I’ve never actually written a race report before, but felt that my experience at Baltimore this past weekend is worthy of one.
A girlfriend of mine who lives near downtown was kind enough to let me stay with her the night before. I was up at 5:30am after about only 3 hours of sleep (pre-race jitters REALLY got to me the few days before!). I had my throw-away sweater on thinking it was going to be cold.. and walked outside into 74 degree weather. This is when panic set in. Last time I ran in warm weather (Parks Half 2008), I got my worst time. But.. I tried not to let it bother me and left my sweater behind.
After meeting up with my friends Hai (a former 11:20-er) and Amanda from the 10-minute group, I was relieved to learn that 74 degrees was the warmest it was going to be all day! We chatted at the start which helped calm my nerves. At the start of the race at 8am, I told them to go ahead and not wait up for me, for I knew that they would be keeping a much faster pace than what I’m used to (they finished at a 9-minute overall pace…outstanding!).
The first few miles were rougher than expected. I didn’t time my bathroom breaks correctly and ended up having to run in pain until mile 4 when I finally found a port a john. This resulted in terrible cramps up through mile 6 or so. These eventually went away, and I breezed through miles 6-13. At some point around mile 7, it started to drizzle and the temperature dropped considerably, which helped out a lot!
At mile 9 near the Dominos factory, Under Armor (the primary sponsors of the race) had a huge water station set up with loud speakers blasting some black eyed peas song – this was a huge boost 🙂 Around the halfway point, I saw my Dad who walked with me for a bit and offered some words of encouragement. It was around this time that my quads and hips began to hurt, so I stretched them out.
By mile 16, I thought I would be prepared for the 5 or so miles of hills that were to come. Well, I wasn’t. I have never had to run up so many consecutive hills in my life! I was mentally kicking myself for not incorporating more hills into my training.
Miles 20-21 was a flat loop around Lake Montebello, what a lovely view! It definitely helped keep my mind off the pain, which at this point had traveled down to the arches of my feet. From this point on, I began stopping at every water break to stretch as much as possible.
By mile 22, I wanted to cry and just walk the rest of the way… until I heard some music coming up ahead. It was “Eye of the Tiger” blasting out a parked car’s speakers… with the owner standing on top of of the car. Not just any ordinary guy, though. He was fully dressed in a tiger costume with a huge smile on his face, pointing to each and every runner and nodding his head in the cheesiest way possible. Let me tell you.. he couldn’t have popped up at a better time. With a smile on my face, I pushed through to the end (with a welcoming downhill from mile 25 through the end) and finished the race.
Hallucinations kicked in around mile 25, when I thought paparazzi was snapping endless photos of me… only to realize that it was the flashing lights atop a cop car 🙂 And speaking of the police… although we ran through some really sketchy parts of the city, I never once felt unsafe, with officers patrolling each and every corner!
While I didn’t beat my goal of 5 hours, I’m just happy I finished (5:24:32). Unfortunately, I missed my time from Marine Corps 2008 by 2.5 minutes. This had me really upset at first, but after a day, I promised to redeem myself in a couple years 🙂