I Did It! Baltimore Marathon.

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I was so nervous and uncertain leading up to it. Especially because my left ankle tendonitis flared up, and in the days leading up to the race, I was so scared that I wouldn’t even be able to do it, or would have to drop out. And I was nervous because a lot of people knew I was doing this, and I didn’t want to have to tell them I couldn’t do it. Although, I kept reminding myself it DOESN’T MATTER what other people think, and really, I learned that lesson over and over this weekend. It really doesn’t.

On Friday night Andy and I took the train to Baltimore, checked in at the hotel, went to packet pickup and got my number and schwag…that was exciting. We checked out the finish line area and figured out where we would meet up after the race (the beer tent). We walked around Federal Hill to find a place for dinner….that neighborhood was really nice, we definitely want to go back. We ended up at Pub Dog for pizza and beer (well, water for me). I just wanted something simple and light that wouldn’t mess with my stomach, and it was perfect. Early to bed.

Saturday morning I was awake by 5:30. Left the hotel by 7. Nervous and excited, it’s really happening. Walked up to the Orioles’ stadium, took some photos, looked around. Said goodbye to Andy in the starting corrals…that’s always the hardest part, to have to say goodbye, to realize I really am doing this, alone. The corral was fine, not nearly as packed and crazy as Richmond, which was so nice. And the first few miles were easy, not all the crowding and jostling typical to most races….it was really comfortable, with plenty of elbow room. Saw Andy at the first mile and got choked up. On my own now for awhile. Tried to run slow, to keep my pace, to not make the BIG MISTAKE so many marathoners make by going out too fast. I was successful with this. I enjoyed looking around at the city, the neighborhoods. Baltimore is a city where the neighborhoods change very fast, block by block. Went through a beautiful park for a while. At the end of the day though, I am a city runner, and I was happy when we went back through the city streets again. Down to mile 9 near the inner harbor – saw Andy again!

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Here it got a little crazy because there were a lot more fans and the half-marathon was starting here, so a lot going on. Also, the route became an out-and-back route here, so we passed all the marathoners who were ahead of us, coming back, and that was sort of frustrating. Eventually back up….around Inner Harbor again. I had this sense the whole time that I was the last runner, which I wasn’t, there were people behind me, but it was a little disconcerting and I tried really hard not to let it bother me. Saw Andy again at 14.5, yay! He was such a great support, I couldn’t have done it without him.

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By then I was getting tired. I decided that from miles 15 to 20 I would do a run/walk strategy, to conserve my energy for the final 6.2 miles. That ended up being more like run/walk from miles 15-22, because it was HILLY! I knew it would be, but didn’t know how much until I got there. And it was windy. So that stretch was tough. But the people in the neighborhoods were great, a lot of people came out and cheered, I slapped five with a ton of people. A lot of “Wire”-type areas, too.

I thought about all sorts of things, but mostly about the city, looking around me. I thought about Andy waiting for me at the finish line, and thought about my family.

Went through another park and around a lake, got stronger then. Leaving the park I knew it was the home stretch, although it was still a LONG home stretch. I tried really hard, ran as much as I could, little to no hills. Finally, the final few miles. Ran, ran, ran. Felt so good. My main goal was to finish, and by about miles 10, 12, 13, I knew I was going to finish. My second goal was to finish strong, feeling good, and by the early 20s, I knew I could do that, too. Running through Orioles stadium, I was looking for Andy, so excited. Saw him right by the finish line. Sprinted so fast down the finishers chute over the finish line, grinning my face off. FELT SO GOOD.

My official time was 5:28:38.  It’s not the most amazing time ever, but I FINISHED.  That was the goal all along.

After I went over the finish line, volunteers were handing out medals. They asked me, marathon or half, or relay? MARATHON. Yeah, that felt awesome. Got banana, bagel, gatorade, water, granola bar, silver cape, went to meet Andy. Yeah. Got a beer looked for Andy, and saw him. Yeah, it felt so good…almost didn’t feel real.

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I was so sore. My left ankle hurt during the race, but I mostly ignored it, especially because by about mile 18 or so, everything below the waist hurt…both knees, both ankles, both feet, all over. I tried to do some stretching, walked back to the hotel, got our stuff, cab to train station. Waited and stretched. Train back to DC, cab, shower, dinner of fish and chips and veggies at Tackle Box, which was perfect. We came home and watched The Wire, reflecting on our day in Baltimore. By that night, I was really sore. On Sunday I was sore too, but not any worse, thankfully. A few days later, still sore, but getting better. Definitely need to rest my ankle for a week, probably 2 weeks.

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Sometimes it still doesn’t feel real. I am a marathoner. Really. I keep thinking about it, keep reminding myself. I worked so hard for this, all summer long, on all my travels I ran, all those Saturday mornings, in the rain, in the heat. I really committed to something and did it. It does wonders to my self-confidence.  I’ve learned it really doesn’t matter what other people think, really. Also, I feel more confident and happy with my body, appearance. After I took my first shower, I didn’t really care about doing my hair or putting on makeup. It just felt like that doesn’t matter. This body can run a marathon, who cares about makeup? An awesome feeling.

What now? I don’t think I’ll do another marathon. I wanted to do it to see if I could. Maybe it would be fun to try another, to get a better time, try a different city. But traveling to races is a pain. I’m really thankful that Andy put up with all this, came with me and supported me so much. But the time commitment for training is just so much. And I like long distances, but 17, 18, 20 miles is just really long. And I’m scared of hurting my ankles, knees in the long run. I think the half-marathon distance suits me better, and I could improve my time with that. I want to get below 2 hours in the half. There is a half-marathon in March here in DC, and I want to do that. I need to do strength-training for my knees and ankles, too. Worried about training for a race through the winter, hope it’s not a snowy winter like last year.

For now, I know I need to rest. I know that will be hard…my body needs to run, wants to run. It will feel weird to not get up and run a few days a week. And I certainly don’t want to lose my fitness. But rest is so important, I know I need to just enjoy it and do it now, so I can run again later.

Still can’t believe it’s over. After all this anticipation, all this planning, all this imagining…I did it, I made it through. I feel like I’ve crossed a line, like I’m on the other side now.

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