Race Recap: Baltimore Half Marathon 2016

When planning out my Fall race schedule with the Marine Corps Marathon in mind, I knew the Baltimore Running Festival was a must again this year. Despite a race that didn’t go as planned last year, I loved the course and I knew I had to be back. This is how it went down this year.

Expo: I ran to and from the expo from my boyfriends place, making it a quick and easy experience. Within 15 minutes I had my bib, shirt, and another shirt I purchased. With only a quick glance at the expo it seemed to be alright. I was sad that Sweaty Bands wasn’t back, but my goal was to save my $$ for the MCM expo anyways.

Friday night: I missed being with my best friend and her aunt like last year (and many other races), however I had a nice night in with Jake. Pasta with meatballs and some wine were consumed, movies were watched, “Flat Sam” was prepared, and I was in bed around 11:30.

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Goals: I kept it to myself, but aside from having fun, deep down I really wanted to beat my time from last year (2:24:47).

Pre-race: The race started at 9:45, just four blocks from Jake’s house (SO CONVENIENT). I planned to sleep until 8, however was up at 7 with super pre-race anxiety. I had my UCan and made my way to the race area around 8:45. I was happy to spend some time with my friend/coach before the November Project bounce. Seriously – a bounce was just what I needed to calm my nerves and get my pumped to run in my favorite city. I met up with another friend, Erin. I’m so glad I found her because being alone at such a big race made me anxious. We started together but split early on so I could do my run/walk intervals.

Miles 1-7: I started out doing 2:00/:30 intervals, which I did the entire race. I did a lot of weaving, and got stuck behind groups of people running together and at water stations, but nonetheless I felt great. The hills were long, but they didn’t kill me like they did last year. My paces averaged between 10:42 and 11:21, about what I typically run during the middle of my long runs. I reached Lake Montebello, which is a bit past half way and felt tired, but good.

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Miles 8-13.XX – Things started to go awry once I left the Lake around mile 8.5. Really, if you look at my splits I didn’t slow down all that much, but everything felt hard. The hills, while not horrible, never ended. The sun was super warm and I could tell I wasn’t hydrating enough. Getting to the November Project cheer station at mile 9.5 kept me going. BOY did I need it when I got there and it fueled me for a good mile. I really struggled in the last mile and a half – going over a bridge and coming back into  downtown. I walked much more than I would have liked in the last mile, including stopping and keeling over for 20 seconds in Camden Yards. I felt like I just couldn’t move any more. If it wasn’t for seeing/hearing Lauren when I started running again, I would have cried from defeat the rest of the way to the finish.

Thanks to Kevin G from NP for a couple of pictures!!
Thanks to Kevin G from NP for a couple of pictures!!

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Finish time: 2:25:11 (13.21 miles, 11:00 pace – time matches the BRF website exactly).

Last year: 2:25:48.

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Running/finishing alone = no photographer.

I set out and met my goal to get a course PR. The race wasn’t perfect, and there was a point around mile 11.5 when I just kept saying out loud “You CAN do it”. While I set a slight course PR, I also ran a more consistent race. Last year my first mile was 10:18 and my slowest was 12:11. This year my miles ranged from 10:42 to 11:44. I was much more consistent, and with a marathon in my reach, that’s super important to me.

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This medal, though. It opens to show the Baltimore Inner Harbor!

Will I do this race again?  Yes. Always. Every year until I can’t. I love this race. The spirit of the city reminds me why I love it here so much.

Baltimore Women’s Classic 2016: Race Recap

On Sunday, June 26th, I ran the Baltimore Women’s Classic 5K, which is one of the largest women’s-only 5K’s on the east coast. It was the first 5K I ran in 2016 (and potentially the only one).

Packet Pickup: I went with my friend Beth to pick up our bibs the Wednesday before the race at a running store in the greater Baltimore area. Charm City Run has multiple locations, and bib pickup rotated throughout them during the week before the race. It was quick and easy – we had been emailed our numbers beforehand and we didn’t experience any lines!

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Pre-Race: I was so exhausted the night before the race I didn’t even put out my typical “Flat-Sam”. Normally Beth is the one struggling to get going race morning, but that morning I was the one not wanting to get out of bed! I eventually got up, forced down 75% of a Pro Bar Base bar before Beth, her aunt + friend, and I were out the door! We got to Rash Field in plenty of time to use the porta johns (plenty, and very clean!) take selfies, and stretch!

20160626_073704Miles 0-1.5: I felt so strong the first half of the race. I went out rearing and ready to go, hitting the first mile in 9:04, despite the steep hill around the .7 mark. While the temperature wasn’t truly that high, the heat and lack of shade very quickly got to me.

"Ohmygod I am running so fast wheee!"
“Ohmygod I am running so fast wheee!”

Mile 1.5-3.1: I struggled in the second half of the race, taking frequent but short (15 second) walk breaks. One of the ladies running with us caught up to me and I basically said to myself that no one in my “group” was passing me and I kicked it back into gear. While I kept the short walk breaks, I got a huge side stitch from mile 2.25 to 2.75. Coming around a turnaround I saw the people in my group close behind me and I found it in myself to get over the cramp and just go. For the first time in forever, the competitive edge came out in me!

Feeling good once the side stitch was over!
Feeling good once the side stitch was over!

Finishing: Despite a strong first two miles (9:04, 9:20), I finished in 29:3o (9:30 avg). This was good for 21 of 109 in my age group and 293 of 2876 overall. I was hoping for, and working for a faster time. With how slow I’ve been training lately I was happy to have two strong miles and to stay as strong as possible until the end.

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At the finish line we received water (from my horrible ex-roommate’s boyfriend, awkward) and ice cold towels. Considering how hot I felt, this was incredible! I grabbed a piece of watermelon and a bag of chips before heading to our group’s meeting spot. We hung around for just a little bit before heading back to make breakfast and mimosas. Lots of mimosas!

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The Baltimore Women’s Classic was a really fun race experience. It is definitely crowded, as it is a large race of almost 3,000 people and for many of these people, it is their first 5K. Also, being in June, it is bound to be hot. I paid $40 for my registration and would do so again. Participants received a quality New Balance tech shirt, a beautiful medal, and a carnation!

What’s your trick for working through a cramp during a race?

A Maryland Weekend and Running Recap

I can’t believe just 24 hours ago I was in Maryland and now I’m back in NY. This was an absolutely crazy weekend but it was without a doubt, the best weekend I’ve had since I visited Maryland last. It’s always hard leaving, but knowing that I’ll be back in 3.5 weeks was very comforting on my long drive home. Because it was so marvelous, I am linking up with Katie today. Thanks for hosting!

On Friday morning I woke up feeling like I’d never left Maryland in the first place. I simply felt at home. Beth and Ben are incredible and took the day off to run around with me. I was thrilled to go to Towson, see some old co-workers, and of course go to Bateman’s. We even had my favorite bartender from college. LOVE IT.

BOHHHH
BOHHHH
Nachos w/ crab dip and lump crab meat. I LOVE MARYLAND.
Nachos w/ crab dip and lump crab meat. I LOVE MARYLAND.

Saturday morning was filled with Baltimore 10 Miler fun! I’ll share more about the race later, but it was awesome to spend some time doing what I love with my best friends (and BRF) and also some new ones. Beth really was a huge inspiring factor in getting myself running again so it was perfect to run it with her!

No cool medal for me. Womp.
No cool medal for me. Womp.

Oh, and we got Chic-fil-a after. I’m never going over a year without it again!

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Saturday night brought me to my first Bachelorette party for my other best friend, and my first time going to Annapolis! Beth was amazing and planned a really great night. We all had a great time (or at least I did)!

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Sunday was the Bridal Shower! It had been a really stressful week, as I am a bridesmaid and the planning for the event was all over the place. It was much harder to participate from 400+ miles away than I thought it would be. But it went off without a hitch and I think the Bride had a wonderful time. I can’t wait to be back in Maryland in less than a month to see her get married!

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After about 11 hours in the car I was finally home. I ate way to much junk food, drank too many energy drinks and talked on the phone more than ever before. The worst part of the drive was being lonely, so my mom, grandma, M. and Ben kept me company for probably about half the ride and I made it home only having yawned 3 times.

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When stuck in traffic, eat WaWa

In terms of running this was a light week. Although a little sore, I recovered just fine from my half marathon.

Tuesday: miles at a comfortable pace. I didn’t bring my watch or phone and I loved it. I had ordered some new inserts for my Pearl Izumi N3’s that I was sent at work. They were comfy but definitely not as much as my Brooks. I’ll still wear them on occasion because they’re cute and they were free but they’re not my favorites.

Gotta love some superfeet
Gotta love some superfeet

Wednesday: 3 miles at a comfortably-hard pace. I definitely regretted not bringing water with me on this one.

Saturday: 10 miles of hills, hills, and more hills. The pace was easy for me for the first 8 miles, then I struggled keeping up with Ben and Beth due to some knee pain. Nothing felt/feels injured, I think it was just a combination of the hills and the amount of impact on them. I really liked the pace, knowing it was similar to what I want to hold for the marathon, and much of the course will be part of the marathon as well. It was great preparation!

Total: 15 miles.

I intend on keeping it pretty easy this week as well, as my marathon plan starts next week. As amazing as the weekend was, I am thoroughly exhausted and need a few days to recover, as well as catch up on stuff for school and other personal stuff.

 

 

 

Charles St. 12 Race Recap

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:

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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!

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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.

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Running down Kenilworth – I found Ben!

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).

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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 Sad smile (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.

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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!

Beer + a medal + music = a happy Sam
Beer + a medal + music = a happy Sam

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!

Race Recap: Fiesta 5k

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On Saturday morning, I headed to downtown Baltimore to participate in the Fiesta 5k. It was a large race of about 1,500 runners/walkers to benefit the Robert Packard ALS Center at Johns Hopkins University. I originally signed up intending to run it with the NSSLHA group from school, but I ended up being the only person to sign up. I have a friend whose Dad passed away from ALS last year who had hoped to run as well, so I ran much of the race thinking of her Dad. I never met him, but from what I’ve heard, he seemed like an amazing person who was taken much too soon by ALS.

The race itself was really great, and I went in super excited to (hopefully) meet my April goal of finishing in under 30:00. It was a flat course that ran from Powerplant (a popular bar area in the Inner Harbor), through Harbor East, Fells Point and back. While there was next to zero spectator support and someone definitely had gotten sick on the course the night before (EW!) it was super enjoyable. I got my first mile split at 9:05 and thought “holy crap, I can do this!”. I struggled to keep my pace up and pushed the whole way. I was shocked when I finally crossed the finish line!

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The clock said 27:39 – WHAT?! That was only 12 seconds slower than the PR I set 5.5 years ago! I patiently sat around, eating, while waiting for the official results to be posted…my chip time was 27:28! Just 1 second off of my PR! I was (and still am) in disbelief that I blew my goal of 30 minutes out of the water. However, I can’t help but be a little bummed that I couldn’t shave off just two more seconds to earn a new PR! I’m sure going to try to get it next weekend – but I expect the race course to be hilly so I don’t see that happening.

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Next up for me is the Active Minds’ Outrunning Stigma 5k next Saturday! I’m going out the night before, so I can’t expect to run amazingly…I’m also trying to decide what half I’m going to run in the fall! I need to decide and then plan other races, and trips to Maryland around it.

Final stats:

Gun time: 27:40

Chip time: 27:28

Place: 310 overall, 44 in age group

 

Race Day: Brigance Brigade 5.7K

I spent the morning of April 5th in beautiful Canton running 5.7 kilometers for an awesome cause! Alongside some of my classmates/fellow NSSLHA members, we ran in support of ALS. ALS is our group’s philanthropy, and the race was ran in support of the Brigance Brigade organization. It is named for O.J. Brigance – a former Baltimore Ravens player who has ALS. His number was 57, which is why it was a 5.7k!
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Brigance Brigade 5.7K!

It was the first year for this race. It was extremely well run and course was awesome. The first half of it was mainly uphill, and about two miles were set in Patterson Park. I’d only been there once before and never knew how beautiful the park was! I’m a little disappointed in myself because I did walk a couple of times – those hills took everything out of me!

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I finished the 3.54 mile course in 35:20 – a 9:59/mi pace! I was hoping to hit 10:00 so I am very pleased that I hit it after walking for about a minute of the race. I was so proud of myself for training so hard that I got a little choked up when I saw the finish line at the waterfront. One of the girls in our group knew someone who was working for the race, so we were able to hang out in the VIP tent for a while afterwards! I was hoping to meet Ray Lewis – but we didn’t feel like waiting around all day for him to come. All finishers got an awesome medal (the middle swivels!) and a nice tech t-shirt. It was a wonderful race and I would gladly do it again!