Like all normal grown women on a Friday night, we spent a good portion of the night using puffy paint to decorate our shirts. I found out that Alyssa has advanced puffy paint skills, so I should have made her decorate my shirt too.
|So many choices!|
The back of my shirt was written by me and it looked pretty rough, but it was legible, so that was a success:
|I reek of maturity|
I had Alyssa do the writing for the front, which is why it's so much neater. I didn't want to put my name on my shirt, so I went with the next best thing:
This was a surprisingly popular saying for the crowds. It cracked me up every time to hear someone yell "Go, crazy bitch, go!"
Getting to the marathon was pretty easy and involved about a mile walk in the chilly morning air. We went to a bar near the start line that was rented out by Alyssa's running club. It was a really sweet deal: for 5 bucks, I got to use a real bathroom, stash my gear there, and I got food before and after the race.
I was feeling really relaxed about the race, but when I went outside to line up at the start, my Garmin wouldn't turn on. I screamed at the little screen: "Don't let me down, you little piece of shit!" I think tough love is the best bet for electronics.
Alyssa's husband quickly Googled ways to reset my Garmin and I managed to get the screen to show up and the "Low Battery" icon was flashing. I had fully charged it the night before, but the stupid thing wasn't listening to my arguments. I had no choice but to run the race with no Garmin. Alyssa said that she'd suffer with me and not look at her Garmin at all. Considering that we're both Garmin junkies, this was a big thing. I am so used to running while knowing my pace that running without one is like running blind.
The marathon started on a long uphill, which seemed mean, but it also meant we didn't go out too fast (or so I assume). The first three miles, I was like "Are we going to the zoo now??" like a little kid and soon my request was answered and the zoo was not only super fun (uh, how many people can say a skunk cheered them on?), it was mostly downhill.
At mile 9 we ran past all the half marathon people lined up waiting for their race to start. They all cheered for us and made me feel like a rock star. Most of my races have like 5 spectators, so this was a whole new world. This was also the flatter section of the race and it featured an out and back that gave us a chance to see the faster runners.
We ran over the 13.1 timing mat (1:57) right as the half marathon started, but they had to run 3 miles before they met up with us again at mile 16. The merge of the two races was uh, problematic. Mile 16 features the first long hill for the half marathoners and many of them faded fast...and they were all running in front of us. The weaving was just awful. Alyssa and I weren't even able to run next to each other because we were constantly passing slower people. It was really frustrating for us (and probably for the half marathon people too).
At mile 20, I saw the timer say 3:02, so I knew that unless we started hauling ass, we would probably get a time over 4 hours. Alyssa got my mental memo and starting hauling ass. Earlier in the race, she had a few moments where she didn't like the pace I was setting, especially on the hills. As payback, she decided to push me to my limits for the last 6 miles. It wasn't too bad until mile 22 when she put her headphones in and started rocking out to Celine Dion (seriously) and pushing the pace. I didn't mind the headphones because I wasn't chatty, but the pace was rough. My quads started cramping pretty badly, so I took my last Gu and hoped that would help. I pushed through, but the downhills hurt my quads a lot and I actually only felt ok on the inclines. The bad news was the last two miles were pretty much downhill.
I kept thinking I must had missed seeing the mile markers, but it was really that the last 4 miles seemed to take forever. I kept thinking "Just make to the next mile marker" and I also kept thinking about punching Alyssa. It was a very comforting thought at the time. I finally saw Camden Yards and the crowd was cheering "You've made it!". Not really, there was still half a mile to go. :)
We finally saw the mile 26 marker and Alyssa decided we should sprint to the finish. Since she was my Garmin, I had no choice but to keep up. We saw the finish line and saw the time say "3:53" and we just looked at each other and yelled "Do you SEE that? We're going to get under 4!!"
We crossed the finish line at 3:54:45 and we were so excited with our time. Baltimore is not an easy course and we haven't been training for speed at all (since 50 mile training emphasizes endurance over speed). With our weaving in and out, we had 26.38 as our final mileage, which makes our pace an average of 8:52 minute miles.
Good parts of the 2011 Baltimore Marathon:
- The weather was great. 70 and sunny, but there were a few crazy wind gusts. I saw a police officer lose his hat!
- Great volunteers. We stopped and refilled our hand held water 3 times and all of the volunteers were so helpful.
- The course is really interesting because you get a tour of Baltimore and it's easy to mentally "chunk" (meaning, separate into sections in your head so it doesn't seem so daunting)
Bad parts of the 2011 Baltimore marathon:
- The finisher's area was a clusterfuck. It took 15 minutes of waiting on line just to get out and the lines for the food were so nuts that I didn't even try to get any snacks.
- The course gets very cramped in sections. We were literally boxed in for large portions of this race. I felt claustrophobic and cranky about it.
- I was promised that I'd see rats. I saw no rats.
I have to admit that I actually enjoyed running without my Garmin. Alyssa was true to her word and she never even looked at hers either, even though it was on. It was such a fun surprise to see our finishing time. We also managed to run negative splits (or at least our second half was faster than the first half since I only know our finishing time and the half marathon time). I also thought the hills were overrated. It wasn't that bad, and the only tough part was that the hills were long, but they weren't that steep. In my mind I had built it up to be much worse, so in reality, it didn't live up to my nightmares.
I really enjoyed this race and I was so glad that I ran it with Alyssa. She really pushed me and I'm so proud of our times. My previous marathon PR was 4:19, so this shaved off 27 minutes!
As a final note, here's a picture that illustrates what it's like to hang out with Alyssa:
|Like a boss|