Charles St. 12 Race Recap

I’ve been trying to do at least one race per month and was searching for an August race around my birthday when I came across info about the inaugural Charles St. 12 race in Baltimore. Hmmmm. August in Baltimore. The thought wasn’t too appealing, plus the info was a bit sketchy initially. No race course yet published or many race details at all. So I put the race on my tentative calendar, ‘liked’ their Facebook page, and checked in on their website from time to time.
Bit by bit, more info was given. The race was point to point, with busing provided to the start. There would be an awesome premium of an Under Armour hoodie, embroidered with the race logo, and the course had a decent net downhill elevation. So finally, I registered. The weather had been exceptionally mild in the weeks leading up to the race, but the eventual forecast was calling for a high of 91 degrees on race day. Eeek!
The morning of the race, I left my house about 3:30 am to head down to Baltimore. Packet pickup at a Towson, MD shopping center was open at 5:30, and I arrived there about 5:45. Due to lack of parking at the start, the runners were encouraged to park in one of the many parking garages near the finish, and take the provided busing. However, the last bus was scheduled to leave the finish area at 6:45 am, so I felt pressure to quickly get my packet and get down to the Inner Harbor area. I easily found space in the garage closest to the bus pickup and was directed to get in a quickly moving line for a bus. The whole process was well-organized and painless. Even the bus was comfortable and well appointed. When we arrived back in Towson, our bus driver called out with a smile “how was your ride in a $500k bus?”
I looked for the porta potties to make one last pit stop before the race and was initially surprised to see no lines at all. A minute later, I realized how wrong I was. There was actually one single file line snaking around and around all through the parking lot. After 20 minutes in line, suddenly the dam broke and the single line became multiple lines, one per door. Fortunately, I made it through with a little time to spare.
Shortly before 7:30, announcements began, the national anthem sung, and we were off, right on time.
The first couple miles, I was running pretty easily at a 11 min/mile pace, which is fast for me. In mile 3, we hit a pretty decent uphill and my pace definitely slowed. I think I walked for the first time in the steepest parts. We were going through some nice neighborhoods and passed by Towson University.
After that first uphill, I really expected the course to be all downhill and while it certainly was a significant downhill overall, it seemed to make the little uphills that much harder for me to run. Around mile 4, I started getting some stomach discomfort. This is the first time this has happened to me and I wasn’t sure what to do about it. I was drinking water from my hydration belt but it seemed unclear whether water was making it worse or better. I saw a couple porta potties around mile 4.5 but there was a line so I decided not to stop. Fortunately, it wasn’t too disastrous of a decision, but I never did see another porta potty on the entire course.
The police presence during the entire race was awesome. From the very start when motorcycle cops accompanied us (although I could have done without their exhaust!), to multiple cops at every intersection, and considering we were running through downtown baltimore, there were plenty of intersections. I would guesstimate that several hundred cops were working the race. Even at the busiest, largest intersections, runners always had the right of way and I never had to stop.
I really started feeling tired heading into mile 9 and running became more of a struggle. My walk breaks became more and more frequent and I stopped caring about posting a decent time, I just wanted to finish. The very last mile, we headed along the promenade in Baltimore’s inner harbor. That was interesting because now we were no longer on a closed off running lane, but competing for space with shoppers and diners out walking around. I had to dodge families a few times.
Finally, I could hear cheering around the last corner and I came around the bend and crossed the finish line. My legs were screaming and my time was an un stellar 2:36:18, or an overall pace of 13:02. Definitely not the time I had anticipated. I think I partly ran out of energy because I was afraid to eat many of the sport beans I had brought as energy food, due to the ongoing stomach problems. Also the lack of sleep the night before was definitely not helpful. Still, I really enjoyed the race overall.
Especially for an inaugural race, it was exceptionally well run. It’s one of the few that I hope to run again next year. And yes, I plan to crush this years time. 🙂

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Women’s Moon Half Marathon Race Recap

I planned to visit family in WA state over the 4th of July so why not do a race while I’m there? Another state to check off in my quest to run a half or full marathon in every state. I found what looked like an awesome half, a women’s only half marathon being held in Olympia, WA. The course looked relatively flat and the finisher’s medal was a beautiful sterling silver necklace. Sign me up!

The day of the race was a pretty warm day for WA state. The race didn’t start until 5 pm and we had a family barbecue at noon earlier the same day. I’m pretty sure barbecue is not recommended in pre-race fueling but what the heck. My main goal in travelling to WA was to see family, the race was just a side bonus. I usually like to get to races at least an hour early, to walk around and settle my nerves but we were running late from the barbecue and I felt my anxiety kick in a little bit when we got there with only 20 minutes to spare, and I saw the porta potty lines. Fortunately, they moved pretty quickly and I got to the starting line fine. It was great to have family at the race start to take pictures since I am usually solo. I believe there was a 300 racer cap for the half but there might only have been 225-250 women running it and somewhere around that same number of women running the 4k event which started an hour later.

The course started off with one lap around a high school track and then around a half-mile onto a wooded trail near the high school campus. The trail was pretty narrow and we were pretty much on each other’s heels in single file. I think I was already sucking wind at this point and thinking what a big mistake that barbecued chicken was. Or maybe it was the cake afterwards haha. It was also hot! Before too long, the trail opened up we ran around some neighborhoods and then eventually back alongside the high school. My parents still hadn’t left (I had told them not to wait, as I anticipated it taking at least 2.5 hours for me to finish) and I got to scream ‘Hi Mom!’ at my mom waiting on the sidewalk.

A lot of the men from the local running club hosting the event were participating as course marshalls, some in tuxedo tops and shorts. 🙂

We headed into some more neighborhoods and to my surprise and dismay, Hills! Either I didn’t look at the course elevation closely enough, or that chart was seriously lacking. Ugh. Hills and more hills. They had water stops about every two miles and each one had a little rain shower setup you could run through and get misted. If I hadn’t been worried about damaging my phone, I would have gotten more soaked at each one. The dampness felt great though. At one point, a neighbor was sitting out on her lawn, offering to spray people down with her hose. That felt good too.

At about the 4.5 mile mark, we got close to the Evergreen State campus and the course went onto some wooded trails. It was amazing how much I felt my motivation and my speed increase. The relief from the sun and heat felt so great. Right about then, the leaders started passing me on their way back. They were moving pretty fast.

Finally I hit the halfway point and turnaround. They had some energy gels available so I grabbed a couple and refilled my water bottles. Ok halfway, I could do this. Along the way, they had women on bikes checking on the status of all the participants. They were also handing out plastic baggies of ice and so I grabbed one and stuck in the front of my bra. It probably looked weird but who cares. Until it melted completely, I kept grabbing a single piece and slathering it all over my face and neck to cool off.

Back through the wooded trails, then back to the hills. The hills on the way back seemed much worse. I walked a lot. A whole heck of a lot. At least I had passed a number of people after the turnaround so I knew I was not anywhere close to being the last to finish.

A couple women were using the Galloway method and while I was not doing any formal run/walk, they would pass me during their run cycle, and then I would pass them running. This went on for at least a couple miles.

Finally, we were back in the vicinity of the high school. But wait, we were in sight of the finish line, we could see the runners coming around the track and hear the loudspeaker, but we still had 2.5 miles to go! So cruel and inhumane. Not to mention, this was uphill.

I felt really unmotivated after that but I kept plugging along. Back through the local neighborhood, back toward the high school, back onto the wooded trail. It was all I could do to keep running. Finally back to the track and one lap. I wanted to walk so badly but how could I in sight of all the people? Yes, here is the finish line. I tried to smile and raise my arms in victory but it was a halfhearted attempt.

I crossed the line, was handed my beautiful silver necklace and offered some chocolates and water and I was done. So happy to be done. My legs hurt really badly so I did some stretching on the grass while I ate my chocolate.

I still don’t know my official time except I’m sure it was just over 3 hours. Pretty dang slow. Over 20 minutes slower than my previous half marathon time. I’ve come to the conclusion that a)I should have been doing more hill work b)I shouldn’t eat barbecue a couple hours before a race and c) evening races are not for me. Still, I’m super happy that I did it, and that I finished it. Yay!

Me and my mom at the start:

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