It was 73 degrees and raining when I woke up at 3:45 a.m. yesterday to get ready for the Frederick Half Marathon. Luckily the rain stopped before the race started. The temps stayed about the same and the humidity dropped a little bit.
I did my usual pre-race prep. Hit the porta-potties three times, jogged a bit to loosen up my legs and stretched out.
Because Frederick was a smaller race (only 3000 people doing the half and 1000 doing the full) there were no corrals. Everyone just lined up at the start.
I had forgotten how much I love smaller races. I didn’t have to wait 20 minutes for my wave to start, I was across the start line only a few minutes after the gun went off, and I never had to bob and weave around people to find a place to run. There was plenty of running room from the start.
Major points to Frederick for that.
The first couple miles took us through downtown Frederick, which was an extremely cute town. Just before mile two we were running along a river and there was a little bit of a breeze. It felt so nice in comparison to the hot and heavy air.
I was running easy in the first two miles and holding an easy 9:40ish pace. I didn’t feel like I was over-exerting myself and I was trying to take it easy.
As the race continued, the miles twisted through lots of developments and housing. There were some pretty houses, and it reminded me of running back home in PA.
The hills and the heat were really starting to get to me though so I was pretty liberal with my walk breaks. I knew if I didn’t take them then I was going to be hurting later in the race.
Even with the walk breaks, I managed to stay on pace to finish in 2:10 until mile 10.
After that it was a big struggle. My legs were hurting, it was so hot and the course was getting boring. At one point we ran through a Wal-Mart parking lot and then it was just nothingness. Lots of open roads with nothing to look at but green. Sure it was pretty, but I just wanted something to look at to take my mind off my poor legs.
The hills on the course probably wouldn’t have bothered me as much had it not been for the heat. I train on a decent amount of hills where I live, but combine with the heat, I was dying. There were times when I stopped to walk up hills because I was running at a slower pace than I was walking.
Mile 11 was brutal. It felt like one big hill and I felt like I was falling apart.
I pulled over to the side of the road, started walking and gave myself a pep talk.
I told myself I needed to pull it together. I was only two miles away from the finish line and heavens know I can run two miles. Even if I had to walk the two miles I was going to be able to finish the race.
When I hit mile 12, I decided it was time to run the rest of the way. I started off nice and slowly. I had just taken my last Gu and so I had a little bit of extra energy. I pushed through. Grabbed some water at an aid station and kept on trucking.
I made the last turn and saw the hill Gina had warned me about. Note to race directors: It’s mean to have a race finish on a huge and long uphill.
I was tripping and stumbling my way up the hill and knew I had to walk again. I was frustrated and annoyed, because I didn’t want to stop running. But I walked faster than I could run.
Finally I got back into the fairgrounds and everyone was saying the finish line was around the corner. Well I couldn’t see it. I looked everywhere and it felt like I had miles to go. I made another turn and still didn’t see it. My legs hurt so much and I just wanted to stop.
But then I finally saw it, and I looked at my watch and realized I could still PR if I pushed it really hard.
So I did. I ran and picked up some speed and my legs were screaming, but I kept pushing.
I crossed the line in 2:12:57. A PR by almost a minute and a half.
I was shaking and trembling when I finished. I took a medal from a volunteer, grabbed a water and collapsed in the grass. (Not collapsed as in needed medical aid, although there were plenty of people that happened to on the course.) I just needed to be off my legs.
I was excited with my PR, but I was also a little upset that I didn’t finish in 2:10. I know I had it in me, I just wasn’t prepared for the heat. I’m sure I’m not the only one who had finish in times ruined by the heat.
I’m confident in my next half, I’ll be able to break the 2:10 mark.
Overall, Frederick was a great race. Although the course was boring at parts, it was extremely well organized. The aid stations had plenty of water and Powerade even though it was so hot out and there was never a huge back up at any of them. At one station they were handing out cookies and gummie bears.
There seemed to be enough porta-potties with lines that moved fairly quickly both at the beginning and on the course. And parking wasn’t really an issue at all. Police directed us to a lot and we were able to get right out after the race. All of the volunteers were friendly and encouraging. There wasn’t a ton of crowd support, but it was still a fun race.
I loved that it was a smaller event. It was a really nice change of pace from the massive races I tend to run.