Saturday, May 21, 2011

Frederick Half Marathon Recap

I'm a little slow getting this recap posted, but it's here now.  Yay!

Friday night I slept very well.  Saturday morning I awoke at 5:00a.  My plan was to leave the house at 6:15a, and I figured an hour and fifteen minutes would be plenty of time to do everything I needed to [spoiler: it was].  I warmed up my pasta, threw a little butter on it, and grabbed a cup of water.  As I was getting dressed, I polished off my food and water.  I checked twice to make sure I had everything, and headed out the door on time.

I was able to park on-site at the Fairgrounds which was great.  I sat in the car and flipped through a few magazines; I had an hour and fifteen minutes until the race start so I had some time to relax.  At 6:45a I took off my longs, tossed them in my after-race bag, and headed up to bag check-in.  On my way up I saw a short line at one of the outdoor building bathrooms and jumped in line.  Not too long later I continued on my way.  I checked my bag, smoothed out my gear, and headed towards the start line.  Since I took my time getting to the start line, the road was crowded and I stood in the Fairgrounds entrance waiting for the start, which happened to be around the pace group I was looking for.  The gun went off right on time and I was at the start line two minutes later.

I made sure to pay close attention to my watch and be careful of my pace.  The start is always exciting - the energy is high, and everyone feels good so it is very easy to go out too fast.  I think that was part of my problem last year.  I knew the course pretty well so I thought of the race in stages:

(1) First leg including Market Street
(2) Carroll Creek wind-around
(3) Friends and family! to Schifferstadt
(4) Schifferstadt loop
(5) East Street to the finish

The first stage went by uneventfully.  I found myself unable to fully relax into my run since there were a lot of people around, so I relaxed as much as I could.  The second leg was "annoying" as I had expected. There were a bunch of turns through neighborhoods as if the race organizers were just trying to "find some miles".  The remainder of the miles were well organized so I can forgive them for a few annoying miles.

As I came out of the annoying miles I was looking forward to seeing my friends and family.  I started moving left so they could see me, but I quickly discovered they would probably be standing on the right side of road based on how the race had been laid out this year (we didn't have the entire road, just the right side).  So, I moved right and smiled and waved as I ran by my adoring fans.  And then it was back to work for another five miles.

As I entered stage four I knew I had about two miles in the loop before I came out for the final two miles.  This is when I caught up with the 2:30 pace group.  I was expecting to finish in 2:30 so I knew I was in good company.  The pacers were fantastic; they were chatty and energetic and I loved it so I stayed with them through the loop.  The undersides of my toes had started to hurt and I found that they felt better if I ran faster, and this group was running just fast enough to relieve the pain.  As we came out of the loop and we approached the eleven mile sign, one of the pacers told everyone that they had had a lot of fun with the group, but if anyone had enough left in the tank, then they would miss us but we should go ahead and take off.  So, I did.

I wanted to leave everything on the course, and I felt great, so I picked up the pace.  Mile eleven went by in 10:36.  Just over halfway through mile 12, I ran by two of my friends/coworkers.  This was on the way to a 9:48 mile and they noticed I was cruising.  I had forgotten about the final hill leading up to the Fairgrounds, but I powered up it (I couldn't slow down or else my feet would hurt again), made the final turn onto the racetrack, and sprinted towards the finish.  I heard someone say "don't let 2:30 show up on the clock" and I made sure it didn't happen.  I crossed at 2:29:59.  And that was when I remembered that it had taken me two minutes to get to the start.  2:27:59.

I had no one waiting for me at the finish so I grabbed my bag, took the moleskin off my feet, put on my longs,  got out of my shoes, mixed and took in my protein drink, and headed for the infield where I grabbed my free "beers" (Michelob Ultra) and an Italian sausage with peppers and onions, for breakfast.  Once I was done relaxing, I picked up my premium shirt and headed towards my car to drop off my bag.  I called Jeff and found out when he and his brother were going to arrive for their 5k run and made arrangements to meet up.  Since the parking area had cleared out, I moved my car closer to the start and met up with the guys.  I watched them race, spent a little more time in the infield while they enjoyed their own beverages, and then we all headed out.

The race was perfect.  The weather cooperated so it was just me against myself and I performed well.  I pulled in mile times of 11:34, 11:36, 11:28, 11:37, 11:38, 11:29, 11:22, 11:27, 11:18, 11:23, 11:37, 10:36, 9:48, and 8:19 for the final 0.1 miles.  Since I didn't have my Garmin last year I don't know what my pacing looked like, but I guarantee it was ugly.  I finished 297/376 in my AG and 1428/3670 for my gender.  This might be the first time I finished in the top 40% of a group.  Yippie!

A body recap to follow.

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