Maybe if someone had told me that I could combine travel and running I would have began running much sooner. I had mentioned back in the spring that I would be running a half marathon at the end of September in Lisbon, Portugal. I was so psyched to run an international race. We planned to combine the experience with a week of travel in Portugal. Unfortunately we discovered that my husband would need to go through a lengthy process to secure a visa. He is a permanent resident of the U.S. and we have never run into a situation where he required different travel documents. We also found the flights to be offered at extremely inconvenient times resulting in the loss of 1-2 full days due to travel. The flights were very expensive and seemed to increase in price every time we checked on them. For a couple of hundred dollars more we could fly to Mozambique to visit my in-laws.
After much deliberation we decided to forego the trip, rationalizing that it was not practical nor financially feasible for only a week away. We were both really disappointed, but the shorter trip we have planned in early October is undoubtedly going to be a huge hit with Carlos. We are pretty excited about it too, but more on that in a couple of weeks.
Since I wasn’t going to be running the half in Lisbon I began looking around for another September half marathon to include in my marathon training plan. I found one in a place I’ve never been and always wanted to visit. Another bonus was being able to coordinate a visit to see my friend and former Peace Corps site mate, her husband and their adorable baby boy. Without hesitation I registered for the 42nd Annual Lake Placid/North Elba Half Marathon on Saturday, September 8th.
We headed up to Lake Placid late in the afternoon the day before the race. By the time we got to the town it was dark. I arrived with just enough time to grab my race packet. We continued on to our hotel, the beautiful, rustic White Face Lodge. Upon arrival we were told we were being upgraded to a Deluxe One Bedroom Suite and it was gorgeous. The bedroom was on the second floor. There were two fire places, a balcony, full kitchen, and a bath and a half. We want to live there.
The morning of the half marathon I was planning to have my usual banana and peanut butter toast. The breakfast buffet was included with our room. Everything looked and smelled amazing, but lo and behold no bananas, no peanut butter and no toast. Well there were bagels and I probably could have asked for peanut butter. Since I was already short on time I broke rule #1 of running a race. I abandoned my running rituals and did something different on race day. I ate a bowl of oatmeal with raisins and nuts (gasp!). Oh and I also wore a new shirt which I love by the way, but race day is not the time or place to be trying out new running apparel.
The race began at the Olympic Speed Skating Oval. Lake Placid hosted the Winter Olympics in 1932 and 1980. Pre-race I had some time to walk around the oval and read about the olympians who skated there. If standing on the same ground Olympians once stood on isn’t inspiring I don’t know what is.
This was a small race with only 192 participants. We set off promptly and ran up Main Street through the center of Lake Placid before circling Mirror Lake. The weather was absolutely perfect for running, high 60s and overcast. The course was revised this year and followed a different route from past years. We ran past the Olympic Ski Jumps. Orlando and Carlos toured the ski jumps while I was running. From just before the ski jumps the course followed an out and back course. It was beautiful with the colorful autumn leaves, surrounding mountains and a rambling river.
As the ski jumps came into view on the turn around the wind picked up in our direction. It was forceful and felt as though an entire football team was trying to keep me back. It slowed me down some, but I kept pushing through. About a quarter of a mile before the end we had to climb a pretty big hill. I knew it was coming because we had already run down it miles before. I conquered the hill as quickly as possible but that basically amounted to a really fast walk.
The race ended at the North Elba Horseshow Grounds. As I rounded the corner into the parking area on the grounds I could see the people cheering. This race was not a spectator race, but not unlike the finish area of most races this one was lined with cheering spectators as well. Having people clap and cheer as you run by never gets old! I spotted the time clock ahead. Up until this point I had absolutely no idea of my time.
Recently Marion from Affection for Fitness wrote about fitness magic. Did you know that chickens could fly? I didn’t. Marion asks if you ever felt like a chicken who couldn’t fly. I think I have been feeling that way most of my life especially when it comes to fitness. I was never inactive per say. I’ve always been a hard worker, but I wasn’t ACTIVE. I am the girl who almost failed gym because I wouldn’t participate. I remember going for walks with my college roommate with the intent of exercising, but we smoked the entire way. I have joined countless gyms in my life. I have tried various activities to incorporate exercise into my life and most have lasted oh about 3 days.
Running is what finally gave me my wings and during this particular race I felt my fitness magic. Perhaps it was the Olympic spirit present in the air, but when I crossed that finish line in 2:10:12, a full 4 minutes 35 seconds faster than my last half marathon, I felt like I was flying for the first time in my life.
So like Marion asked in her post have you found your fitness magic? If not would you like to?