I did it! The race went so well. Where to start...
Friday Jenn, James, and I drove up to Alexandria to have dinner and carpool to Baltimore with the parents. Dad made seafood pasta and mom made edamame salad; apparently these are the perfect prerace foods. Then we piled into the CRV and drove to Baltimore. Mom and Dad dropped Jenn and I off at M & T Bank Stadium (home to Baltimore's football team- Baltimore has a football team?). This was the first expo I've ever seen, and it seemed huge to me. We finally found the packet pickup and then went on a second odyssey to find teeshirts. There were a lot of vendors, but also a ton of people so we didn't explore too much.
Saturday morning felt a lot better than most long run mornings because I got to sleep in until 6:00! James spent part of the night in our bed, but he was very well behaved. Such a snuggler. I found coffee, bagel, and cream cheese for breakfast in the hotel cafe. When I asked about whole wheat toast and peanut butter, the waitress said she'd order a lot for next year. Runners can be so predictable.
I got all dressed in my racing attire and walked the quarter mile to the start around 7:00. This means I got to Orioles stadium approximately 4 minutes later, and it was very chilly. I hadn't brought a jacket, gloves, or long pants because I didn't want to check a bag. So what did I do? Go back to the hotel, of course! I joined the family for breakfast, drinking down a very refreshing orange juice. James was practicing pumping his fist in the air while saying "Mama!" Around 7:40 I left again and arrived in a sea of runners all anxiously waiting to start.
A skydiver carrying the American flag landed right before we started. He was shooting red smoke out of his foot, too. I don't know if a gun was supposed to go off, but I didn't hear it. I started conservatively, trying to warm up and get free of the claustrophobic crowd. My legs felt great, but (per usual) I couldn't feel about half of my toes. Oh well. I knew that the first half was going to feel easy and that I had to hold back a little to finish.
Around mile 4, I made a friend who is the reason I ran such a good race. Dave and I were at around the same pace and both run better talking to someone. We ran really well and much faster than I'd expected. Yes, the course was hilly, and at times we slowed down, but mile after mile we chatted on the easy spots and stuck together through the trickier ones. We managed to not get completely separated through the numerous water and Gatorade stops, too. Big accomplishment, in my opinion.
At mile 8 I saw my family! It was so exciting to see them there; I was practically on top of my mom before she spotted me. I was ahead of schedule and they weren't really expecting me yet.
I saw them again at mile 13 after running past Fort McHenry. James was not impressed, but I'll forgive him. Here he is on the overpass that they used to get between the two sightings.
The second half of the course was much hillier and we slowed down quite a bit. Between miles 16 and 20 we pretty much climbed, but miles 20-22 were around a lake. The clear day and wide open water created quite a pretty view; at every point around the lake I could see a constant stream of runners. Lovely.
Miles 21-23 were, sadly, also uphill. Dave's mantra was "don't stop running" and this helped me a lot. I didn't ever stop, not once. Around mile 23 we started the descent back into the Inner Harbor. Dave and I got separated but I kept chugging. The last three miles were fairly solitary; I picked up the pace but it took a lot of concentration. By the end, as I ran through Orioles Stadium towards the football stadium, I could do nothing but run and think about the next step or two. I've never run like that before, and I loved it.
After crossing the finish line (chip time 3:50:31!) I sat down on the ground. I just couldn't move. My shoulder and arm hurt so bad, and I couldn't remember for a second which arm was the heart attack arm. My right arm hurt, so it was okay. I got a medal, a pretty silver blanket that I wore as a skirt and then as a cape, and then I borrowed a spectator's phone to meet up with the family. I found Jenn, James, Mom, Dad, and Susannah (yay for Baltimore friends!) in the kid's fun zone. We stayed around long enough for me to try to stretch and then walked back to the hotel so I could bathe and eat. It was a very slow walk back to the hotel. I shuffled and my mom insisted I wasn't going that slow. I was tired. Nothing hurt besides my gimpy right arm, but I was exhausted.
The race exceeded all of my expectations. I killed my goal and can see 3:40 as a distinct possibility. Having family there cheering for me was amazing as well; it wouldn't have been as much fun without them. Speaking of family, my fans feel that their first attempt at spectating, while fortuitous, could be improved. They have therefore decided that I will run the National Marathon on March 26 in Washington, DC. They won't tell me what they're planning. I know it involves props and bright colors. I think there might be a vuvuzela. We'll see... I can't commit to another marathon right now. In a few weeks it may sound like a great idea. I know I'll do another one someday, but in the Spring? Really? So soon? Right now I'll focus on speeding up my 5k times. I want to run a sub 22:00 5k, and for me that will take a lot of work.
Here's the route according to Garmin: