5k Review: Jelly Bean Virtual 5k

So have you ever heard of a “Virtual 5k”?


I hadn’t either until I was invited to join some other ladies doing one. It’s a pretty cool concept, actually. What happens is that you sign up to be part of the virtual race, and then you can run (or bike, if that’s an option) the specified distance, keeping your own time, and you log your time online. Essentially, you’re running with a bunch of other people, but in different locations at different times.


{Am I explaining this well?}


I didn’t really know what to think about this concept, but in an effort to keep myself running, I like to consistently have a 5k that I’m training for. I had run the indoor 5k in January, it seemed like a pretty good idea to have one on the calendar for March. I considered running one of the St. Patrick’s Day 5ks around here… the Shamrock Shuffle or something… but seriously, 5ks can be pretty expensive. Plus, to do one of those, I’d have to travel to Chicago or Milwaukee, adding even more expenses. When I was invited to do the Jelly Bean Virtual 5k, and was told that it was only $11, I was sold!


A group of five of us signed up as a team to do this race. We met at a pretty popular running spot in our area, Lake Andrea, at the ungodly hour of 8am this past Saturday.


{I know, I know. 8am isn’t early when you’re a mom, but it’s early for running… especially when you prefer to run in the afternoons like I do…}


I had hoped it would be warming up by March, but alas, it has only gotten slightly above the 30’s this past week. I was only able to run outside once before the race; all other training was done on the treadmill. I had planned to just do the run I was on for the Couch-to-5k program (Week 3, Day 3) but one of the ladies, Corey, was on Week 7 or 8 of the program and asked if I was going to run the 25 minutes with her. I initially said no, but after running through the first two “walk” times for my program, I just abandoned it and kept running. I ran most of the race, which I hadn’t planned on doing– I hadn’t run more than 2 miles in a long time.


The funny thing about a Virtual 5k is that there isn’t a huge group of people doing it with you. The five of us had our race bibs on, but there were only five of us. There were plenty of other people out walking or running around the lake. So when I slowed to walk about halfway through and saw the other ladies getting pretty far ahead of me, I felt a little silly walking with a race bib on. By myself. So I ran the rest of it, and it felt great.


As with any good race, this one came with all the swag that $11 can buy. We got some adorable race bibs, gold medals, and a small bag of starburst jelly beans. (Small note: I finally discovered some jelly beans that I can actually enjoy. I’ve never cared for jelly beans– this is no longer the case! Thank you, Starburst, for making a jelly bean that I don’t hate.)

Jelly Bean 5k

When you enter in your run times online, you are also entered to win some various running-related prizes. It’s a random drawing, so it doesn’t matter how slow you are, you still have a shot at winning a prize, which I thought was pretty cool!


All that to say…

The verdict is: Virtual Races are a pretty cool idea– particularly if you have others to do it with you. It’s flexible, inexpensive, and although “everyone” isn’t doing it all at once, there is something pretty communal about it– especially when you go onto the Run with Jess Facebook page and see pictures of other runners and bikers posting their pictures, holding their medals and jelly beans, and sharing in the experience from miles away.

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