for the riots under the Hawthorne Bridge before I crossed the finish line. (I later went back to look at them, and took a photo—super obviously, not even trying to hide it a little—to post to facebook so my friends would avoid the area. It was hard to tell who they were as a few had on MAGA hats, but there was also a riot medic—something I associate with the left—and some punch-out Donald Trump masks that were a very unflattering parody, along with lots of black commando-style gear and bandanas over faces and a big show of going to shake hands with the police officers babysitting them.)

wine glass with rosesI did appreciate that the walkers got to go in the first heat, and not just because I got to sleep in a little. Many had finished by the time I started, and the ones left on the course had spread out. There were also plenty of walkers, as Terrapin Events (the race company) is serious about making walkers welcome. While out on the run I saw plenty of families, and also parent-kid combos, and high school track runners.

Then I collected my cider—2 Towns Ciderhouse and Widmer Brothers Brewing provided post-race adult beverages—and my grilled cheese bite. There was music and some people were dancing as I picked up samples of vitamins disguised as a fun-sized candy bar, after which I sauntered down to a nearby restaurant to eat brunch with some of my peeps.

Would I run it again? Maybe, if (1) I’m actually going to get the Thorns scarf I was promised, and (2) there is no sissy-boy “I’m exerting my First Amendment rights” nonsense going on. (Yes, I’m still a bit sore that the Thorns didn’t make any effort to get the promised scarves to runners, especially since I bet they were ordered well-enough in advance that they exist somewhere.) It would also have to be on a weekend when there are no competing events, as I run up and down the sides of the river on a fairly regular basis. The race organizers and the runners and vendors were great, and created a festive atmosphere. If you are looking for a low-key 5k that is also timed, Roses on the River might be your Portland race.

Disclosure: I’m not an ambassador for the Run Revel series–but I sure would like to be! Revel definitely needs a Portland-based crew now that we have our own “hometown” Revel here, don’t you think? You know, someone to hang out at the annual Fleet Feet all-races expo, the weekend days of the local race expos, hand out flyers at the community events, make sure all the running stores have flyers…

2019: The Second Annual Revel Mt. Hood race! It’s not every race series that considers you a “legacy” runner at just your second year, but that’s definitely how Revel rolls. As I mentioned in my review of the Inaugural Revel Mt. Hood, I signed up for 2019 pretty much as soon as registration opened. (I had a great time, so why not?) This year my friend Tina flew in from Alaska for the weekend to join me, because the Marathon Maniacs and Half Fanatics designated Revel Mt. Hood as a reunion race. More on that later. I was bummed to miss Revel Mt. Charleston this year (see my review here), so it’s great I now have a hometown Revel!

The ExpoThree runners posing with the REVEL sign

Expo At the Convention Center! While the Oregon Convention Center (actually the Portland convention center, but Portland likes to pretend it *is* Oregon) is perpetually under destruction–I’m not kidding, half the doors are boarded up, the statute dedicated to MLK is under a tarp, and there is landscaping going in officially in the name of beautification (but maybe in the actual name of preventing the homeless from sleeping there?)–it’s still a good spot to hold a race expo. It’s accessible by MAX, then a walk to the currently functional doors, and a quick run through an adult habitrail to get to the rooms used for race expos right now.

Small, but mighty… With a Saturday race, it’s a one-day expo. Tina went early to grab her packet, as well as a few for friends flying in late; I went after work. Neither of us experienced much of a line. This year I love the color of the women’s tank (you choose your shirt at registration: tank, short sleeve, long sleeve, or soft non-tech cotton), and this year’s swag was a pair of Revel-themed goodr! Everyone got to choose either a black or a light blue-green (which reminds me of the Sunbathing With Wizards goodr I completely banged up by losing the safety cloth…). Revel isn’t an inexpensive race–so register EARLY and get the best prices–but the swag is always quality. In past years, I’ve received socks, a beanie (the warm kind with a hole for your ponytail), and a Headsweats hat.

The swag bag included pre-race essentials, including a heat sheet and a pair of tosser gloves (though I’m cheap and re-use them for sweat during the race, and then wash them to use them again). There were also some very random samples (probiotics for runners, okay) and an event guide. This year the expo also had some fun new photo ops. Speaking of photos, ALL participants get FREE race photos!

Like last year, there was an app to enter to win a race. Each of the main race sponsors had a code to enter. Aside from the Revel series, the other sponsors included my favorite bluetooth headphones, Aftershokz (see my review), the Portland Marathon (now under management by Revel’s parent company), Honey Stinger, and, ugh, doTerra was back as a race sponsor. I still really hate that Revel has chosen to partner with a multi-level marketing (MLM) company of any brand. (MLMs prey on stay-at-home-moms and women in conservative religious communities. Most people lose money as MLM “independent sales representatives.”) The best thing I can say is that at least the “independent consultant” there wasn’t overly pushy. Once again, there is no mention anywhere on the website, at the expo, or any of the printed literature to warn runners that doTerra’s “blue” rub–available on the course–contains sweet almond oil. If you are allergic to nuts, THIS IS DANGEROUS!  Especially on a long course with infrequent medic stations. (No thanks, I’ll stick to BioFreeze when I need a muscle rub.)

A stack of goodrNew at the expo this year (or at least I don’t remember seeing them last year?): Eastwind Running & Endurance Club, which has a Wednesday night summer run series on Portland’s east side; a photo booth with props; and the Marathon Maniacs and Half Fanatics booth, which had membership sign-ups, information about the clubs, and clearance merch (all of which was too small for me, at least in the styles I like). Since I didn’t leave work until 5, there was just enough time to chat our way through the expo, hang out with Gregg (the regional Half Fanatics/Marathon Maniacs ambassador, or at least one of them), take some photos, and race off to dinner–naturally I wrangled the group over to McMenamin’s Kennedy School, where I showed off a gem in Portland’s history.

Pre-Race

Get on the bus, Gus. As with last year, the Bain and Tina get ready to hit the bus to the race bus loading at the Lloyd Center hotel began at o’dark-thirty. With a first wave starting at 5:00 a.m. the marathoners got on board first. (I think they boarded at like 2:00!) Even though we swore we wanted to be in bed by 9:30, it was closer to 11:00 and the morning came way too early. Tina and I had prepped our gear the night before and walked over to the hotel in plenty of time. New this year: deluxe motor coaches for the drive to Mt. Hood!

Herd in the Corrals. The half marathon holding area was in the same place as last year. Basically, it’s perfect: not too far a walk from the start, plenty of room to hang out, loads of fresh porta-potties, water, and a DJ. What’s not to like? Like last year, I brought an extra heat sheet and made like a grounded baked potato pre-race. The busses arrived a bit later this year, so there was less slacker time before the race. In addition, this year the race was earlier in the year, so the sun came up earlier–rewarding runners with gorgeous views of the moon over Mt. Hood on the walk over to the start.

Run All The Miles (or 13.1 of them)!

The Course. As near as I could tell, the half marathon course was exactly the same as last year (which is fine by me–I knew exactly what to expect!). I remembered the mini-hill early in the course, and the uphill around mile 8 or so, and the uphill to mile 10, and the uphill at mile 12. Half marathoners enjoyed a great deal of lovely shade, green, and river views from mile 1 to mile 10, when the course joins the marathoners and Highway 26.

This year I felt like I totally smoked the first four miles. This is, of course, 100% subjective and bears no rational relationship to my actual speed. I started out trying to do the intervals assigned for my Chicago Marathon Training (I was supposed to run five miles with intervals of run 3, walk 2), but I messed up setting my watch and so had to time them manually. By mile 4 I was done with the intervals, and I ran random segments as it felt good. Still, without a solid training base? It was awesome! I felt fantastic. (In the pictures? Yeah…not so much. Still, I do love free race photos as a perk.)

The last three miles felt MUCH better than last year, but were not as amazing as the first few. One major change this year: the bus route changed. Last year, after turning onto the road that leads to the Rainbow Trout Farm (the finish line venue) at some point the running route aligned with the route the return buses took. This year, instead of bringing the buses out to the trout farm, Revel used golf carts to take runners out to the buses (waiting on a major surface road on the other side of the trout farm). It was delightful to run without bus fumes! Off-roading in the golf cart was a little bit like the adult version of “Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride;” I’m confident the driver was safe and did a great job (she’d been at it since 6 am!) but I was wearing running clothes, and the slick fabric of my knickers was not helping me stay seated in the rear-facing seat!

Eat All The Foods.

Finish Line ShenanigansFinish Line Perfection. Since I’m a slowpoke, I had the pleasure of being individually announced as I crossed the finish line. I grabbed a towel from a giant tub of ice water, as well as a bottle of chocolate milk and a bottle of water. After a quick stop at the (still very fresh!) finish line porta potties, I washed my hands (they had the water pump stations with soap and paper towels) and headed over to the Fanatics and Maniacs tent.

Each year the Marathon Maniacs and Half Fanatics, two related clubs for people who are crazy enough to run tons of race for fun, choose several races to be “reunion” races. This draws people out from all over the place, as these special races come with a club tent (with tables and chairs, if you want them), and–for those who sign up properly–bonus swag! This race included an extra towel, club event tee, and special bling! I love being a Double Agent (member of both Marathon Maniacs and Half Fanatics). I’ve met so many great people online and at races; it was especially fun to meet people literally on the run at events, as we recognized each other by our club singlets. The clubs also have a monthly newsletter, race discounts, and private Facebook groups.

Anyway, after I collected my checked bag (contents: Oofos, sunblock, face wipes, warm-up clothing) and dropped it on the shaded lawn under the club tents, I collected the snacks. First, a slice of cheese pizza from Papa John’s and an old-fashioned chocolate glazed donut. Next, an ice-cold Diet Coke. I spent the remainder of the morning hanging out with other club members under the tent, and occasionally taking pictures. Tina’s friend was sweeping the marathon so we waited until she finished to leave–putting us on the final bus back to Portland (alas, a regular school bus) after the wild golf cart ride from the finish area.

Overall? See you at Revel Mt. Hood next year! Psst! Register by midnight  July 19 and use code EARLY to save an extra $10! https://www.runrevel.com/rmh/register

 

 

Disclosure: As a member of the official Blue Ridge Marathon blogger-ambassador team, I received a free entry to the Slow K. As always, all opinions are my own.

Everyone knows you shouldn’t go straight from being very active, or running long miles, to couch-potato-worthy zero. Yet that’s what most of us do the day after a race. Worse, for destination marathons that fall on a Sunday, many runners hop an airplane back home the same day. Yikes!

Another problem avid runners face is the non-running-significant-other. It’s fun to have your spouse or boyfriend or whatever come along on race weekend, but I’m not sure how much fun it is for them when the entire weekend revolves around an event they aren’t participating in.

This year, the Blue Ridge Marathon races brilliantly solved both problems with The Slow K: an untimed 5k-ish event. It was brilliant.

The Slow K started across the street from our hotel, so we thought we’d walk over. Minor issue, part of the path was shut-off by a chain-link fence, so we had a little pre-5K parkour event. Upon our arrival, we found a super chill pre-brunch scene.

We felt all the love!

Upon checking in each not-runner received their number on a flower lei (not a bib), and a coffee mug. Pre-“race” there was plenty of coffee and hot cocoa, as well as some donuts to snack on. (Don’t judge. Most of us had just done a mountainous race!) The event was fairly small–this was the first year–and there was plenty of space to mill around, chat, and meet other runners.

It was fun to see runners just as stiff and sore as I was hobbling around and trying to get the juices flowing again, while non-runner husbands and girlfriends who were not walking like zombies filled coffee mugs. There were a few strollers and plenty of walking kiddos as well. That’s the great thing about a “Slow K,” it is literally for everyone. Exactly zero people were there to race, or even run!

You had me at “mimosa”

Off to one side was a mimosa bar where, for a small donation, you could DIY your own combo with sparkling wine, juice, and fresh fruit. I’m pretty sure the idea was to grab one after the Slow K, but the mimosa cups fit inside the coffee mugs so perfectly that some of us just couldn’t help ourselves!  They also had fancier coffee (in case the more pedestrian coffee that came with the donuts wasn’t up to your standards). Through the magic of square, I made my donation (I should have taken notes, I want to say this was for an arts or music program), selected some pineapple juice, made a little more room in the cup, and added fresh strawberries. Not a bad way to start a “run” (quotes intentional, as no one was running).

The added bonus of a slow event where you’re trying to get people to move but not run, and where you hand out coffee mugs instead of medals: it’s really, really hard to run with a coffee mug in your hand and not spill all over the place. At least as the event started, most of us still had full or semi-full mugs in our hands.

The weather was slightly soggy, but not really rainy–sort of a continuation of the weekend’s theme. The loop course wound along the river, through some park areas, and back to the start. There were a bunch of cute signs close to the start/finish to cheer on the “runners” too.

Slow K instructions

The Slow K was so much fun that I’m a bit confused as to how every race isn’t doing this. It’s a brilliant way to end a weekend and celebrate everyone’s accomplishments.