Dear Future Me,
I know your memory isn’t what it used to be (and trust me I know because it isn’t all that great now). I know you are in the habit of writing these letters to your past selves so I thought I would just write this one myself. Maybe it will jar some memories from your fading memory bank.
I am going to be honest from the get go on this one. I was running the Frederick Half Marathon for one reason and one reason only. I wanted a PR in the half marathon and I wanted to break two hours (OK, that two reasons but since my PR last year was 2:00:23 it would take some effort to PR and not break two hours (I sense my future self is shaking his head)). This is child’s play for much of my blog audience, but in 11 previous half marathons it hadn’t happened (mostly by a pretty wide margin).
This time I was well positioned. My weight was below 200, my training had been going well and I did all my race pace runs under 9 minutes with most of that coming under 8:45. Even my trial 10 miler (which turned out to be a trial 9.39 miler) went well and showed I was on-track.
So to avoid having to get up at 3 AM to make the trek to Frederick I spend 90 bucks for a room at the Day’s Inn. About the only glitch was the Day’s Inn had over booked and asked if I would move to another hotel. It turned out to be the Townplace Suites and was MUCH nicer than the Day’s Inn (and Day’s Inn was picking up the difference in price). . I drove up the afternoon before the race to pick up my race packet at the Frederick Fairgrounds (which were more than fair if you ask me).
Step 1 this way
Step 2 that way
I am guess they hoped I could find my car without a step 3
They should have used this guy instead for the steps
After following the instructions for the Maryland Two-Step, I looked around the expo and realized I had forgotten to eat lunch (future self, I hope you actually use the devices in the future to keep from pulling this crap). Fortunately the expo had enough snacking material to hold me over until diner.
I checked into the hotel and got a few stares bringing my foam roller in. Future self, I hope you learned to hide it in a garbage bag.
Foam rolling, further proof runners are freaks (but in a good way?)
The Pig and I went to a Chinese place to pick up some dinner and I spent the rest of the evening doing some yoga, foam rollering, and fighting with the Pig on who would get which side of the bed.
Sunday morning broke and it was a cool crisp morning. I ate breakfast (PB sandwich and a banana in case you are curious) took a quick shower, did a little foam roller action, and packed the car.
I decided on parking at the All Saints Parking garage (I figured I could use all the help I could get) and avoid some of the traffic going in and out of Frederick (BTW it worked) and walked to the Fairgrounds for the start of the race. It was at this point I remembered that I forgot my water bottle. Fortunately I had a back up one, backup drink mix (and water to go with it).
So I got to meet long time follower Stacey,@RunToBeFree10 on Twitter, who was there to pace her Dad in his first half marathon. Follower #15 met! I wish I had more time to actually talk to her, but I needed to do gear check and get into my start position (after the appropriate porta potty stop).
Stacey, The Pig, and Running Lonely. Picture credit to Stacey’s Dad. I’m still kinda amazed he let me that close to his daughter. He obviously doesn’t read the blog.
My game plan for the race was fairly simple. I would go out with the 1:55 group and if I felt good at mile 10 I would punch it and if I didn’t I would pull back (spoiler alert, I didn’t even get that far). The gun when off and we raced off. The first mile felt a bit sluggish (insert snide comment here), but we hit 8:30 at the first mile. I was going what the heck; I go out with a pace group and still go out too fast? Future self, I can only assume you are still doing this, so rest assured your tactical race skills were not better in the past.
The first part of the course is shaded and went through downtown Frederick. There is a slight rise for the 2nd mile and a roller in mile 3. Although these two miles came in where I wanted (8:49 and 8:45) I felt that running with the pace group wasn’t really working for me since I was already sweating fairly heavily and didn’t want to risk a 2 hour half by blowing up in the first half so I let them go.
The next mile clocked in at 8:43 and there was another slow riser running by Frederick High school which slowed my pace further to 8:54. Mile 6 was mostly downhill (8:46) but whenever we were in the sun (which was becoming increasingly often) I could really feel the effects. This is a nice way of saying that sweat was pouring off me like I just climbed out of a dunk tank.
I slowed down for the next two miles hoping to conserve some energy going up the next slow rise (the entire course is 211 ft of elevation gain so it is all relative (or future self, you didn’t climb mountains, so stop pretending when you retell this story). Miles 7 and 8 came in at 9:01 and 9:02. Going back to look at my heart rate data, slowing down didn’t really help, but it did keep me from going over 95% of my max heart rate (always a good thing at mile 7 of a half).
What goes up did come down in mile 9 and I got overly pumped about the downhill and came in at 8:40. It was by this point in the course that there was almost no shade so I started to fade (well that and the going out too fast thing). I pushed mile 10 (8:54) and at that point I tried to pick up the pace some more.
Picking up the pace lasted about a quarter of a mile before I started to feel like I was about to throw up. I know many of you would have pushed this, thrown up anyway and kept chugging along. Me, not so much. I pulled back the pace and started to feel better. Going back to look at the post race data I went over 95% of my heart rate when I started to feel bad (if you are curious why I wasn’t watching this during the race for some reason my Garmin wasn’t displaying it when I checked around mile 2, so I gave up looking). I knew at this point I could run 10 minute miles and still make a PR, so knew I could slow down a little and be OK.
The next two warmish miles were 9:04 and 9:02 which brings us to the last mile.
The last mile has a hill. Not a death-defying one, but at mile 12.5 it was enough of a hill to that you noticed. I fortunately had recovered a bit and was able to get up over and hit the gravel horse track that led to the finish (and pegging my heart rate at 100% in the process). I lumbered along with what resembled a finishing kick (I didn’t really have anything left; I just wanted to make it sound like I tried my best). Then I hit the finish line,
1:56:14. A PR of over 4 minutes in my 12th half.
@Midpackbiped (who finished much faster) was waiting for me in the finishing area to check how I did. I told him I did indeed PR. We did what smart experienced runners do at this point–>We made a beeline for the beer. Frederick is cool in that it gives you coupon for two beers. We grabbed a beer and walked the Fairgrounds and talked about future races we would be doing. We talked about how fast some of the runners in their 70s and 80s were and how we both would be happy to be able to even complete a 5K when we were 85. We both agreed this was a good race and would be trying to put it on our calendar for next year.
Midpackbiped left and I went to grab my bag from gear check. Then I wondered around for a bit. While watching the runners come in, a women in a wheelchair stopped to catch her breath as she wheeled across fairgrounds. She explained that she wasn’t always in a wheelchair and that she didn’t have the arm strength yet to deal with the uneven and gravel terrain. She preemptively said she didn’t want any help and while she rested she talked about the difficulties she was facing. We made small talk for a couple of minutes and she said my shirt was cool (thank you InkNBurn!) and resumed her journey.
So future self, this is the point I want you to remember. You are lucky to be able to run whether you are gunning for PRs or just out for a slow training run. Don’t forget how just freaking lucky you are.
Well, that and just give the pig the right side of the bed, it’s just easier that way.