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The benefits of being a morning person

I’m one of those annoying people.

When many of you may be dragging yourselves out of bed, stumbling to get that desperately needed first cup of coffee, I’m hopping up, putting on my walking shoes and heading out the door. I’m not only a morning person but I’m an exercise-first-thing-in-the-morning person. Exercise is my caffeine (which I stay away from), my chance to wake up and to think.

Yet somehow with all my years of logging those miles, I had never completed a half marathon — until last Saturday.

I had done that distance before in a day, many times, but when I was a couple of decades younger. Now I tend to stick to 4 to 7 miles a day, not 13.1.

I bribed my sister into joining me with the promise of treating her to a pedicure afterward, and we hit the streets on Saturday, along with more than 30 others walking the half marathon course, as well as all the half runners, and 5K and 10K participants.

The course took us right along the Ohio River, on the brick streets of downtown and past horses and scenic pastures along Glendale Extension. It was fun — until probably the last three and a half miles. At that point, the conversation between my sister and I trickled to “My right hip really hurts… my back is so tight… my shoe is really rubbing my little toe now.” But we persevered to the end, along with other racers, some decades older than us or finishing with an injury. One participant we passed was badly limping for the last couple miles due to a severely cramped leg, but he was still going.

The race also showed us the best of the community. In general, I don’t like being “cheerleaded,” so I was skeptical about how I would feel about those who come out to urge the racers on. But I found that in the moment, seeing them smiling and yelling out “You’re killing it!” or “You’re doing so good!” really gave us a boost. From the volunteers to the law enforcement officers directing traffic at intersections, everyone was friendly and supportive. Obviously, my favorite was when a woman, while handing me a cup of water on Glendale Extension, said that we had completed our last big hill of the course. She holds a special place in my heart.

While I love walking each morning as a way to be alone with my thoughts, I found that walking together, guided by the community, is also a great way to go.

I would recommend a half marathon as an experience everyone in reasonably fit condition should try. Our sister paper, The Parkersburg News and Sentinel, puts on a wonderful one each August for anyone who wants to make that a goal next year. It’s a wonderful feeling to challenge yourself and complete a goal. (And being the younger, just slightly competitive sibling, I will point out that I finished one second faster than my sister).

Walking all morning on brick streets and scenic hills, spending one-on-one time with my sister that we rarely get anymore, pedicures and a little shopping in the afternoon, dinner on the river.. it was a pretty perfect day.

And yes, I got up the next morning and went for a walk.

Kate York is the news editor of The Marietta Times. She can be reached at kyork@mariettatimes.com

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