City of Oaks Marathon review (Raleigh, NC)

On November 6, I flew to Raleigh, NC, to meet Karen, my friend from Arizona (whom I had met at the Green Bay Marathon in Wisconsin a year or so ago) so we could do the City of Oaks Marathon in Raleigh the next day.  She was doing it for her 46th state while I was doing it just to add to my marathon total.  There was also a reunion meeting of the 50 state club the day before the race, so we could meet up with Steve and Paula Boone, club founders, and lots of other racers.  We stayed at the Holiday Inn Brownstone, about 2 miles from the race start and finish line.  Because we had not rented a car, we ended up walking to the Expo and club meeting, a good way to warm up for the race the next day!  Race morning we took a taxi to the start since it was early and very cold (at least to us from warmer climates).  The race began on time and we took off.  Although this race has a strict 6 hour time limit, the directors had promised the 50 staters that people who might be a bit over would be allowed to finish.  They were true to their word.  I finished in 5:50 so I did came in while the clock was still running – several folks took a bit longer but still had their times listed in the race results.  The course was VERY well-marked (that is so important) with volunteers and signs at important turns.  I thought the course was varied enough to keep me occupied (without thinking about fatigue or sore shins) and I loved the portion along the Umstead Trail.  Very scenic and fall-like with autumn leaf colors, cows, and farmland.  Not a lot of spectators (but that’s okay with me) and the volunteers were great!  My friend finished earlier (she is a runner) so I walked back to the hotel and later we had a good dinner at a local restaurant.  A few days ago I received a package from race sponsors with a neat carry-all bag with the City of Oaks marathon logo – turns out I had placed second in my age group!

Not just about walking or books

I could also call myself a Peripatetic Marathoner – according to the American Heritage College Dictionary, ‘peripatetic’ means ‘walking about from place to place; traveling on foot.’ And that’s what I do.
I am a walker. I walk because it eases my anxiety and stress and brings to me a semblance of peace. Of course, I have always walked, ever since I was a toddler, and throughout my life I’ve often walked to release pent up energy and dissipate worries. But about 5 years ago, I was going through an especially turbulent period in my life. The ONLY way I could deal with this time of turmoil was to get outside and walk fast. Very fast. So fast, that people who saw me remarked on my speed and form. A coworker suggested I enter a local race. Amazed, I replied that only runners entered races and I definitely was not a runner. But I was reassured that many races welcomed walkers as long as they could finish within the specified time for the race. I began to think seriously about entering a race.
I’m a librarian so naturally I found and read a great book about walking in races (Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Half-Marathon Training: Get Ready to Run or Walk a 5K, 10K, or Half-Marathon by Heather Hedrick). My first race was a half-marathon (no 5 or 10 k races for me) in a small town about 10 miles from my home. I finished in just under 3 hours and was exhilarated with both the effort and the result. There were even a few runners who finished behind me. My husband met me at the finish line, grinning proudly, but my smile was even broader. I was so pleased that I started talking excitedly about how I wanted to do more races and wondering which ones I could try next. My husband just looked at me, amazed, and said with a cautious note in his voice, “Now, don’t get carried away.” Little did he know how ‘carried away’ I would actually become. Since that fall day 5 years ago, I have completed numerous half marathons and 64 full marathons and 8 ultramarathons. I discovered that my true love was distance walking so I set up several goals for myself.
First, I wanted to complete a marathon in 10 different states. This feat would allow me to join the 50 States Club and the 50 States and DC Club, both dedicated to supporting marathoners who wanted to complete a marathon in all 50 states plus DC. I also wanted to do several marathons within a short period of time, say 3 in 15 days (or 3 weekends back to back to back) so I could join the club known as Marathon Maniacs. Of course, my ultimate goal was to do a marathon in all 50 states and DC, and I have now completed 47 states to date (with just Kansas, Delaware, and Alaska left to go). And I decided upon a new goal as well – to complete at least 100 marathons/ultramarathons so I could also join the 100 Marathon Club. For 2011, I have another goal – to do a 50 mile race and a timed 24 hour race, with an ultimate goal of reaching 100 miles.
This is to be a record of my journey through the marathon and ultramarathon experience.
I had always written some cursory notes about each of my races in my handy notebook sized calendar, but I began to run out of space, so I hope that this blog will serve as a handy substitute.
I also hope to encourage other walkers to become inspired, as I was, to enter races, especially the longer distances, because it is so much fun! I am in my 60’s, and I think older adults like myself would find this the perfect exercise.