Yesterday I ran the Baltimore Half Marathon and before I begin the race report I would like to list three things I learned during this race:
- I have zero ability to translate an elevation chart to reality: I knew that there would be hills. I had heard all about it. I saw the pictures. The chart was right on the site. Still, nothing could have properly prepared me for what that really meant. I live in NJ…we don’t have hills. You know where you can find hills?? Baltimore.
- I love 13.1 distance: I seriously look up to those of you who do the 26.2, but for right now the half distance is definitely the one for me. Running this made me even more sure of my decision to drop from the full to the half in Philly.
- A PW can also be a PB: Time wise, this race was a personal worst. As for everything else…it was a personal best. Out of the half-marathons I have ran, this one was my favorite. It was by far the most challenging and also the most fun because I didn’t go into it putting pressure on myself. It was mentally the toughest race I have ever ran and I did it…and I did it pretty darn well. It really showed me that sometimes, the clock doesn’t matter.
Now…about the race….
Friday: My mom and I drove down Friday to the expo for packet pick up. We got there pretty early and other than parking being a little chaotic it went very smooth. The expo was fabulous. Very well put together and a lot of stuff to peruse through. I grabbed my packet, lots of free swag and we did a little shopping too! It was a good time but we didn’t stay too long because we had to be back in NJ. It is about an hour and forty-five minutes from my house to Baltimore, so needless to say we did a lot of driving this weekend! The original plan was to stay overnight but my family had plans for Friday night that could not be missed.
Friday at packet pick up.
Saturday: Race Day!
Pre-Race: Wake up call was an early 4:45 and we were on the road by 5:30. After a quick trip to WaWa and back to my house for a forgotten IPOD (o.m.g that would have sucked to forgotten!!!) we were on our way. Oddly enough, we hit so much traffic! The marathon start was at 8am and all runners who wanted to park were advised to get there early; I had originally planned to leave at 6am but I am so glad we went earlier, because lucked into an amazing parking spot (like 300 ft from the finish line!). Once we were there I realized I forgot my race belt (or as my friends fondly call it, my fanny pack) and I was not pleased. Then I realized I forgot my GU. WTF- I was so off. I really think I was unprepared because of how little pressure I put on myself for this race. I wasn’t neurotically checking my stuff 397 times before the race or worrying about every little thing. While this is great, it did suck not have the stuff I depend on. My mom quickly McGuyver’d my shorts, pinning my phone into the pocket so I could have it with me and that made me feel much better. As for the GU, I was out of luck. I was nervous about not having it, but hopeful that I ate enough pre-race and that there would be food on the course at some point. After about three porta-potty stops (I pee a lot!) we met up with my mom’s friend who lives in the area and came down to watch. We had time to kill but the half marathon start was quite a distance from where we parked so we spent most of the time walking over. It was really cool because once we got to the corrals (or pens as they called them…so we are pigs, not horses) the lead male runners of the full marathon were going by. We got to spectate about 40 mins of the race before we were lined up to start. Just as we lined up…the rain started. It was cloudy, but humid, so I welcomed it. And off we went…….
Race: I went into this race with a goal of simply having fun and enjoying the race. The first mile of the race was extremely congested and it wasn’t long before I came upon the first of what would be many hills. By mile two I fell into a good stride and felt really strong. I don’t know if it was because I was so lax about the race and having fun or what, but I didn’t even look at my watch once until we came to the 5k point. The whole race was one giant mental test…hill after hill…but even when it was at it’s toughest, I kept on going. I was so mentally strong that I didn’t even care about my time. Despite the rain and the hills, I was having a great time taking in all the spectators. There were so many wonderful people out there giving out all kinds of goodies. And because I was not carrying any nutrition on me, I gobbled it up like I was shopping at Costco! Gummy bears, skittles, starbursts, fruit snacks, pretzels…and at mile seven powerbar gel!!!! I was so happy to get some gel I tore in and took it without even realizing I didn’t like the flavor. It didn’t matter…I needed it! It came at a good time too because I was starting to feel a little crappy and it was the perfect pick me up. It was at this point that we ran around a beautiful lake and it was so peaceful. With the exception of the lake, the entire rest of the course was FULL of spectators. I loved having them all around but I will admit the loop around the lake was some welcomed quiet. I even turned off my IPOD just to listen to the sound of running for a while. Somewhere around mile nine and going uphill, my IPOD died. Luckily, with all the music and spectators around the course, I didn’t really need it. Miles eleven and twelve were by far my toughest…more hills and the roads were getting pretty slippery. Basically up until then, I ran/jogged the entire race, with the exception of walking through water stations…but at twelve I walked. A lot. As I approached the last mile, I knew I had to pick it up. While I wasn’t out there trying to PR, I did have a time goal and at that point, it was within reach. I sucked it up…and pushed on through. My goal was to stay under a 12min/mile pace and I came in at 11:57/pace. A personal worst time and I was THRILLED.
Post-Race: Got my medal and at a lot of food!! Met up with my mom and her friend and after some pictures we walked over to the harbor for lunch. There were lots of racers in the harbor! We ate at the Hard Rock Cafe and then made the drive back home. Once I was home I took a bath/shower and then pretty much crashed.
Overall, the race was great. The organization was the best I have ever seen, the security was great and the energy was awesome. Some of my favorite spectators included a guy in a recliner chair holding a sign that said “If it were easy, I would be doing it”, a girl with a sign that said “Your legs must hurt because you are kicking so much ass”, a little kid who had a fake hand on a stick and was holding it out to people to slap and a guy who was jamming to rappers delight while dancing in a crab suit. Like I said, the energy was awesome!
I feel so good about running Philly in six weeks. I am hoping to be able to combine my will to succeed and PR with my (new) ability to not pressure myself. My goal for Philly is definitely to PR, but I know now that not pressuring myself makes for a much more fun race. Right now, I feel really great…I am training well, running well and focused on my future goal. Life is good. 🙂