Sunday, May 15, 2011

Frederick Running Festival

Spoiler alert: This race was awesome!

OK, now that I got that out of my system, my latest race was the Frederick Running Festival in Frederick, MD.  Big things happened for me personally and with the Challenge in this race, so you should definitely read on.
To be entirely honest, I wasn't sure what to expect from this race for a lot of reasons (I had run a hilly race the week before, it was my third half marathon in less than a month, I'd been injured, all that).  All in all though, I was feeling well rested and good going into the race, but still - it was a wildcard.

Frederick did something really great: they allowed us to pick up our numbers at multiple locations in the DC metro area in the week leading up to the race.  Saved almost two hours of driving - what a great idea!  The one near me was while I was still in Nashville (a sign you are running too many races), but Adam was the hero as usual and grabbed it for me during lunch.
 The race started at 7:30 AM, and we decided to just spend the night at our apartment and head over in the morning, even allowing time for construction traffic if we hit it (which we didn't).  We were at the Fairgrounds, and there wasn't a lot to see but it was a well set up start with easy bag drop off and convenient amenities.  Good start.
Sunrise on the drive over was very pretty.  Though if you know me, you know I'd always prefer to sleep through sunrise...

I got myself safely placed between the 1:45 and 1:50 pace groups, thinking I could start at that pace and gauge how I felt from there. I somehow crossed the first mile at 7:57, so I was a little ahead of target pace (I was hoping to be between 8 and 9 mins/mile).  I slowed it down a bit and the next mile was 8:06, and from there my splits continued to be consistently between 7:50 and 8:03 for the next few miles.  Faster than I expected, but I just felt great.
The rest of the race I just felt better and better, and quickly realized I was on track to get close to my PR.  Here are my theories on why I felt great:
- Adam is a super spectator.  I'm not even kidding.  He literally studies my course map for longer than I do before a race and plans out a way to maximize the times he can see me.  I'm not sure if you've ever watched a half marathon, but it's pretty boring.  As a spectator, you wake up absurdly early, deal with an anxious runner, and then spend 2 hours waiting for them to run by and see them 20-30 seconds if you're lucky.  But being the amazing guy that he is, he comes to every race he can and genuinely seems sad when I go to one without him.  One of the many reasons I love him.  And also why I now always run in pink shorts (in case you were wondering) - so he can pick me out more easily.  In this course, he figured out he could see me three times, which is more than any other race.  So at 1.5, 2.5, and 6.5 miles, I got to hear words of encouragement and see his smiling face.  Made me super happy.
 Loving it!
 - I once again tried drinking small amounts of Gatorade and even had part of a GU packet.  Wasn't really in love with the "espresso lovers" flavor, but it's what I happened to grab from the very friendly volunteer, so I went with it.  Really seems to help me during a race.
 - The course was wonderful.  Nice and flat (except for a pretty rough hill right in the last mile, but that's ok)
 Adam took this picture while going around to try to see me.  Downtown Frederick is very cute.
- The spectators and volunteers made everything so pleasant.  It wasn't as big as some other races, but people came out to cheer us on and there were some funny signs along the way.  And all the water stops were well run and the volunteers were just so nice.  Sometimes, you feel like they're practically throwing the medal at you.  But not here.  Some really polite boy handed it to me and made sure to congratulate me. 
- I knew that at the finish, The Challenge would be halfway done!  I have raced 6 half marathons in just under four months from my first race.  This will allow me a recovery time over the summer (and save me from having to fly to the west coast for a summer race, which is just a cost prohibitive issue at this point.  Races and travel aren't cheap).  I'm actually almost sad to say it's half over, but then I realize that I can keep running as much as I want so I stop being sad.  I love this!
 Almost there!
-Now the best part.  Linda, our contact at NPF, had come all the way from New York to cheer me on at the finish for this race!  Though we've emailed and called each other many times, I'd never actually met her.  And she took the time to come to Frederick MD to come cheer me on, despite the race being the day of her son's SATs.  The thrill of seeing her bright orange "Walk for Psoriasis" tshirt and hearing her cheer for me as I got to the finish line made it even more exciting.  
Doesn't that tell you something about NPF and how dedicated they are?  She took Adam and I out for a delicious IHOP breakfast afterward and we had plenty of time to get to know each other, talk about our plans for the Challenge, all of the many things she does for NPF, and how we can best help support them.  NPF does so much to make sure they understand the people who have psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis, instead of just looking at it as a disease.  They want to hear how it affects you, and they use that to make a difference.  It's really inspiring.
From a running perspective, this was also a huge milestone for me because I PR'ed.  If you remember, I got my PR at National even though the race overall was tough for me, but it was a good three minutes faster than any other race I've run.  As a result, I'm not going to say breaking 1:45 was ever a goal, but maybe a dream.  I just thought I was still so far away from ever hitting my PR again, no less beating it.  So when I realized I was close, and realized I still felt good, it was on.  I was a little slower in miles 11-12, but ran 12-13 in 7:42 and kicked it to the finish.  I made it!  My final chip time was 1:44:53 (8 min/mile pace exactly).  I did it, and there's no caveats to this PR - it was a great race!  And I even managed to go for a 4.75 mile walk (yes, we took the Garmin) the next day with Adam on a gorgeous DC day.
Thank you to Frederick for putting on such a great race, to everyone who has supported me to get here, and to my mom for inspiring me to do this.  Everyone asks how I do it, but this is really easy compared to the battle she is fighting, and I couldn't be more proud to support her and help others.  I'm also happy to report that we are just under $2,000 in donations now, which means almost $4,000 once matched.  This is SO great!  I'll post more about that later, but THANK YOU!  I actually might be losing sleep because of the Challenge lately - I get so excited thinking of all the things I want to do that I can't help but want to get out of bed and start doing something else.  And meeting Linda from NPF proved why I am so happy to work with them and how great their team is.
 The race shirt and medal are very distinctive from any others so far.  I know the shirts ran small, but mine fits great and I love it.  Good job Frederick Running Festival!

 I can't pick my favorite - the Disney, Frederick, and Country Music medals are all so fun!

1 comment:

  1. great job Adam! we've never seen such high praise for the coach.
    Oh yeah, cngrats to Kathryn for her pr. keep up the good work!