I figured now that I have run my last race of the year, it was finally time to blog about them. Amongst numerous 5ks and 10ks, I ran 3 big races this year that I am extremely proud of. I remember 2 years ago, in a cab with a new running friend we had literally just met in the hotel lobby who also needed a ride, telling Kendra that the Disney Princess Half Marathon would likely be my first and last half marathon in my life. Both of them sorta chuckled and gave me fair warning that was super untrue. While at the time, I thought they were nuts, they were also really right. Not only did I run 2 more this year – but I ran them within a week of each other just because you got a 3rd sparkly, pink and beautiful medal that I needed to add to my collection. I have a serious medal addiction. It started as a tshirt thing with just 5ks, but knowing you can get medals for running races! Ahh! Yes. I want more medals. Pretty ones, sparkly ones! All of them!!
So, it’s time to break down the races on my blog not only for my own personal memory of them but so I can tell you everything you need to know if you ever run these races!! Also – from the first two races the awesome Kit took all the pics!! He is a great graphic designer if you ever need one!!
Iron Girl Half Marathon – April 28th, 2013
My first thoughts on this race were omg, I am going to do an Iron Girl race. I have always wanted to do an Iron Girl. I signed up with my awesome friend Ali. We waited around for several months for the official course info and all that good stuff that comes later on and my next thoughts turned to that of doom. Holy crap, there has to be something wrong with these elevation charts because there are just not that many hills in Columbia, MD. But there were that many hills! And they just continued forever! How do you find a course that is all up hill???
With only a few weeks to go, I ran a lot of hills. I think Frederick needs some more hills (although there is one epic one at the end of another race I will tell you about next!). Race day came before I knew it. I had a wedding the night before (a common trend with Sunday races..), stayed at my parents house, and met Ali and her hubs the next morning for the race. The second the gun went off we headed up a modest hill. Then down. Then up. Then down. Then up. Then down. Then up. Then down. At around mile four, I just told myself, “Dani– chances are that the hills are not going to cease. You saw the elevation charts. Columbia, MD must be hill-country. Just go with it. Run your hardest. Use gravity on the downhills and make the hills your bitch.” 2 miles later I remember wanting to die! That hill was crazy! I felt like I was tip toeing the whole climb. I don’t think my heels ever hit the ground!
The second half was just as bad as the first. Around mile 11 I made friends with a girl I had been catching up to and then falling behind every time we started running faster. Eventually, we were walking briskly along side each other. The first thing she said to me was “Do I smell like pee? Because I think I peed myself a little bit.” I loved her. She was hysterical and we got each other through the rest of the race. I could not have been happier to see Ali and Kit around the finish! It was so great! And I had knocked a ton of time off my very first half. All in all – a good race experience – but I will say that I will never run that one again.
Frederick Half Marathon – May 5th, 2013
Cinco de Mayo!! This ought to be fun! We can have margs and gauc after! Sike. All we wanted was water. Last year I relayed the Frederick Half Marathon with Ali. This year we both ran it. And so did Frank and our friend Steve and numerous other people that I know. It is a great running festival that has gained a ton of popularity due to the Baltimore Running Festival pairing with it for the Maryland Double! I really had a lot of motivation and was way happier running this race knowing there were even more people waiting at the finish line for me. It wasn’t a crazy hilly course but I will warn those of you thinking about running this anytime that the end is just a giant, evil, mean hill. It’s so mean. And it happens right at the end when you are all jubilant and excited to be done. It pretty much wipes the smile right off your face and crushes your spirit. It’s a spirit crushing hill! Ahh! But knowing that at the top, you will be on the race track of the Frederick Fair and will be done before you know it, helps slightly. You aren’t really thinking about that though when you are trying not to vomit.
This race time was a good 10 minutes faster than the week before to put things in perspective for you. Hardly any hills that made me want to die aside from the soul crushing one at the end. The last 2 miles of this race, I met an even better new friend than at the last race. This gal hadn’t just peed herself, thank goodness, and was so awesome! We kept each other motivated during those last two miles and are even planning on running races together next year!! We round the corner of the track to the finish line together and it was awesome hearing Frank and Steve yell like crazy people at me to hurry up and finish. (I am a little worried Frank is going to be one of those parents at soccer games that yells really loud at their kids and coaches and gets really into it. Maybe he should just be the coach. That might be better.) Hearing Ali tell me at the end of this race, while we were hugging, so excited that we were both finally done, that she was so proud of me and impressed at how I keep getting better and better at these things, was extremely motivating and something I will never forget. After hanging out for the post race festivities and having a brewski – because at this race, there is beer at the end and you get beer tickets for running – we headed home and foam rolled like it was our job before going to Chipotle (a new post race tradition) with Steve.
Army 10 Miler – October 20th, 2013
No race is more motivating than this one. This is my 3rd time running this race and despite the fact that it is always smack dab in the middle of my crazy busy season, I run it. This year I had a wedding on Friday and Saturday and ran anyway on Sunday. This race was the biggest of all the races I have run this year – with just about 35,000 runners and usually only about 26,000 finishers. Some parts are pretty well organized, while others – like getting back to the garment check after the race – are not. Regardless, I say that this is the most motivating race because of the sheer amount of wounded warriors that run it. I have run this race 3 times and every year I see someone more incredible than the last. Being surrounded by people with one leg or no legs or active soldiers in uniform running the whole race in their boots and full packs on their backs is crazy incredible to be around. By the time my wave started, the first wounded warriors in wheelchairs were already crossing the finish line – I can’t imagine 10 miles in a wheelchair. Seeing the wounded warriors on the course just makes you so thankful for your own health and makes you not want to stop, to push harder and to never quit. Because they sure as hell aren’t. Every year I run this race, I leave with a new sense of hope and am always amazed at not only the physical strength of these amazing individuals but their emotional strength as well. It’s not something I can ever forget.
This year we added a new running friend to the race group and it was great! Our numbers keep growing. I am hoping that next year there are at least 2-3 more of us! More pics of this one will be added a bit later, but this is what I have for now!
(above photos courtesy of ATM Flickr page)
This guy is running the Marine Corps Marathon next week!! I can’t wait to be the best race spectator ever!!