Only a small handful of people knew that October 13 would mark the day that I went out and ran my 4th full marathon – see, it’s kind of a funny story…so here’s the short version:
On September 28, I just happened to be dorking around on Facebook…I hit “refresh” as I often do, and much to my surprise, a post from the Baltimore Running Festival (BRF) appeared in my feed that had this photo:
Along with the image, the post read simply: “VOLUNTEER NEEDED TO RUN THE FULL MARATHON IN THIS DUNKIN DONUTS COSTUME! We’re looking for an adventurous runner who is willing to run the full marathon while wearing this Dunkin Donuts costume. Payment is some free race photos and possibly some coupons from Dunkin. First person to reply gets to wear it.”
On a whim, I typed, “ME!” as fast as I could, refreshed the page and was surprised to see that I, in fact was the first to respond. I was kind of surprised, but excited! Within a few minutes, there were more replies, but I was informed that I had in fact ‘won’ the honor! Soon after that, I was in contact with the folks at the BRF, registered and ready to go. BRF let me know that Dunkin Donuts would be contacting me with info about the costume shortly and in the meantime, I just couldn’t believe what I had signed up to do! Sure, running 26.2 miles with a giant coffee cup on could be an “interesting” experience, but since I had 20 to run that day ANYWAY, the extra bulk would FORCE me to run slower, right?
…so how come I am wearing “normal” clothes in my finisher’s photo above?
Well, the Sunday before race day, I was informed by BRF that the contact they had with Dunkin’ was unable to be reached. So, hubs and I had already booked our hotel and made plans with friends, so of course, we went with it anyway! I decided to have some spirit and not only wore Orioles orange, but Ravens purple 🙂
But – back to the race.
I ran the week leading up to race day like a normal training week: no taper or major carbo loading and I went into the race with a few goals:
- Run a 3:57 (my previous PR had been 3:58, set at Shamrock Marathon, which is about a 9 minute pace)
- Run smart (start slow, listen to my body and slow down if need be, it wasn’t an “A” race for me)
- Enjoy the course (I was told the race would be hilly – and I looked forward to the sight seeing opportunities)
Armed with those low-key aspirations, I definitely headed into the race with a very positive attitude.
So, without further ado, here’s the whole story:
Race morning began for me a few minutes before 6 AM. With an 8 AM start for the race, I had set my alarm for 6, planned to leave by 7 AM and be all ready to race when the gun went off. Of course, things don’t always go as planned…you see, my morning prep went just fine (had a blueberry bagel from Wegmans that I’d purchased the night before, plus some Nuun Kona Cola, since the hotel room only had decaf coffee) but hubs and I were surprised when we arrived at the parking garage to see that it did not open until 9 AM! Well, that just wasn’t going to work! So, we busted out the map on hub’s phone and we walked the 2 1/2 miles (ish) to the starting area. No harm, no foul.
Although the race was fairly large (3,021 finishers) there were no corrals, just self-seeding. This would have been fine if I had been able to get to the start a little earlier (not the race’s fault!) as spectators were already walling around the line-up area, making it difficult to even get in! In the chaos, I ended up ditching my idea of checking my bag in and just handing over my post-race bag and hoodie to hubs before jumping in to the crowd!
It wasn’t more than 5 minutes that I had to wait before the anthem played and the race began! The song, “Let’s Go” was the starting song and was a good pump up song:
I had decided that I wouldn’t switch on my iPod until I felt like I needed a boost in the race, though I had my headphones in anyway, because I didn’t want to have to deal with pulling them out or dropping them, etc. I was so glad that I did this, because the crowd was electric at the start!
I ran my first mile at around a 9 minute pace, due to congestion. It was nice to start out so easy – I saw the 4 hour pacer right near me which gave me this odd sense of calm.
The first few miles were really a happy blur…we were running through the city toward Druid Hill park, where we’d enter the Baltimore Zoo for some smooth sailing-downhill miles. At around Mile 3, there was a big banner that said, “Will you Marry Me, Christa?” – interesting, as I pondered how I’d feel about seeing that at the beginning of a marathon if I were her!
Each mile was just ticking off…tick, tick, tick. I settled into a pace that hovered around 8:15-8:40ish – stopped right before Mile 6 to take my first GU, then set back off…
Around Mile 7, something incredible happened! I was running behind a woman and saw that she had a photograph on her back. As I approached her, I saw that the message said, “In Memory of…” – I was taken aback…
Here I was, in a city I had only been to twice, running a race that I hadn’t really planned on and I literally run into someone that knew my brave, beautiful and courageous friend Jamie?! I had to tap this woman on the shoulder and let her know! We had a brief running hug and I think it boosted both of us!!*
I wouldn’t stop running again until I passed Mile 11, right near Under Armour. The temperature was still low, but the sun was rising up a little higher, so I pulled over, rolled off my armwarmers, started up the iPod and took my second GU…back to the grind!
I hit the half point around 1:50, which is right near my current PR (1:47) so I felt great! We were back near downtown and passed the starting area for the half marathon (they started at 9:45 AM) so it was nice to have a big cheering section at that point in the race! From there, we headed down near Fells Point area and northward…and for the first time, at around Mile 15, I felt the first feeling of being somewhat alone on the course, which was kind of relaxing!
Of course, that didn’t last long! At Mile 16, the courses merged along a straightaway area where a band was playing. It was pretty congested, but not terrible – I guess I had read enough about it being a total cluster that it wasn’t as bad as I thought it could be!
Of course, Mile 16 also signified the course ‘rollercoaster’ of hills from there through Mile 22-ish!
The thing about the Baltimore Hills was this: they’re not particularly steep (like the ones here in Charlottesville) but they can drag on…and on…and on. Also, the roads weren’t in the BEST shape, so you had to watch your footing in what had become quite a mess of people: marathoners, half marathoners and even relay runners. So, everyone was running “their” pace and you really had to stay vigilant! Soon enough though, we reached beautiful Lake Montebello.
Now, this part of the race was a little disorienting, as the lake was pretty large and you could see runners that were ahead of you streaming around the perimeter, just as you were setting off to round it…along with that, it was pretty sunny by that point. Since I had just ticked off Mile 20 (and was under 3 hours!) I decided that it was the time to just take it easy and feel out the rest of the race! I am not great at math, but it occurred to me that I could probably readjust my marathon goal for that day to around a 3:50 or… even a 3:47?!
Side note here: I felt strong, no real pain…except for the first time in a marathon, I felt FAMISHED! My tummy was growling SOO loud! I had lost a GU somewhere during the race, so all I could do was drink more water at the stations!
The miles kept rolling, pretty uneventfully…my playlist was rocking and I was in total disbelief that I had not hit any sort of wall or experienced the dreaded leg cramps that I had previously endured in both Richmond and Shamrock…it was getting a little harder to push the pace, but since I wasn’t under any stress for a specific time, I just let it go…running happy and strong!
At Mile 25, I saw the clock: 3:33! WHAT?! How did this happen? With just 1.2 miles to go, it hit me that I was going to go sub 3:45, as long as I could keep chugging along at my 8:30-ish pace! We snaked down through downtown, saw the Orioles bird (it will always make me smile now) and pushed through Camden Yards…Mile 26…then closer….
I could hear the announcer say: “If your goal is 3:45 today and you can hear my voice, IT IS ABOUT TO HAPPEN!”
I could see the timer, and though it wasn’t quite a sprint finish, it was a strong one! I crossed the finish at the clock time of 3:44-something and glanced at my Garmin, which read 3:43:18.
I was overcome with emotion when I received my medal! I had just shaved FIFTEEN ENTIRE MINUTES off of my marathon time! And I felt AMAZING!
I navigated out of the finisher’s area after grabbing a bottle of water and headed to where I thought the meetup area was for a Disney group I belong to, but didn’t see anyone, so I called my hubs and we decided to meet near the Jimmy John’s by the Orioles stadium where he surprised me with a Pumpkin Mocha from Caribou! MMMMMMM! Best recovery drink ever! I also scarfed down half a turkey sandwich before we headed back to the hotel.
All in all, it was a fantastic race experience…unexpected, but awesome. In a few days, I may do a mile-by-mile breakdown to see how I can improve for the next A race, but until then, I plan on riding this PR high as far as it wants to take me!
Official finish time: 3:43:18
The next morning, I tried out the race shirt…best one I have ever received, btw, definitely a benefit to having Under Armour as a ‘hometown’ sponsor:
* After the race, I saw my name mentioned in a Facebook comment, that said, “I wonder if that girl was Krissy Murphy.” – it accompanied this post: At mile 7 I had a girl come up beside me and she yelled. “Hey, I saw the back of your shirt. I used to work with Jamie at Epcot. She was an amazing person. “. We hugged and then ran our separate ways. Here we are hundreds of miles from florida… I am humbled!
Please visit this page if you would like to contribute to Team Fight, the organization that my NEW friend Kristine was running for, in memory of Jamie 🙂