I ran the Frederick Running Festival Half-Marathon in 2014 as my first half-marathon, and it's still my PR of 2:07:16.
This race was not a top goal race for me because I just had a hard HM 8 weeks ago, and this time of year my job is pretty stressful and busy, so I don't get a lot of rest. Even so, you never know what race day will bring.
For 2018, I had requested and been granted a race-day pick-up of my bib. However, when I got there, they didn't have my bib for some reason. They gave me a new bib and number, which will be relevant after the race.
I was there 90 minutes before the 7:00am start, so I hit the port-a-potty twice and then at about 6:15am, started an easy jogging warm-up for 15 minutes or so. I also did some dynamic stretching and made sure the shoes were tied right, etc.
I got into the starting area at about 6:45am. There are no corrals - just signs for paces. This race only has about 3000 runners, so it is not very crowded at the start and everyone spreads out pretty quickly. In 2014, there had been pace runners, and I was hoping to start with the 2:10 runners, but I didn't see any pace runners this year.
We started on time. The weather was perfect - mid-50s F, not windy, cloudy so no solar glare, and the rain that had come through overnight had stopped. I wore my rain baseball cap just in case.
My plan was to run a pace between 9:50 - 9:59 min/mile for about the first 9 miles and then see how I felt and if I could push it faster at the end.
The first miles went exactly to plan:
-Mile 1: 9:56
-Mile 2: 9:55
-Mile 3: 9:55
-Mile 4: 9:57
My breathing was good and effort wasn't too hard. I was killing the tangents, as the race has pretty good sightlines, so I could pick my path way ahead to hit most of them. At about mile 3.5, I started feeling some pain below and slightly inside of my left knee. This is an area that is sometimes sore after hard/long runs, but doesn't usually bother me while I'm running. I can usually run through most things without a problem.
-Mile 5: 9:56
By about mile 5.5, the pain below/inside the knee got pretty bad and started feeling like it was going up and over the front of my knee. It was getting bad enough that I couldn't keep from limping. I've never had an issue during a run that has affected my gait, and that did kind of scare me. I slowed it way down and tried to feel it out a bit. I was hoping I wouldn't have to DNF, but on the other hand, I didn't want to do something that was really going to mess it up.
-Mile 6: 10:20
Very oddly and rather suddenly, at about mile 6.5, the pain almost completely went away to a typical you're-working-hard sort of feeling. I accelerated back to my planned race pace gradually, and it still felt OK.
-Mile 7: 11:05
I got back on track with my planned pace. I knew a PR (2:07-ish) was totally out of the question now, but possibly I could beat my previous HM time of 2:10-ish if I could push the last couple of miles.
-Mile 8: 9:53
-Mile 9: 9:48
-Mile 10: 9:53
-Mile 11: 9:51
Trying to dig deeper for the last couple of miles. A little before mile 12, we were going up a long, gradual incline and I was trying to push. Breathing was hard. And then I started getting a little dizzy with dark spots in the vision and cold chills. Well, that put a stop to the big push at the end, as I decided that I wanted to finish in the upright position. Not sure whether it was dehydration (I had been drinking from my hydration vest of Gatorade) or heat exhaustion (in the 50s F with a tank top and shorts?), but something was going on.
-Mile 12: 10:09
-Mile 13: 9:59
The race started right outside the Frederick Fairgrounds race track, and it ends with the last bit of the race going about 1/4 of the way around the clay horse-race track. Fortunately the track wasn't as sloppy as it was for the Kentucky Derby yesterday!
Tried to get a last push on the track, but it wasn't happening.
-Extra bit: 10:11
Gradually made my way out to pick up water, snacks, medal, and cool State of Maryland race jacket. At least I was able to walk - I was a little afraid of what would happen when I stopped moving.
Texted my husband to see what my chip time was. He said my time wasn't up yet, even though enough other times were that mine should be there. I was suspicious that there was a problem because of my new bib assignment. Before I left, I wanted to make sure I really would get an official time, and so spent another 30 minutes being taken from person to person to get to someone who knew what was going on. Yes, because of my new bib number, my time wouldn't post immediately, but would be posted eventually when the timing company wrapped everything up. Annoying when the bib problem wasn't my fault.
Overall I like this race a lot. The logistics are great for me. It's only a 45-min drive from my house, and it's about 5 minutes from the highway exit. There is a lot of fairground parking that is very close. A nervous Nellie like me, who gets there 90-min early, can park literally a few hundred feet from the start line. They have a bag check, but who needs it if you can park that close? Lots of port-a-potties, and a few actual flush toilets. Despite my bib issue, I feel like they are pretty well-organized - and with my bib issue, everyone was willing to help me immediately. Since I carry my own water, I don't use the aid stations, so I can't speak to them. The course isn't the most scenic I've ever run, but it goes through historic downtown Frederick and does have some nice country scenery. Not a lot of turns and not very hilly.
I didn't get my official results until almost 5:00pm the next day. My chip time was 2:12:52.