Warner Robins woman ready to run first marathon

wcrenshaw@macon.comJanuary 16, 2014 

WARNER ROBINS -- Sometime about noon Saturday, Janalyn Haralson plans to enjoy the fruits of more than a year of hard work.

About every other day, she gets up at 4:20 a.m. so she can run several miles before starting her 90-minute commute to her job as a dental hygienist near Lake Oconee.

It’s all in preparation to fulfill her dream to become a marathon runner. She will be among hundreds of people who will line up Saturday morning for the annual Museum of Aviation Foundation Marathon, which also includes 5K and half-marathon races.

Haralson started running about seven years ago to give an outlet to her high-energy dog, Lucy. Lucy has been her faithful running partner ever since, although Haralson now runs farther than Lucy’s six-mile limit.

Haralson didn’t run her first 5K until a couple of years ago. Then in 2012, she ran a half-marathon in Savannah.

After completing it in just over two hours, she got the idea to try for running her first marathon in the museum race. It’s a good one for a first-timer because the course, two laps around the perimeter of the base, is relatively flat.

Haralson has run about 20 miles in training, and she doesn’t have much doubt about being able to run the marathon distance of 26.2 miles.

“It’s going to be awesome,” she said when asked what it will be like to cross the finish line. “I probably will cry. It was a lot of work.”

In training, she averages running about 30 miles or more a week, usually around the area of Feagin Mill Middle School. An important key to maintaining good progress, she said, is to resist finding reasons to skip a run. She has run in the rain, the heat and the cold. She even ran recently when temperatures dropped to around 18 degrees.

“You can’t make excuses,” she said. “A marathon runner never says they can’t do anything. That’s what I like about it.”

About 1,200 people ran in last year’s event, including the marathon, 5K and half-marathon. The race, in its 18th year, is a major fundraiser for the museum and draws runners from all over the country. It is also a qualifier for the Boston Marathon.

John Hunter, the race director, said people who have already been running regularly may be able to train for a marathon in a year or less, but those just getting off the couch will likely need more time.

One key to marathon training, he said, is to push without pushing too hard. Running long distances can lead to injuries if runners aren’t careful.

“That old saying ‘run through the pain,’ that doesn’t really work,” Hunter said.

The marathon begins at 8 a.m., with the half-marathon starting at 8:15 a.m. and the 5K at 8:30 a.m.

To contact writer Wayne Crenshaw, call 256-9725.

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