March 22, 2020

9 Minutes and 34 Seconds Faster – My B&A Trail Half PR Story

It was a perfect day for racing today! Cool but not cold. Sunny. Allegedly not that windy.

Shorts weather! Yay!

I was up bright and early to meet Sarah and her husband at their house to head out to Severna Park, MD for the B&A Trail Half Marathon.

I set 3 alarms. I would have set more but I ran out of cute captions.

4 a.m. came fast. I had really bad anxiety about the race last night. I got into bed at 8 and by 10 I was so worked up that I texted the BF who was out with friends (because I made a big deal about him not being home making a bunch of noise) and begged him to come home and calm me down.  He did, but not until it was nearly 11 and I don’t think I fell asleep until after 11:30.

Pre-Race with Sarah and Victoria! Let's go class of 2020!

Pre-race we met up with Victoria and hung out in Severna High School where there was a giant sign welcoming the class of 2020. That’s right, high school freshmen are graduating in 2020. Insanity. It was so nice to have a warm place to hang out until start time. We headed outside at around 7:20 and got ready to run!

The course was an out and back on the B&A Trail, a nice paved path. It was a little narrow in parts but it was great to run on. Unfortunately, the whole thing looked almost exactly the same so it’s hard to keep track of the race in my mind, other than the first mile that went through a residential neighborhood.

I tried to not look at my watch at all, except at certain mile markers. I also tried to take it really easy in the beginning.  Other than going out too fast in the first mile, I did a really good job of it until mile 5.  Then I started looking for Dorothy, who would be heading back long before I got to the turn around. I was so happy when I saw her at around mile 5.5 for me (8.5 for her? I’m bad at the math thing) that I started jumping up and down screaming for her. She was leading the women for the full at that point (I’d been studying the bibs of all the women that passed ahead of her and they were all half runners) and even though I knew she had a lot more race to run…I just got a good feeling about how her race would go. I’m not going to spoil her race results so check her blog for the recap. I know it will be a good one!

I guess my excitement carried for a bit, because miles 5-7 were my fastest of the day. Mile 7 had a nice downhill. I remember thinking it wasn’t such a bad hill, but going back up it was just brutal. The course is so flat that the incline felt a lot worse than it was.  Now that I had passed the turn around, I started hitting a serious headwind. Mile 8 was a little over a minute slower than mile 7 and then my wheels started to come off at mile 9, even though it was flat it was 18 seconds slower than the uphill. I realized I was probably hungry and took the rest of my Honey Stingers Waffle and felt a bit better.

I needed to think about something other than running. This was a small race, with next to no crowd support and it was getting tough.  I’m going to get sappy here for a minute, but today was the one year anniversary of the death of one of my most wonderful coworkers. His office was right next to mine and I miss him all the time. I didn’t realize until a few weeks ago that the race coincided with the date but when I did I thought it was a good sign. So around mile 10 I started talking to myself – mostly in my head (because talking out loud to a ghost is weird, right?) but occasionally, I found myself saying please buddy… please keep me going. And miles 10 and 11 were good. 40 seconds faster than mile 9. Despite the stupid headwind that was making me seriously regret ditching my gloves early in the race, and the fact that my hips were cramping like crazy, I knew I could finish this race without walking. I’d made it that far and I wasn’t about to stop this close to the end.  So in my imaginary conversations, I said that I’d keep running and wouldn’t stop. And wondered if I was making a total ass out of myself next to some poor man running the full marathon who kept looking over at me when I was mumbling to myself – so I thought “If you’re really listening to me show me a poodle” (he was a dog guy and his obituary called him the faithful friend of his dog – a standard white poodle). Standard poodles aren’t the most common dogs and I never thought I’d see one out on this little trail, but somewhere a little after mile 12 I saw a man out for a walk with a big black standard poodle. And I just about lost it. I started to cry (it’s really hard to cry and run so that didn’t last long) and kept saying “I knew it!” out loud, much to the dismay of the poor man next to me.

I made it through the last mile and picked out a girl that I refused to let finish ahead of me.  She was wearing pink and I’d seen her walking a few times and I just couldn’t let her get across that line before me. When we made the turn back into the school we were right next to each other and her cheering section was telling her to finish fast. I looked at her and said “HELL NO!” and took off like a bat out of hell. You can see her in the pictures below.

eat my dust

No way

Almost done!

I got through my last .14 at a 9:14 pace! I guess there was just a little bit of gas left in the tank! Sarah and Victoria were cheering me on (and Sarah’s husband took the pictures of me finishing. Big thanks to him – he was such a trooper… going back and forth to the car to pick up the stuff we forgot before the race!) and we managed to take a really cute picture before my back and hips started cramping and I started cursing uncontrollably. Sorry to all the small children inside the school who heard my chorus of f bombs. You have to learn that word eventually right? And studies show cursing helps ease pain, so it was medically necessary or something.

You might also like: 2014 Boston Marathon Recap: 3:23:41 May 1st, 2014

With Sarah and Victoria who also PRed!

It's a bunny medal!

I love race medals!

I was starving and inhaled a piece of pizza, some orange wedges, and goldifsh crackers before we hit the road – the finishers’ area at this race was really awesome.  The pizza wasn’t the best idea. I got really queasy halfway home. I got home, showered and collapsed for an  hour and a half before waking up FAMISHED. Lucky for me, the BF went and got me Chipotle while I was napping.

You might also find the following article interesting - Josh McDougalThe Path to Humility

Post race Chipotle! Somewhere under all that guacamole is lots of chicken!

To anyone who read that super long recap – you’re awesome. And congrats to everyone who raced this weekend – especially everyone in the PR club from the B&A Trail Half/Full Marathons today! Questions of the day: How do you motivate yourself in small races that are really quiet. This race didn’t feel particularly race like to me!

Related Article - Blue Ridge Half Marathon: Must Have Been the Socks