12 Miles isn’t a Half Marathon- Baltimore Run Fest 13.1- October 19, 2019
The day after I finished the Charles Street 12 a friend said “how about we run the Baltimore Half Marathon?” I paused and thought then reached out to my friend Suzy Goodwin (She has an amazing Podcast. If you don’t know her you should!! http://runliftmompod.com). In addition to being a friend, she’s my go to for my running questions among other things! The question this time: “is seven weeks between big races too soon?? Should I run a half in October?” The resounding response: “Absolutely!” That was all I needed to hear.
The plan: A reverse taper. Basically the week after the Charles Street 12 I would have a week of active recovery. What does that mean?? It means I didn’t run for a few days- four to be exact but I continued with my training sessions twice that week. The following week I picked up with my running. I ran three miles a few times that week, then I took my ten week plan and backed into it from the October 19 race date. And the training continued. As the mileage increased I started to have some serious right hip pain. I worked with the trainer and we determined that my hamstrings are VERY tight. We continue to work on the hamstrings, foam rolling and stretching.
Despite the 12 mile run just weeks before this race was different. It was a huge running festival with a 5K, Half Marathon, Marathon and Relay. There were going to be thousands of runners. So it was a BIG DEAL. The unknown in regards to logistics makes me nervous. So my first big race made me full of nerves. We decided that rather than get everyone up crazy early on race day we would stay down town in Baltimore at a hotel right near the start of the race. So we packed up our two boys ages 4 and 6 and our mini-Goldendoodle, Ruby and turned race day into being tourists in our own city. Earlier in the day I ventured down town with my oldest to go to the Expo. We were both excited and took in all the sights and sounds. I got my t-shirt, bib, along with a few extra goodies along the way! Yes, I stocked up on Honey Stingers and some race specific Pandora.
That night we went down before dinner. Got settled…yes everyone and the dog. The boys thought it was amazing to stay in a hotel so close to home. We enjoyed an early dinner and went to bed early too. But I slept TERRIBLY. Much of it was nervousness. Much of it was a dog who was used to traveling years ago and isn’t used to hearing sounds during the night that are part of staying in a hotel. But the major plus was waking up and being able to just be at the start of the race. You could literally see it from our hotel.
Did you race if you didn’t do a flat lay??? The weather in Maryland can be unpredictable in October. Let’s be real, it is always unpredictable. I had originally planned to wear shorts but then the temperature was such that it was going to be in the forties so I switched to capri pants. Again, after consulting my good friend Suzy when I had a wardrobe panic moment. So here you see some of my running favorites. My go to running gear is from Zyia Active (https://www.myzyia.com/KELLYBLAVATT/) Stay tuned for a dedicated blog post all about my love of Zyia and why I became a rep. But you can see I went with capri running tights, a supportive sports bra, tank and a head band. You’ll also see I wore a “throw down” long sleeve shirt at the start of the race that I quickly discarded.
The tricky thing for me for race morning was the start time. I’m a rise with the sun or before for the sun and run kind of runner as I try to get my run done before the boys are even awake. With the other races happening that weekend the Half Marathon didn’t go off until 10:00 AM. I ate my normal pre-run meal which at the time consisted of Kind Peanut Butter Bar and a banana along with some water but worried about how the later start would change my performance.
The time came to head to the start of the race. As you can see it was a beautiful sunny day. It was cool, but as I would quickly learn not quite as cool as I thought it was going to be. My husband and boys walked me to the starting line. At that point there were races still going on around as. The half marathon would meet up with the marathon and marathoners were coming through the streets surrounding the start. So my support team wished me well and went for their own walk and to occupy themselves while they waited for my return. As has happened with every race I’ve ever run, I then had to go to the bathroom again, despite having just gone. The line for the porta potties was ABSURD. So I ran back to the hotel and used the restrooms there. Before I knew it, it was go time!
Running and racing is just as much mental as it is physical. If you are like me and run by yourself (I actually enjoy it!) you have A LOT of time to think and talk to yourself. You also have the ability to get into your head. I had told my trainer my goal was for a sub two hour half. Based upon my time at the Charles Street 12 just seven weeks before he wasn’t so confident that was a realistic goal. I knew my average mile had to be less than 9:20. I also knew that I had to consistently keep that pace. I was also having serious mom guilt. I had packed up my family for a night away from home. They were walking around keeping themselves occupied so that I could run 13.1 miles…for fun. I didn’t want to disappoint them. Really, I wasn’t disappointing them. They could care less what time I finished, it was me that would be disappointed. Right before they went off to explore I joked with my husband…you know they are going to have someone here to engrave your medal with your time. “You should do it,” he said. My response…”only if it’s a sub 2 hour time.” That’s just to give you some sense of the self imposed pressure.
But I digressed. The race was hillier than expected. And the temperatures warmed up more than expected as well. It was still far from hot. But I felt good. In the final weeks of training I had been dealing with some serious hip pain. Fortunately the taper time allowed it to feel better and I was feeling good during the race. Some runners can run by feel- some need to monitor their watch. I fall into the monitor my watch camp. With each passing mile split, I knew I was still on target for a sub-two hour finish. But I also knew not to count my chickens before they hatched. I kept pounding the pavement, hydrating as best I could at the water stops, popping my Honey Stinger Chews every four to five miles. I also kept looking around to see how the City had come out to support the runners. There were so many supporters with signs, water and spirit willing us on. There were also the messages from family and friends that were popping up on my watch cheering me on what sometimes felt like a silly endeavor.
The night before when we drove down to the hotel we saw a sign for Mile 12. Immediately following the mile marker was a huge hill. As we drove up it all I could think was oh man, that’s not going to be fun to run. But I was wrong, when I got to mile 12 I felt like I still had energy to give and I was ready to finish strong. Don’t get me wrong, I was hot and tired but I was ready to run hard and finish strong.
I’m not sure if you read my race recap on the Charles Street 12, but when I finished that race I was early and no one was really ready for me. So once I got up that monster hill following Mile Marker 12 I wiggled my cell phone out of my tights pocket and called my hubby’s cell. He answered and was clearly worried. “where are you?” Me: “I just passed mile marker 12, get ready to cheer me in.” You realize that it wasn’t so much for me that I needed to the cheering, as much as I knew the boys were anxiously waiting and had been patiently waiting that whole time. I also knew it was going to be much more crowded and I might not be able to spot them. So I wanted them to know I was on my way.
After the call, I looked at my watch, saw the time and then I just ran. I ran hard. I ran with all that I had and I finished strong. My final mile was forty seconds to a minute faster than every other mile of the race I worked hard for and I wanted that sub 2 hour time and I was going to get it.
The finish line came in sight. I tried so hard to find my cheering squad. While I didn’t see them, I knew they were there. And you know what- they did see me and cheer me on to a 1:58:18 finish.
There was a holding area just for runners after you finished. You got your medal, some water and fruit. I quickly got my medal, banana and water. The plan was for Jeff and the boys to meet me right outside the running holding area. I waited, enjoying my water and banana then I saw them. The boys running towards me yelling “Mommy, you did it!” While I was certainly proud of my race, I was so proud that they were there to see me do it and support me. To think I had suggested just going myself was crazy. We’ve now made running a family event!
By nature of it being my first half marathon it was a personal record (PR). But since I also beat my goal time I felt the need to ring the bell. You could not wipe that smile off my face!! So yes, I most definitely got my medal engraved.
So how did the numbers play out for overall results:
- There were 6903 runners in the half marathon. I finished 1378/6903.
- There were 3724 female runners. I finished 449/3724.
- There were 527 runners in my age category (35-39) I finished 60/527.
Race post script:
We went to a friends house for a party after the race. Yes, home, showered and party. That’s the way I roll. At the party I was chatting with a gentleman who said you will run a marathon. You’ll do a few more half marathons but then you’ll do a full marathon. Make sure you select which one carefully. Throughout the race when we met up with the marathoners all I kept thinking to myself was “I’m never going to run a marathon.” But wait just a second, I certainly would have never thought that I would run a half marathon, so maybe never say never?? More to come!