After nearly 2 weeks off, my second run back was going to be a race. Good plan, right?
Because this is a point-to-point race, my mom dropped me off at the beginning of the race so I didn’t have to drive allllll the way downtown just to take a bus allllll the way back out to the suburbs. 4:45am was early enough, I didn’t need to make it 3:45.
The day before the race I received an email from one of my marathon coaches, letting us know that all training group participants were welcomed to use a local PT clinic as a pre-race gathering point – real bathrooms!! woohoo!! It was super nice of LifeStrength Physical Therapy to let us crash there and have a brekkie/fuel spread for us. It made meeting up with running buddies a whole lot easier and made the whole morning a lot less stressful.
About 15 minutes before the race we headed over to the start area and I ran in to one of the women I ran with last year. We all chatted and did our dynamic warmups, then headed up to the starting line.
Naturally, the joggler was there
And then I ran into a local runner (more accurately, he ran into me) who I’ve been chatting with on twitter and instagram for about a year but had never actually met. Smalltimore at its best!
Given that I really hadn’t run in nearly two weeks and my leg was questionable at best, I was pretty nervous through the announcements and the anthem. Luckily, the race started on time without much delay – much less time to worry!
My main goal for this race was getting through it. In one piece. As my PT (and mom, and running buddies, and friends) reminded me on Friday, this isn’t a race for me – it’s just a well-supported training run. No racing.
Tracy, Ivan, Jenni, and I all started together, but Ivan peeled off after about a half mile, as he was planning on doing a run/walk to get through it with his injury. Jenni was chomping at the bit from the get go, and although I could see her for the first mile or so, she pulled away in the second mile. Tracey ran with me the whole time, graciously putting up with my aches and pains and walking.
This race is billed as a downhill race (it is net-downhill), but the first couple of miles are full of uphills – and the first mile is all uphill! I knew this, though, and was well prepared for it.
We ran through the campus of my undergrad alma matter and finally hit the race’s namesake in the 3rd mile and hit a few more hills as we ran through Rolland Park, past the Cathedral, the College of Notre Dame of of Maryland and Loyola University Maryland. The pain I had in my femur after the 20 miler came back around mile three. The pain level held pretty steady, but it was enough to cause me to walk up a few hills (*tear*) and walk through every water stop.
As we approached Johns Hopkins University’s main campus, the route turns decidedly more urban. The road turns to the right as you leave Rolland Park and enter Homeland, which gives you your first glimpse of the Baltimore skyline – a view you keep the entire way downtown. It’s easily one of my favorite views in Baltimore.
I’ve honestly never seen so many cops on a race course as I did on this one – most of the intersections had 2-3 officers holding traffic for us. It’s been a rough year for officers in Baltimore (and around the country, really), so I made sure to thank as many as I could. Most of the cars they had stopped were being respectful and patient, but in certain areas they were getting mouthy with the officers. Maybe if they ran with us they’d be a bit more chilled out 😉 And they just might’ve gotten to their destination quicker…
It’s really amazing that this race goes on as it really does muck up one of Baltimore’s main arteries. We ran in the southbound lanes, allowing traffic to flow northbound, but cross-traffic was held up for quite a while as the pack spread out throughout the course of the run. It really says a lot about Charm City Run and Charm City that we get the opportunity to run down such a scenic route.
After wiping out on Charles Street during the St. Patrick’s Day 5k, I was a bit paranoid about tripping on the road again – unfortunately, this meant that I spent more time looking at the road than I did looking at the gorgeous scenery (seriously, I barely even remember running past the Washington Monument).
Once we cleared the spot where I tripped in March, I was able to relax a bit. We ran through downtown and into the Federal Hill neighborhood, where we did a u-turn and headed back towards the Inner Harbor. The end was near! As we approached the finish, we veered off the road and onto the promenade (another known trip risk for me!), past Harbor Place and the World Trade Center, before heading back onto the road for the final approach. One of our coaches was there cheering us on, which helped take my mind off of the pain for a moment. One more turn and we were home free!
My goal for the race was to finish around 2:15 – which would mean I kept a comfortable pace, consistent with recent long runs. Tracey and I finished together in 2:13:35. Nearly perfect. 🙂
It felt weird to not race a race, but I knew why I was there. I got through it, without letting the rust legs and pain stop me. Jenni ended up finishing a few minutes before us, but we never saw Ivan again.
To top off a great race, they had a party for us at Power Plant Live, with a live band, boxed lunches (that were actually pretty good!), and free beer for those who wished to partake.
Despite being in pain for the rest of the weekend, I’m calling this race a success. I made it through the run and through the pain. I kept a good pace throughout and, other than the left thigh, felt pretty good.
But I’ll find out just how much of a success this truly was when I meet with the orthopedist tomorrow morning. I’m hoping to get an MRI to rule out (I hope, I pray) a femoral stress fracture. Keep your fingers crossed for me!!