Her running shoes were laced up and ready to go.
As the morning sun broke through the clouds, she looked at the newly-mapped race route ahead. There were no waves of runners crowding the starting line or excited conversations buzzing around her.
It was quiet as she started off on her run.
At first, her own breathing and the rhythmic sound of her shoes crunching the gravel below were her only companions. Although nothing was quite the same, she was determined to finish the race — even if it was a virtual one.
Carin Van Pelt of Stanton created her own half marathon course earlier this month, running a virtual version of the 2020 Lincoln Half Marathon that was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This was my first virtual race,” the 42-year-old registered nurse said. “I ran my race on May 3 which was the original date of the half marathon.”
She will still receive a shirt and a medal for participating in the virtual format. Van Pelt admitted that she missed the race atmosphere she was accustomed to in Lincoln, but was thankful for the encouragement she received running closer to home.
“I had family and friends along the way to hand out water, Gatorade and cheer me on,” she said.
Some friends ran and walked with her throughout the 13.1-mile run.
Starting off at 7:20 a.m., Van Pelt ran the Cowboy Trail, starting at South 1st Street in Norfolk and ran 7 miles west and turned around and ran back to Tahazouka Park on Highway 13. She used an Apple watch to track her run.
“I started to feel tired at mile 10 and was running in the sun,” Van Pelt recalled. “The last 3 miles were very difficult, and I really struggled to finish.”
She credits her husband, son, mother and close friends for getting her to the finish line.
Van Pelt said she got into distance running in 2011 as a way to get into shape and lose weight. She got hooked and has run numerous weekend races since then.
“Some days are worse than others in staying motivated,” Van Pelt said. “I run to stay in shape and feel good about myself, so I run all year long. The coldest weather I have run in is 13 degrees.”
Whether it’s through the heat, cold or a worldwide pandemic, she continues to run the course.