The title says it all. I almost didn’t even write a recap of this race because I don’t really want to re-live it, but it’s something to learn from and something to remind me, yet again, that not all runs are good runs and that you don’t need to be the fastest to be a runner.
I mentally wasn’t in this race from the start. I don’t think going in with a nonchalant attitude helped at all either, but I found myself just making excuses for my poor training rather than just sucking it up and pushing through. This race showed me a few things:
- Don’t push your pace the first few miles when your training runs were much slower.
- Mentality is everything.
- Hills are the worst.
- Training right makes a huge difference – for me.
- I still struggle with the fact that I’m a slow runner rather than embracing that I’m even out there running the race.
I ate my typical breakfast of a bagel with peanut butter. And I had half a bottle of water with Vega Pre-Workout about 25 minutes before the start. The race didn’t start until 9:45 which was annoying. All of my training runs were done in the 6am or 7am hours. I met up with my PT school classmates prior to the race and watched and cheered the marathoners and wheelchair athletes as they passed by.
Baltimore is known for it’s hills. I knew this. It starts out uphill then has a few downhill and flat portions before it gets in to some more rolling hills. None of them were incredibly big hills but it was just overall a net uphill race.
I went out way too fast. All of my training runs were at a slow, easy pace. My first 2 miles were about a minute and a half faster pace than my training runs. I was feeling fine, so I just kept going.
I wasn’t sure if I could continue that pace so I slowed it down. I let the downhills just take me and used that as a “rest” and I kept quick feet and upright posture on the uphills to conserve energy. I took in 2 Sports Beans around mile 3.5 – that’s typically when I would get in to a groove on training runs and it’s worked in the past to start my fuel around then, then again every 2 miles or so.
I slowed down and started cursing myself for going out too fast. If you look at the map, Mile 7 is when we get to Lake Montebello. This was by far my least favorite part of the race. I hit a wall, my hip started to bother me which was unusual, and you are just staring at the thousands of people that are on the other side of the lake a mile ahead of you. This is where I walked for the first time. I stepped to the side and tried to get my hip to loosen up then pushed through to the water station halfway through the lake. I walked through it and took in Gatorade and tried to mentally get back in to it. For the first time in any race, I actually felt as if I was going to throw up.
My slowest and the most walking I’ve ever done in a race. I actually pulled my phone out and texted my roommate to tell her I couldn’t do it. I was so upset with myself. She gave me motivation and told me to get back on track and just keep moving. I didn’t want to. I was being stubborn and knew this was going to be my slowest race ever. I saw one of my classmates (boyfriend of one of girls running), told him I was dying, and he just told me to keep pushing.
I knew that I just needed to get to Mile 10. From Mile 10, you make one turn and its all down hill from there – literally. I told myself I needed to finish strong – I took in some more Gatorade at one point and ate a few more beans.
It’s all downhill. There’s people lining the streets cheering for you. I wasn’t stopping anymore and I just kept pushing through. Beyonce coming on shuffle didn’t hurt either.
Once I saw Camden Yards, I knew I was so close and just needed to keep going. The final half mile we actually ran through Camden Yards and then across the street to Raven’s Walk which leads to M&T Bank Stadium. I was disappointed when I saw the time at the finish line. I knew it could have been worse, but I also knew it was my worst time out of my 4 half marathons I’ve done.
I felt miserable afterwards. I made my way through to get my medal, a “blanket”, and food – which was lacking. My body was just moving at this point and I didn’t really take in anything that was happening. The bagels were all hard, so I grabbed a banana, a granola bar and a bag of potato chips. I was freezing and once I got out of the crowds, I plopped down on the ground with no intention of moving. I wanted to find my friends but my hands were so cold and my phone was really hard to use at that point. I eventually decided that I needed to just go to my car and get out of my wet clothes – so I skipped meeting up with my friends. I was so disappointed at this point anyways that I didn’t really want to talk to anyone.
Maybe I was being over dramatic about how upset I was after this race. I cried on my drive home back to Philly. I just was disappointed at how I went out too quickly and completely hit a wall. I was upset at my time – even though a 2:28 finish I know is something that I shouldn’t be upset about, particularly given my all-over-the-place training. My emotions were just all over the place.
I have a really hard time accepting that I’m just not a fast runner. I feel like I’ve written about this so many times before and every time I say that I’m working on it. And yes, some days are better than others. But sometimes I just have a hard time with it. It also makes me really mad when people can just go out there and bust out a 2:00 half after not training whatsoever. It pisses me off, if I’m being completely honest. Because I bust my ass training, I dream of a 2:00 finish (2:05 is my PR), I try to do everything right, and I still just can’t run fast.
I know that everyone’s body is just different. Damn you, slow twitch muscle fibers. And I know that I shouldn’t compare myself to anyone but myself. But I just have a really hard time doing that. And this race was just a bit of a reality check I guess.
Maybe I need to change something in my training. Maybe I need to step away from running for a bit (that’s the plan right now, I miss lifting weights!)
So there ya have it. My official finish time was 2:28:26. An 11:20 pace. Half marathon number 4 is in the books, and I’m already looking onward to the next one so that I can just improve.
Next races that I have in my mind: Broad Street 10 Miler; Cherry Blossom 10 Miler; Spring Half?