I’ve been trying to gather my thoughts about the Race 13.1 in Baltimore. I made the decision to race only a few days before. It’s not the first time I’ve decided to race a half right before and I figured it would be a good workout.
We drove down the night before and got to Baltimore around 9 pm. I couldn’t fall asleep and since the race started at an early 7 am, the alarm clock at 4:45 wasn’t welcomed. There have only been a few times an alarm clock has jolted me awake, and of course race day was one of them. On race morning, it was one of a few things that went wrong.
I got ready and on our way our for coffee, the hotel door lock mechanism wasn’t working, so we got locked out of our room. I had things I could race with so instead of wasting time with that situation, we just went over.
Then race packet pickup took over 30 minutes. That wasn’t too big of a deal, because I had no plans to warm up anyway.
Because of the packet pickup, the race was delayed, and I stood at the start freezing. When the race finally started, I was stiff, tired, and running 13.1 miles was the last thing I wanted to do. I reminded myself the race was a workout to get towards fitness. I’m far away from running another 1:22, but every PR starts somewhere.
As we were off, I settled in with a few high school kids. The race went out past a bagel shop, and helicopter pad did a 180 turn around .75 in. I hit the first mile in 6:37 which was relatively shocking. That is faster than one of my miles last 5k.
As we rounded another turn, we saw the 5k/10k off, and I saw my husband. I started to settle into a groove and hit the second mile in 6:47. That was better, but I struggled to get into a groove.
We went around the Harbor on a very narrow path. I could have easily fallen into the Harbor, and the number of turns on the waterfront made it impossible to get any momentum. I surprised myself and consistently ran around 6:40.
Then we merged with the 5k and 10kers who were mostly walking. It was an extremely unpleasant and dangerous situation for everyone. The half marathoners were forced to weave around 5k/10kers who were walking or walking 2+ across. I watched as two people collided (both were fine).
None of the half marathoners were able to get water or Gatorade at the stop, because of crowding. Sure, I could have stopped and waited for water, but I didn’t.
Around the water stop, there was a direction for 10k/13.1 to go one way, and 5k to go another. It seemed like they needed a few more volunteers there because many people went the wrong way. Following the crowd didn’t “cut it” because the crowd was so large.
After that, the race spread out because it was just the 10k and half. We ran straight through Baltimore and then around the Harbor. On the roads, I was maintaining between 6:40-6:45 mile and on the harbor pier, I was maintaining about 6:50. I was pleased because my body didn’t feel that great.
I needed to pass a few 10kers on the Harbor Pier. The path was narrow, and as I tried to pass, I slipped on the slick Harbor Pier. While I was able to catch myself and not fall, I became worried I had strained something (I strained my quad a long time ago, running on a slick surface). Luckily, it was nothing.
I passed the halfway point in 44:20. I was surprised but happy. I thought, wow I could break 1:30 again today. Clearly, that didn’t happen.
The second half of the race got much rougher for me. Mentally, I wasn’t into it. Mile 7 felt as though it took forever. I saw the leaders coming back towards me. I saw the first guy and decided to see how far ahead he was. I watched my clock, and he was almost 3 minutes ahead of all racers.
Around mile 8, we did a 180 around the Under Armour Headquarters to head back. I’ve always wanted to see the Under Armour building and it was massive. The next few miles, I just focused on trucking forward. My miles were slowly creeping into the 6:50s.
Around mile 9, two people who weren’t racing began jogging by. The race volunteer almost missed me to tell me the turn (which I cluelessly would have missed too). I yelled, do we turn here and said: Are you running?
At mile 10, I told myself “just a 5k” to go. I remembered the New York Marathon when I said the same thing. Mile 10 was lonely, and I ran a 6:55.
The final two miles went along the pier. It was almost as if right at mile 11, my lefts seized up and got heavy. I never felt great during the race, but I went from eh, to not feeling good at all. I ended up talking with a guy for a few seconds which broke up the monotony.
The final two miles felt like the final miles of a marathon. We met back up with more 10kes, and I weaved around people on the narrow pier.
Finally, we rounded the last turn, and I could see the finish. I just wanted to be there. I ran the last two miles in 7:22 and crossed the finish line in 1:30.58. The 10k/13.1 finished together and I only wish I had noticed what was happening around me at the time. I make a finishing cameo around 1:02.32
I am pleased with my effort. From the number of runners on the narrow course to the amount of turns, I didn’t find it to be an easy course. I know I didn’t run the tangents well, and I believe my GPS said 13.3. I don’t put much stock in GPS data, but I didn’t take the shortest possible route.
The weather, however, was beautiful. I am glad I chose to run the race, untapered and to see where I was at. I don’t regret running and I had a fun time in Baltimore. I am glad all of the small issues came up during one race: lack of sleep, hotel issues, and race course woes.
I’ll continue racing as much as the weather cooperates in hopes to build back fitness.
Questions for you:
What is the most dangerous race you’ve run?
Are you good at running tangents?
Sounds like a poorly organized race. In some cases its ok to start with the 5k/10k runners, but not join up with them at a point where quite a few have given up or are just out for a walk with friends.
I love Baltimore harbor .I jogged the water front once 2 years ago .
My most dangerous race was the Cambridge Summer Classic 5K two years ago. About a mile ino the race a thunder and lightning storm opened up on us. We are running in two inches of water .A lightening strike could have killed a lot of people .
Wow that sounds terrifying! I don’t know that I would have shown up Lol.
We didn’t expect a lightening storm to sit on top of us. I think they just expected rain and hoped even that would miss us. We were about a mile into the race before all hell broke loose!
i hate races where you catch up to slow folks running different races or second loops and have to negotiate them like just so many speed bumps! I think its great they are running but the organizers should plan to keep people separate so everyone can run their race unencumbered.
Great time by the way – wish I could run 1:30 on a half marathon whim!
To be fair, I think that is sort of an elitist attitude. I wouldn’t call anyone slow but people all run at different paces. It’s not a comfortable situation for anyone.
Oh I thought I was just validating the exact point you made about catching up to folks mid race. I guess I kind of assumed you meant they were slow. Certainly no elitist intent from a guy running races a half hour slower than you! Sorry if anyone took offense
No worries, I did catch folks, sure, but I don’t think the term slow is appropriate.
Certainly not as a pejorative but to be really fair I’d wager that the vast majority of them would call themselves slow. I call myself slow all the time in deference to fast runners such as yourself
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