This was the first time I ran a "destination" race--it was part of the Baltimore Running Festival which includes a marathon, 5k, and marathon relay. My friend and I went to Baltimore the night before and stayed at a hotel super convenient to the expo and start line.
Most races require you to get up at zero dark thirty--the city wants to open up streets again at a reasonable hour and the organizers want to take everything down at some point too. So most races I've run have started at 7 or 8 a.m., so marathoners can finish by noon and the half folks finish by 10 or 11 a.m.
Well, this race started at 9:45 a.m. The half marathon start line is at Mile 13 of the marathon. So the marathoners got started at 8 a.m. and merged with us when our race started. Since we were staying about 6 blocks from the start line, we had the most leisurely morning, which included eating about 3 mini-breakfasts (when you wake up at 7 but aren't running for three hours, you're not sure how to fuel yourself!).
The race itself was packed and had a great crowd cheering--just the way I like it. However, I did not see ANY part of Baltimore that stuck with me, other than a cool bell tower thing at the top of the WORST hill of the race. I feel like the DC halfs (and even the Dallas ones I've run) take you by landmarks and cool things, but the only thing I remember in Baltimore is the Giant supermarket I ran by. Scenic.
Mentally, this race was different from all the others. I never lost my mind (or had a desperation mile), but the miles didn't fly by either. I feel like I just systematically ticked them off as they went by.
The people of Baltimore are swell, though. Volunteers were dressed as crabs, passing out pretzels, beer, bananas, gummy bears. Families out with their kids, playing music, cheering for complete strangers.
For this race, I listened to podcasts most of the time. The West Wing Weekly, specifically, they had two episodes covering the beginning of season 2 (In the Shadow of Two Gunman, Part 1 & 2, for fans) and good interviews along with them. That kept me occupied until mile 10 when I suddenly needed all the music, and switched to my Spotify running list.
Finish line song
I continued my trend of wanting nothing to do with the "Celebration Village" at the end. The last thing I want to do is hang out with people who also just ran many miles. I want to leave and get brunch. I also was a bit woozy and off balance at the end of the race. I grabbed about 18 different snacks they were offering, had a bite of each and threw them away.
My friend and I walked to Federal Hill and had a cute (and cheap!) brunch at a cafe where I had no fewer than three beverages (mimosa, beer, hot water with lemon--I was cold). We then realized how bad we smelled, and decided it was time to head back to DC. I ended the day at 3 a.m. (!) after a party at a friend's house (sidenote: am too old to stay out until 3 a.m. And too old to take shots, but that's another blog post).
And, I'm now done with half marathons for a long time. I had set a goal to run a half marathon a year, then took 2012 and 2013 off because of injuries. I've run one the last three years, and honestly, I hate the training now. I used to love training--yes, it took over my life, but running was fun, and I would lose myself in the miles. That hasn't happened lately. And it's really stressed me out. This training was among the worst--my longest run was 8 miles (I try to run 10 as my longest), and recovery took a LONG time for even shorter distances. Still, I managed to PR on this race, and we're going to call that good for a few years. Maybe 10. Maybe forever. Who knows?
So for now, I'm creating a shadowbox with my five medals and giving my running shoes a break.