Yesterday was one of my favorite days of the year. It was Baltimore Running Festival Day! Any day that I participate in a race is my favorite day but BRF holds a special place because it’s the first organized run I ever participated in. In 2013 I lined up at the half marathon start scared, excited, and wondering what I had really gotten myself into. I read every word on the event website, multiple times over as well as the Runners Handbook released the week of the race, word for word. I was confident I could walk 13.1 miles but wanted to run as much as I could. I ended up running all but about one mile…mile 12 of this race is tough. After prepping the best I could without any real experience or expertise and relying heavily on the internet and conversations I was able to drum up, I just hoped it was enough. To say I was high after finishing would be an understatement.
Last year, I participated again, this time as part of the King Crab Challenge, which is comprised of finishing the Frederick Half Marathon, Baltimore 10 Miler, and Baltimore Running Festival in the same year. By the time last year rolled around, I was able to run the entire race. From 2013 to 2014, my finish time only decreased by 2 minutes. Even though I ran the whole thing, parts of it were painfully slow. I wanted to finish knowing no matter how slow, I ran the entire 13.1 miles.
This year, I again participated in the King Crab Challenge. I did okay in the Frederick Half Marathon. I ran what I felt was an awesome Baltimore 10 Miler, running the entire race feeling awesome, blowing past every water stop to beat 2014’s finish time. In fact, that day went so well, I’ve longed to replicate that ever since. And yesterday, back in Baltimore was the day. My pre-run routine mirrored that of the 10 Miler in June and now I know that caffeine and some light jogging in the hour or so before start time work great for me.
Yesterday was a huge milestone! I finished over 8 minutes faster than last year. 8 minutes doesn’t seem like much but it’s a running eternity. I was watching my GPS watch through the whole race and as each mile passed, I kept thinking wow, I might really be doing this. At the 10 mile mark, I was beating my own 10 mile time by about 2-3 minutes. The closer I got, I saw that I might actually break 2:30. After my crummy training this summer, I didn’t have huge hopes. Not only did I run the entire race yesterday, I did it at a really nice pace and I kept the pace pretty consistent. Mile 12 was the slowest, but just by a hair. Somehow I took on all of the hills with power and endurance. I also ran through all but one water stop where I grabbed water and drank maybe two sips before ditching it. I skipped all of the candy and Gatorade being handed out. I have been doing well enough keeping to sugar free that I know when I do slip up and eat sugar, I don’t feel very well. During a 13.1 mile run didn’t seem time the time to start feeling bad. I did use my almond butter packet around mile 8 when I thought a small stomach pain was trying to creep in. I took tiny bits of almond butter at a time over about half a mile.
Once I crossed the finish line, I pulled out my phone to check my official finish time…2:29:58. I broke 2:30…by TWO SECONDS. I will take it, I will still call it an under two hour and a half hour half marathon. I shed a tear or two because I just couldn’t believe it. The only real snafu was around mile 11 when my nose started bleeding. Not a real nose bleed, I had wiped my running nose with the back of my hand and a rough hang nail cut the outside of my nose. I managed to keep running without slowing down and wipe the blood away with my shirt until it stopped.
And now my thoughts:
Baltimore puts on first rate events. I’m sad about the bad rep Baltimore has gotten lately. (Click here to read more) While I was in line for the bathroom at the start yesterday, the people behind me were saying that registration was low this year and organizers were worried about the low numbers as people were hesitant to register until the unrest this summer settled down. Yesterday was no exception to the community atmosphere I written about previously. So many people from all walks of life working together and supporting each other.
I am hooked on the Baltimore Running Festival and the King Crab Challenge. Before yesterday’s run, there was a place to register for the 2016 King Crab Challenge at a discount at Friday’s Health and Fitness Expo, and I registered!
The last few weeks, I have been contemplating setting a goal for 2016 of completing at least one race every month. Already well on my way to one race per month based on events I’m already registered for and intend to register for, I decided while I was running yesterday that the goal is a go. At least 12 races will be coming down the pike in
I’ll leave you with two of my favorite spectator signs from yesterday:
“If Trump can run, so can you”
“If you think this is hard, try growing out bangs”
Looking forward to running the Philadelphia Rock n Roll Half Marathon in just two weeks with some friends and may race reports to come next year as I reach for a new goal of one race per month.