Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The big 4-0, Maryland! St. Michael's Running Festival Race Review

The Race:

State # 40!
Half # 49
13 in 13 progress: 7/ 13 

Official Time: 1:40:59
Overall Place: 75/ 1182
Age group: 4/133

Why I chose this one for Maryland?

  • No preference of what part of state I see, therefore was just looking for a weekend free in spring before it gets too hot
  • Elevation profile or lack there of. It was PANCAKE flat 

  • This would be its 2nd year for race, which means still small enough to be enjoyable and not have to bob and weave around runners the whole time. Generally smaller races have better after parties / swag/ home town feel as well.  
  • Originally I had shared this race with P and he was all about it in attempt to get a shiny new PR and qualify for Corral 1 at Chicago, so I would have a travel buddy. On top of that I found a race, Marine Corp 1/2, in VA the following day to allow for a double header.
    • Plans fell through with P- he got injured and didn't want to fly out if he couldn't PR so I no longer had a travel partner. I nixed VA immediately because there was no way I was doing a double header solo, and after looking at hotels and seeing they were all sold out in the area for St. Michael's, I nixed this race altogether. 
  • It wasn't until 2 weeks ago I decided that I wanted to give it a go and see if I could break 1:40, so I traded in my southwest points for a super cheap flight, got a hotel 25 miles away, and paid out the wazoo for a rental car to get from Baltimore airport to St. Michaels (about 1.5 hour drive) 
  • Last and certainly not least--- whatever race I ran next was going to be the big 40th state, no offense if I have any Wyoming readers out there, but I didn't really want to celebrate a milestone in my racing quest this upcoming weekend at a race in Laramie that I'm almost positive I'm going to hate (8,000+ ft elevation, hills galore, wind, potential cold, etc). I wanted 40 to be a positive race memory, even if that meant I was going to do it by myself. 

Pre Race:
  • For those that travel with me... I have a tendency to be a super forgetful person... its to the point that you would think it was my first time ever racing. For this race- I was super prepared- I packed away my garmin and couldn't find it so I emailed my coworker thursday night asking if he could bring it to work so I could get the charge up to 100%. I haven't had time to buy a car charger for iphone yet, so I texted P and asked if I could use his knowing I would be using my phone for GPS. Lastly and most importantly I was having issues with my Ipod not holding a charge so I asked B if I could borrow hers- whew ALL bases covered last minute. 
  • Packet Pickup was SUPER accommodating-  Thurs: 12-6, Fri: 12-8pm both at host hotel, then again at the school 8:30- 10pm, Sat morning: 6-7:15 am. 
  • I flew in to Baltimore around 4ish and was able to fight traffic and arrive to pick up my packet around 630ish without a problem. I had debated on just doing it race morning, but since I had to pass St. Michaels to get to my hotel in Camden, I figured might as well
  • Loved the shirts and medal, however on the website it just asked for your size, there was no male or female option so NATURALLY I assumed they were unisex and I chose medium... they were not and I look like I'm wearing a kids shirt when I try to sport it... stupid long torso. At least the middle part of medal spins to make up for shirt. 
  • There is ZERO to do in Camden where I stayed along with not a lot of restaurants, so I had Denny's and enjoyed my pancakes, hashbrowns, and Bacon.... got to have the bacon. 
  • Race start was 7:30am and they made it pretty clear the 2 lane road to get to the highschool was closing at 7, so leave early. I woke up at 5:15, had a waffle in the lobby, and was out the door by 6am. 
  • Arrived in plenty of time to stretch and unwind, and naturally race got delayed an additional 10 min due to many runners getting stuck in traffic. 
The Race:
  • If you're my friend on FB or read any of my previous posts, I decided a few weeks ago I wanted to see if I could break 1:40 today. I'll be honest- never really thought about what that would look like till night before... apparently that is a 7:37 pace... CRAP.  Deep down I didn't know if I had it in me, but my plan was just to go out and see what happens aka, there was no plan.
  • I found out the night before that the music on B's ipod was NOT going to cut it in the 'pump up and run fast' factor, so I downloaded pandora last minute and found an "alternative endurance exercise" station... seriously it was absolutely perfect. The first song that came on was one of my faves from my actual workout playlist so I went out faster than anticipated- and when I saw my time I decided that I didn't feel like it was that hard, but I should slow down a tad and conserve some energy.  First 3 miles clocked in 7:11, 7:25, 7:21.
  • I remember thinking to myself "Holy Shit, I can't believe I'm doing this right now!!" My watch is set to have the biggest part of my screen set on avg pace- naturally I knew I just needed to keep it under 7:37 and I would be good. It was so refreshing to be in the 7:20s and know that I had room to breathe and slow down when I needed it. 
  • Although the weather was pristine and I never felt "thirsty", I knew I needed to fuel more than normal due to my faster pace and requiring more energy--- to this day I still have not mastered the run and drink out of a cup, so I had to walk through all the stops. I cannot emphasize enough how just those little walk breaks took such a beating on my time- Its hard for me to stop and pick back up, its like my legs get confused and I kept spending all the time after the water stops trying to speed up to 'catch up' my time for each mile to even out my average pace. 7:36, 7:44, 7:39
  • Once mile 6.5 hit I started getting giddy because I was about 1/2 way through and I still had some cushion to hit the sub 1:40 mark- as nerdy as this sounds, I kept visualizing crossing the finish line and seeing a 1:3x:xx on the clock and just bursting into tears. I was thinking to myself how (to me) the 1:30s is like a special club that is hard to get into, but once you do it feels sooooooo good. I started thinking about how just 1 year ago my goal was to break 1:50 and here I am a year later about to break 1:40 which I never thought was possible... naturally tears of joy were streaming down my face. Unfortunately, my legs and mind were not working together and all that time spent day dreaming and not focusing put me in 7:50 robot pace: 7:36, 7:51, 7:50, 7:50. 
  • This brings me to mile 10--- when I felt apart mentally and physically- Mile 1- is when I saw the 7:37, switch to a 7:38 and I came to the sudden snap back to reality that maybe I wouldn't be hitting 1:40. I started crying (ya I know, I'm pathetic) because I was working so hard in the race and I generally don't push myself  or actually RACE my runs, but today was a different story. For the first time in a LONG time, I was putting it out there and I was potentially going to fail. I tried to speed up, but my quads were NOT having it. I even tried to pick points out to sprint to... apparently this made me go slower as mile 11 was my slowest mile, 8:05
  • The last 2 miles were ROUGH, I was telling myself if I really picked it up I could potentially still hit my mark, unfortunately I didn't pick it up enough at mile 12 was 7:48. Last mile felt like the longest mile of my life- I accepted that I wouldn't be hitting 1:40, I knew I was getting a PR, but I just had NOTHING left to give. My legs felt like rocks and each step it was just getting harder and harder to move. Even when I saw the finish line in sight I didn't feel like I could really kick it in. Within the last 100 meters 2 girls flew by me-awesome!
  • Last mile, 7:55, last .16 7:16 <---- no idea how THAT happened. Official time, 1:40:59
  • Only thing handed out at finish line was water- I asked around if there was gatorade or food and they told me to go to Runner's Village which was a couple blocks away. I walked there, waited in line for beer first only to find out you had to pay for your beer-- no where did it say that on website and I had no cash on me. There was also NO food to be found. I finally found a girl eating a banana and asked her where she got it... back at the finish line a several yards from the chute. 
  • I had to walk ALL the way BACK to finish line, got 2 small pb & J sandwiches, a banana, and granola bar.... no gatorade. I was able to look at results and see I got 4th, luckily the 2 women that passed me were older as the 3rd place female in my age group was 15 sec ahead of me. 
  • Afterward I walked back to car, grabbed my stuff to shower in high school, then after getting clean and lunch headed back to airport--- extremely anti-climatic. 
Since the photo didn't show from my last post that I put up from iphone- 

Afterthoughts of the race: 
My Mentality

I had a brief post after the race on Saturday where I discussed how I was so upset with myself about not hitting the 1:40 mark... I got some flack from some and from others there was total agreement how they are that way too... my true thoughts on this topic are a post all in itself which I'll write down later this week.

This was the hardest race mentally I've ever run. Every.single.mile I was looking at the clock. Every second counted. This is how anal I am and this is why I don't race most runs I do because I get so anxious / nervous that my mind is in overdrive the entire time. 

  • Weather- 60s and overcast
  • Smaller field size, 1182 for the half. 
  • The course was easy- flat the whole time, mix of neighborhoods and highways, scenery was so so. 
  • ease of packet pickup, race parking, course markings etc
  • They had Cliff energy gels... boxes of them at tables. I had to stop and look through to see if they had double espresso... they did! I ended up taking 4 (2 at each table) so a major score :)
  • The bling- see above photo 
  • Ability to shower after race so I didn't have to go back to hotel
  • hotels in St. Michaels were crazy expensive, then sold out- had to stay 25 miles away, but it was a 40 min drive due to the roads being 2 lanes
  • Not really a pro or con for me, but for some No spectators, so a true "runner's course" who doesn't need that extrinsic motivation.
  • Unclear instructions on what was in runner's village. Having to walk back and forth on tired legs just to find a banana was ridiculous. Also I can't believe there was so gatorade. 
  • I wouldn't have minded paying for a beer, but since it didn't say 'bring your money' I didn't want to go all the way back to car just for a drink. 
I would recommend this race for those looking to cross Maryland off their list. It's an easy drive from the Baltimore airport to St. Michaels. I would HIGHLY suggest booking the Host Hotel, Best Western early since that is where packet pickup up is and its 1 mile from race start. 


  1. humber 40 is a huge milestone, you are so in the homestretch to your 50 states! you were so close to a sub 1:40, it will come!

  2. Congrats on the big 4-0!

    I'm most impressed that you did this one by yourself. It gives me hope for my future trips to North Dakota and probably a few other states where I know no one will want to go with me.

  3. I think traveling alone can be easier sometimes because then you can do whatever you want in terms of food and sleep, etc.

    Again, sorry you didn't hit your mark, but you are in NO way at your peak and I'm sure the stars will align someday and you will get your sub 1:40.

  4. you are so close!!! to your sub 140 and your 50 states! great job lisa!

  5. You had a super speedy race! Way to go. Glad it was a flat one, too! So sorry about the 40 minute drive to get to the race start.

  6. I would have started crying during the super happy time and the disappointing moment. I feel ya! It was a great race though! The mental part of running is the hardest part for me to balance. Sometimes I am too cocky and go out and then I can barely finish. Other times my confidence is so rocked that I think I should never run again. I totally believe your mind will catch up to your legs and you will be part of the 1:3xx club!!

  7. You really rocked that race & it will be even greater when you take another 60 sec off that time! :)
    Glad you decided to just go for it instead of waiting. Crazy that you are at #40 already! What will you do after you check all 50 off your list?

  8. Congrats on #40! After the races I've run lately pancake flat sounds very nice!!

  9. I think my quads hurt from just reading this. I felt like I was running too! First, 1:40 is huge. I mean, that's so fast. I'm a 9 min girl, high 8's on a good day. I blame my 10 lb child for readjusting my hips and making me slow HAHAHA! Just kidding.

    You did great! You might beat yourself up but we all think you're pretty darn fast! AND, you're almost through your states!

  10. Nice recap and congrats on your time. I see a sub 1:40 for you soon! I was there and was shooting for a sub 1:37 - I just knew I could do it on the flat course but just didn't have it and finished in 1:41:08 - I'm sure we passed each other a few times on the course. Tamara put a recap on our blog at www.werrunners.com

    Continued good luck on your running!


  11. congrats-proud of you!! you've come a long way in a really, really short period of time and are still doing a ton of races which is awesome. i love this medal-sounds like a pretty good race. and really impressed you just went on your own :)

  12. Sooo close!!! You have it in you!!