Race 13.1 Baltimore (1:30.58)

Race 13.1 Baltimore (1:30.58)

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.

me running race 13.1 baltimore

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? 

Heroes to Hero 5k (19:12)

Heroes to Hero 5k (19:12)

The Heroes to Hero 5k is a race I look forward to and enjoy.  The race is a point-to-point.  It’s in memory of three local firefighters who passed away in 2002. It begins at a local fire department and ends at another.  During the race, it passes the homes of the three fallen heroes and retraces the paths that each one took when the night they passed away when in the line of duty.  It’s a wonderfully put on race.

Personally, I’ve been struggling with anxiety before shorter races. I seem to get nervous and almost talk myself out of racing lately. I arrived at the station around 7:30, did a few miles to warm up, got on the bus and got to the start around 8:30.  Waiting around for 30 minutes was rough in the rain, but there wasn’t much of another option.

At the start, I talked to a few friends, and by the time I knew it, we were off. The roads were slippery, and I struggled with getting into a groove. My legs felt tired, but they weren’t stiff. My goal was just to run faster than last the last 5k. The first mile went up a short hill and around a few turns.  I struggled with not slipping. It’s one of the first races I felt like I was close to slipping and couldn’t get a good grip on the ground. My first mile was 6:16 and I felt satisfied.

During the next mile, I could see the two women in front of me. I caught a few males and kept pressing forward. Point to point courses are great until you realize you might encounter more headwind versus tailwind.  I hit mile 2 in 6:16 and felt satisfied.

During the next mile, I found myself catching up the 2nd place women.  I was pushing myself as fast as my body would allow. I didn’t feel tired or sore, but my legs just could not get the turnover and move faster.

That lack of turnover is being tired from marathon training as well as less speed work.  I wanted to catch her, but by 2.8, she pulled away.  I hit mile 3 in 6:06 and finished in 19:12.

I’m happy with my result.  It can be hard not to compare from previous years and fitness.  I am slowly getting faster in the 5k this fall.  It might not be as fast as I would like, but my legs are also fatigued with long runs.

Questions for you:

Do you race in a different shoe if it’s raining?

Have you done a point to point race before?

Crawlin Crab Half Marathon 1:30.02

Crawlin Crab Half Marathon 1:30.02

The Crawlin Crab had similar conditions to last year and the Air Force half marathon in Dayton.  I would be lying if I didn’t say I was really hoping for a good day to test my fitness but you can’t control the weather. I raced for the day and 1:30.02 is what happened.

The race started at 7:30 am.  My dad and I thought it was 8:30 until the day before, so it was a pleasant surprise. I got there around 6:30, chatted with friends and then headed to the start line. I saw Mollie, and we talked for a bit.  All of a sudden we were off.

It was a hot, humid, day.  Online the weather said, 79 degrees but it was extremely humid. I struggled to get into a groove the first 2 miles.  There were several people in front of me, and I just felt like I couldn’t get going.  I saw my good friend Andrew, and we chatted for a few seconds.

Crawlin crab half marathon hampton va me running

Then he was gone, and I found myself listening to a conversation between runners talking about a recent Ironman.  I had nothing of value to add to the discussion so I just listened. I hit the first 2 miles around 6:45 pace.  I was happy with that but also knew what happened to my race last year.

(Essentially I ran that pace for 9 miles and then bonked because the humidity got to me).  I didn’t think with the weather, it was a pace I could hold throughout the race.

Around mile 3, it was just me and a female triathlete chatting away and just talking about life.  The mile clicked by.

Crawlin crab half marathon hampton va me running

I hit the 5k in 20:54 which was fairly fast considering the heat and the 5ks I’ve run this training cycle.

The next section was lonely, and I ran most of the rest of the race alone.  I could see people in front, which gave me motivation but no one around me to commiserate with. I grabbed water and Gatorade at every stop.  It’s too hot not too, and because I don’t carry anything with me, it was the best option.

I saw the race director Jerry (J from J&A), and it was nice motivation.  Jerry is out at every one of the races from Shamrock to Crawlin’ Crab and the rest (most of which I’ve done).

Crawlin crab half marathon hampton va me running

I hit mile 4 and 5 around 6:55 and I told myself, just stay calm.  If you go out too hard, now, you will suffer from humidity.  I didn’t feel bad, just hot.

We turned and ran along the coast.  This section, of course, can be beautiful if it’s not hot.  Since I’ve only run Crawlin Crab when it’s hot, it’s one of my least favorite areas.  You are running and just baking in the heat along the water. It’s hot, the air is still, and there is zero shade.

I hit the halfway point around 44:30.  I didn’t really think under 1:30 was doable. It wasn’t even on my radar. Last year, I ran but suffered a lot from dehydration and heat in the last 4 miles.  I was at a similar pace and ended up running a 1:32 and “crawled” to the finish line.

I kept clicking along, and mile 7-9 were the most difficult for me. I just kept focusing on the mile I was in and not what else I needed to get done. I grabbed water and Gatorade, and every water stop was welcomed.  To be honest, I could have used more water, and I drank a lot.

Mile 9 went back along the streets towards the Coliseum.  This was the section I was dreading.  I distinctly remember the moment last year that Ithe humidity hit me. My only goal was to continue feeling strong.

I could see a couple of women in the distance, and it gave me the motivation to run faster.  I knew I was somewhere in the top 10 but no idea where. At mile 10, I looked down and realized I was right on a 1:30 half time.  Could I break 1:30? I also knew two hills were coming up at mile 11 and 12.5.  The last 3 miles is the hardest part of the course.  It’s a very flat course except for two hills towards the end.

Having something to keep me engaged in the race, seemed to take my mind off of the weather.  I passed one woman and kept going.  Around mile 11, I found Andrew again, and we discussed how unforgiving the course was with no shade.

I charged up the first entrance ramp and coasted back down. I don’t mind running up highway ramps because I think they make the miles go by faster. I’m good at uphill and terrible at steep downhills.

Since highway ramps are a nice, comfortable, coasting downhill, I feel like I can get moderate speed on them. I passed a female and pressed forward.

By the time I knew it, I was at mile 12. My body was toasty, and I grabbed water and Gatorade from the last stop.  I knew it would have no effect on my race, but mentally I wanted it.  Then I just charged. We went over the previous and surprising overpass.

Crawlin crab half marathon hampton va me running

I saw some friends who recognized me from Instagram.  They shouted, oh I know her, go LOLZ!  It made me smile.

Crawlin crab half marathon hampton va me running

As I came down the last .5, and into the finish, I knew a 1:30 would be close.  I saw the clock at 1:29.40 and just sprinted. I didn’t have it in me for the last 3 seconds, but I did finish strong.  Maybe if I didn’t talk or I cut the tangents better…oh well.  I have no regrets of the race.

Crawlin crab half marathon hampton va me running

After I finished, I tried Maurten Gel.  It’s the same gel Eluid Kipchogue uses.  I was not expecting it to be so thick and I felt as though I slurped some ultrasound goo. I went on to run another 7 miles to get to 20.

After I finished 20 I met dad at the car.  I was hot, tired, and probably in the twilight zone. By the time I was done, it was 85 and humid.  Not the most ideal conditions to run 20 miles in but I’m proud of myself for getting it done.  It was one of the mentally toughest things I have done in a very long time.  The marathon will be the same, so I’m glad I did run the extra miles.

I have a lot of lingering doubts about myself after this race.  First, I am proud of myself for my efforts in the weather.  I’m pleased, I was fairly consistent, drank appropriately, and fueled appropriately that the heat didn’t cause me to bonk like last year.  But, I am very doubtful for New York right now. Many people have told me “sub 3” is easily attainable but if it were easy, I would have done it.  It’s not a goal I have for NY.  My last 3 half marathons have all been around 1:30 which shows I’m not ready to maintain that for a 3:00 marathon. New York is a hard course and my goal still remains to start and finish the marathon healthy.

Questions for you:

What is the hottest race you’ve done?

How do you hydrate and fuel during a half marathon?

Book It 5k Race Recap

Book It 5k Race Recap

Last weekend, I ran my first 5k since June. Now that I’ve begun marathon training I won’t be tapering for many, if any, 5ks.  Since I haven’t been racing anything short, I had no idea what to expect.  Somewhere in the 20-21 minute range seemed about appropriate.  The course was short, and I ran roughly that pace.

I ran the Book It 5k much faster last year and enjoyed it because I got to see many of my friends and it is always a good time. Plus, I use the library frequently, so it seemed like a good idea.

I arrived to start around 7:45 am talked to a few friends, and then ran about 3 miles to warm up. I didn’t feel good, and my legs felt both stiff and sore. It felt like fatigue had caught up to me. I knew it wouldn’t be a miracle fast time, but I had to race with how I felt.

cherry hill book it 5k

We lined up along the grass, and I chatted with several friends.  By the time I knew it, we were off.  It starts on the grass.  Luckily there weren’t many geese in the way like last year.

As got off the grass I looked up to see I was about fifth or sixth place.  There was a young, 8-year-old female in front of me, as well as several friends.  Around the half mile, I settled into 3rd place, where I stayed the entire time (right behind a man pushing a stroller…who has also beat me pushing a double stroller).  I hit the first mile in 6:21 and all I could think was…how the heck am I going to keep this up?

The second mile happened without much of note.  It felt like it was barely moving. I wanted the race to be over.  I hit the second mile in 6:29.  I was shocked because it felt like I was crawling. My legs haven’t been that stiff while racing in a while, but I wasn’t surprised and thankful it wasn’t mile 2 of a half marathon or marathon.

cherry hill book it 5k

The last mile just hurt. I was sore, tired, and just wanted the race to be over. I felt as though the young girl was going to catch me.  Honestly, if she did it wouldn’t have bothered me either.  We ran back over the field, and I ran to the finish line.

I finished the race in 18:24 and I think it was somewhere around 2.5 short.  I’m guessing I would have run about 20 minutes or so.

cherry hill book it 5k

I feel good about that, and it’s about the same pace I stopped racing 5ks at. I didn’t feel great, and I know with a few more 5ks and speed under my belt, I’ll be able to hone in on some faster races.

I do plan to run several 5ks through marathon training. Racing frequently keeps me from feeling stale like I did before NYCM the first time.  Plus, it’s a great way to see friends. It’s hard to believe I ran multiple half marathons faster than this in the Spring, but it gives something to work towards.

Questions for you:

What is the sorest you’ve felt during a race?

What is your favorite book?

Underarmour Killington 25k (3:20)

Underarmour Killington 25k (3:20)

The Underarmour Killington 25k was the hardest race I’ve ever run.  Yes, I’ve run a couple of marathons and yes I ran the Copper Mountain 25k last month at 9000 feet elevation, but Killington was harder.  For me anyway.  It was also the longest time running on my feet.  I’ve hiked longer, but never run that long.

Even though there were challenging portions, I enjoyed the heck out of it. When I finished the Killington race, I wasn’t 100% sure I would run it again, but after a few days, I do believe I would go back.  My reasoning for thinking about not rerunning it is straightforward: there are a lot of very steep downhills, and I do think it’s easy to injure yourself.  That being said I enjoyed it and thought the race was fun.

The drive from NJ to Vermont was uneventful, but it did take a lot longer than I anticipated.  I got there shortly before the race packet pickup ended the night before. You could pick up packets the same day, but I wasn’t sure how the morning before would play out. I wanted to be ready the night before.

The morning of the race, I ended up driving about 15 minutes down the road to get coffee because nowhere was open beforehand.  Last month at Copper, one of the places opened early which was nice.  It ate up some time, but I was up before my alarm anyway.

I got to the race start around 7 am, chatted with Allie, and by the time I knew it we were off. underarmour killington 25k

I was wrapping my mind around actually racing and the challenge it would be.  I didn’t have pressure to race hard, PR, and time was pretty much irrelevant because unless you run the course, it’s hard to fully explain every twist, knee-deep mud puddle, and 40% decline.

I was just at the race for me. I have a whole separate post about my lack of racing this summer, but I actually think it’s been good for me.

The race started, and the first mile was downhill.  I started way in the back because people kept passing me.  I don’t run downhills well at all, and I was being passed left and right.  Around mile 1.5, we started a serious climb.

The roles reversed, and I was passing people as if they were standing still.  I’m sure people just thought I started late but I was cruising by people (cruising being somewhere around 12 min miles).  I hit mile 2 around 12 minutes and was happy.

underarmour killington 25k

The next few miles climbed, and climbed, and also climbed.  It was very rocky like the Appalachians.  It was also extremely steep, and the inclines were anywhere between 20-40%.  After going for 40% for probably half a mile, 20% incline felt like a cakewalk.

I hit mile 5 around an hour.  I thought perhaps finishing 3 hours again would be doable, but the course kept getting more and more challenging.  So as the race progressed, it became clear I would only reach 3 hours if we ran on the roads.

The next few miles went between extreme uphill and extreme downhill.  It was either 20+% grade in one direction.  A few parts went off course and weren’t groomed.  You were just physically climbing up a mountain in knee-high grass.  I traded sports with a woman named Nancy and we got to chatting for a while (she ultimately left me in the dust the final downhill mile).

Underarmour killington 25k

Between 6-7 miles, we hit a peak with gorgeous views below.  All I could think about after reaching the peak was that eventually we would go down and there would be more downhill.  I took a second to admire the views and the top of the gondola.

Around 15k, I stopped at an aid station and went for skittles.  At Copper, I decided I wanted Red Bull, but at Killington, skittles appealed to me.  They were fine, and I had no stomach issues.

underarmour killington 25k

I took my second gel at mile 10.  I had gone back and forth between one gel per hour, but instead of taking it at 2 hours I decided to eat skittles and take the gel about 10 minutes later.

The next 5 miles were grueling, and I wanted nothing more to be done.  I like running, but the race was challenging me both mentally and physically.  I had no plans to quit, but I was exhausted.  The woman I was running with, Nancy, and I concluded we had about one more hour of running.

The next mile went up the side of a mountain.  It wasn’t an actual trail, but we just went up the side.  We climbed for a while longer, and around mile 11 we went downhill for a bit.  As we went downhill many people popped out of nowhere and passed me.  They gained minutes on me because I took the downhill nice and easy.

One male went charging the downhill and fell face first into a giant mud pit.  It was kind of comical because he was okay.  I just repeated to myself: make it out of here healthy Hollie.  Take it easy, no one cares about your time.  It was true, and I logged miles between 15-18 minutes.

The downhill wasn’t a smooth, rolling downhill.  It was going downhill on rocky terrain at anywhere between 20-40% incline.  My quads were screaming.

Then around mile 12-14ish, we went back uphill.  All I could think was, why are we going uphill…we should almost be done.  What is going on?  I had no bearings of the where we were in relevance to the finish line.

Finally, a pack of three dudes caught me.  They had gotten lost somewhere on the course so they sailed right by.  I looked down and 15 feet in front of me, the course as flat.

Was it flat forever?  Were we almost done?  One more mile of flat?  I started to really charge.  My quads were screaming, and I felt like I was at PRing pace.  I looked down to realize I was at 12-minute pace.  I laughed and just repeated one more mile.

All of a sudden, I could see the finish line.  It was coming so soon.  I was yearning for it.  I felt like I was in slow motion.  Someone yelled go Hollie, and I crossed.  I was done.  That was it.  I felt like I had accomplished the world.

underarmour killington 25k

I had a great time.  The course challenged me in ways running has never challenged me.  It was as mentally challenging to keep going as physically.

underarmour killington elevation chart

I like the trails, and I would do the race again.  For the fall, I plan to stick to the roads and chase some road PRs.

Questions for you:

What is the hardest race you’ve done?

Are you a better uphill or downhill runner? 

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