The World Through My Shoes is my look at living this incredible gift God has given us. As a busy wife, mother and daughter I relish the alone time I receive on my early morning runs. It is in the stillness of those predawn mornings where I often am inspired. Thank you for taking the time to read my words.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Lake Samish Half Marathon

We got the last parking space nearest the lodge where runners were to check in and collect their numbered bibs and timing chips.  The temperature stood at 45* creating perfect weather for running, but chilly for standing and waiting.

Entering into the park lodge it became an instant family reunion.  Friends not seen for awhile greeted us with hugs and in an instant several conversations had started at once.  As more runners registered, our circle grew.  Time came to shed our coats and Pat, Kathy and I made our way back to the truck to trade our coats and sweats for fuel belts and running gloves.  My husband Dennis and my son Dane were getting their bikes ready for a ride around the lake.  I wished them well and made my way back to the lodge.

 Collin, a friend of my oldest son, was near the entrance, nervously waiting for the start of his first half marathon.  Talking with him and his mom we talked of his training and his plans for the race.  At 14 his goal was to finish in 1 hour 30 minutes, an aggressive time for a hilly course.  I wished him well and told him I’d see him at the finish.

 Entering the lodge it wasn’t long before Pat had us heading out the door for a warm up.  There is something very comforting in doing on race day what you always do before a run.  We talk and stretch and discuss the paces for the day.  Between injuries, comebacks and previous week’s marathons, Kathy, Cari and I were hoping to simply have a good run.

 The race director corrals everyone to the starting line, gives direction and then blows the horn.  We were off and running.  It didn’t take long to get into a rhythm, and at times our pace was too fast.   The route consisted of two 6.6 mile loops around Lake Samish.  Lakeside residents could be found on their decks shouting encouragement as we ran by.  One clever household created their own aid station with water and beer and a large sign offering “hydrate or ride”.  They won for creativity.

 The three of us kept a strong and steady pace and managed the rolling hills with ease.  We wondered if it would feel so easy on the second loop.  The lake was calm and grey reminding us the calendar read January.  We admired the beautiful homes and summer cabins that peppered the lake’s edge.

 Successfully completing the first loop, 59 minutes later we were beginning the second loop around the lake.    We knew where the hills were and what to expect and found ourselves so lost in conversation, they again went by easily.   Despite running a marathon 7 days previous, and much to my amazement, I was feeling strong.   The exhaustion I feared would come, didn’t.  

 We were on the backside of the lake and cresting the final hill, making our total elevation gain 1,714 feet.  Nearing the final mile marker, we picked up the pace making it our fastest mile of the day.  Running through the finisher’s chute my husband and my friends are cheering and waiting for high fives, hugs and fist bumps. 

 The finisher clock read 2:01:19, almost 14 minutes faster than I thought I’d do.  Although a far cry from my personal best it was enough to place me 8th in my age bracket.  Pat ran a new personal best with 1:40:58 giving him a 5th place finish in his age group.  In the lodge, I bumped into Collin, who with a big smile, told me he did a 1:24 beating his goal by 6 minutes and placing him 2nd in his age group.  At only 14 years old, he is one to watch as I think he has the capability to make it big on the world stage.  You heard it here first.

A few hours removed from the race, I sit here quietly typing out my thoughts on paper.  In all honesty, I admit my own body surprised me with its strength today.  Running a marathon with 7300 ft of elevation gain only 7 days prior to this race, I did not think I would feel so strong in this one.  I was wrong.  A runner’s biggest critic is the voice inside the runner’s own head.  There will be ugly miles ahead, there will be difficult miles ahead and for those miles I will bottle up this feeling of hope.   And when those miles come, as we all know they do, I will crack open the bottle and breathe it in.  This day, I will remember.

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