So I should start by saying that while I did not reach my sub-2hr goal, I did get a PR in the half marathon distance. And a PR is a PR, and I’m okay with it.
Let’s start at the beginning…
Sunday morning, Kevin and I hopped in his car (at around 5am!) and headed up to Frederick, MD. Although the race didn’t start until 7:00am, we were aiming to be there by 6:15, because parking traffic apparently gets really bad. We made it there by 6:00am and hung out in his car for a little bit. It was chillier than I expected (about 60-65 degrees) so I wanted to stay as warm as possible. Yes, I’m basically cold-blooded and 65 can feel chilly to me. :)
Eventually we exited the car, and headed toward bag check. For some reason I felt the need to check my bag even though I could have left it in Kevin’s car. Bag check was quick and easy, and we quickly headed to the start line. The race was relatively small (5,000 runners for the half) so everything was pretty easy to find. Oh, I should also note that they did a GREAT job with port-o-potties and bathrooms at the start. There were so many options, which made the start super relaxed!
I had been warned about how hilly the course was, so that was running through my mind. I had looked at the course profile, and although there was nothing GIANT, there were definitely rolling hills. However, I tried to stay cool, telling myself that running up Capitol Hill had prepared me well.
Anyway, we continued to the start line. There were no corrals, but there were pace signs and pace groups, so you could line up according to that. I decided to jump in with the 2:00 hour group, determined to hang onto them. After the National Anthem (which included the obligatory O! from Orioles fans), we were off! As usual, my plan was to start off conservatively, and then start to speed up after the 10 or 11 mile mark.
Hated it. I felt like I was putting so much effort into every step. I was so into my misery, that I didn’t really notice the scenery. And sadly, this is typical for me. I need to start planning my music so that I’m pumped up.
Started to settle into a groove. I was enjoying the rolling hills, the cute neighborhoods, and the community that was out cheering us on. It was super cute, and I was really enjoying the race. Because it was so humid, I decided that I needed to stop at every water stop. And also bc it was raining (sprinkling really) so I wasn’t sure what was sweat and what was rain. I thought it would be better to be safe and hydrate. Around mile 6, I realized I needed to make a pit stop at a port-o-potty. Found one at mile 7 and made the stop as quick as I could. Sadly I think it was still about 3 min. Needless to say, I lost the 2:00 hour pace group. :(
I took my Gu, and spent probably a mile and half trying to find my pace and get into it. Since I didn’t have my watch (rawr!) I was clueless as to how I was doing, my current pace, etc. And let me tell you, it’s not a good feeling. I seriously lost all hope during this point. I got to the point where I told myself I didn’t care about a sub-2 race. Eventually, I was able to push through it. I may credit this song with saving me. :)
I was ready to go and feeling good. I got to mile 12 and saw that I had about 8 minutes to make it under 2 hours. Panic, excitement, nerves, relief all set in. Yes, it was a whirlwind of emotions. I was cruising along at a comfortably hard pace, and then I saw it. The final hill. The loooong endless final hill. I’m pretty sure I audibly groaned. Twice. Regardless, I trudged up that hill as quick as I could, hoping that it would finish in a downhill right into the finish (this is one of those moments where I wished I had studied the course map/profile). Welp, the finish was not there. I had to go a little ways, around a turn, and then we entered the track, where we completed 3/4 of a lap. It’s important to mention that the track was dirt and gravel (you can see it in the picture). And very uneven. I had to keep my eyes on the ground to make sure I didn’t roll my ankle.
And then I saw it. The stupid 2:01:xx. And I was angry. I was sad. I was disappointed. But I was still determined to finish strong. And I did. But I still wasn’t happy.
At the time, the only thing I could think of what that I missed. How the bathroom break ruined my race. And I was a huge brat about it. Poor Kevin had to deal with me being a grump all day. 2:01:30. Just not good enough.
Later, I found out that my official chip time was 2:00:48. Which sounds better, no? Nope. It just made me feel worse. All I could feel was regret, and mass amounts of pity for myself. I had so many “if only’s” running through my head.
But now, I’ve accepted it. Even more, I’m happy with it. Sure, that 2:00:48 is 49 seconds short of my goal. But it is still almost a 7 minute PR for me! And 49 seconds is way closer than 1:30! Also, 49 is going to be easy to knock off my next half-marathon, especially if I skip the port-o-potties!
I want to thank all of you for your positive comments! Yes, I am super close and I will certainly get it next time! I also had negative splits which is a great thing! And I even got some great tips on when best to look for port-o-potties (early in the race – I never even thought of that before).
Overall, it was a great race and I would certainly do it again next year. It’s challenging because of the rolling hills, but not so much that its all you think about. There’s so much community support all along the course. While going through the neighborhoods, there were kids, teens and adults all handing out water, bananas, snacks and high-fives. It was really great! And, it didn’t ever feel crowded too! And the best part? It’s half of the Maryland Double medal – now I just need to figure out if I’m going to do Baltimore in the fall!
So now, I have a new half-marathon PR of 2:00:48! I’m excited now for my next race!