This year I crossed the half century threshold in number of half marathons finished. While I view that as thousands of calories burned, my friends look at it as thousands of dollars lost. I guess I’m a glass-half-full kind of gal when it comes to races. I feel nothing but positivity when I race–it forces me to rise early, get my workout done at a faster pace than I would run on my own, water and sports drinks are handed to me by nice volunteers, I feel supported by the crowds and other runners, I get a medal to commemorate my finish (that granted, gets stuck in a bag in the back of my closet), and I feel a sense of accomplishment that I reached another goal (despite my horrific finish time).
Out of my first 50 half marathons, here are a few of my favorites:
Disneyland Half Marathon. Taking place Labor Day weekend, the Happiest Race on Earth traverses through the Happiest Place on Earth: Disneyland. You’ll run through Disneyland, California Adventure Park, into Angels Stadium where the crowd noise will astound you, and receive your best race photos. If you don’t care about time, you can stop and have your photo taken with Disney characters, the automobiles from “Cars,” and the famous Disneyland castle.
Safari Half Marathon. For anyone wishing for a vacation out west, San Diego offers this little gem of a half marathon taking place in May. Though the course is challenging, the rewards are worth the effort. You’ll run past a vineyard where owners serve Gatorade out of wine cups, runners dress up as animals and Tarzan characters, and end up right in the middle of Safari Park–an adventure park/extension of the world-famous San Diego zoo. About 40 minutes north of San Diego airport, the race starts near Escondido, Calif.
Kauai Half Marathon. Naturally, any race in a tropical locale will make anyone’s running list. Also generally held over Labor Day weekend, the Kauai marathon is a tough course with hot temperatures–be prepared to sweat. You’ll race through this garden island’s green scenery, through a road with tree branches forming a tunnel of sorts for runners, and end up right next to the Pacific Ocean. For those more ambitious, a full marathon is offered with approximately eight miles of climbing. My hat is off to those who dare.
Salt Lake City Half Marathon. It is easy to PR at the Salt Lake City Half Marathon held each April. With 11 miles of downhill, your quads will hate you, but your Garmin will love you. I love the cherry blossoms that blow in the wind as I run by, the clean air at a higher elevation, the snow-capped mountains and ending at a shopping center.