The EMS Appreciation Week 2016 5K/10K is a virtual running race hosted by the Virtual Running Club during EMS Week with a portion of each registration fee going to the National EMS Memorial Foundation. (read about the race on EMS1)
I ran my 10K, which can be run any time during EMS week for medal eligibility, this afternoon. I started and finished my 10K course near my home in Wisconsin.
About the EMS Appreciation Week 5K/10K
The Virtual Running Club organizes theme and cause related races nearly every week. I first learned of the EMS Appreciation Week race from a Facebook ad. I have never run a virtual race and thought it might be a good first experience with the connection to EMS Week.
The virtual races are marketed as being similar to a regular race – pre-race emails, race results, a t-shirt, and a race medal. Of course a virtual race doesn’t require travel, parking, riding a bus to the start area, hanging out in a coral and reuniting with family (and drop bag) after the race.
The biggest difference though is a virtual race can happen on any stretch of road or trail, laps on a track or on a treadmill. Also missing, at least in my experience, are the other runners. A running group or team could certainly register and run together. Looking at the results – Gold Cross Rochester, Medic2016, Reno Co EMS – indicates a number of people registered together and possibly will run together.
Race Day – Sunday May 15
To be prize eligible I needed to report my results from a run finished on May 15 to May 21. Looking at my schedule for the week today, Sunday made the most sense.
Race Start Time and Start Area
Most races start early in the morning. Some, like the Disney races, start as early as 0530. Others like the Bellin 10K and the New York City Marathon have more leisurely start times, 0800 and 0940 respectively.
I spent my morning on a variety of house and yard projects so starting about 1400 worked best with my family’s schedule. Picking my own start time seemed to remove a lot of the usually pre-race jitters and porta-potty trips.
The start corral – my driveway – had plenty of room for stretching, a warm-up jog, adjusting layers, and hanging out with my family. My kids and wife biked with me as I ran so once we were all ready we left the corral for the start line.
We jogged to the start line, about a block from my house, and a spot where I decided to whimsically press start of my watch.
Mile 1: 8:18
The first mile was from my home to the Green Circle Trail, which is a fantastic crushed gravel trail that runs around Stevens Point.
This was my slowest mile as I warmed up, explained the concept of a virtual race to my kids, and warmed-up for the run ahead.
Mile 2: 7:50
The second mile continues on the Green Circle Trail and into Iverson Park. There is one significant (for Central Wisconsin) downhill on this section of the trail. I was a little concerned that with an almost 30 second pace increase that I was setting a pace I would not be able to maintain.
Though I have picked up running again regularly in the last month or so I have been mostly running slowly with a run-walk method (7 minutes running, 1 minute of walking).
Mile 3: 7:39
On the third mile I ran out of Iverson Park, up a short hill and through the Village of Park Ridge on residential streets. I was happy that my pace improved and I was feeling good.
Crowd support in a virtual race, at least for me, was pretty limited. I wore the race bib, but no one shouted, “Go EMS!” or stood on the road side with an ironic sign, “Run like your being chased by an ambulance.”
The lack of a big crowd was minimized because I had the best crowd ever – my wife and two kids. They cheered, took photos and had a water for me (a rolling aid station).
Mile 4: 7:39
Mile 4 took me past the Park Ridge Volunteer Fire Department and retracing my route to the Green Circle Trail in Iverson Park.
I always find the 4th mile the most difficult mile of a 10K race. It is past the halfway point but there is still a lot of running left.
The National EMS Memorial Foundation exist to establish a permanent EMS memorial in Washington DC or its environs to honor, recognize and remember the commitment, service and sacrifice of the Nation’s EMS heroes who have died in the line of duty and for those who continue this service commitment and sacrifice.
As I ran my thoughts were with the EMTs and paramedics who have died in the line of duty. During EMS Week every EMS provider should take a moment, on or off duty, to think of and honor our colleagues who are remembered by the National EMS Memorial. Do it in a manner true to your interests and in their honor.
Mile 5: 7:41
In a 10K mile 5 is the “I got this mile.”
I had run three miles in a row at 7:40, which was a good sign I wasn’t overrunning my fitness. Even with a climb of the big (relative) hill I was making great time towards the finish.
The race time temperature, 52F, is perfect for running. Normally I would dress shorts, t-shirt, and visor for this weather, but I am training for a 17 mile run in Las Vegas in July so I have been overdressing on my Spring training runs which meant for today’s run a long-sleeve shirt, t-shirt, and RoadID hat. I handed off the hat on the fourth mile and ran warm with two shirts.
Mile 6: 7:12
With a very doable 1.2 miles left I pushed the pace to my fastest mile split. Without any other runners I had both the good of not being passed by anyone in the final sections of the race and the bad of not being able to line up and over take other runners. In a road race I often find it motivational to chase down people in front of me. Moving from person to person through the crowd.
Mile 6.2: 1:24
The final two-tenths of a mile I ran in 1:24, which was my fastest per mile pace of the run. To find 0.2 miles of road though I had to make a right turn, right turn, left turn, and 180 degree u-turn. Not an optimal course design for a high-speed finish. I will be making a suggestion to the race director to design a better finish.
Total time: 47:47
According to my Garmin VivoActive data I ran 6.2 miles in 47:47.
Though as any race day GPS wearing runner will tell you the measured/certified course distance and the GPS calculated distance are never the same. It’s likely I ran slightly more or slightly less than 10K. That’s OK.
Post Race finishers area
The finish area was easy to navigate with plentiful water, snacks, and bathrooms. I was able to quickly reunite with my family, take a few post-race photos, and access Wi-Fi to upload photos to Twitter and Facebook.
The race shirt, a gray cotton t-shirt, arrived about a week before the race week. It is a comfortable, decent t-shirt. Compared to most race shirts it is free of logos which makes it a good candidate for everyday wear.
I expect to receive the finisher’s medal in mid-June.
Post, post race
We celebrated with ice cream at Emmy J’s and watching the Western Conference NHL finals. Go Sharks!
I will gladly run another virtual race. Though I might try to synchronize my actual run with other local runners or running friends in different parts of the world. A running race is a multi-faceted experience that is usually greater than the sum of its parts.
This race was also an opportunity for me to inspire and encourage other EMS providers to walk or run and support the National EMS Memorial foundation.
Did you run the EMS Appreciation Week 5K/10K? Share your experience in the comments or send me a link to your race report.