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Inspired Living

Back-to-back Marathons (Part 1)

Sarah Stanley

The first weekend of January I embarked on my first ever back-to-back marathons. What is a back-to-back marathon? Glad you asked! A back-to-back marathon is when you run a marathon Saturday morning and then run another marathon Sunday morning. So 52.4 miles (plus travel) in 24 hours. Let's just say it's not for the faint of heart. While I'm used to ultra distances and hardcore events, doing something for the first time still has that vibe of nervousness and anxiousness.

I've been training for Rocky Raccoon 100 mile ultramarathon and I needed to get in some long miles. I figured what better way to get the miles in then to add another challenge to the plate. Back-to-back-marathons it was! I registered for the races a few months previous and I was really excited to run both. I love home town races!

A 2:30am wake up call and I was once again bound for the airport- my second home at this point. I flew into Mobile, AL after a layover in Houston where I had to run from one terminal to another. I got my warmup run in early! After landing in Mobile, the hunt was on for some healthy food. No Whole Foods Market Bar this time. Thankfully I found a Panera Bread and had a salmon salad.

After getting to my friend's place, I took a much needed nap. Feeling refreshed I buried myself with work and then researched for a nearby yoga studio. I was in for a treat! There were 8 people including myself. One of the fun things about traveling all over the country is the diversity of yoga studios across the nation. I love it!

It was a great practice- perhaps because I finally did a headstand! I had been practicing for years and I finally got it. It clicked when the yoga teacher had me squeeze my inner thighs- right above my knees- together. Granted the headstand was against a wall, but I was still excited.

That evening Ken made seared tuna and a green leaf salad. So, so good!

Friday morning it was time to hit the road and head up to Jackson, MS. Along the way I stopped and met up with Heather. It was a nice way to stretch the legs!

The drive from Mobile, AL to Jackson, MS was a little over 4 hours. Traffic was slow going through a few towns. However the drive went by quickly as I listened to messages by Steven Furtick at Elevation Church.

Finally arrived in Jackson and headed to the expo. It was small and awesome. They had a blues band playing, a harmonica in our goodie bag, and everyone was super friendly. Then I checked in to my hotel and pondered what I would have for dinner. The marathon had a list of places that were offering marathon specials vs a traditional pasta dinner which was another bonus point for Mississippi Blues Marathon!

I found a cute little restaurant and had a salad with crab. Got a gallon of water at CVS on the way back to the hotel and then crashed early. Oh what a party animal I am on a Friday evening!

Saturday morning came quickly. I rolled out of bed, went through my usual race morning rituals (drink my Gen UCAN, sleeveless shirt, compression socks, shorts, shoes with orange laces and a big smile :) ) and then headed to the start. It was on the cool side, but I knew it would be warm/hot/sunny later on, so I warmed up by doing some yoga poses while waiting in the potty line.

7:00am and the marathon was officially started! Let the back-to-back marathons journey begin!

As we started out the sun was rising and it was beautiful. Right away the course had a climb. My legs were feeling really, really good. It is amazing coming down from elevation to sea level. I felt strong and happy to run! I kept a pretty good pace and was surprised by how friendly everyone was! Usually I'm the one who talks to people around me- it was nice to have others start the conversation!

As the course went on, I was starting to realize that Jackson, MS had hills. And not just one or two, but like 50. I'm not kidding. The only thing saving me was that I was at sea level. However, sea level made me feel too good. I ran really strong, enjoyed the course, the people, the volunteers and wondered why no one told me that Jackson, MS had freaking hills! By mile 20, I was really feeling the affects of the heat and hills. I reminded myself that I had a marathon to run tomorrow so don't die today.

I just kept running and reminded myself that there was an end even if I didn't see it. Finally, I could see and hear the finish line. Of course finishing on a slight incline. 4:12 and finished 7th in my age group. Not too shabby!

After crossing the finish line I walked over to the sidewalk and collapsed on the concrete. It felt great to just lay down and gaze at the sky. But I couldn't linger long- I had an ice bath to get and another drive BACK to Mobile, AL. I dragged myself over to the post-race party and the food spread was pretty great. They had sandwiches, cookies, tomato soup, rice & beans, pizza...if you are looking for great post-race food, put Mississippi Blues Marathon on your list!

I sat on an ice chest as I ate some food and then a volunteer needed to get in it. I told her she would have to shove me off. I was so exhausted. She graciously got me a chair and I transferred my tired butt to it. Then I scrapped myself off the chair and began the walk over to the car. I saw some relay runners and I casually mentioned to them that they made the right choice.

I stopped at a gas station on the way home and bought 20lbs of ice. Ah, ice bath. It couldn't happen soon enough. I lugged myself and the ice up to the room. Where is my sherpa when I need one?! After freezing my legs off, I got a warm shower and hustled to pack up and check out. Someone suggested a cafe to get some food and I stopped on my way out of Jackson. I met a nice couple and we ate together. I love nice runners!

I shot a quick video before finally hitting the road. Jackson, MS it was nice to see you all of 20 hours!

I stopped in Biloxi, MS on the way back and dipped my feet in the ocean and watched the sun set. Never miss an opportunity to enjoy the ocean!

I got back to Mobile, AL around 7pm, got a bite to eat although I was more tired than anything and fell into bed at 8:30pm. Marathon morning was just hours away.