The Ups and Downs (Literally) of the Whidbey Half Marathon

 

So we ran another half marathon.  That’s right, you read that correctly, we (Lydia and Annie) ran another half marathon two weeks after the Everett Half *gasp*. Skeptical? We don’t blame you, but we’ll explain:

We have this amazing friend, Jessie, who had a miscarriage and lost her grandma all in the same week.  She needed something to help cope with the depression and overwhelming sorrow she was experiencing.  One day she opened her email to find a message from Orswell Events telling her to sign up for the Whidbey Island Half. She thought this sounded like a good step to move past her pain. Jessie hadn’t done any distance running for many years and there were only eight weeks between the email and the event.  She knew she had to do this exact race at this exact time because not only did she need to take steps to begin to heal, but also Whidbey Island was her grandma’s home. Jessie found an eight week training plan and got on it.  She sent us a message asking if we’d want to run it with her. With a story like that, we couldn’t say no. And that’s how we accidentally ran two half marathons in three weeks.

As usual, we didn’t run together, it’s every lady for herself. Here are our stories.

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Lydia’s Story

If you read our review of the Everett Half, you know how horrible I did at that race. Not only was it ridiculously cold and rainy and windy, but I was sick and slow. It was my worst half marathon time in years. Because of this, I was really excited for this race to attempt to redeem myself and prove I can still run. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has one bad race and thinks I can no longer run at all? Anyway, I was excited for the chance to make a come back. But being a mom of five young kids, there was puke. My oldest starting throwing up at 11:00pm, followed by my six year old at 12:30 and my eight year old at 1:00am. This was not was I was hoping for, especially because we had to leave here at 5:30am. But I suppose that’s the life of a running mom, who has an one huge personality foible…I have an insane fear of being late to a race, and am notorious for forcing our whole crew to show up hours early to the start. Some people do not enjoy this *cough* Annie *cough*. Yet, she puts up with it. I tell her it’s my only flaw.

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Signed up too late for personalized bibs. One ball point pen later…problem solved!!

Other than being ridiculously tired, I was ready for this race. I had really cute flower running pants, a cute new tank, Event Clips (so I didn’t put holes in said cute shirt), and some seriously awesome new socks from Feetures. The sun was shining and Whidbey Island was showing off its beauty.

The course was absolutely breathtaking. We ran along the water almost the entire race. There was some pretty intense elevation but it was difficult to care due to the fact that it was pretty.  I quickly realized I needed to pick up my speed on the down hills because I was going to be very slow on the way back. During the mile long hill at mile five I was going full speed and passed Annie! You have no idea how exciting this was! I’ve not been able to beat her at any race for over a year. The rest of the race I was so sure she was lurking right behind me that any time I slowed down, I was checking behind me, waiting for her to pass me.  At the water stations I was acting like a real runner, barely slowing to grab a cup of water or Nuun, squeezing GU as I tried to keep up my pace, tossing my cups at the trash and apologizing the whole time.  Little did I know I only passed Annie because her knee went kaput. (She’ll fill you on all the details in her story.)  So, although I was racing someone who was injured and several miles behind me, it definitely kept me moving and motivated. I was able to finish a full 10 minutes faster than the Everett Half! Yay me!

There are a few things that make a race hit the highest level of awesomeness. The food (obviously), the shirt, the water stations/volunteers, and the finish line. If the finish is uphill, or no one is there, it feels so anti climatic. When you get to cross a finish line like the one at the Whidbey Island Half, you’re instantly reminded why you run. This finish was around a corner at the bottom of a sweet little hill. The music was blaring and the crowd was cheering. The announcer yelled something about “now that’s a way to finish a race” as I dug deep and sprinted…that’s a good finish line!

This was such a fun race for so many reasons. The volunteers were wonderful. The water stations were plentiful. The course was beautiful and challenging. The finish line was perfect. Whidbey Island Half is a definite must run and we plan to do it again.

Annie’s Story

Let me start off by saying don’t get your hopes up for a story of inspiration and perseverance.  My half went…well…disastrous.  Luckily for me, it just happened to be on a gorgeous course, on a beautiful day, with a wonderful crew of volunteers the entire way!! Once again, I guess I will start at the beginning…

We arrived in Oak Harbor two hours before race time.  Lydia has an insane fear of showing up to a race late so every race we go to gets progressively earlier.  At this point, it’s getting ridiculous and I’m seriously considering a mutiny.  However, the sun was shining so I wasn’t able to be too cranky.  We headed over to packet pick up, grabbed everything we needed in about two seconds and wandered around taking in the sights. Two hours later we were off and going!

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Our personalities in a nutshell

As you’ve already read, Lydia and I ran the Everett Half two weeks prior to the Whidbey Half.  We weren’t planning on running two races so close together but it seems we just couldn’t stop ourselves.  Now, for me, the half marathon is really not my distance.  My left knee has issues with patella tracking and never ceases to announce that about eight miles in EVERY TIME.  Usually, I can ignore it and move through the last five miles before limping my way back to the car and trying to avoid stairs for the next few days.  However, running two half marathons so close together changed up this winning formula.

A mile into our race I was already feeling the knee, this did not bode well.  I was able to ignore it, however, by enjoying the absolutely breathtaking views.  We ran right along the water and on such a perfect day it felt almost surreal.  There was some definite elevation, but what goes up must come down and I found myself enjoying the downhill stretches.  Then around mile five the wheels came off.  Knee (yes, I’m referring to it as a person now) kicked it up to full gear and I quickly realized that if I kept running, I was going to wipe out.  Now, I have learned over the years that one of the cornerstones of a solid relationship is compromise, so I decided to try this with Knee and slowed to a walk/run.  Knee had different ideas though, and as so many of these things go, opted for dysfunctional rage instead.  By mile 6.5 I couldn’t run at all and got to look forward to walking the entire last half of the race.

As I begin my rambling walk back to town I realized that, even though everything had gone to crap, I was really enjoying myself.  The scenery was amazing and lots of Whidbey residents were sitting in chairs along the course cheering everyone on.  I passed bubble machines, loud music, dancing volunteers, and even got to high five The Hulk (the kid sized version)!  Every two miles there was an aid station, and these stations were stocked!! There was water, Nuun, pretzels, m&m’s, and Clif Shot Bloks.  Walking proved to be a serious advantage here as I treated the stations like a little buffet.

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Three hours after the start, I finally hobbled across the finish line.  I was promptly met with a medal and bottle of water.  The after race food options were also plentiful and we all loaded up before heading back to the car.  All in all a terrible race but, oddly enough, one of my very favorites ever!!! Knee, however, tells a different story.

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15 thoughts on “The Ups and Downs (Literally) of the Whidbey Half Marathon

  1. Great job! Hope you get some time to recover from two half marathons. Sounds like the course was amazing. I, too, show up way too early for races–it’s a disease.

    1. We’re both finally walking somewhat normally and less like Bambi. Recovery is on its way!!

  2. Congratulations on 2 races so close together! My hubby is of the same “show up 2 hours before the race” mindset. I have seriously considered mutiny, but have chatted with so many interesting people waiting for the race to start, that now I grin and bear it. Love the flowered tights!

    1. Thanks!! Yes, the 2 hour wait definitely makes for some interesting conversations with people we wouldn’t have otherwise met. Annie’s still voting for more sleep though. 🙂

  3. What a lovely post- it shows the power and positivity of running, particularly when it is running with friends. After suffering my first miscarriage two days before my first marathon it has become a more important challenge than ever to complete. Pass my love and thoughts to your brave friend
    This Vet Runs
    thisvetruns.com

    1. Thanks so much! We hope you know how amazing/inspiring it is to hear about your perseverance right after a miscarriage. We’ll absolutely pass your message along to our friend. 😊

  4. My dad shows up insanely early for every race and every training run. Our usual group meets Wed. night at a place around 5 mins from his house. The one week he was there a half an hour early. I’m usually early for races but having run the York Winter Series this past year and hating to be cold, I usually arrived a half an hour early at max.

    1. It’s so funny how different it is from one person to the next. Some obsess over being there early and others I swear just roll out of bed and wander to the start line! 🙂

  5. Visited this site for the first time yesterday and I am hooked. And this hashtag #crapt!! Are you kidding me? I love it? I might just use it to tag the occational post on my site. 🙂 It sure fits well.

  6. The further the race from home, the more I stress and the earlier I get there. For the half marathon that’s a 10 minute drive from my house, I can get there and park 15 minutes before hand. The half 50 miles from home, keeps me from a normal nights’ sleep, so I get up and drive the hour…at 3 AM…park my car and then I try to sleep in the front seat…because even packet pick up won’t start for several hours.

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