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  • From Soaking Up the Sunshine to Little Rain — I Ran The Anchorage Marathon

    Posted on October 23rd, 2009 Michele Sun No comments

    When the PA system announced “Now coming in is runner Michele Sun from California,” I still could not believe that I had come this far. I threw my arms up into the air and was sprinting as fast as I could toward the finishing line. I had not only completed my Anchorage Marathon, but I did it so strongly that I surprised myself, my teammates and my coach. Until the morning of June 23rd 2007, I was worrying that for the very first time I would be entering a race and might not be able to finish the 26.2 miles…

    The excitement of this trip to Alaska started before reaching Anchorage, as I looking out the window from the aircraft I could see snow capped mountains and they were so bright at 1:00am. During this time of the year, the sun goes down around 2:00am and comes out around 4:00am; that’s why this race is called “Midnight Sun Marathon”.

    I took my parents to breakfast before I headed out to pick up my bib and timing chip at the Expo, and was so thrilled to run into Jerald, Coach Tim, Chris, and Rob… etc, whom I had not seen for 2 months since I left for my trip to Asia. Jerald was even saying that he wasn’t sure if I would come back for this race. Gee, how could I miss Anchorage Marathon? No Way!!!. This is one of the coolest places to run a marathon, and no way that I would miss it after the training and anticipation.

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    This marathon offered very unique opportunity to traverse Anchorage from the stunning Chugack Mountains on the east to the historic Cook Inlet on the west. The varied race route has very different and distinct terrain and vistas. The route covers bike trails, gravel, rocky and paved roadways, and I had been warned so many times about the steep rolling hills.

    The race started in a cool and crispy 50 degrees, and soon the rain came down and became very cold. I saw a huge female moose near mile 4, and I am sure that my mouth was opened wide enough to swallow my own fist. Other fellow runners were just as surprised and excited as I was; we actually stopped our runs and all gasped “Wow, moose!”

    Came upon the Oilwell Tank Trail (between miles 7 -15) — a gravel road with rocks as huge as baseballs. I had to stop couple times to take out those rocks from my socks and got to carefully watch my footing from twisting my ankles. Rain continued on and my whole body was shivering because of the rain.

    I had really looked forward to this race, but unexpectedly I wasn’t able to train as much and as hard as I should due to the 6-week business trip to Asia, and that reflected after mile 16. My whole body ached and I could feel the strength was slowly declining. As I looked up the mountain and sky in front of me, I felt so beat-up and lonely on this long trail. Then I remembered the conversation I had exchanged with my friend Jay prior my departure.

    “Err, I am worrying about this race, and I don’t think I would be able to finish the 26.2 miles,” I had said it sadly. He asked “Do you plan to win the first place?” “No! But I do wish to beat my own record” I shoot back. “So what if you are slower than your last event? Is this going to be your last race?” He then went on “Well, if you are worrying about not able to finish it, might as well not doing it“ shit face Jay said that and that kind of pissed me off; what a weird way to motivate me, you moron!@$#%

    “So I am slow today and I am in great pain, BUT I should just enjoy this run and have fun!” That’s how I encouraged myself to keep going and not to think about the remaining 11 miles ahead of me. Why not use this time to collect my thoughts and plan for next event – should I sign up Rome Marathon in March, or should I do the Disney World in Jan? Also time to think about whom I should thank after this race!

    During the last few miles, I started passing my teammates who were better and faster runners than I was, and suddenly I was empowered by some kind of invisible kryptonite. I just kept going and going, fast and strong; I said “Thanks, but No Thanks” to TNT supporting staffs that wanted to run in with me – I was feeling so strong that I wanted to start and finish this race on my own. I saw the mile 26 marker ahead of me and started sprinting toward the balloon arched finish line.

    In no time, I heard the announcement — “Now coming in is runner Michele Sun from California!”

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    It’s an indescribable feeling at that moment and I simply can’t put that into words. At that very moment I felt that I possibly could defeat any obstacles or challenge that may entering my life. I know this would sound very arrogant and foolish, but the sense of accomplishment was simply too great for this race – an under-trained but over-achieved race. I did beat my own records from San Diego and Honolulu!

    I thank my parents for flying 8,456 miles to Anchorage watching me crossing the finish line, and the secret TNT staff that had prepared those two bags of ice in my tub for my after race ice bath. For those friends out there that had supported me with emails and hugs, I am more than in debt to their kindness.

    So, what did I do after the Anchorage Marathon? I went on to ride the Alaska Railroad, flew to Mt. McKinley, rode huskies sleigh, horseback riding on the street, and plenty of sunshine and rain during the continuous daylight — this has been a race and trip of a lifetime.


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