Sunday, January 13, 2013

Sandy Hook Memorial Virtual Half Marathon report- and a brief history of FatAss and Virtual runs

When I found out about this virtual half marathon and 5K, I was pretty excited about doing it.  When you signed up online, you got a link to print your bib, and then you could run your distance all at once or spread it out over a few days.  I was intrigued, so I signed up and then created a FB event and invited all my friends (both runners and not).  The money is all being donated to the United Way Sandy Hook Victims fund.  I felt like this was one way I could help out, being so far away from Newton and not able to offer any help in person.  Plus, I figured they could use all the money and prayers they can get to help them deal with this horrible tragedy.

So I chose today to run the race because it was the day before the month anniversary of the tragedy (and also 1-13-13 sounded pretty cool).  I had about 12 people say they would come, and I was pretty excited about that.  I have put on 3 FatAss events in the past. 

(Small tangent here- in case you don't know, FatAss events are not named for the figures of the people who race them, they are generally trail races governed by three rules: no fees, no awards, no whining. Distances are typically 50 kilometers or 50 miles, but vary according to a race director’s whims.  My whims for the past three events have been 13.1 miles.  We did the Ho Ho Half, the Winter Solstice Half, and the New Year's Run (which I missed because I was sick, dammit).  Most people use them as a training run and it's just really neat to have a bunch of people show up with snacks and run together for a few hours with no rules- just fun.  Here's the story of how they came to be named:
In San Francisco, a runner who couldn’t find a race decided to fake one. Joe Oakes needed a 50-mile qualifying time to apply for the Western States 100. He tried to sign up for a 50-mile relay, but solo runners weren’t permitted. So Mr. Oakes entered seven times under seven different spellings of his name. Team Oakes pulled it off, and from identity fraud a movement was born.“There is so much greed and so much money in sports these days,” Mr. Oakes later explained to Ultrarunning magazine. To rebel against ever-escalating entry fees, he created the “Recover From the Holidays Fat Ass 50-Mile Run.”  
And so a movement was born.  Now, with the internet at our fingertips, there are virtual races.  Hundreds (probably thousands) of them all over the country.  The idea is that any profits will go to a charity.  You sign up and are given a bib, possibly a medal, and maybe even some swag.  You can run the race on any day that is good for you, and you don't even have to do the whole distance in one fell swoop.  Finishing is based on the honor system, and since most runners are pretty honest people, it works out well for everyone.) 

This brings us full circle back to the Sandy Hook Memorial Virtual Half Marathon I did today.  I wanted to be a part of it and somehow give something to the victims. My husband and I, and another runner friend, ran it on a one mile paved loop near our house.  It's a pretty loop- with lots of trees and a few small inclines (maybe you'd call them hills, maybe not so much).  It's a wonderful place to run because you don't have to carry water or nutrition since you pass your "aid station" every mile. 
We started out at 9 am, and it was brutally cold.  Temps were 21F and the wind was howling, making the wind chill somewhere in the 5-8F range.  Brrrr... The loop runs north/south, so the north portion was tough, but you got to thaw out a little heading south- so it all evened out in the end.
For some reason, I can't upload images from the computer at this time, so here is the link to the album on my FB page. 
Sandy Hook Virtual Half Marathon
We ran and ran.  Each half mile I would look down at my bib and say the next name on the bib in my head to the beat of my footstrikes and my breathing.  Each victim got to run a half mile with me.  I imagined each of them running along side me during their half mile.  I did the children first, then the 6 hero teachers, then the shooter's mom.  I still think she's a victim of this horrible tragedy- no matter how she was as a parent.  It was peaceful and beautiful.  I didn't listen to music (a first for me).  I just listened to my breathing and to my footstrikes and to each name rhythmically chanting in my head.  For each child, I imagined they were running alongside of me.  Happy, healthy, free of worry and sadness, and home with their Father.  It was the most beautiful half marathon I've ever run.

Hope your Sunday was as lovely as mine. 
Run on, my friends!


  1. I love me a FatAss run! Great job on the 5k today! What a great thing you did.

    1. They are the BEST!! And I *wish* I'd run the 5K. I did the half marathon. By about mile 6 I was mostly frozen and questioning my sanity... but how could I stop???

    2. and BTW, I was stalking your blog yesterday and reading past entries. We are soooo much alike in so many ways. Our age, our running styles, the yoga, our foodie type (you're vegetarian, I'm vegan), our love of the trails and the long run (and unfortunately) the injuries. You inspire me!! It's nice to read blogs of regular people like me who enjoy this crazy sport! :)