Short Version: I completed the Frederick Half on May 4th, 2014. It was my 4th half marathon. It was my slowest time but I ended up making new friends who I decided to run with the whole way and had a blast. And had a very dramatic start to the race. Not much about actual running in this one.
Half Fanatic Status: 2/3 half marathons in 90 days needed to qualify!
On Sunday, May 4th, 2014 I ran the Frederick Half Marathon in Frederick, MD. It was my 4th half marathon overall, and the 2nd within the last month. I PRed the last half marathon I ran, 3 weeks previous, and have another in 2 weeks (the Brooklyn Half), as: 1) I have begun my 20 week training plan for a half I am running in September that is a rather aggressive plan that should get me a HUGE PR and in this phase of the plan I am supposed to be doing 12-15 mile long runs every weekend. If I am going to do that I would much prefer a bunch of people around me, a novel course to run on, people giving me water so I don’t have to wear a hydration belt (HATE my hydration belt), and a medal for doing so; and 2) I want to qualify for the Half Fanatics, and one of the ways to qualify is running 3 half marathons in 90 days.
This was never going to be a PR attempt. I was not sufficiently recovered from my PR half 3 weeks prior to do this, and the training in between that race and this one has been only so-so due to recovering, being on vacation for a week after the last race, then coming home and getting sick and having a bout with insomnia. Such is life. But I planned to run this easy and just enjoy the day.
I stayed with my boyfriend, who lives exactly an hour from Frederick. The race strongly encourages getting your bib and race packet in advance, however, I wanted to avoid having to go to Frederick 2 days in a row, we had other things we wanted to do on Saturday that did not include a 2 hour round trip to Frederick. Luckily I was able to sign up for same day packet pickup. They only offer this to 200 people out of the 5,000 runners so I was happy to have gotten it. Especially with a new rule this year you HAVE to pick up your own packet with a photo ID and cannot have a proxy get it for you.
Anyway. Race started at 7:00am, and packet pickup for those allowed same-day would close “promptly at 6:30am on the dot.” Ok….well I like to get to a race more than a half hour before start anyway, No Big Deal. They warned traffic could cause an extra 20 minutes to be added to your trip on race morning. Duly noted, No Big Deal. The race start was at the Frederick Fairgrounds. Wake up was at 4:30. Ate my usual pre-race breakfast with one minor improvisation because I forgot to get a bagel: toast with peanut butter, banana, Gatorade and coffee.
Put on my I Run4 Judy shirt to signify my buddy Judy, and a skirt to signify an online running group I am a part of, knowing there would be a few other ladies at that race that I hadn’t actually met in person, so figured I would make finding me at our planned pre-race meetup would be easier since everyone would recognize this fabric (and it nicely matched my I R4 Judy shirt….always coordinating I am).
Left at 5:00 almost on the dot….may have been 5:03. I was going solo to the race…..my boyfriend has been to several races with me but this one was very early and he had something going on later that morning. I got about 2 miles away before the horror sank in: I FORGOT MY IPOD ON THE CHARGER. Now, I know for some people that isn’t a big deal but for me it is a VERY big deal. I ALMOST TURNED AROUND and got it, but I looked at the time and it was 5:10….did some quick calculations and realized I should probably not make that detour. Ugh. I came up with a plan B while driving and decided maybe I would get closer to the race and then hopefully see a 7-11 or CVS to run in and grab some cheap headphones quick and stream Pandora through my phone and improvise. I flew there really, no one on the road, it was 5:50 and I was alllllmost to the exit. Oh good. I will have plenty of time to find a place to buy some headphones, park, get my bib, use the porta potties, warm up, meet a few people I knew running the race and chat and get a pre-race photo…..and…..WHAM! Whoa what is this bumper to bumper traffic in the right lane, ½ mile from the exit? Oh right, race traffic. Yikes, ok, still making good time. Yeah……10 minutes later I had moved mayyyyybe 3 car lengths. It’s 6:00. It’s 6:05. It’s 6:10. It’s 6:15. IT’S 6:20!!! I am STILL just SITTING in traffic WAITING to get off the exit. Holy guacamole….I am JUST getting off the exit and it is 6:30. Packet pickup is CLOSING and traffic is barely moving. Apparently it is still half a mile to the parking lot! Traffic appeared to be backed up for at least a mile behind me. People were abandoning their cars on the shoulder of the highway and running down the highway. I was in full-on panic mode. Forget getting headphones….. I wasn’t even going to get to run this race! Once off the exit there were a bunch of fast food places, stores, ect. Some runners were parking in McDonalds and such and jogging towards the fairgrounds. I was afraid I’d get my car towed but at this point I could not care less. I pulled into a shopping center, at 6:37 or so, and SPRINTED FULL SPEED in the direction I saw other runners going. Crying. Running full speed down the road, passing other runners jogging (they had their bibs already!) and crying. Got to the fairgrounds and found packet pickup. Ran in to get my packet with tears streaming down my face, at 6:42, completely out of breath. They probably thought I was nuts, but gave me my bib…..haha. Then I got in line for the porta potties, where I still was when the race started. Great. I had to sprint to the start, because the announcer was threatening to pickup the timing mat at 7:10 and it was like 7:07. Yeah, second time sprinting and the race hadn’t even started. I am sure all the cars behind me on the highway didn’t make it.
I crossed the starting line. I was stressed, iPod-less and just not even feeling it. I was running too fast. I didn’t care. I think I just wanted to catch up to the pack. Or maybe the 2:30 pace group? I don’t know. I originally wanted to maybe try to run with the 2:30 pace group, which is 11:27 minute miles, which is within my “easy” pace range and I have never tried running with a pace group, but I had given up caring. I finished the first mile in 10:24. That was PR pace and I was NOT trying to PR. I needed to chill a little. I just started trying to get myself out of my foul mood. The scenery was so nice. Frederick is a really charming, old town, and EVERY SINGLE flowering tree was in bloom. It was a beautiful morning, 46 degrees at the start and supposed to go up to low 60s, perfect running weather. I WOULD enjoy this day.
Then, in the 2nd mile, I see ahead of me two skirts that were the same as mine, and got really excited. The pattern of the skirt I was wearing is one that is only available to the 300-something ladies that are part of an online running group I am a part of. I knew some ladies from that group were supposed to be at the race, and we were supposed to meet up before hand, but I missed the meetup. I didn’t know who they were in front of me, but based on the pattern of their skirt I knew that I “knew” them and I excitedly tried to catch up. I said hello, and found out who they were. We hugged each other (while running) as we introduced ourselves, and began to chat. I found out they were doing a run/walk method, and aiming to get less than 2:40. They said if I didn’t want to do that I was welcome to leave them at any time. I said I’d stick with them for a little bit at least. I was enjoying our chat, it was MUCH better than a silent, no iPod run, and I had no real time goals anyway. Between 2:30 and 2:40 was likely what I was going to do on my own anyway. Run/walk isn’t what I am used to, but I didn’t mind it. “A little while” became mile after mile, I was still with them and we were chatting the whole time. I had only just “met” them in person that day, but we knew each other from the group and were having a really good time. I decided I wanted to stay with them the whole race no matter what. I needed a porta potty stop at mile 7 (the porta potties that had the shortest line we had encountered thus far), and they went ahead. It took me almost a mile to catch back up, and I was so happy when I saw them again. They really made the race so much more enjoyable. What started out rough ended up being a lot of fun. Around mile 9 the weather heated up quite a bit and one of the women I was with felt really nauseous. We slowed down quite a bit. She told me and the other woman we could go ahead but we refused. We would finish together. Our splits went from low 12s to 14-somethings, the walk breaks got more frequent, the running got slower but it didn’t matter. We finished together. It was a great race.
Official time: 2:49:04
After Race Pics:
After the race was a post-race festival with official merchandise, other vendors, food, a live band, and beer. There was a huge controversy involving a SNAFU with the Frederick County Liquor Board deciding to enforce their No Alcohol Before 11:00am on Sundays law for the first time in the Frederick Half’s 20 year history. Each runner gets 2 free beers, and apparently it is what a lot of runners most look forward to. Apparently the faster runners did NOT want to waste 2+ hours waiting for beer, and people on Facebook were VERRRY upset about this. I finished at 10:00am and by the time I got my medal and race shirt, used the bathroom, drank some water and Gatorade, ate a banana, took pictures, chatted a bit, scoped the official merchandise, it was almost 11:00 so it wasn’t really a big deal to me. I got my beer, and it was glorious.
Except for the awful start, it was a nice race. Beautiful scenery in a charming town and all the flowering trees were gorgeous. Nice tech shirt with thumb holes, nice medal. I would do this race again, but be better prepared for traffic and REMEMBER MY IPOD!