Run Doodle Run

The long road to 26.2


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Winter Training

Training starts up again this weekend!!! šŸ˜€

#thatisall #justneededtoshare 

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Foggy Run

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Sometimes quiet solitude is exactly what one needs.

Despite the fog and, later, chilly rain, it was an unseasonably warm night – perfect for a track workout. As soon as I got home from work, I changed and ran right back out the door – it was one of those times where I just felt like I needed to run. No reason other than it was too perfect out to pass up a run.

I spent half an hour running by myself in the dark, focusing on my form, and only being interrupted by the sounds of my breathing, my feet skimming along the rubber track, rush hour traffic barely crawling along the highway next to the track, and the occasional fire engine off in the distance. It was exactly the kind of run I needed.


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Race Report: Y Turkey Trot

Hello again! I’ve been very quiet lately, but I’ve been keeping up with my running a bit. Every weekend but one since the marathon I’ve been meeting up with some of my summer training partners for an easy 5 mile run, and I’m finally starting to get back into the cross training and strength.

With yesterday being Thanksgiving, that obviously meant one thing – Turkey Trot time! Again this year I ran the local YMCA’s 5k, which my father’s Rotary club sponsored. My mom was going to run it with me this year, but her running was so badass this summer that she ended up on crutches. šŸ˜£

It was a rather perfect morning for a race – sunny and chilly but still warm for the season.

Having been in long-distance mode for a while, I wasn’t sure what to expect for this race. I wanted to go for a PR, but realize I haven’t run fast in a while and I was still unsure as to how my knee would react to the quick pace. But, I had nothing to lose for trying!

I lined up pretty close to the beginning again this year, to hopefully avoid many of the walkers, and I think I did a pretty good job with it!

There was a bit of bobbing and weaving, but all in all it wasn’t too bad. I was more concerned about not tripping on the potholes than dodging other runners/walkers. The majority of the first mile is downhill. Normally downhills aren’t exactly my forte, but I had an awesome first mile – 8:33! Whoa! Well, I may have uttered another four letter word, but you know…

Nearly all of the second mile is uphill. There’s one big hill with the rest just a steady, slight uphill – just enough to remind me that it’s been a while since I last ran hills! 9:22.

I was getting a little tired and overheated by the third mile, but I reminded myself that I just ran 26.2 miles a few weeks ago – I can definitely suck it up for one more hard mile! 9:10.

The last bit of the course brought us back around the to the beginning of the course and back into the Y’s campus for an easy finish.

I had hoped for a PR, but like I mentioned earlier, wasn’t too set on it. So imagine my surprise when I looked at my Garmin and saw 28:10!! Ahhh!!!

You know what was even better? Seeing the official results printout inside the gym – and seeing 28:07 next to my name!!!! Woo!!! I truly didn’t think I had that in me. I would’ve been thrilled with 29:xx.

I finished 464 out of 2512 and 36th in my age group (out of 263). Holy moley!

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I’d say it was a good way to start off the holiday!

How was your Thanksgiving? Did you run a Turkey Trot? Or just get out for a few miles on your own?Ā 

 


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Sorry! I’ve Been a Bad Blogger Lately…

So I know last time I posted I promised a post later that week… and well, I haven’t exactly delivered. I’m not ignoring you all! I promise!!

Life has been very busy lately – three days after the marathon I settled on my new place. I was supposed to take possession that Friday evening, but got a call from the realtor 26 hours before then and found out that the previous owner was out ahead of schedule! So I have been very busy with the new place since then. Cleaning, cleaning, and cleaning some more (not that the previous owner was messy, but with my asthma I’m just super anal about removing other people’s dust/filth). Painters, movers, trying to make it feel like home. Searching for furniture because I have very little and it looks a little spartan in here. You know, all the good stuff that comes with moving.

Hopefully in the next week or two things will have calmed down enough for me to have enough time to properly take care of my blog again šŸ™‚


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Race Report: The Baltimore Marathon!!!

Fair warning – this isĀ going to be a longĀ one

I am the girl who used to make up excuses to get out of gym class. I was the girl who barely finished the mile in gym class. I was the girl who was never an athlete.

But I’m also the girl who always admired runners and wanted to be a runner. I just didn’t know how to start.

Nine years ago this upcoming Wednesday, I ran my first race – a 5k. It kicked my ass. But I loved it. And I loved the runners. I had never been around a more happy, encouraging, and inspiring group of people in my life.

At the 2008 Baltimore Running Festival, where I was running the 5k, someone put a bug in my ear – that anyone who can run a 5k can run a marathon. I didn’t say it out loud, but I had decided right then and there, before I even ran my second-ever 5k, that I would run a marathon some day.

Seven years and six days later, that day is here.

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After four long months of early Friday nights and even earlier Saturday mornings, grueling Tuesday nights, missed outings and social events, dozens of PT sessions, physically – and mentally – painful injuries, and over 500 miles, it was finally here. Marathon week.

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All week long I have been bouncing around, smiling like an idiot, super excited that it was almost showtime. As soon as our 8 mile long run was over last weekend, race day just couldn’t get here fast enough.

Tuesday I saw my orthopedist for a second cortisone shot. My bursitis had been acting up again, and she and the PT agreed that it would be best just to get it. I’d be hurting enough from running 26.2 miles – I didn’t need to go in with existing pain if there was a way to mitigate it. Tuesday night was also my last run.

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Thursday I went down to Ravens Stadium to pick up my packet and check out the expo. I’ve got to say, it was a little lacklusterĀ this year. The official race gear wasn’t nearly as greatĀ as it usually is, and the vendors just didn’t seem as interesting. It’s always hard when the expo is at the stadium,Ā though, because the set-up just isn’t conducive to browsing – it’s conducive to frenetically rushing through.

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After the expo I had my (hopefully) last PT session. She taped me up, set me up on the PENS machine for a bit, gave me some last words of advice, and I was on my way.

Friday I found our that I was quoted in aĀ Baltimore Sun article about the Baltimore Running Festival! And then I went down to DC to see a friend’s husband be sworn in as US Ambassador – and broke nearly every pre-race rule I have. Sleep well the night before the night before the race? Nope. I woke up at 3:28am. You know, just because. Comfy shoes all day? Nope. I wore high heels. Take it easy and stay off your feet? Nope. I spent 5 hours in commute and then walked around DC. Eat small, carb-dense snacks throughout the day? Nope. Had a steak lunch at 2:30pm – but it did have rice. Small win. Avoid alcohol? Nope. Had champagne at the ceremony. Have my usual salmon and sushi-rice dinner? I was so stuffed from lunch I only had the rice. Despite all of those deviations, it was totally worth it to see them. And, you know, to see witness somethingĀ so amazingly important, not only for them, but for our country.

It took me nearly three hours to get home and I could’ve used a few extra hours of daylight to get ready for the race. Once (most) of my stuff was together, I went to bed early – I had an early wake-up call the next day!

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Every year my training group rents out Pickles Pub, a bar right at the marathon start line, which is a fantastic location! The bathrooms leave a bit to be desired, but at least they’re not freezing cold porta-pots. We chatted a bit while doing a last minute check of our stuff, and before we knew it, it was time to do a group photo and head out to the start!

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Getting ready for a chilly morning! Gloves, arm warmers, and a throw-away fleece…

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Charm City Run’s Marathoners (well, those that didn’t get cut off)

It was absolutely surreal standing at the start of a marathon! My usual group of girls – Tracy, Jennie, Anita, and Rebecca – and I planned on running together as much as possible. Somehow the group deemed me the pacer – no pressure!! And because Anita had enough energy for three runners, I deemed her the group cheerleader. We were all bundles of nerves and boundless energy, bouncing around and getting teary-eyed, all at the same time.

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I found Waldo – can you??

After the National Anthem, we were off! Ahhh!! It’s really happening!!! We’re running a marathon!!!

Last minute high fives!

Last minute high fives!

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The first three miles are up-hill, but barely seemed like it! It was amazing – unlike a most races where there’s the initial surge of people clearly going out too fast, that didn’t seem to happen at the marathon. Throughout that initial section, there were many people out, some still in their PJs, clutching their coffee, cheering us on!

After about a mile and a half the gloves came off, but I was sure glad I had the arm warmers! It was chilly, at 52, but not nearly as cold as they had forecasted (mid-30s). At 3 1/2 miles we turned into the Maryland Zoo – such a great part of the course! The Ravens’ ravens, Rise and Conquer, were out to greet us, as was a Kookaburra (!!) and several penguins! A number of people stopped to take photos with them, but we were on a mission!Ā It was our first taste of downhill, too.

Before we knew it, we were leaving to zoo and heading into Druid Hill Park and onward to Johns Hopkins!

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We ran the first few miles a bit faster than intended, but allowed it to happen, taking advantage of the downhills; we weren’t so far ahead that we’d pay for it later. It felt like cruising pace, not like we were pushing it. No worries.

The first relay exchange was at Hopkins – as was Rebecca’s family! She ran off to give her husband and daughter a hug, while I helped myself to a munchkin (Thanks, Dunkin Donuts!) šŸ™‚ That was the best damn munchkin ever….

Just past Hopkins, a guy behind us tripped and fell. Having been in the exact same position before, I ran over to help him – as did several others. It was great to see so many people stopping their races to help get him up and make sure he was okay. The spirit of the marathon was alive and well!

The next 3 1/2Ā miles took usĀ downhill, heading right past the half marathon start at the Harbor, and onto the flat section of the course. Along the way we saw Tracy’s family and Anita’s friend! It was so great to see the support! We then ran past the second relay exchange, aiming for Under Armour’s World Headquarters – but then we saw the holy grail: porta-pots with no line! So we all took a quick pit-stop. It cost us a few minutes, but it was completely worth it. We were comfortable and our legs felt astonishingly fresh. We then continued on to Domino Sugars and UA and headed back to the Inner Harbor. On the return trip we passed the amazing Sid Busch! Obviously we had to cheer and yell for him.

For those who don’t know, SidĀ runs races nearly every weekend in honor of fallen soldiers. Baltimore is his 200th marathon! And Baltimore truly rolled out the red carpet for him, bringing in seven relay teams to help pace him to the end! I’ll write an entire post about him later this week.

Before we knew it, we were at the half way point! It went by so fast! My parents were there cheering for us and Jennie’s husband had a fresh camelbak for her.

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We were a few minutes off pace, because of the pit stop, but it was okay. Nothing terribly concerning. Onward!

We continued on towards Harbor East, tip-toeing over the precarious cobblestones at Katyn Circle, then ran through Fells Point and Canton. At this point we knew the flat part of the course was quickly fading. We’ve all run the Baltimore Half before – we knew what was awaiting us when we turned left off of Boston Street.

A funny thing happened after we turned left – we started passing people. Slowly at first, but then we began passing more and more people. Huh.

The number of spectators picked up, too, with throngs of loud, cheering fans lining the streets near Patterson Park, where the half and full marathon courses merge. It was just the kind of energy we needed at mile 16!

This section of course has been called Baltimore’s Heartbreak Hill – a ruthless, nearly constant uphill from mile 16 to 20. But we persisted, calling on all of those hills we ran this summer. Talk had all but ceased by this point as we put our heads down and pushed up the hills, weaving through tired walkers, marveling at the relative ease with which we tackled them, compared to previous years. We breathed a sign of relief anytime the hills flattened out, while still fully aware of the even steeper hill that laid beyond.

The final – and worst- hill of this section was the hill from the awkward u-turn at Sinclair Lane up to Clifton Park. It’s mile 19. You’ve just run 3+ miles of nearly up-hill road. And if you’re like most people training for a marathon, you’re coming up on the distance of your longest training run. Clifton’s hill is particularly steep and is made more challenging by the relay exchange you have to navigate. And then just when you think the hill has peaked – you turn a corner and it goes up some more!

But shortly beyond the apex of torture, you are rewarded with 1.3 flat miles around Lake Montebello. Noe most people would relish in this flat terrain, but we all groaned. None of us enjoy flat courses. And the lake is so big that the exit seems to pull even further away, no matter how fast you run. Just as we turned the corner to run around the lake, we noticed something – we had caught up to the 5-hour pace group! They must’ve passed us while we had our pit stop. We followed them for a short while, but realized they were running a 10:45 pace – something which was not realistic for us to continue while we extended our longest-ever run with each step. We very, very slowly pulled back, but then passed them at the water stop. For the next mile or so we’d continue to leap-frog them.

After the long, tortuous road around the lake, we were rewarded with more hills! Many people erroneously believe thatĀ 33rd Street is flat; it is anything but. The hills are nothing like those that we just conquered, but they’re relentless and punishing on your tired legs.

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In the past Jennie has had some issues with nutrition on the run, so I began to remind (quite frankly, pester) her to keep on top of it at this point. I had no intentions of explaining to her husband why she, in her hypoglycemic confusion thought it would be a good idea to go hug a bus at mile 24.

We were all tired and aching at this point, but we just kept pushing. The November Project and Back On My Feet had amazing support at their water stops which helped so much – but only for so long. Each step caused my feet to hurt even more, but I kept going because it was the only option.

I quite frankly don’t remember much of the last few miles because I was staring at the ground – partly to make sure I wouldn’t trip and lose momentum, and partly because I was afraid to look up and see how much further I had to go.

Tracy and Jennie started pulling away from me a little bit, but I managed to catch up with them every time. We wound our way through Charles Village, past the Eye of the Tiger folks, back to Hopkins, and then, finally, made The Turn – the turn back down south, the turn that meant we had only 5k to go. The turn that meant the end was within our grasp.

There was only one more hurdle in our way – the Howard Street bridge. When I first ran (walked, really) the Baltimore Half in 2009, this bridge was my Everest. I barely made it 100 feet up before I had to walk – and it seemed to never end. It looked like a scene from The Walking Dead. But this year? This year, that son of a bitch was going down. Heads down, one foot in front of the other – and it barely even felt like a hill. I guess all those torturous sessions at Oregon Ridge paid off šŸ™‚

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We kept running, weaving through the runners. At one point I yelled “coming through” to warn two walkers I was coming through the space between them (because, you know, at mile 24.5, weaving isn’t an option unless there are literally no other options), only to realize it came out much louder, and much more forcefully than intended. In the next breath, I apologized, also surprisingly loudly – they giggled and all was good.

When we made the final turn onto Eutaw Street, I knew it was real. This marathon was happening. Every time I thought about that, I got a little choked up – and then had to take a deep breath and focus on the moment so my throat wouldn’t close off. I continued to put one foot in front of the other, getting a little bit faster with each passing block, continuing to weave in and out of walkers. As we got closer, Jennie found another gear and was racing for the finish line! She’s usually a fair bit faster than me in the shorter distances (like 2-3 minutes faster in the 5k!), but I’m usually the faster one at long distances. I don’t know where it came from, but she was off and running! With about a mile left, I had lost her in the crowd. Tracy was just up ahead of me.

I don’t remember much of this part of the course. I remember hearing the cheering, I remember someone yelling “you all inspire me!!”, and I remember seeing Camden Yards come closer and closer. I remember staring at my Garmin, realizing thatĀ sub-5 was within my grasp. I remember thinking that I can go faster. So I did.

I remember crossing the photo mat at Camden Street, and not even caring – I had to focus on putting one foot in front of the other. I do remember, however, making myself look up at the crowds leading into the spine and take in that final stretch running through Camden Yards. I remember hearing the crowds on the other side of the stadium echoing through, and then bellowing as I exited the spine. I remember scanning the crowds, seeing all of them smiling and cheering for us. I remember crossing Lee Street and seeing the finish line up ahead. I remember pushing with everything I had. I remember thinking, in that ubiquitous Kona Ironman announcer voice, “STEPHANIE CHURCHILL – YOU ARE A MARATHONER!” as I crossed the finish line. And I remember screaming as loud as I could out of jubilationĀ and relief. And I remember breaking down when I realized what I had just accomplished.

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I FINISHED A MARATHON.

I finished a marathon in UNDERĀ 5 HOURS!!!!!

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I finished a marathon with a brutally hilly second half in under 5 hours with NEGATIVE SPLITS!!!

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Jennie was just beyond the finish line – I don’t remember what we said, but I remember celebrating our triumph before getting our spaceĀ blankets – and our massive MARATHONER medals!

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During the race I thought I’d have to stop at the med tent and get ice for my knee, but I realized I felt surprisingly good. I ached, and my muscles were tired, but I didn’t hurt. The wall was never a consideration. It never taunted me. I ran 26.2 miles and felt great. Relatively speaking, of course. šŸ˜‰

The only spot of tarnish on an otherwise outstanding day was after the race. Whoever was “guarding” the finish line area refused to let people cross the finish line. Throughout the previous 26.1 miles, people could cross the course. But here they refused to let my parents, along with many others who had warm, dry clothes for their runners, cross the course at all – instead, telling them to walk around the entire stadium complex. Even though by the time I finished, there were frequent gaps through which spectators could cross. I’m sure some of it is governed by fear of a Boston-type incident, but fear ought not cripple life. I faced a similar problem last year – as an injured runner, who could barely walk, with multiple icepacks clearly strapped to my legs – when they dared to tell me to walk around the entire stadium complex to get to my car and my dry clothes. I told them off in words I never in my wildest dreams thought I’d utter to a police officer and pushed through anyway. I don’t know who was preventing spectators from crossing this year, and quite frankly I don’t care. But thankfully someone finally had an epiphany to finally let my parents, and the others, through. It’s a damn good thing, too, because it was an incredibly windy, cold day – far too cold to be standing around in cold, wet clothes after running 26.2 miles, and without family to celebrate with. I’m a runner – I get that we don’t need people darting across the course, especially at the finish line. But as a runner, I also want to be able to have my friends and/or family celebrate with me at the finish. It’s awful when such a great accomplishment and (what should have been) such an amazing celebration was sullied by someone on a power trip.

Once they got through I was finally able to get out of my wet shirt and put on some toasty warm clothes and wander around the celebration village. We checked out the official gear shop – theyĀ FINALLY had a cute 26.2 shirt! My wonderful parents got it for me, and then we went over to the Under Armour tent – WHICH HAD FOAM ROLLERS!!! I have never been so happy in my life to see these little nubby torture devices. Finally, I got my medal engraved with my time. I never pay for engraving, but this was my first marathon. I’ll never have another first marathon. I had to.

Horribly unflattering photo, but oh man were my hammies and glutes so ridiculously happy!

Horribly, horribly unflattering photo, but oh man were my hammies and glutes so ridiculously happy!

When I got home, I was amazed at just how good I felt. The stairs that I had been dreading just to get to the shower? Piece of cake. Seriously.

My expectation:

My reality:

Earned.

Earned.

I had such a blast running my first marathon! I was so fortunate to have such amazing coaches, who knew exactly what they were doing, a PT who understands runners and seriously works magic, an ortho who gets athletes and knows what he’s doing, truly amazing training partners who made this entire process such a joy that I looked forward to every single day, and parents who supported me 100% – even when they quietly questioned my sanity when I couldn’t stand up but was already planning my next long run. Without this perfect storm of support, I may have still accomplished my goal(s), but the journey wouldn’t have been nearly as enjoyable.

As I sit here, nearly 36 hours removed from my first marathon finish, I already have dreams of my next marathon (and a 50k!) dancing in my head. So many options, but so little time and money. For now, I look forward to some well-deserved time off.

Amen

Amen


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Weekly Recap

I know, I know… I’ve really been awful at this blogging thing lately.

I’m sorry šŸ˜¦

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It’s been tough to get excited about blogging when my running has been so hit or miss due to injuries over the last 6 weeks.

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Things were going so well until mid-August, but the last six weeks have just been so frustrating. BUT, getting my final 20 miler in in such great condition really helped.

This week I was released from 2x per week PT!! This week and next week I’ll only go once, to get my hip taped, to use the PENS therapy machine, and to run on the Alter G. It was a huge mental boost to hear that I don’t have to go on Mondays anymore.

Yesterday we were still getting lashed by that coastal storm that’s been wreaking havoc on South Carolina. When I woke up it was 45 degrees, pouring down raining, and super windy, so I decided to skip my 12 miler – no need to risk pneumonia (or getting hit by a car…) this close to the marathon! Instead I did 8 miles on the elliptical while watching Spirit of the Marathon today (a must-watch).

Tuesday will be the first time I’ve gone to the track in 6 weeks. I’m still not allowed to do speed work, but I figure because we’re doing 1600s at 10 sec faster than marathon pace, that’s not really speed work, so I can do it. šŸ™‚ I’ve really missed my Tuesday night track sessions – I think it’ll be good psychologically to get back there, even if it’s just for the last two sessions.

And Saturday will be my last long run! Whoa! Where has the time gone?? It just occurred to me this evening that I should start planning my race-week meals and acquiring the ingredients. Anal retentive, yes, but I’m not leaving anything to chance. I’ve put too much into this to screw it up with something stupid and easy to avoid.

What are your favorite race-week meals or snacks??Ā 

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Race Report: NCR Trail 20 Miler

September is supposed to be one of the key peak periods for fall marathoners. Well, my body has decided that it’s going to do this whole marathon thing its way. Going into this race, I had walked 1.4 miles on Monday and run 3.4 miles on the Alter G. That’s it.

After having to bail out of last week’s 18 miler at mile 11 – knowing full well that I could’ve kept going, but that doing so would’ve put the 20 miler in jeopardy – I wasn’t exactly feeling confident about the 20 mile run. I had gotten PENS therapy twice last week and got dry needled and was mostly feeling “better” (a term I use very, very loosely), I didn’t think that the run would be a total disaster, but I wasn’t expecting success, either.

The one thing that made me feel confident about the race? The forecast. Unlike last year’s swampy August 20 miler, where I broke into a massive sweat just cheering on the runners, this year’s race-day forecast was damn near perfect – 60 in the am, going up to around 70, with low humidity and overcast skies. Yes!

It was, admittedly, pretty chilly at the start – being further north and in a valley will do that to you… but we all knew we’d love it once we got moving. I got to the start about 30 min before race time and chatted with my friends. It’s a small race, but many of myĀ training partners were there because it’s 3 weeks out from the Baltimore Marathon – the perfect time for a last 20 miler.

While chatting, one of the women pointed out a runner warming up nearby – Dave Berden, the 2013 winner of the Baltimore Marathon. How cool is it that he was there?? And just before we headed up to the start line, a bus load of runners from the Naval Academy arrived – their marathon team. This race suddenly seemed like a much bigger deal than I thought it was!

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It was about a 10 minute walk to the starting line – a perfect warm up. The race starts in northern Maryland, almost at the Mason-Dixon Line, and follows the NCR Trail nearly to the trailhead, and then some. It’s a net-downhill race, but most people would classify it as flat as a pancake if they had to judge by looking at it.

It's not nearly as jaggy as this elevation chart makes it look, but it does follow the general down-slight up-slight down trend.

It’s not nearly as jaggy as this elevation chart makes it look, but it does follow the general down-slight up-slight down trend.

This is a pretty simple race, with little pomp and circumstance, other than the excited nervousness of our last 20 miler of the year. Just a few minutes late, the race started with a bull horn

One of the narrowest points of the trail is near the beginning, which made it a bit crowded while everyone jostled to find the pace and their place, but after about a mile or so, the pack found its rhythm. I started out running with Tracey and Rebecca, my usual running partners (Jennie had run a half marathon the day prior, so she sat this one out), as well as with Anita and Bekky. Their pace is a bit quicker, so they peeled off somewhere around mile 2. We also picked up another woman, Traci-with-an-I, who is running Marine Corp and didn’t know anyone at the race. One of the best parts of running is the camaraderie among total strangers šŸ™‚

Although this was a supported run, my mom was my pit crew for the day, just in case any of my nagging injuries acted up. The girls loved that she was at some of the major cross-roads waving and cheering for us šŸ™‚ Fortunately, my legs were feeling astonishingly good (well, not in absolute terms, just relative to the last 5 weeks), so she just got to be a mobile cheering squad and photographer.

Just before mile 4, a guy in front of us turned to yell something at us, something which we couldn’t understand. It turned out someone had inadvertently kicked a bee hive or hornet nest and more than a few people got stung. Luckily we were all spared, but he had gotten stung, just yards in front of us. Yikes šŸ˜¦

The next few miles were far less eventful. We chatted like runners are apt to do on a long run, but kept a pretty steady pace. Traci-with-an-I left us around mile 8 to start doing intervals. There were stops for porta-pots, we saw a few horses, and Rebecca’s husband and daughter came out to the trail on their bikes for a little bit.

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The next few miles were very familiar, but that also made them feel somewhat long. My legs never really hurt, but they never really felt good either.

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My mom definitely gets better pictures than any race photographer out there

I also tried using Fig Newtons as an addition to my usual gel, and I loved it! Gels are all well and good, but they don’t keep that hungry-tummy feel away, and it always creeps up around mile 14-15. I had my usual gel at 14.5 and had one cookie from a snack-pack – it sat a little heavy at first (I don’t think my stomach knew what to do with solid food), but after a few minutes I was very glad I added it to my fueling plan. I will definitely keep this in the rotation for the marathon.

The last few miles were definitely a challenge. Having done the 20 miler before, I knew I could get through it, but with the lackluster training since then, my mind needed a whole lot of convincing. Rebecca started slowing up around mile 16 and told Tracy and I to keep going. I always feel a bit of guilt leaving a runner behind, even when they say to go on without them. She had her music though and insisted, so we kept going.

We kept running as much as we could, even when it hurt, because we both knew that stopping and starting would be more painful. I took one last gel at mile 17.5, because I knew the last mile would be a challenge. I started feeling a bit dehydrated, and the sun started coming out just as the shade on the trail opened up, which was an unwelcome change in plans, but we kept going. We passed one last water stop at what is normally the end of our training runs, and kept going. We crossed the main road and went another 100 yards or so to the turnaround, where Duff catapulted us back around towards the finish (thanks, Duff!). As we came back to the road we just crossed, we turned left and followed the road. The shoulder was pretty narrow, and the traffic was a little disconcerting, but we kept going. The road was mostly flat, but winding at this point, and the space available to us fluctuated. I kept an eye on the road, to make sure I didn’t trip, and an eye on traffic, in case someone felt like ignoring the runners and cones. As I passed my old pre-school, the road dipped down – which meant that the dreaded hill was just up ahead. My legs ached and it was a challenge, but I kept going, one leg in front of the other, when all I wanted to do was walk. Just as I crested the hill, I could hear the cheering and yelling, and I knew I was there. My coaches and some training partners were there cheering people in. I turned into the parking lot, made a u-turn around the island, and there it was – the finish!

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In keeping with this being a training run, not a race, I figured my finish time would be somewhere between 3:50:xx and 4:00:xx. We finished in 3:53:01! Despite being tired and achey, I felt surprisingly good at the end. Nothing hurt. I could walk.

I grabbed some water and a few snacks, and went right back to the road to cheer on the remaining runners! It was great to see so many of my training partners looking so strong at the end of such a long run.

With this run done, we are officially in Tapertown!!! Woohoo!!!!

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