#99 – My Last Double Digit Half

My decision to run the Whidbey Island Half Marathon this past weekend was a hasty one. I couldn’t decide; should I take a week off or should I continue my streak (of running back to back weekends).

In the end, I was so glad I ran because it was a very nice course on a very hilly terrain. Again, the challenges that the course posed was what drew me to it. There were 2 monstrous hills that were considered to be level 5 difficulty, meaning the climb was at least 500m in distance and had an average grade of 3% or more. In this case, one of the climbs resulted in an elevation of 378ft, and the other of 200ft. Overall the climb was tough. And no less, the sharp downhills were equally as punishing on my quads.

The race started quite early at 7:30 am by Cornet Bay. On this cool crisp morning, the scenery was majestic. There was fog, which lifted shortly after 7:00am.

School buses shuttled runners from the parking area to the start line around 5am. It was a busy morning for these shuttle drivers. It kind of reminded me of the California International Marathon in Sacramento, where runners are bused to the start. I remember one year when I ran it, it was so cold I didn’t want to leave the bus!

This year, the half marathon route was modified. Although it was way prettier, it was also way tougher than the old course. As soon as the gun went off, it was a climb followed by more climbs. I totally admire the runners who chose to run the marathon on such a tough route. I know I would not have been able to finish the marathon in a decent time. Moreover, I saw the sweeping wagon a couple of times, and couldn’t quite understand why they showed up so early on the course. Were they trying to intimidate the marathoners?!

For the most part, I felt like I had pretty good strength even after having run last weekend’s double…that is, until about mile 11, where I suddenly felt like my body couldn’t go on anymore and I would come to a sudden halt. So I told myself “stay calm, don’t panic. Even if I have to walk the last 2 miles, I will be fine, and I will finish”. After the mental reminder, all of a sudden, my body was able to run again. Talk about the power of the brain.

I was initially right on the 2:15 pace, following the race pacer closely. Guess I lost a few seconds here and there from stopping at every water station after mile 10. At 12.6 miles, the race was on a flatter stretch of the road, so I managed to go a little faster…and even faster along the downhill portion towards the finish. Reflecting on the race and results, had I sped up only 5 seconds more I would have moved up one Age Group placing! Shucks!

The race finished by the Oak Harbor Beach Park. It was very festive. Every runner was relaxing on park benches or just sitting by the sidewalks. There were little kids finishing their mini one mile run. Very cute. Some parents brought their dogs along for the run. They were adorable.

By the time I left the race grounds, the 3:45 marathoners were finishing. They looked so happy, despite running a tough, tough course. As I’ve said in the past, kudos to them all.

Now that #99 is done, I can’t decide where I will complete my 100th half marathon! Any suggestions? 🙂

As of present, I am extremely proud to have earned my 99 half marathons but I really can’t wait to start the next phase: entering the triple digits of half marathons!

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Whidbey Island Finishers Medal

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