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Blue Ridge Foot Levelers 2020 Pandemic Virtual Half Marathon

So, everything’s cancelled.

We done upset Mother Earth. And now she’s taken every single privilege away from us.

We all on punishment.

And I know there are folks who want us to be inside and never leave the house. At all. For any reason. Like annoying younger siblings.

And maybe they’re right.

I mean, I don’t think they are.

But I also don’t think expiration dates on food are necessary. So…

Plus I’m a runner.

And Runners are a subversive people.

We can’t process that the healthiest option right now is pure hibernation.

Because I tried that whole staying inside my home without accessing the out of doors thing. For 9 solid hours. On Wednesday. And I just about lost my fucking mind. And I was even working during that time. I can’t imagine if I’d just been lying on my couch repeatedly telling Netflix that yes, I’m still watching.

We run because it is a vital part of every single aspect of our health. (That’s a pretty sweeping statement. I’m not dead sure it’s true. It’s certainly not based on any kind of research I’ve done. Because I haven’t. Researched it. But it sounds right. So I’m gonna go with it. Because that’s just what we do now.)

So we sneak out the house. To run our races virtually.

But, I mean, we do so responsibly.

Either completely alone. Or from the recommended physical distance.

Because even from three states away. We can still see the CDC’s recommendations. (I’m looking at you, Georgia. They’re right there inside of your fucking state, Georgia.)

So, y’all know the Blue Ridge Marathon was cancelled this year. Kind of. Right?

I was gonna run the Double again.


Ima be real. Ok. So when I ran it in 2018. I think. I think that’s when I ran it. People called me a badass. Random strangers. For 52 miles. Called me a badass.

Ok, maybe not 52 miles. The first 26, really only Mama Ange was out there. Aid stationing us. And Van One Driver. Delivering Dorito baskets. And Mayor Marion. Photographing.

But the second 26. The entire world was out there. And they called us badasses. With our pink race bibs.

That is the kind of shit that fuels me.

Oh I absolutely care what other people think about me.

So, obviously. When the race was cancelled. And we were given the option to run it virtually. I dropped right on down from the Double.

There is zero point for me to run a Double road marathon. If the streets aren’t lined with random strangers telling me I’m awesome.

So, I opted for the Half Marathon. I’ve never run that distance in this race.

So this seems like the time.

And Rogue and Fall Risk and I thought we’d just get our virtual races in whenever.

Because they can’t cancel running. Right?

Except they can close the greenway.

And while I have no affinity for the greenway. And all of its bullshit flatness. It is a significant part of the the Blue Ridge course.

So when the announcement came Thursday morning. We got our asses in gear.

First, we forced Fall Risk out for the Virtual Anthem Star 10k. On Thursday afternoon.

Met at the starting line.

And I may have gotten overexcited to see Fall Risk in person. Standing there. Waiting for us.

And ok. I’m trying, y’all. I’m trying with this whole physical distancing thing.

Last week I went to the Walmarts to pick up an online grocery order. Pulled into the pickup area. Opened my trunk. And got back into my car. So the deliverer person wouldn’t have to be in contact with me. Even cracked my window so they could verify my identity without much exposure.

But when the girl came rolling up with my order. And asked if I was Sunshine. I got so damn excited for human contact that I jumped out of my car. And walked over to her. Like right up over to her.

*sigh* I know.

I am what’s wrong with the world right now. I am why we’re gonna get locked down. I am why we can’t have nice things.

But I’m learning.

So I almost walked straight up to Fall Risk and hugged her. But I caught myself. At around the 5 foot mark. And backed the fuck up.

I am trainable.

And so. We spent the entire 10k physically distanced from one another.

Seriously. Look it.

I mean, conversations are hard at this distance. Which is part of the point of running.

At one point, Rogue turned around and said, “I don’t like this.”

Shhhh. I know, honey. But ima need you to stay the fuck up there.

She needs the conversation wayyyy more than Fall Risk and I. She needs it way more than most humans.

But still. We followed rules. And we managed it.

We did so good at the 6 feet thing. That everyone who passed us congratulated us. Said we were the best physical distancers ever.

No seriously. Everyone said they were impressed.

Like, what the hell yall doin out there that our ability to follow rules is impressing random strangers?

They don’t know us. They don’t know that in the normal world setting, we’re damn near incapable of following rules. Or that some of us take rules as a date. They don’t know that Rogue’s nickname is Rogue for a reason.

So, if we can follow them. Y’all sure as fuck should be able to.


And y’all looking for gloves to wear for this pandemic. Fishburn Parkway is lined with them. Those blue surgical gloves. Which, I mean, I don’t know why they’re there. And that is only slightly unsettling.

But it’s got to be an entire box worth. Just lying at regular intervals. On both sides. Of the entire Fishburn Parkway.

I suggested we collect them. For Fall Risk. And Rogue. Because they work in the hospitals.

But apparently bringing your own surgical gloves collected from the side of the road is frowned upon.

PPE standards are high these days.

Anyway. We got Fall Risk’s 10k knocked out.

And Rogue and I cheered and paparazzi-ed her. Through the finish line.

And then agreed. Friday morning. We’d get the Foot Leveler’s Blue Ridge Half Marathon done. Before they closed Mill Mountain. Forever.

Not forever.

I get a little dramatic during pandemics.

But damn. The way some of y’all not following any of the rules. This shit may go on forever.

The greenway. And thus the mountain. Was set to close at 8am.

We decided to start at 7:30.

Now…I’m not sure why we thought we could make it up to and over the mountain in 30 minutes…

Look. Math.

At any rate, Beautiful Beastie met me at the starting line at 7:30.

Rogue’s sinuses had been taken over by pollen.

Because the best time a pandemic could possibly hit SW Virginia is smack in the height of allergy season.

So, we’re gonna have to run hers at a later date.

Fall Risk was gonna paparazzi our finish for us.

“So, should I be here at 9:30?”

…because you think we’re Kenyan…?

I mean, I love your confidence in our abilities.

But no.

No fucking way we run this shit in 2 hours. Hell, 2 1/2 seems optimistic.

We might make it back by 10am. Maybe.

So, BB and I took off.

And it wasn’t long before the whining started.

Me. It was obviously me whining.

Because road.

I’m a trail runner, y’all. I’m not made for road.

But really, BB ain’t made for road no more neither.

But we pushed along. Up Fishburn Parkway. And we got to the entrance of Mill Mountain. Around 8:05am.

And while we are generally prone to thinking that Do Not Enter signs don’t apply to us. We’re working real hard on being responsible citizens.

So BB asked me what I wanted to do…

And the only thought in my head was, “Fuck Peakwood.”

And Roanoke Mountain was right there. Up the road a little bit.

And that would easily give us 13.1 miles.

And also well beyond the 1,800 feet of elevation gain.

And Roanoke Mountain is not Peakwood.

And fuck Peakwood.

So on we went.

I tried suggesting to BB that we pick those surgical gloves up for her. Because she also works in the hospitals. But she also felt that would be unwise.

Whatevs. When the world runs out of gloves. I know where to find a whole box. And really. They’ve been up there for months. I’m certain whatever viruses they contained are dead by now.

Y’all. Never trust me in a pandemic. I’m so much the “meh, what’s the worst that could happen” chick. I can’t be trusted. I’ve still got two day old dinner sitting in my microwave. And the only reason it’s in there and not just out on my counter is because I’ve got cats. And I don’t share food.

When we hit 6 1/2 miles. And were still not at the top of the mountain. BB pointed out that we were gonna be well beyond 13 miles for this half.


She suggested we skip the loop at the top. Unless I needed my picture taken at the top.

Psht. I’ve got enough pictures of me at the top of Roanoke Mountain.


And as we were coming back down. We remembered why we were trail runners.

Is this just it for us now? Are we just no longer able to run on roads anymore?

Like, everything hurt.

It starts in your hip flexors. Then moves to your entire hip. And down your legs to your knees. Calves. Ankles. Feet.

Sometimes it even crawls up into your lower back.

It. Just. Hurts.

Trails don’t do that to you.

Unless they’re, like, 5,000 feet of up and down rock. Or North Fucking Mountain.

But this shit. It hurt to the point that we were begging to walk. Coming down the parkway.

And we did. A few times.

But we eventually came limping in. To the finish line. Where Fall Risk was waiting. With her camera. And donuts.

And it was the best paparazzi.

And here it is. My official Blue Ridge Foot Leveler’s Half Marathon Pandemic Virtual Finisher’s photo.

And it is done.

And now I await my 2020 pandemic race shirt.

And also the reopening of my mountain trails…

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Just reading and writing and running and looking for my happy place.

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