Remember how I said I wanted to just take it easy during the Baltimore half? Go slow and enjoy the race?
Apparently when I try to go slow and enjoy the race I finish an extremely hilly course just 10 seconds slower than the PR I practically killed myself to set in Philly.
Now while Philly was flat, it was hot.
Baltimore was hilly, but the perfect temperature for running. I guess for me the temperature has more of an effect on my running than the hills.
The first three miles of the race were painful. Starting straight uphill and then continuing to climb with a few dips didn’t really allow me to get into a nice rhythm. My plan was to walk as much as necessary to keep my legs fresh so I could recover from the race quickly. So walk I did.
Somewhere around mile four or five I sort of hit my groove. Sure the hills were still killer, but I was having so much fun. I wasn’t going fast, but I wasn’t really going slow. Those miles flew by.
Next thing I know, I’m climbing one of the hills I so distinctly remember absolutely crushing me in the full marathon four years ago. The climb to get to mile 19 (mile 6 in the half) and the climb to push past that to mile 20 is just brutal. Even though I had far fewer miles on my legs by the time I got to that point this year, it was like I time warped back to four years ago. Man did I struggle up those hills.
But then it was time to run the one and only flat part of this course around Lake Montebello. From here on out everything felt easy. I passed mile 10, cruised past mile 11 and while my legs were tired at the end, I picked it up and pushed hard to the finish.
I crossed the finish line in 2:07:54.
Up until this point, everything about the race was awesome. I thought there was good crowd support, the aid stations were well stocked, there were plenty of police officers blocking off the streets and lots of photographers on the course. Exactly what I expected after a great experience four years ago.
After crossing the finish line everything went to hell in a hand basket. There were way too many finishers and not enough room or volunteers to keep people moving through the finish area. I managed to get my medal and a bottle of water, but food was in a separate area, with a separate line that wrapped around the finish area. It would have taken me 20+ minutes of waiting to get food.
I said screw it and tried to get out of the finisher’s area so I could watch my mom finish the race. The bottleneck near the exit was ridiculous. People were standing around because there was no where to go. My legs were tired, I didn’t want to just stop and wait in line to get to the celebration village. I wanted to keep moving, find a place to stretch and then go find the BF and watch my mom.
In total I think it took me 20 minutes from the time I crossed the finish line until I was able to get out of the finishers area sans food. No other big race that I have ever run has been so disorganized at the finish.
I was sorely disappointed. This was a horrible let down after doing this race four years ago and having none of those finish line problems. The race was smaller then and probably much more manageable.
Word of advice to the Baltimore organizers: If you’re going to let your event continue to grow in size, make sure you have necessary room and volunteers in place to keep it all running smoothly. Runners who just finished 13.1 or 26.2 miles do not want to come to an abrupt stop immediately after crossing the finish line.
Despite our frustrations with the finish area, my mom and I both had a good day. She finished in 2:33, about
11 minutes slower 1:30 slower than her Philly time (RGRMom corrected me. She finished Philly in 2:32, not 2:22 like I originally thought). Not too shabby considering she’d been having hamstring problems ever since Philly.