I feel like I JUST posted about how marathon training was starting, and here it is -- the very long, very wordy, lots of pictures, race recap! Where did the time go?!
The Baltimore Running Festival took place on Saturday, October 18. The Baltimore Oriole's were in the ALCS Playoffs, and had the potential to be playing game 6 on Friday night and game 7 on Saturday night if the series went that far. Because of this, the BRF organizers moved all race start times up an hour and had a contingency plan in place if game 6 became necessary. If it had, the finish line (which runs through Camden Yards) would have been moved. The O's lost the series in 4 games, so the finish line was not moved - phew! I love that finish line!!! I also loved the earlier start time, because I was going to be running around 5 hours!
Mark and I headed to the start line bright and early! It was chilly out and the crowd was super energetic. I felt GREAT! My body felt rested, I wasn't even slightly nervous, I felt totally prepared and ready to go. We wished each other luck and headed off to find out pace groups - 3:45 for Mark and 4:45 for me.
The course is notorious for being hilly, and there were definitely plenty of hills! But I really, really love this course. The first 3 miles were an uphill climb to Druid Lake and the Baltimore Zoo. We ran through the zoo, where there were animal handlers out with all kinds of birds and even penguins! It was so fun!
Around mile 6, I was rolling with the pace group and feeling fantastic. I realized then that I was actually ahead of the pace group, not by much, but instead of a 10:40-10:50 pace, I was going about 10:30. So I didn't take off with any kind of crazy speed, but I thought I would give myself a little cushion in case I needed to stop or something. Plus I had been trapped with this REALLY chatty lady for at least a mile and I wanted to get away from her haha!!
At mile 8, the course runs back down into the Inner Harbor area, and it's where I spotted my friends. Actually, I spotted myself -- because they had GIANT heads of Mark and I on sticks. It was HILARIOUS to be running down the road and think "Is that ME?" HAHA!!
The next 2 miles of the course are an out and back along the harbor. I figured it would be a good chance to spot Mark on the course, and I did! We waved at each other and that was a great boost for me. I knew my friend, Christy, should be about 30 minutes behind Mark, so I was able to spot her too!
Around mile 11, the 4:45 pace group caught up to me. I hung with them for about a mile and a half, and then I just couldn't keep pace. My legs were feeling fine, but my low back kept tightening up. I ended up doing walk/run intervals for most of the rest of the race.
So, miles 13-20 were the worst for me...and that was unexpected. I really thought the last 6.2 would be the worst, because that's what everyone told me to expect.
Miles 20-21 run around Lake Montebello, and I love this part of the course. From mile 16 on we were on the half marathon course, which I ran last year, and it was fun to remember that race. At my mile 20, I also knew that Mark should be finishing up, so I had my phone out the whole time around the lake waiting for his finish text! (He finished in a killer 3:48!!)
At mile 22, I heard my name and spotted some unexpected spectators!
My friends, Bekah and Matt, were there! Matt works for the Baltimore City Fire Department, and the course ran through his area! Bekah had been the sub in my classroom on Friday and had sent me a cute video of my students wishing me luck before the start! It was fun seeing them on the course, especially when I didn't expect it - and it was mile 22!
Sometime after this, I paused to stretch out my back (like I had done about 15 other times on the course), and when I looked up, the 5:00 pace group had passed me. I caught them and ran with them for a little bit, but ended up dropping back.
As I approached my favorite part of the course, the last mile and it's downhill, I could see Camden Yards and knew I was almost there! Coming down through Camden Yards, I heard lots of cheers and looked to my left to find my "friends"...
...yup...they were sitting at a bar having nachos and beer. Jerks. HAHA! I definitely made a gesture on my way past them that is not appropriate to include in the blog. They did manage to get a photo of me without the gesture though!
I finished the race in 5:05:33 - 20 minutes slower than I had hoped for, but I had enjoyed the experience. Somewhere around the halfway point, I started to just really take in the experience. I knew since it was my first marathon, time shouldn't be a huge goal for me. I also didn't want to be completely miserable for the next 2+ hours. So, I stopped focusing on time and just focused on my walk/run intervals and spotting photographers!
After the race, I was a little emotionally wacky. I texted my friend Steph and told her she couldn't hug me and I wasn't coming into the bar and could someone just bring me a hotel key so I could go shower. I'm the type of person who often needs time to decompress and get myself together after stuff like this. So, dear Steph came out and I did a little crying (and did let her hug me). Eventually Mark came out too, he said he thought he'd give Steph a little time to calm me down first -- haha, smart guy!!
We took a few pics, and I decided I was ready to actually face people. Seriously, could I be any more high maintenance? HA!
The giant heads - this was hilarious!!!
Reggie's sign made me crack up!! The older guy in the pic is Hal Higdon, who is a well-known runner and race coach. We have a running joke that the more of Hal's books you buy, the faster you'll run. And we often say things like "What would Hal say?" or "What the Hal?" - so this was perfect!
On our way back to the hotel, we stopped for a pic with the flags! Pratt St. in Baltimore was lined with flags for the Ravens, Orioles, and Marathon!
After the race, we went back to the hotel with our friends Jesse and Abby. They came down to support us, and celebrate with us! We were all exhausted (them from chasing us around all day!), so we just showered and relaxed for awhile before heading out for some fun!
Sunday morning dawned clear and beautiful! We stretched our legs with walk down to the Harbor and treated ourselves to the reward meal I had been waiting for - Cheesecake Factory!!! A big, juicy, cheese covered burger with a side of sweet potato fries...and most importantly, a big piece of White Chocolate Raspeberry Truffle cheesecake!!
So, there it is. I ran a marathon.
I RAN A MARATHON!
I RAN A MARATHON!