This time two years ago I was doing something I NEVER thought I would do. I was completing my first (and only to date) half marathon...in Anchorage, Alaska no less! And this was all pre-WLS too! (For those not in the know, WLS is short for weight loss surgery. You can read all about my WLS journey on my other blog: Posts from a Post-Op Princess.)
Today is summer solstice which always makes me think of that day. My marathon was called the "Mayor's Midnight Sun Half Marathon" in honor of this unique day in the celestial calendar.
I chose to do a half marathon for a number of reasons. The first and foremost reason was as a fundraising effort for a cause that is near and dear to my heart. I trained and participated in my event with Team in Training (TNT). For those of you who don't know, Team in Training is a fundraising arm of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. TNT trains people (athletes and non-athletes alike) to participate in endurance events. In return for the training and payment of travel expenses and entrance fees at the events, participants are required to raise a minimum amount towards the cause. As I am FAR from an athlete, the training was a huge motivator for me, as was the cause it's self. My "sister" is a lymphoma survivor and TNT gave me an outlet to help with something that often left me feeling totally helpless.
The second reason I did my marathon? One word: ALASKA! I am not just an anglophile or europhile, I am a travelphile. There are very few places in this world I would not want to see and visit. So, when I took on the personal challenge of completing a half marathon, I made the promise to myself that I would do it some place down right spectacular! And boy did I!!!
Alaska was like no place I'd ever seen. For someone who is a reluctant flyer, to say the least, I tend not to spend much time looking out windows on planes, that is unless I am flying over the mountain peaks and glaciers of Alaska. The day we flew in was a rare clear day (according to our great pilot) and I spent the last couple hours of the flight GLUED to the window gazing out to a site I can't even put into words. The mountains looked as if you could just reach out and touch them. There was not a single sign of human life as far as the eye could see. To see nature so undisturbed like that is something I never get to see living on the densely populated east coast of the United States. My mind's eye can still picture it so clearly.
I spent a week in Alaska. Besides pushing myself to the max by walking 13.1 miles in the not quite Alaskan wilderness while battling severe tendinitis in my foot, I got to see and do many wonderful things. I got to learn about the different native Alaskan tribes and people. I met some adorably cute and abundantly talented sled dogs. I shopped in unique and interesting stalls at a local market. I ate some amazing and interesting foods like reindeer (sorry Rudolph), moose, and the freshest salmon on the planet. I sailed out into the Pacific (a first for me) while seeing whales, mountain goats, puffins, bald eagles, and glaciers all living in perfect harmony. I also got to celebrate all that is TNT and TNT participants with about 2,000 other marathoners and was moved to tears more then once because of all that it means to me and my family.
The experience was a once in a lifetime thing. It is one I will not soon forget. Just the other day I found a picture of my mom and me from the boat trip we took and it transported me back to that place and time. It also makes me long for more memorable trips. I will, no doubt, make many more wonderful and amazing trips in this little life of mine. Wanderlust is something I don't think I'll ever shake.
So today, on the longest day of the year, I tip my hat to all fellow travels out there, be you currently on the trip of a lifetime, like Mina and Alex, or you've already taken a trip around the world, like Emily, or maybe you are settling back into a life "at home" after many years away, like Alisha. No matter what kind of traveler you are, aspiring or accomplished, today is a day to celebrate all that travel can bring you.
Travel on, happy travelers!