On October 15, 2016 at 12:30pm, I became a marathoner for the second time. The experience was nothing short of life changing and I am so very glad I ran the race I knew I had inside me – somewhere.
But this is a recap… So let’s back up to the expo, shall we?
The Baltimore Marathon, part of the Baltimore Running festival, does not offer same day packet pick up or packet mailing. A bunch of running friends were going on Friday to go to the expo and stay over before the race, but we had a family wedding so that was not an option for me this year.
Late Thursday morning, my dear friend Jen and I headed up to Baltimore. They had parking at the stadium lots, but we had a very exact window to get in and out of the city before needing to turn around to head home for kiddo pickup – so we got a Parking Panda spot about a block from the Convention Center. The shirt, as advertised, was awesome and bib pickup was smooth.
We wandered around a bit to check out the vendors. I grabbed a 1/3 zip commemorative top I’d been eyeing and new race dots with the Baltimore flag. Nothing else jumped out for us, but we really wanted a picture with our bibs – so we found the official marathon table and snapped a couple.
That night I attended my niece’s rehearsal dinner, had a work lunch in Alexandria the next day, and the wedding Friday night, so I had laid out my flat mama before I went to bed on Wednesday.
Friday night was the wedding and it was beautiful! The ceremony and reception were only about 30 mins from our house, and I wore flats – which was good because when your 6 year old son asks you to dance, you dance.
Bright and early on Saturday morning, four of us met up to get to Baltimore. The ride was surprisingly short and we got great parking right at Ravens Stadium. After getting ourselves situated, we popped over to the festival to get our bearings, use the potties, and check our stuff. We also got over to the MRTT picture and got this great shot of our traveling crew.
After another potty stop and some gear organization, we headed over to the starting line to meet the rest of our MRTT friends running the marathon. At just about 7:55, we snagged some individual pics and a picture of our group before we all got ready to RUN.
And run we did.
Just as the starting gun went off, I completely lost the GPS signal I had been trying to get and decided that since every mile would be marked, many with timing mats, I would just go by feel and make sure I was staying around 10 minutes. (Forgetting that after mile 15, my marathon math would not be so great!!) After 10o+ races, I know what that pace feels like for me. It was an impulsive choice, but I figured I could always pull over and get a signal if I needed to do so.
Jen and I, as I previously shared, ran the first 22 miles together. We did not talk much – as to conserve energy – but it felt great to know she was with me. We passed others from our crew out on the course and at out-and-backs throughout.
Our strategy was 10-10:15 mm for the first half and fueling every 5 miles. We also took water or gatorade from almost every water stop and walked through those. The first half, as per the map and elevation charts, was fairly hilly to start as it wound up through the initial neighborhoods and the zoo (where we did not stop to visit with the adorable animals out to say hi).
We wound around Under Armor headquarters, where they had a DJ and tons of crowd support. As we got to the half marathon start, near the Inner Harbor, we realized we had just done the first half in 2:08 and change. That was AHEAD of where we hoped to be and we were still feeling great.
Around mile 15 we began to climb again. And climb. And climb. It was NOT fun. At ALL.
At mile 16ish we also merged with the back half of the half-marathon runners, many of whom were walking. So not only were we going up never ending hills, but we were doing so while dodging around people. Debbie had warned me about this, as had others, but I really wasn’t prepared for how frustrating it would be.
We started to walk the hills at about mile 16 and at mile 20, Jen’s knee gave out and she realized she had to just run if she was going to finish. She left me to continue my walk-run pattern after mile 22. That’s where our splits, split (her’s speed up for miles 23-27 because she is a rockstar!). She sent me her Garmin data, which was awesome information.
Someone told me that the last 6.2 is ALL HEART, determination and faith. That was so true for me. Once Jen left, I switched over to a podcast and put both earbuds in for the rest of the race. I kept up my walking on hills, but did my best to just remind myself – just a 5k left, just a 5 miler left. By the time I got to mile 25, I realized that if I could just keep up a 10:30 pace, I would make my A goal of under 4:29.
My dear friend from college, Kathy, had come up to watch the race and screamed “GO ERIN” between miles 25 and 26. I was so happy to hear her voice/ see her running along the sidelines, but I could not even muster the energy to show her my excitement. I just kept going. JUST before the finish line, I saw my MRTT friend, Erin, and shouted at her that I was about to have a sub-4:30 marathon!!! I am sure I scared her half to death!
The tracking was one of my favorite things about this race. It had been sending instant updates to Facebook as well as via text to my husband and parents throughout the race so they knew how I was doing. AND Immediately upon finishing, I could scan a QR code on my bib and my results popped up!
I got through the shoot and wobble-legged to the finish line where I found my friend Kim, medals and food. AMAZING. All the things – just amazing.
We hung out a bit more and waited for our other friends to find us. I also tracked down Kathy, who helped me gather my gear and get my medal engraved. We hung around the festival for a bit longer before creakily getting into my car and heading back down to Northern Virginia.
Michael and John had treats for me upon arriving home and Michael REALLY liked my crab medal. He said he’ll get one just like it when he runs his marathon when he is 20. But only if Miss Debbie helps train him like his mom.
SO now I am recovering and basking and feeling grateful for EVERYONE who supported my marathon adventure. There is more to say about the heart changing aspect of this experience, but I’ll save that for next time.
For now — THANK YOU for reading. For supporting. And for inspiring me every day!!