Runners Tell All Linkup: A Running Picture

Of all the running pictures I could have shared today - all the official race photos, the selfies, the non-blurry landscape photos - I chose this one. Why? Because I took it on one of my most favorite and life-changing runs ever.

It was the morning of December 14, 2013 and I was up well before dawn for my long run. I was a little over a month away from my first marathon, and I was about to attempt my longest run to-date: the big 20-miler. I snapped this picture about 2 miles into the run. It was barely past 6am and I was so afraid of being out alone in the dark that early that a mile into the run I called Ben to come ride his bike alongside me. Even though it was a little eerie being out that early, there was something indescribably peaceful about it as well. I just remember coming up on the boardwalk and seeing it all lit up with Christmas lights, which wasn't even an unfamiliar sight, but something about seeing it that day, at that time, made it so different. I wish I could have stopped time so I could run in that moment forever, but taking a photo was all I could do.

Soon enough the sun came up and the miles kept ticking by. A run that had started so peacefully kept getting more and more exciting. I was running a 5k at 9am as the last 3 of my 20 miles, right on the same boardwalk where I started early that morning. I got to Mile 14 and saw the 5k runners making their way to the start line. At Mile 15 I passed a friend who was running the 5k, getting his pre-race coffee. At Mile 16, I crossed an intersection and looked to my left to see all the runners lined up at the starting line a block away, waiting for the race to start. I couldn't wait to get there. Another mile down, and I made it to the start line with a couple minutes to spare before the race started. For the first time in over 3 hours, I stopped moving - just long enough to fish my bib out from my race belt and pin it on before the horn sounded for the race to start. Those last 3 miles were some of the most magical I've ever run. Getting back to that boardwalk, with half a mile to go in my first 20-mile run, was one of the most indescribable feelings.

I think I experienced every possible scenario and feeling that make me love running that day: being alone, just me and my thoughts; running before dark and seeing the sun come up (being in the dark is scary but it's also really nice); running in the cold (my absolute fave, gahhh I hate summer); running a race; running with friends and family; accomplishing a new goal....this run had it all. If I could live that day forever on repeat, I would - even if it required running 20 miles every day.


17 comments :

  1. What a cool way to run a 5K!! I haven't trained for a marathon (yet) but I think that sounds like a really fun way to make a long run more enjoyable :)

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  2. Hi Time Travelling Tracy! That sounds like a great way to finish a long run - you have to keep going until you coincide with the organised race, and then you have all that company to motivate you and keep you going for the final 5k! Running while the sun comes up is magical, isn't it? I also love running in the cold, roll on winter!

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    1. It was so perfect. For some reason, running 17 alone sounded way more reasonable than 20...I knew I just had to get through those first 17 and then I'd figure out the last 3 during the race. They ended up flying by!

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  3. aw i love this, and what a bloody brilliant idea to end it in a 5k, i need to do that! i hate running when its cold, lol, i'm all about the hot hot hot!

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  4. What a cool race! It really is awesome to start a race when it's dark and get to see the sun come up! :)

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  5. OMG...you're the first person I have known that prefers running in the cold over the heat like me...my husband always makes fun of me because there's no doubt I'd prefer a run in 35 degrees over a run in 70 degrees!!!!!!!!!! YAY!!!!!!!!!

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    1. YES girl, give me those freezing temps!!!

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  6. I actually like running when it's a little chilly out... Keeps my body cool! :) this was an story ma'am! Thanks for sharing! Idk if I could ever run 20 miles??!

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  7. That's such a cool story. I'm loving it! I fear the marathon because the training is that much more intense, but the whole image of you pulling up to the start line is just perfect (and such a good idea to get you through those first 17!). I'm always paranoid about missing the start of a race so if I ever train for a full, I'm gonna keep this method in my back pocket ;) Nice to meet you through the Link-Up!

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    1. Everyone thought I was crazy at first, but by the end they admitted it was pretty genius ;)

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  8. That is a great 20 miler! I have never thought about doing a 5k race at the end of my 20 mile training run. That would make for a good ending. My friend and I ended at a restaurant that had a breakfast brunch =). Thanks for sharing your story and for linking up with us this month.

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  9. There is no way I could motivate myself to get up and run 20 miles in the cold. You go girl!

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  10. So inspiring Tracy!!! I want to train for a marathon next. Was it super hard logging those long miles? Sounds like you did it right getting to do a race as your last 3 miles. You go girl!

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  11. I get freaked out running in the dark but it is so peaceful! Now that it's summer I'm trying to run in the mornings before work but I always have my phone with me! What a cool way to end your 20 miler!!

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  12. First of all, you're so smart tacking on 3 to the end of a 20-miler. Genius, I tell you! Also, I have a moment like that kind of. I was running my longest run yet... 16 or 18 miles (can't remember which), and it was in February. It had snowed the night before, and we were running along the outside of a golf course. The sun was coming up, sparkling on the blanket of fresh, clean snow. My breath came out in a light puff, but I wasn't cold. I literally wanted to run in that moment forever. It one of the only times I really wished I could have had a camera with me on a run, but of course the picture wouldn't have captured it all anyway. It's still one of my best training run memories.

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  13. I love that picture, and especially love the story behind it! It's neat that you were able to incorporate a 5K race for your final 3 miles of the 20 miler. You timed it perfectly, too! When you put in miles before a race, it can be really tough if you end up standing around for a long time before the race actually starts.

    My 20 miler was one of my best training runs, too, and I almost feel like it had more of an effect on me than actually finishing the marathon.

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  14. What a great post. This was so inspiring for a fledgling runner like me. I can't wait to be pulling down 20-milers. And what a great way to tick off a 5K!

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