What very well may be my last half marathon of 2017 has come and gone. It was quite the race day; but as always, I’m glad I ran! Yet again, this year was a reminder of why I love Baltimore so much, and also why I love running.
Friday, race-day eve: I got up on Friday morning (a little later than normal) and went out for an “easy” 6 mile run. The run felt like a little more work than I would have wanted it to, but I knew it was a sign that there was a good run coming on. I took my time getting breakfast and getting to the expo. While it is technically an “expo”, the Baltimore Running Festival is a little anticlimactic. I enjoyed trying and buying some Plow On energy gum (just found the rest of one of my packs in the dryer – womp), and a new shoe charm for my friend and myself. I spent the rest of the day relaxing in bed before going out for Harry Potter trivia night with my friends. My friend Kaitlyn was running the 5K with me and spent the night at Jake’s, so we both slept in the living room on couches. We were up until after 1 talking, then were repeatedly woken up by Jake’s roommates coming in the house and drunkards walking/screaming down the street. I most definitely did not sleep well!
Pre-race Saturday: With a severe lack of sleep, I was thankful that Jake lives less than a mile from the start/finish area. After about 1/4 of an english muffin and a bite of Kaitlyn’s protein bar, we were off for the 5K start. I was surprisingly feeling pretty awake but I was worried how my body would feel after little sleep on a very uncomfortable couch.
5k: When Kaitlyn and I got to the start line, it was a complete free-for-all. I estimate that it took us about 4 min to cross the start line. Thankfully, we weren’t going into the race with any goals other than to finish and have fun. Our plan was to run 60:30 run/walk intervals, like we had for the Baltimore Women’s Classic in June. The first mile was very crowded, which slowed us down, but I was okay with it.
It spread out a bit after the turn-around at the half-way point. I really enjoyed just taking our time and having some girl talk. My favorite part was running up Charles St towards the new finish line in the Inner Harbor. This was mostly because I got to point out Jake’s new place (official this week, hopefully!). We finished with me feeling fresh and Kaitlyn feeling good. We have another 5K this weekend that she needs to be ready for! Our finish time was about 38:00 (the picture below is wrong).
The 1:15 in-between: Kaitlyn and I quickly got our medals and food and made our way through the finisher area. This wasn’t quite as quick as it has been in past years, but this was also a new setup. My favorite part was getting our medals from Baltimore police officers. As many of you know – Baltimore isn’t the safest city, and relations between many residents and the police are not always positive. It was an awesome way for the police to get out in our city and support people from all ways of life 😉 Nevertheless, we swiftly made our way south through the Inner Harbor to get back to Jake’s. Kaitlyn had to head home and I wanted to change into some fresh clothes for the half marathon. I was back to the Harbor within 40 minutes. After 2 trips to the porta-pots, a November Project bounce, and running into a friend, I was ready to go again!
My 3rd Baltimore Half Marathon!
I shared my goals for this race last week, but I mostly wanted to have a decent training run! I ran into a friend while moving through the corral and was happy to keep her some company for as long as we could stick together (no picture = fail). Or really, I told her I was running 90:30 intervals and welcomed her to join me 😛
Miles 1-5: These miles were spent catching up with my friend and trying to keep a steady, modest pace. I didn’t want to run too easy, but also didn’t want to go out too hard. We did skip a few “walks” due to crowding and took some extra time at the first water stop because she didn’t bring any water with her. There was a good downhill around mile 3, but aside from that, the course was a gradual uphill. I didn’t pay much attention to my splits, but noted that they were all under 11:00/mi. Running with someone kept me humble, which really helped. I sadly lost her at mile 4 (she hadn’t trained, but she finished!) but kept on trucking along despite starting to feel a little warm. I knew if I kept it up, that I would set a course PR with the downhill slope in the final miles and my ability to negative split runs (#likeaboss). Splits: 10:56, :59, :55, :47, :52.
Miles 6-10: It’s weird splitting up the race like I always do, because these miles were so split. I finished the long uphill stretch from mile 3 – 6.5 feeling completely in the zone. I was quickly warming up and honestly thought about ditching my visor. I knew it was adding to that “slightly overheated” feeling, but I also didn’t want to lose it. I felt awesome until mile 8, coming along the end of the stretch around Lake Montebello. I suddenly got a massive headache and began to mentally feel weird. I got anxious about very little things and just felt like I was in a “fog.” I saw someone to the left of me who had dropped and was being helped by 4 runners with a police officer running to him. .75 miles later I saw someone on the side of the road getting an IV. At this point I was still running as steady as I could, but physically my body (head) was fading fast. I eventually took a prolonged walk break or two. I told myself I had to make it to the November Project cheer station, then I would re-evaluate. Splits: 10:58, :57, 11:04, :53, 12:18.
Miles 11-13.1ish: After I hit the NP cheer station, I definitely got a little bit of power. Once I made the right turn towards where the “tiger” always is (but was NOT) I truly re-evaluated. By this time it was about 11:30 and it was hot. It was “only” about 72 according to my phone, but with full sun (and non sunscreen) and how I was feeling with my headache, I was nervous. More and more people were stepping off the course and I knew I had not hydrated well the week leading up to the race. I decided to dial it back to 60:30 intervals and take walk breaks as needed. This was not my goal race. The Baltimore Half Marathon is hilly and I am fully aware that I will never PR there. I just wanted to finish upright and not derail my Goofy Challenge Training. While it was hard to step back, I was happy that I remained with the pack I was running with. I ended up stopping at a med tent for vaseline (holy chafing), but mostly kept a slower, but still steady pace to the finish. Pouring water over my head helped, and I was able to kick it in to the finish! Splits: 12:20, :23, :26, 2:19 (.24 nubbin)
The finish: While it wasn’t the same as finishing through Camden Yards, I was thrilled turning left and finishing on Pratt Street. The crowds were thick and the view was as beautiful as always. I was happy to have made it upright. I finished in 2:31:12. Six minutes slower than last year. It’s not what I was working or hoping for through the first half of the race. It’s my third slowest half marathon time. But I made it. I was happy to receive my half marathon medal from a police officer, but had to find my own way to my Baltimoron medal, which was just sitting on a table. By the time I finished, this process was quick, and I easily made it through the water/gatorade/food line.
Post race: The hours after the race were rough. I honestly felt worse than I had after either of my marathons and considered going to the med tent. I was planning on Jake to be there, but at the last minute he wasn’t able to be. I’ve finished many races alone at the finish line but this was a day that I really needed someone to be there. It took me about an hour to make it back to Jake’s house, which was just over half a mile away. Mentally and physically I was shot. I could hardly stomach anything and didn’t even have my typical post-race beer (#dehydrationprobs)!
Post-post-race: Once I started feeling better, I was able to reflect on the day. My half marathon time was slow, but still evened out to be a decent pace for a long run. My numbers may look like I crashed and burned, but I don’t look at it that way. I listened to my body and ran wisely. If I look at the statistics of the whole race, my performance increased percentile-wise, in both age group, gender, and overall place. I also came in the top 50% for the Baltimoron. While I normally am not sore after long runs, I was a little sore the next day. I felt back to normal two days later and the races of Saturday did not negatively effect my training. Overall, I take it as a win.
Verdict: I will never say anything bad about the Baltimore Running Festival. I love this event for so many reasons. The #1 reason is that it brings out such a positive spirit in the city that I love so much. The city shows up on this day and the race organization is impeccable. I would not run the 5K again unless a friend was running it with me. It’s an expensive 5K and while I get that you get a shirt and a medal, but for somewhere that I run all the time and during other (better) 5Ks, it’s not worth the price tag. So I would potentially do the Baltimoron again in the future, or just the half, but not the 5K. Baltimore peeps – you’re better off running Shamrock 🙂 Will I be back next year? We shall see….this year the race was the day before the Marine Corps Marathon…and I’m eyeing either MCM, New York, or Chicago for next fall…but I will be back for years and years to come.