The Frederick Half Marathon was a blast this weekend. This race is always a good reminder of just how awesome small races are. The event is super low-key, well-organized and a ton of fun.
Tracy, me, Ashleigh and Zach
I did not have the world's best race. In fact, I had one leg problem after another for most of the race and my time suffered because of it. But I still had a blast. Celebrating all my friends' awesome races, made up for the fact that mine wasn't the best.
My morning started bright and early with the hour drive up to Frederick. My friend Zach lives approximately two minutes from me so we carpooled up. We got to the parking lot around 6:15 and only sat in traffic for a few minutes while the parking attendants directed us to a spot.
One thing I love about the Frederick half is just how close you can park to the start/finish area. We were parked literally right across the street from the start line. No parking miles away and taking a shuttle or having a really long walk like at some of the bigger races.
Another thing I love about this race is that there is hardly ever a huge line at the porta-potties until right before the start of the race.
One man line at the porta-potties
We met up with Tracy and Ashleigh before the race start and had a few minutes to kill before lining up at the start.
Because the race is so small, there aren't corrals. So the race director says, "Ready, set, GO!" and then everyone is off. Zach managed to wiggle his way up to the front because he was hoping to break 1:45.
Tracy, Ashleigh and I tried to move closer to the front, but there wasn't much room. We all crossed the start line together and then split up to do our own thing.
The race starts on a slight downhill, so it's easy to go out way too fast. I was trying to reign myself in and I think I did a pretty decent job of it. I felt really good in the first two miles. My legs felt loose and the hills didn't seem so bad.
Around mile three I started having issues with my left calf. It was cramping and throwing off my form and making my hip and IT band hurt. I took a short walk up one of the hills hoping to loosen my calf up. I was not looking forward to running ten more miles with my calf seizing.
The calf thing eventually calmed down and miles 4 and 5 were fairly uneventful. In mile five you run past a really pretty park with a lake. By this point I was hot from the sun beating on my face and was thinking it might be nice to take a quick dip. Instead I kept running and just dumped lots of water over my head at the aid stations.
I wish I could say once the calf cramp went away, I was in the clear, but I wasn't.
Around mile 7 or 8, I had serious thoughts about finding the nearest medical tent because out of no where I started experiencing these sharp, shooting pains in the outside of my left foot. Every time my left foot would hit the ground it felt like the knuckle on my pinky toe was cracking.
That probably should have been a sign that I should have stopped. But I'm stubborn (and an idiot) and thought if I took some time to walk that maybe that pain would ease up. When I started running again, the pain was still there but very dull.
So I walked for a little longer.
Then when I started running again the pain was gone.
I was so excited to finally hit mile 10 because I knew I could finish three more miles and mile 10 took us through some really cute neighborhoods. I was thinking I was over the leg issues and would be home free, and then at mile 10.5 my right calf cramped so bad I had to immediately stop and stretch.
The last three miles were a mix of walking and running and cursing my legs for all the cramps.
I almost laughed when I got the email from the timing company that had my splits. Through 8 miles I averaged 9:38. For the rest of the race I averaged 10:17. How's that for a positive split!
At the end of the race I fell in with the 2:10 pace group. The leaders were motivating and happy, and their good vibes cheered me up.
I ran with them for a little while and started tackling the massive hill at the end of the race. Near the middle of the hill, Zach was waiting for me and ran with me until I turned into the fairgrounds for the finish. Seeing a friendly face at the point in the race was so, so helpful.
I crossed the finish line smiling, not really caring that my race kind of sucked. My official time was 2:09:29.
My legs started cramping as soon as I stopped running. I hobbled through the finishers area, grabbed a water and hustled back out to the course to watch for Tracy.
I only had to wait a few minutes before she was coming up the hill looking strong and still smiling. I ran with her for a bit and then sent her on the way to the finish.
In the end it was a pretty awesome day for everyone.
Zach set a new PR, finishing in 1:44 and change.
Ashleigh also set a new PR finishing in 1:55
Tracy finished her first marathon in an impressive 2:27. (Update: This should actually say half marathon. Tracy kicked butt in her first half marathon this weekend. Sorry that I led you all to believe Tracy was secretly Kenyan or something.)
I wasn't ready for the hills and the sunshine and that got me in the end of the race. I'm bummed that my legs didn't cooperate and I struggled with cramps the whole race. That's never a problem I've had before, and I know I was well-hydrated, so it's kind of a mystery why it happened.
Overall though, I love this race. I loved the new course, I had a great time with my friends and I'm sure I'll be back next year.