Baltimore Half Marathon 2017: Baltimoron Race Recap

What very well may be my last half marathon of 2017 has come and gone. It was quite the race day; but as always, I’m glad I ran! Yet again, this year was a reminder of why I love Baltimore so much, and also why I love running.

Friday, race-day eve: I got up on Friday morning (a little later than normal) and went out for an “easy” 6 mile run. The run felt like a little more work than I would have wanted it to, but I knew it was a sign that there was a good run coming on. I took my time getting breakfast and getting to the expo. While it is technically an “expo”, the Baltimore Running Festival is a little anticlimactic. I enjoyed trying and buying some Plow On energy gum (just found the rest of one of my packs in the dryer – womp), and a new shoe charm for my friend and myself. I spent the rest of the day relaxing in bed before going out for Harry Potter trivia night with my friends. My friend Kaitlyn was running the 5K with me and spent the night at Jake’s, so we both slept in the living room on couches. We were up until after 1 talking, then were repeatedly woken up by Jake’s roommates coming in the house and drunkards walking/screaming down the street. I most definitely did not sleep well!

Pre-race Saturday: With a severe lack of sleep, I was thankful that Jake lives less than a mile from the start/finish area. After about 1/4 of an english muffin and a bite of Kaitlyn’s protein bar, we were off for the 5K start. I was surprisingly feeling pretty awake but I was worried how my body would feel after little sleep on a very uncomfortable couch.

5k: When Kaitlyn and I got to the start line, it was a complete free-for-all. I estimate that it took us about 4 min to cross the start line. Thankfully, we weren’t going into the race with any goals other than to finish and have fun. Our plan was to run 60:30 run/walk intervals, like we had for the Baltimore Women’s Classic in June. The first mile was very crowded, which slowed us down, but I was okay with it.

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Approaching the halfway point.

It spread out a bit after the turn-around at the half-way point. I really enjoyed just taking our time and having some girl talk. My favorite part was running up Charles St towards the new finish line in the Inner Harbor. This was mostly because I got to point out Jake’s new place (official this week, hopefully!). We finished with me feeling fresh and Kaitlyn feeling good. We have another 5K this weekend that she needs to be ready for! Our finish time was about 38:00 (the picture below is wrong).

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The 1:15 in-between: Kaitlyn and I quickly got our medals and food and made our way through the finisher area. This wasn’t quite as quick as it has been in past years, but this was also a new setup. My favorite part was getting our medals from Baltimore police officers. As many of you know – Baltimore isn’t the safest city, and relations between many residents and the police are not always positive. It was an awesome way for the police to get out in our city and support people from all ways of life 😉 Nevertheless, we swiftly made our way south through the Inner Harbor to get back to Jake’s. Kaitlyn had to head home and I wanted to change into some fresh clothes for the half marathon. I was back to the Harbor within 40 minutes. After 2 trips to the porta-pots, a November Project bounce, and running into a friend, I was ready to go again!

My 3rd Baltimore Half Marathon!

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The IT Bands are good – I always tape them in races to be “safe” after MCM 2016

I shared my goals for this race last week, but I mostly wanted to have a decent training run! I ran into a friend while moving through the corral and was happy to keep her some company for as long as we could stick together (no picture = fail). Or really, I told her I was running 90:30 intervals and welcomed her to join me 😛

Miles 1-5: These miles were spent catching up with my friend and trying to keep a steady, modest pace. I didn’t want to run too easy, but also didn’t want to go out too hard. We did skip a few “walks” due to crowding and took some extra time at the first water stop because she didn’t bring any water with her. There was a good downhill around mile 3, but aside from that, the course was a gradual uphill. I didn’t pay much attention to my splits, but noted that they were all under 11:00/mi. Running with someone kept me humble, which really helped. I sadly lost her at mile 4 (she hadn’t trained, but she finished!) but kept on trucking along despite starting to feel a little warm. I knew if I kept it up, that I would set a course PR with the downhill slope in the final miles and my ability to negative split runs (#likeaboss). Splits: 10:56, :59, :55, :47, :52.

Miles 6-10: It’s weird splitting up the race like I always do, because these miles were so split. I finished the long uphill stretch from mile 3 – 6.5 feeling completely in the zone. I was quickly warming up and honestly thought about ditching my visor. I knew it was adding to that “slightly overheated” feeling, but I also didn’t want to lose it. I felt awesome until mile 8, coming along the end of the stretch around Lake Montebello. I suddenly got a massive headache and began to mentally feel weird. I got anxious about very little things and just felt like I was in a “fog.” I saw someone to the left of me who had dropped and was being helped by 4 runners with a police officer running to him. .75 miles later I saw someone on the side of the road getting an IV. At this point I was still running as steady as I could, but physically my body (head) was fading fast. I eventually took a prolonged walk break or two. I told myself I had to make it to the November Project cheer station, then I would re-evaluate. Splits: 10:58, :57, 11:04, :53, 12:18.

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Attempting to smile and wave (just after mile 9). Photo cred: Emily Bryson

Miles 11-13.1ishAfter I hit the NP cheer station, I definitely got a little bit of power. Once I made the right turn towards where the “tiger” always is (but was NOT) I truly re-evaluated. By this time it was about 11:30 and it was hot. It was “only” about 72 according to my phone, but with full sun (and non sunscreen) and how I was feeling with my headache, I was nervous. More and more people were stepping off the course and I knew I had not hydrated well the week leading up to the race. I decided to dial it back to 60:30 intervals and take walk breaks as needed. This was not my goal race. The Baltimore Half Marathon is hilly and I am fully aware that I will never PR there. I just wanted to finish upright and not derail my Goofy Challenge Training. While it was hard to step back, I was happy that I remained with the pack I was running with. I ended up stopping at a med tent for vaseline (holy chafing), but mostly kept a slower, but still steady pace to the finish. Pouring water over my head helped, and I was able to kick it in to the finish! Splits: 12:20, :23, :26, 2:19 (.24 nubbin)

The finish: While it wasn’t the same as finishing through Camden Yards, I was thrilled turning left and finishing on Pratt Street. The crowds were thick and the view was as beautiful as always. I was happy to have made it upright. I finished in 2:31:12. Six minutes slower than last year. It’s not what I was working or hoping for through the first half of the race. It’s my third slowest half marathon time. But I made it. I was happy to receive my half marathon medal from a police officer, but had to find my own way to my Baltimoron medal, which was just sitting on a table. By the time I finished, this process was quick, and I easily made it through the water/gatorade/food line.

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#holdmeupplease

Post race: The hours after the race were rough. I honestly felt worse than I had after either of my marathons and considered going to the med tent. I was planning on Jake to be there, but at the last minute he wasn’t able to be. I’ve finished many races alone at the finish line but this was a day that I really needed someone to be there. It took me about an hour to make it back to Jake’s house, which was just over half a mile away. Mentally and physically I was shot. I could hardly stomach anything and didn’t even have my typical post-race beer (#dehydrationprobs)!

Post-post-race: Once I started feeling better, I was able to reflect on the day. My half marathon time was slow, but still evened out to be a decent pace for a long run. My numbers may look like I crashed and burned, but I don’t look at it that way. I listened to my body and ran wisely. If I look at the statistics of the whole race, my performance increased percentile-wise, in both age group, gender, and overall place. I also came in the top 50% for the Baltimoron. While I normally am not sore after long runs, I was a little sore the next day. I felt back to normal two days later and the races of Saturday did not negatively effect my training. Overall, I take it as a win.

Verdict: I will never say anything bad about the Baltimore Running Festival. I love this event for so many reasons. The #1 reason is that it brings out such a positive spirit in the city that I love so much. The city shows up on this day and the race organization is impeccable. I would not run the 5K again unless a friend was running it with me. It’s an expensive 5K and while I get that you get a shirt and a medal, but for somewhere that I run all the time and during other (better) 5Ks, it’s not worth the price tag. So I would potentially do the Baltimoron again in the future, or just the half, but not the 5K. Baltimore peeps – you’re better off running Shamrock 🙂 Will I be back next year? We shall see….this year the race was the day before the Marine Corps Marathon…and I’m eyeing either MCM, New York, or Chicago for next fall…but I will be back for years and years to come.

 

 

Goofy Challenge Training Weeks 6 + 7

Happy Tuesday everyone! Sorry my training post is a week and a day late! Week 6 of training wasn’t a great ,so I decided to combine posts. This weekend was simply busy!! Week 8 is going to be just as busy but I’m happy to be taking some to sit down and reflect!

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Week 6 was a bit of a lackluster.

Monday: 3 miles easy on the treadmill. I’m sure I did some sort of workout at the gym after!

Tuesday: 6.2 miles. I set out for an easy run, and ended up running a perfect progression on a beautiful morning. My right glute and left quad/hip flexor were really bothering me for the last mile or so, and continued to be painful for the rest of the day. I had planned to do cross training at the gym later in the day, but traded it for an epsom salt bath and a good rolling sesh.

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Note of advice: Even for 50% off, don’t buy “lightly used” sneakers…

Wednesday: Forced rest. And a trip to Fleet Feet for new shoes!

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I am surprisingly in love with these Brooks Adrenaline 18’s. 

Thursday: 3 miles easy to test out my legs and my new shoes. My legs felt much better, but not 100%.

Friday-Sunday: NOTHING. I had intended to do my long run on Saturday…However, I woke up on Saturday morning feeling the couple of extra Miller Lights from the night before. With work and family in town, I didn’t have time on Sunday for my 10-12 miles.

Week 6 miles: 12.2 miles. Whooops. I feel like every training cycle has one of these weeks. Maybe it was a blessing with the way my legs were feeling.


Week 7 – A new week! This week my miles through the Hal Higdon Dopey Training Plan (which I’ve slightly modified) increased.

Monday: 4.14 miles downtown, by the water! It was so quiet and peaceful. I followed this with 20 minutes of biking and arm/ab weights at the gym.

Tuesday: 7.1 miles. After last week, I ran the same roads but did more of a “figure 8” to vary the elevation a little more. My legs survived the hills and I felt strong going into the race weekend! In the afternoon, I did another 20 minutes of biking at the gym, and leg weights.

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Wednesday: 3.24 miles at November Project. It was a fun workout, but towards the end I kind of “cheated” to make sure I got to run more to get closer to the goal of 4 miles for the day. No gym in the afternoon – I was simply BEAT from running, early wake-ups, and late nights. I also bought another new pair of shoes!

Thursday: No cardio, but I do remember going to the gym. I don’t remember what exactly for, though…

Friday: 6 miles “easy” around the Harbor. I tried to keep it easy paced, but my heart rate was pretty high. I think this was due to a variety of things: poor nutrition the day/night before, excitement for the next day’s race, and some overall anxiety. I’d say my legs felt good, but I wore my newest pair of Cliftons, which just aren’t working for me…

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Saturday: 13.38 miles total at the Baltimore Running Festival. A recap will come soon! (As well as the second part of that Ragnar recap…)

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Week 7 miles36.8 miles!

I’ll get into more about Saturday soon, but overall, I was happy with the last week of training. Week 8 will require some maneuvering to get in all of the runs that I’m hoping for. This is technically supposed to be a “down” week, but I am not gelling with having a “down” week every.other.week. I’m hoping to add in a few more easy miles, but I’m working an extra day and my “traveling” days have been moved around. Just 11 more weeks of training to go!

Baltimore Half Marathon 2017 – Looking Forward!

While it hasn’t been of huge importance around here until this week – the Baltimore Running Festival is this weekend! This will be my third year participating. It was a hard decision, with many other races happening in the area this weekend. However, the closer I get to race day, the more thankful I am that I signed up.

In 2015 I originally planned to run the full marathon, but got injured three months out. I ran the half marathon undertrained. I didn’t eat well the morning of and went out too fast, leading to a long ride on the struggle bus. I finished the half marathon as my 6th race at that distance with a time of 2:25:48. (I also ran for charity for the first time!)

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In a few months I’ll be living on the other side of that building behind me. Convenient, much?

In 2016, I ran the half marathon just 2 weeks out from my first marathon (Marine Corps). It was my 10th half marathon, or so I believe. I ran with the goal to keep it easy and just “get in the miles” for the weekend. I ran harder than I should have, with the goal of getting a course PR. I finished in 2:25:11, a whole 37 seconds faster than the year before. The difference was a much more evenly split, and “better run” race.

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2016 – Mile 9. I don’t remember this part in 2015, but let me tell you, I probably was NOT smiling at that point.

So what’s the deal for 2017??

Well, it’s not a goal race for me, for a few reasons. 1: This race is HARD. The hills are unrelenting for the first half of the race. They aren’t so steep, but long and gradual. It flattens out around mile 7, but I never feel like I’m going down until about mile 9.5. 2: I’m in the middle of Goofy training and I’m not going to hurt myself going hard on a difficult course.

So, I’m running the course mainly for fun, with a goal of getting in my 16 miles for the day and a B goal of setting a course PR. I’d be real happy if I could run a 2:20 (A goal) but I’m not counting on it.

I’m excited to be taking on the Balti-Moron-a-Thon challenge (5K + 13.1), which is in its second year. I was sad to say “no” to it last year, so it was meant to be this year. I’ll run the 5K nice and easy with one of my best friends. It’ll be our 4th 5K together and we have another next weekend!

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Then after about an hour and a half of a break, I’ll take on the Half Marathon. (Sidenote: I’m thankful my boyfriend lives 5 minutes from the start/finish area so I can change in-between races!) My plan is to run 90:30 run/walk intervals until mile 7-8, then bump up to 120:30. It worked for me for the Charles Street 12, right? The thing is…I’m not tapered for this race and I’m running 6 miles the day before.

My plan is loose, and I’m going in with the mindset that I’ll lower my intervals if need be. I’d love to hit my goals, but it’s not worth a negative experience, or worse…the I word.

This year I feel more prepared than ever, which may be helping with my confidence and excitement. As I shared last week, I ran the course almost two weeks ago during my 15 miler. I took the hills in stride and didn’t die (by the hills, nor the “bad” areas of the city). I ran slow and easy with 60:30 intervals, during which I normally run about 30-45 seconds slower than my 90:30 on a given day

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I can’t wait to experience the city in the way that only happens each October. I love how the Baltimore Running Festival brings out the best of the city, in all of the diverse neighborhoods it runs through (which aren’t many of the “best” ones). No matter how fast or slow I run, Saturday will be a day to remember!

Are you running in the Baltimore Running Festival? What’s your favorite race?

Race Recap: Baltimore Half Marathon 2016

When planning out my Fall race schedule with the Marine Corps Marathon in mind, I knew the Baltimore Running Festival was a must again this year. Despite a race that didn’t go as planned last year, I loved the course and I knew I had to be back. This is how it went down this year.

Expo: I ran to and from the expo from my boyfriends place, making it a quick and easy experience. Within 15 minutes I had my bib, shirt, and another shirt I purchased. With only a quick glance at the expo it seemed to be alright. I was sad that Sweaty Bands wasn’t back, but my goal was to save my $$ for the MCM expo anyways.

Friday night: I missed being with my best friend and her aunt like last year (and many other races), however I had a nice night in with Jake. Pasta with meatballs and some wine were consumed, movies were watched, “Flat Sam” was prepared, and I was in bed around 11:30.

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Goals: I kept it to myself, but aside from having fun, deep down I really wanted to beat my time from last year (2:24:47).

Pre-race: The race started at 9:45, just four blocks from Jake’s house (SO CONVENIENT). I planned to sleep until 8, however was up at 7 with super pre-race anxiety. I had my UCan and made my way to the race area around 8:45. I was happy to spend some time with my friend/coach before the November Project bounce. Seriously – a bounce was just what I needed to calm my nerves and get my pumped to run in my favorite city. I met up with another friend, Erin. I’m so glad I found her because being alone at such a big race made me anxious. We started together but split early on so I could do my run/walk intervals.

Miles 1-7: I started out doing 2:00/:30 intervals, which I did the entire race. I did a lot of weaving, and got stuck behind groups of people running together and at water stations, but nonetheless I felt great. The hills were long, but they didn’t kill me like they did last year. My paces averaged between 10:42 and 11:21, about what I typically run during the middle of my long runs. I reached Lake Montebello, which is a bit past half way and felt tired, but good.

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Miles 8-13.XX – Things started to go awry once I left the Lake around mile 8.5. Really, if you look at my splits I didn’t slow down all that much, but everything felt hard. The hills, while not horrible, never ended. The sun was super warm and I could tell I wasn’t hydrating enough. Getting to the November Project cheer station at mile 9.5 kept me going. BOY did I need it when I got there and it fueled me for a good mile. I really struggled in the last mile and a half – going over a bridge and coming back into  downtown. I walked much more than I would have liked in the last mile, including stopping and keeling over for 20 seconds in Camden Yards. I felt like I just couldn’t move any more. If it wasn’t for seeing/hearing Lauren when I started running again, I would have cried from defeat the rest of the way to the finish.

Thanks to Kevin G from NP for a couple of pictures!!
Thanks to Kevin G from NP for a couple of pictures!!

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Finish time: 2:25:11 (13.21 miles, 11:00 pace – time matches the BRF website exactly).

Last year: 2:25:48.

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Running/finishing alone = no photographer.

I set out and met my goal to get a course PR. The race wasn’t perfect, and there was a point around mile 11.5 when I just kept saying out loud “You CAN do it”. While I set a slight course PR, I also ran a more consistent race. Last year my first mile was 10:18 and my slowest was 12:11. This year my miles ranged from 10:42 to 11:44. I was much more consistent, and with a marathon in my reach, that’s super important to me.

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This medal, though. It opens to show the Baltimore Inner Harbor!

Will I do this race again?  Yes. Always. Every year until I can’t. I love this race. The spirit of the city reminds me why I love it here so much.

Baltimore Half Marathon – Race Recap

First of all I want to thank my family and friends (including Rebecca!) for donating to my run for Kennedy Krieger! I was able to raise $250 for a cause that I support so strongly!

Not even a week ago, I hopped in my car to drive 500+ miles south to Baltimore. I’d begun training for a marathon, got hurt and took a month off running, and did a short, low-mileage half-marathon “training plan”. I’d been dreaming of running the Baltimore half-marathon one day, and the time had finally come.

Pre-Cap (?)

I had a great time the Thursday before the race. I stopped by Kennedy Krieger to pick up my charity bag and then after driving through the hood  and getting lost I finally made it downtown. After grabbing a drink with a friend we went to the expo! This was my first ever race “expo”. It was super overwhelming but I sort of loved it. THERE WAS SO MUCH STUFF! However, I didn’t love how it was organized; making you to walk from one end to another, through all the crowds to get your bib and shirt. It made sense in a way, but I ended up feeling super disorganized. I went through once with my friend Ben, and again with Beth. All in all, I liked the expo, loved all the shopping, and was happy I only spent about $70. I could have done a lot more damage!

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Finish line set-up!

I spent the day before the race relaxing – spending time with friends while watching too much Friends. I ate lots of spaghetti, had a couple glasses of wine and of course set out my “Flat Sam.” I was feeling really good going into Saturday morning.

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Race Morning

On Saturday we (Beth, her Aunt, and I) were up bright and early to drive to the lightrail. I had just an english muffin for breakfast, which I later learned was not nearly enough. We were downtown by 8:45 with an hour for stretching, bathroom stops, and pondering what we were about to do. It was chilly, so I was super thankful that Beth’s Aunt gave us clothes she was going to donate to use for throw-aways.

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Beautiful, but chilly morning!

I was so ready when the gun went off at 9:45. About 10 minutes later we crossed the start and I knew I wanted a PR. I knew to take it easy the first few miles for the hills. I tried to go out a bit more conservative, while staying on pace for what my current PR is (2:15). 5 miles later I regretted it. I regretted everything.

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It didn’t take too long for my too-fast start to catch up with me. The hills were killer. I expected them, I knew I should have gone out easier, but they were harder and more frequent than I expected. By mile 4, my quads were on fire and my right hip was really bothering me. It wasn’t bad to the point of needing to stop and walk outside of my prescribed 4:1 ratio, but it definitely nagged me for the rest of the race. I eventually re-evaluated my goal to simply finish under 2:20 (spoiler alert -didn’t happen).

That smile and wave don't match how my quads were feeling.
That smile and wave don’t match how my quads were feeling.

It was around mile 7 that I got awful hunger pains and a splitting headache. I wasn’t able to stomach my second gu at 90 minutes and taking some peanut M&Ms from someone ended up in me almost puking on the person in front of me. I also thought for some odd reason that the course flattened in the second half. Nope, nope, and nope. I have never felt so physically awful during a race. If the hip pain wasn’t enough, my stomach felt absolutely horrendous. I spent most of my 1:00 walk breaks trying not to keel over.

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As expected, once the stomach ache and head ache hit, my legs were already shot from the hills and weren’t coming back for me. While my pace slowed and my goals fell further from reach, my spirits stayed surprisingly high. I took an extra walk break when I needed it at mile 12, and was able to finish the last 1.1 miles at a decent-enough pace for how I was feeling.

"I won't puke. I won't puke."
“I won’t puke. I won’t puke.”

As awful as I felt, the last half mile was incredible. The people of Baltimore lined the streets, I could see Camden yards, and I could hear the finish music. This was the moment I’d been dreaming of, running through the stadium. I forgot how awful I felt and while I didn’t have a kick left in me, I finished with all I had. Hearing my name over the loud speaker was incredible, and I was so proud when people yelled “Go Kennedy Krieger!”.

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I finished with my slowest time of the year, 10 minutes slower than my PR. It sucked, really sucked. I wanted a PR to bad, and I ruined it with going out too fast and not eating enough. However, I’m not mad. While this race didn’t go as planned, it was perfect in many ways. 

  •  I finished feeling sick, but also feeling healthy. Sure, I had aches and pains, but no part of me felt injured. After going through my injury this summer, that was my main priority.
  • There was never a point where I hated running. Typically during a half, I get to mile 10 and hate my life. While I hated how I felt, I never once wanted to stop running. I was determined to finish, especially for the Kennedy Krieger Athletes and all who had supported my fundraising.
  • It was a welcome reminder that you can’t always PR, and that this course isn’t necessarily for PRing.
  • I finished way off from my goal and with my second slowest half marathon time, but the second I finished I was ready to sign up for another half. Heck, I was ready to sign up for the 2016 Baltimore Half right then and there (I didn’t, I don’t even know if I could. HA!)
  • I love large races! I loved always running with people instead of being nearly alone half the time. Loved. It.

This race was such a learning experience for me. It was my first race where I experienced major fueling problems. It was also my first large race. I learned how strong my mentality can be even when my body is rebelling. I ran the streets of the city I love with people who also love it, as I had dreamed of since I was a freshman in college. While the race didn’t go as planned, I’ll be back next year, happy as can be (and hopefully with more food in my stomach).

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Baltimore Running Festival: Living the Injured Life

Another week has passed without running a stride after finally accepting that I’m injured. I had an x-ray last week and woke up in pain multiple nights during the week. While my x-ray came back negative, I’m not convinced that I don’t have a stress fracture. I have a high pain tolerance but at times (especially at night) the pain is excruciating. It’s spread from a localized spot to throughout my whole lower leg, from my ankle up to my knee. There are times where compression helps, but also times where it makes the pain worse. I’ve had to cancel my initial sports medicine doc./chiro appointment due to insurance, but hopefully will be taking more steps to finding out a cause within the week.

I also started accepting that while I’m injured, I still can get moving. I did yoga multiple days last week after getting out of my routine and started going to the gym again to use different non-weight bearing/low impact machines. If anything starts causing (more) pain at the gym, I stop immediately. While I need to keep up the cardio, I don’t want to keep making whatever is wrong with my leg worse.

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Not being able to run for the first time in a year has left me feeling very empty. For two weeks I didn’t feel like a runner, or that I’ll ever become a better one. Then I found my favorite Alex and Ani bracelet, and the little piece of metal put it all into perspective. I also have some friends that have been very supportive with it, even though they live far away. Sure, I can’t run now. But by allowing myself to heal, hopefully I’ll be able to run in the Baltimore Running Festival as part of some race, and I’ll be able to run a marathon in the future. Maybe I can’t run right now, but I can cross train to make my return more smooth. This journey to a marathon isn’t a sprint, but it’s a marathon itself.

SO for now I’m saying “sayonara, sucker” to my first marathon. I’ll be emailing the charity team coordinator this week to move down to the half marathon at the Baltimore Running Festival on 10/17. I’m confident that I can still take at least 3-4 weeks off running (if needed) and crosstrain, transition back to running, and at least finish the half. I’m not giving up on this race. I believe in Kennedy Krieger, want to raise this money, and want to run on their team. Knowing I’m doing this for a purpose helps me keep this injury in perspective.

So no workout recap this week. I did work out some, but seeing the small amount would make me too upset with myself. But this week will be different and after this post I’m not allowing myself to wallow anymore. School is starting and it’s time to get back to being my best self, whether it’s running on the streets or on the elliptical!