Yesterday was the Frederick Half Marathon. This is the first part of the Maryland double. The second is the Baltimore Half in October. You get a bonus medal for completing the two.
This was my 7th half, and probably one of the most difficult to date due to the weather. When I woke up at 4:30, the temps were already over 70 degrees, and humidity over 80% (it had rained in the wee hours of the morning, but did burn off a bit after daybreak). Fortunately, the race started at 6:30, so we were going to be able to finish before the heat got too bad. There was also a full marathon and relay, and I really felt for those would be running into the late morning/early afternoon. A friend of mine was volunteering at the bag check, and I stopped by to say hi while we were walking to the cars post race and he said that medical was pretty overwhelmed from people succumbing to the heat. Right near the water stop at mile 9, I saw a woman being treated by paramedics. Later I found out it was actually one of my friends who had seen her starting to go down, and helped her to the ground and signaled for medical help.
For weeks I planned on this being a “give it all” race in hopes of a great PR. I really had not raced a half since this same weekend last year when I did the Long Branch Half, choosing to do others between then and now at a more relaxed pace. So, as I saw the forecast, my hopes began to fade. Finally I just decided to go out there and see what I could do, but while listening to my body and being sure to hydrate well along the way. My hope was for a time around 2:50, a steady 13 minute pace. Given my performance at last month’s 10 miler (a 12 minute pace), I thought it could be a bit better than 2:50, but with the weather, who knew what would happen.
My first 2 miles were under a 12 minute pace. Clearly the race hysteria had caught me and by mile 2 1/2 I was drenched in sweat and telling myself I need to slow down, and sooner rather than later. I ping ponged into a couple of folks from my local running club. One made a comment that I was “hard to keep up with these days”, lol.
The first half seemed to go quickly, suddenly I was at mile 6. I caught up with one of my training buddies around mile 8 and we ran together on and off for the next couple of miles. One of our ROTE friends was cheering just before mile 10, and was armed with cold water and popsicles. Sooo good!
The race then became a mental game. How much harder could I push myself? I’d been lucky that up to this point it had been fairly cloudy. I was right around mile 10 when the sun decided to come out. No fun, as there really is no shade in those later miles. I kept going, happy to see a couple of training buddies at points along the way. I knew I had a PR by this point, it was just a matter of by how much. I got a second wind at mile 12, but it was gone by mile 13. Whomever put a steep hill right around mile 13 is cruel. I decided to walk it. Seemed like the safer way to go. Got to the top of the hill and turned to corner and then we were on the horse track and headed toward the finish line.
Final time was 2:46:52, a 6 1/2 minute PR.
Despite the heat, this was a very enjoyable race. Residents of some of the communities we ran through stood out with hoses, or had sprinklers set up for you to run through, which was a wonderful thing, and probably one of the things that kept me going. One couple even stood in front of their house and had a “restroom here” sign in their yard. As we ran past, everyone thanked them for being willing to open their house up to smelly runners like that!