On Saturday, I participated in the race I had been looking forward to all summer, the Charles St. 12 in Baltimore, MD. I trained so hard. I was so confident that I could do alright. I flew to Maryland to enjoy an amazing weekend with my best friends. Here’s how it turned out:
Beth and I were up at 5:30 to get ready and drive to Towson for the race start. I felt good, but could hardly choke down half a bagel with peanut butter. But I was ready and excited. I decided to wear my knee brace just to be safe, but it ends up that my knee was the least of my problems.
We arrived at the start about half an hour before the race start. Our wonderful chauffer/best friend/Beth’s boyfriend Ben was able to park right at the start to watch us off. There was plenty of space to spread out, lots of porta potties (with long lines) and water. I was so excited to meet Sarah before the start! Her blog was one of the first ones I came across when I started blogging. If you haven’t checked it out before, you definitely should because she’s awesome!
The gun went off right at 7:30 and after about 1:30, Beth and I were off! We started off at an easy pace because the hills started right away and lasted longer than I expected. I originally planned to stay with her for the first few miles, then speed up for the rest of the race. However, my body had different plans. Around mile 4 I started getting awful leg cramps, like I’ve never gotten before. My gluteus medius (I believe) was so unbelievably tight. I started walking, and stopped multiple times to stretch it out. Nothing. Worked. I eventually started to get stomach cramps and a headache and Beth thought maybe I’d drank too much Nuun. I tried some gatorade and almost puked. From then on out I drank only water and it helped my stomach a bit.
Around mile 9, I simply knew that my race wasn’t going to turn around. My legs weren’t feeling any better and I knew this race was a complete bonk. I told Beth to go ahead and she ended up finishing 10 minutes before me (YAY BETH!). I’m so glad I let her go on instead of holding her back. I eventually settled into a group of people that was walking/running and I stayed with them for the rest of the way. Around mile 8 the course finally flattened out as we were getting into the city. I ran walked the last 4 miles at around a 14:00 avg. pace (UCK).
After a sick joke of crossing Pratt St. and going all the way into Fed Hill, the last mile brought us through the Inner Harbor. I wish I was stronger at that point because it was beautiful, there were tons of people out, and I’d always wanted to run in the harbor. But I was struggling real hard and fighting off tears. I faked it for the photographers and hobbled the last .25 miles to the finish. My final time was 2:35:05 (I projected a 2:00-2:10). I was so mad at myself that I just wanted to cry. I worked hard all summer. My 10 miler the week before went flawlessly, and my body had felt great. I just felt so defeated.
The finish line area was awesome! The festivities were not right at the finish line, which helped with crowding. There were clothes to purchase, lunch boxes (I only ate an apple), and of course free beer. I was quickly able to meet Lisa before she had to leave! I wish I would have been in better shape, I ended up leaving quickly to find a chair because I felt like I was going to pass out on top of her. After the apple and water I wasn’t feeling better, but I was dumb enough to stand in line for beer. While keeling over in line, I finally felt better after sitting, stretching and slowly drinking it. There was a great band playing that I really enjoyed!
In general: This race was fantastic. The course is challenging, but beautiful. It was so well organized and the volunteers and police officers along the course were great. We got a super cute Under Armour premium, and there were other awesome race shirts to purchase at the finish. I wouldn’t hesitate to run this race again. I won’t let my bad day ruin how great of a race the Charles St. 12 is. In fact, I plan to run it again next year
What went wong? I’m not trying to make excuses, just trying to look back on what could have gone wrong on Saturday morning.
- Nutrition – My pre-race nutrition was awful. It was not my best decision to have two beers on Friday, along with a tiny lunch and only a crab pretzel for dinner. I hardly ate breakfast as well. As much as I love Nuun, I think I drank too much because I did start feeling better after I drank straight water.
- Stretching – I didn’t spend much time stretching before the race. I did a few but I didn’t follow my normal routine.
- Traveling – I don’t think my legs liked the 2.5 hours of driving and the flight on Friday. If I travel to Baltimore again for a race, I’ll likely fly down a little earlier to avoid such tight legs.
Now, I have the chance to redeem myself. I have just less than a month to prepare for the Lake Placid Classic 13.1, and I’m determined to do better than I did in Baltimore. I’m taking a lighter week for recovery this week, then working hard for the next two weekends to get my long run closer to 13 miles.
However, my goals for the half marathon have changed. I originally was hoping to finish in 2:10, but after this race I don’t want to put too much pressure on myself and bonk again. Therefore my first goal is to beat my time for this race of 2:35. My second goal is to earn a 13.1 pr, by beating 2:27:27. If I could meet one more goal it would be a sub 2:20. My long runs tend to average about 10-10:30 miles so it may be attainable if I have a great day.
Tonight, I ran it off. I’m still a little sore, but the muscles that hurt the most on Saturday have clamed down. Those two miles left me refreshed and confident that Saturday was just a bad day. I’m fit and in shape, and I can run a half marathon!
Have you ever had an awful race?
Have you ever had cramps in your upper thigh/butt? I could not stretch it out to save my life. Help me!