Seriously. How do I get so lucky with some of these running conditions? The weather couldn’t have been more perfect. It was mid-50’s at the start time and upper 60’s by the time I finished. There was no rain and a perfect amount of breeze to keep us cool when the sun came out. This was my 5th marathon. And while it’s supposed to be a regular ol’ training run for my 50-miler, deep down, I wanted a PR. I wanted 4:30. Even more, I wanted 4:30 for my friend Megs who had been busting butt all summer long in training.
“The key to life is accepting challenges. Once someone stops doing this, he’s dead.”
― Bette Davis
We met with our Charm City Run training group at Pickles Pub just after 6 a.m. I was able to catch up with Joanna from Races for Awareness before the race. I was so excited to meet her. She’s helping me with organizing a virtual race to raise money fro the Dup15q Alliance which helps families with Dup15q kids, like my nephew. Yes, this is a little bit of a shamless plug. I hope you will join me in this race 🙂
I chatted with a few folks from our training group and you could feel the excitement in the air. Some folks had ran Steamtown or Chicago the week before and some were running MCM the following week, but they were here in support of those of us who were running the Baltimore full.
I have to admit. Coming into this race I was really worried. My training has been shit and during my last few runs, my legs felt like led. I wanted 4:30, but I was afraid that I wouldn’t get it. Megs was really nervous about the 4:30 time goal also. All summer long, I whispered “4:30” as we ran. Physically, I wasn’t sure if I was ready, but I knew Megs was more than ready. Either way we needed to have the courage to push our bodies harder than ever before and go for it. We had to be brave.
“Don’t be afraid of your fears. They’re not there to scare you. They’re there to let you know that something is worth it.”
― C. JoyBell C.
We lined ourselves up in front of the 4:45. We figured it would helps us start out at a slow steady pace before we kicked it into high-gear. I bumped into a fellow SWIR reader, Alyssa, who was running her first marathon and I, of course, had to take a selfie (She ran a sub-5 marathon!). I’m always starstruck when someone recognizes me. They say hello and I get mush mouth and lose my manners and get that “huh, me? you know me?” look across my face. I act like a blubbering idiot. I’m just humbled that there are like-minded folks out there who enjoy my weirdness. YOU ROCK!
“That’s what courage is. If she weren’t scared, she wouldn’t need courage in the first place.” -Jo”
― Nicholas Sparks, Safe Haven
The National Anthem began to play and as usual, I got choked up and started tearing up a little. I can’t help it. It happens just about every race. Despite all the wrongs that are going on all over the world, it reminds me of how fortunate I am to be spending my time running in a great city with my friends and thousands of people that I call my running kin. I’m grateful that I can do this freely and safely.
As we passed through the arches of the start line under the sea of white confetti, I was welling up with emotion. This is really happening again and I’m going to find the courage to let go of the fears that I’m under trained and push my body anyway.
“Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear – not absence of fear.”
― Mark Twain
The first three miles had me worried. My legs were really tight, especially my right leg. I thought that I was going to have to fall back to a slower pace and let Megs run free. I dug deep and pushed on. Things started to fall in place around mile 7. I started to loosen up a little and fell into a good stride. Oh, if you look in the background of this picture below, yes…you’e not seeing things…the guy was running in a full suit. Said he had a wedding to go to afterwards. HA! Who knows if he was pulling our chain, but I hope he lubed up with anti-chafe stuff before he started. We had a great first half.
Mile 14, just after the cobblestone (which sucks by the way), I had a little bit of an asthma attack. We had to stop so that I could suck on my inhaler and walk a little until I could regain my breath. Not sure what happened there. It’s like all of the sudden my lungs just said to me “Oh, we’re doing a full…I thought this was a half.” Stupid lungs.
We pushed on through, still feeling good. I kept an eye on the time to make sure we were making our mark. I did notice that we were adding mileage with the weaving in and out of the crowed. I realized that I couldn’t count on my watch to give me an accurate finish time with the added mileage we were getting in.
We passed through Under Armour and stopped…yes, we stopped…and took pictures. Why would you stop if you’re shooting for a PR? Because there was an awesome shot to be had. But the best shot came from a quick snapshot of Megs pointing to the “I Will” sign. Just perfect. But by this point we were feeling it.
At about mile 18.5, it was time to Plow On. Plow On sponsored me for this race and I’m so glad they did. Their gum gives me that extra push that I need when things start to get tough. It’s just enough of a kick to give me momentum. I typically save it for the 18 mile-ish area. We also took ibuprofen and acetaminophen not long thereafter. I like to take 2 of each at this point to ward of the pain that’s about to take place. The ibuprofen reduces the inflammation and the acetaminophen takes the edge of the pain. For me, it usually takes a bout 20-30 minutes for it to kick it, so the timing is perfect.
As we took our trip around Montabello Lake, we looked out for Megs family. Her mom (who drove us to the start…love ya Nancy!), husband, and adorable son were there. Her mom had a shot of pickle juice that we both swigged. It’s supposed to help with muscle cramping. Not sure if it really did anything for me, but it was the juice from the butter slice pickles and it was YUM!
This is where things got really hard. I could tell the Megs was feeling it, but I was starting to get into the zone. I guess with the training that I’ve been doing for the ultra (what little training there is), my body takes longer to get into the groove. I told Megs at this point that no matter what happened, she was going to have her sub-5 marathon. She could walk run if she wanted and she would PR. I wanted to make sure she believed in herself as much as I believed in her.
“Before I knew you, I thought brave was not being afraid. You’ve taught me that bravery is being terrified and doing it anyway.”
― Laurell K. Hamilton, Blood Noir
At around mile 23, I said my goodbyes to Megs. The 4:30 goal was slowly slipping away and my stupid obsessive mind was starting to get a little stir crazy. I knew at this point that Megs would have her PR and that she would finish somewhere in the 4:30’s. I also figured this was her time to get into her zone and I was a distraction from that. I grabbed her hand, kissed it and then took off.
I started to fight my way thought the sea of runners who had lost their umph or hit the wall. I was chasing that 4:30 and I had to run harder than I ever ran before to get it. I yelled “on your left” over and over again like some crazy lunatic trying to get to a life or death situation to rescue someone. “ON YOUR LEFT! ON YOUR LEFT” Seriously, my throat is a little sore from doing it. I didn’t want to be ‘that’ asshole, but I was. 4:30 people! I was chasing 4:30!
As I came into the final two miles, I saw that I was running an 8:50-ish pace. I thought I had the finish line in sight, but I had forgotten that long through-way of Eutaw street. Shit…pushed too hard, too soon. I started to get that tunnel vision that you get right before you pass out and I thought about my sister who is always worried that I’ll be the one to drop dead at the finish line because of my heart and lung issues. Not today sis, not today. My watch had turned 4:30 and I had less than a minute before it hit 4:31. I GAVE EVERYTHING I HAD…EVERYTHING. And I did it.
“Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.”
I staggered into the finishing chute and grabbed my water and medal and waited for Megs. I looked at my Bravelet and smiled. I had bought these bracelets for me and my old running crew, the Six Pack, that has the words ‘be brave’ engraved in them. We each had had many challenges since we ran our first marathon in Baltimore two years prior and we all needed to be brave and have the courage overcome them. I thought it was appropriate to give this to Megs for the marathon because she so desperately wanted a sub-5. Guess what, she did it! She beat her PR by 45 minutes and 14 seconds!!!! HOLY F’N SHIT!
When she came through the finish I couldn’t get to her fast enough to hug her. I was so freaking proud of her. All of her hard work paid off. She did it! It’s so funny…we took this picture of us jumping for joy and Megs totally kicked that boy in the butt. Look at his face! Sorry kid…needed a good Facebook cover photo. 😉
Also, met up with a couple of the friends at the finish for quick pics.
We grabbed some bananas and beer in the Finisher’s Village and then headed back over to Pickles for more food.
We then met up with a few more friends who were running the relay and chowed down on wings and orange crushes.
My final thoughts on the race was that it’s okay to be scared of a goal that seems too big to reach. You have to be brave and find that courage to give it a try. Like that saying goes, “Why reach for the sky when you can reach for the stars?” You CAN have the stars, but you have to find the courage to reach for it! Never be afraid to set a goal that seams unobtainable. You might be surprised at what you can do.
IT WAS A GLORIOUS DAY!
Notes about the Baltimore Marathon.
If you are considering running it, do it. It does have a reputation for being a hilly course, but if you train for the hills, it will not be a problem. I actually like the rolling hills of the course because the inclines aren’t really that bad, and the declines feel so good. There’s a tiny section, about a half a city block, that’s cobblestone. Just be careful in this area and step gingerly. It’s really not a big deal.
The folks in the city are so supportive! There are block parties and people cheering you on everywhere…even the homeless folks. There were a few unfortunate citizens that didn’t prepare for race day and got stuck in traffic for hours, but I think there was enough coverage and notice about the race that they should’ve been more prepared.
The volunteers and cops are AH-MAZING! There are plenty of water stops and everyone is so friendly and encouraging.
This race is very well organized and I have to give kudos to Corrigan Sports for putting on a great event.