Tales of Marathons Past

I woke up with this reminder today:

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Nothing like nearing the end of a countdown to jolt me into intense training mode. The Pensacola Marathon is now just weeks away, I have been training, and I’ve realized a couple of things this time around that didn’t occur to me before.

First, I’m not as young as I once was.  I’m 36 years old, and I really feel like I’m in the best shape of my life both mentally and physically, but that doesn’t mean my body doesn’t feel its age.  There are just more aches and pains now than there were before: knee aches, foot problems, etc.  I can’t push myself or push through the pain like I used to for risk of injuring myself further.  It’s true we only live once, but that also means we only get one body and I want to preserve mine just as much as I want to take care of it.  Luckily, there’s comfort in knowing I can run 13.1 miles, I’ve done it before, I can do it again.  I may not be as good as I once was, but I’m as good once as I ever was!

Second, humidity sucks!!  I’m not in Washington anymore.  Running in extreme heat is no fun, training in the humidity is worse.  88 degrees isn’t so bad right?  Think again, when 88 degrees actually feels like 98, then that’s different.  It’s normal to feel exhausted after a long run, but adding humidity takes dehydration and fatigue to a whole new level.  Exhaustion is magnified to the feeling of death in the form of a heat stroke!  I will have to keep this in mind when signing up for future races, so that the training is in the Fall with the race actually taking place in the beginning of the year for optimal conditions.

With the race being just a few weeks away, I can’t help but reminisce about previous half marathons to get into the racing spirit.  The Pensacola Half Marathon will be my fourth half marathon since I started running, that’s not very many so I still remember details of each race I ran.

The first time was special, and my favorite race.  In 2012, I signed up for the Bellingham Bay Half Marathon and ran with two good friends.  They had both ran half marathons before and probably could have left me in the dust, but we all ran together.  More women than men participated in this particular half marathon, there were thousands of participants for all the events, lots of people cheered on the runners, and the course took us through beautiful views of the San Juan Islands, North Cascade Mountains and Bellingham Bay.

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My second and third half marathons were in good ol’ Oak Harbor in Whidbey Island, Washington.  Runners from all over the Pacific Northwest come to Whidbey Island to run the Whidbey Island Marathon or Half Marathon event.  If it’s known for anything, it would be the magnificent Deception Pass Bridge, where the full marathon runners start the course.  (I have not run a full marathon but if I ever do, I’d want to run this one!)  Another thing this race is known for the hills!  Hills, hills, and more hills!

I’ve run the Whidbey Island Half marathon twice and each race was a different experience.  The first time I ran in in 2013, it rained for the first couple of hours, and it was cold!  Many locals who run this race year after year, said rain and cold is much better than the cold and wind they experienced in previous years.  The second time I ran in 2014 was probably the most fun I had at a half marathon, the weather was great, I incorporated boot camp style training in my work out which really helped me improve my time, I was 8  minutes faster!  I’m still really slow but to improve from my previous two races was gloriously gratifying!  Here are some pictures of the 2013 and 2014 Whidbey Island Half Marathon races:

  

There’s a saying that has circulated in the running or fitness community that goes something like “Don’t think about how far you have left to go, look at how far you’ve come!”  With a little over one month left before another half marathon, another race to earn a new race shirt and medal, it’s nice to look back and see where my running journey started for added motivation.  It still amazes me that race fever doesn’t ever subside. I feel as much excitement for this race that I did for my first, the fire for running still burns fiercely!

Have you run a marathon or half marathon?  Are you maybe training for a running event?  Share a memory of a time you’ve run a race!  🙂

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