RACE REPORT: 2018 Baltimore Marathon

I’ve been slightly avoiding writing this race report because I don’t want to accept the fact that it’s over. It’s also been quite some time since I’ve written a race report and I’ve almost forgotten what it’s like to write one.

Nonetheless, here it goes.


Since running the Baltimore Marathon last Saturday, October 20th 2018, I’ve been on an extended runner’s high from this race, which is something that I haven’t felt in a very long time. However, I do have to accept the fact that it’s over and now, I can finally relax, recover, and reboot for the next one.

If you haven’t read my race report from Marine Corps Marathon, which is the last full-marathon I ran in 2016, then you’ll know that this race basically ended up being a disaster. I was well-trained and essentially followed the same plan that I followed for Baltimore Marathon, but what caused Marine Corps Marathon to be a disaster came down to pure lack of pre-race preparation. 

I didn’t plan or properly execute travel well for Marine Corps, which snowballed into me breaking the cardinal rule marathon training, which is,

“Don’t try anything new”

Lo and behold, I learned from my mistakes in preparation for Baltimore Marathon and I made it a point to be as articulate about race weekend planning as possible.


I purchased my Amtrak tickets from New York Penn Station to Baltimore Penn Station well in advance (a little over a month in advance) which made it easier to find cheap tickets.

(*Note: When planning ANY type of travel, always get your tickets for transportation FIRST. Then, plan everything else afterwards. Making sure that your travel arrangements are solidified is probably one of the most important things, followed by lodging.)

Since the race fell on a Saturday as opposed to a Sunday, I planned to arrive in Baltimore early Friday afternoon so that I gave myself enough time to settle into my hotel, go to the marathon expo, and do a bit of sight-seeing. I also gave my work sufficient notice that I was taking that Friday off.


I arrived in Baltimore around noon on Friday with my sister. We dropped our belongings off at the hotel which was only a ten-minute walk from the expo, then headed straight to the expo.

The first thing that I was able to do was pick up my race bib. Immediately after, there was an area with a backdrop for photos (And of course, we took photos).

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We didn’t stick around too long, as most of the vendors were based in Baltimore which meant a lot of the prizes would likely have to be claimed in Baltimore. I did however purchase a mug that was featured on the virtual race bag website, which the event did a great job of promoting via email (And it clearly worked because I ended up buying something).

One of the main things that I loved about the expo was getting to meet the marathon pacers before the race. I met one of the 4-hour pace group leaders who gave me some great info on when to be at the start line along with an informative write-up on marathon tips as well as a short bio for every pace group leader who was running.


After leaving the expo, we ate lunch nearby, got manicures (so that I could truly relax before the race), and then explored other parts of Baltimore. Fell’s Point was my favorite area because it was right near the water, had a ton of restaurant and bar options, and the cobble stone streets made it feel homey and eclectic.

Once dinner-time came around, I stuck to a traditional “carbo-load” meal and went with Italian. We ate in Little Italy at a place called Germano’s which had authentic Italian and the best bread that I’ve had in a really long time.

From there, my day was done. I had already laid my clothes out along with everything else I needed to get ready in the morning. I was in bed by 11PM and ready for my 6AM alarm the next morning.


In the morning, I left my hotel around 6:45AM with my sister and my boyfriend who were seeing me off at the start line. The marathon race info said to arrive 90 minutes prior to the start time of the race, which was 8AM, but this was factoring in time for checking bags.

Fortunately, I wasn’t checking bags and after talking to the marathon pacers at the expo, they assured me that it was okay to arrive 40-45 minutes prior to the start.

Once I arrived at the start line, I headed straight for the restrooms which were conveniently located inside the Oriole’s stadium. This was a nice surprise and huge perk since everyone is so used to disgusting portable toilets.

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Afterwards, I went straight to finding the 4-hour pace group. Once I found them, I met every single pace group leader as well as the other runners who were either trying to run a 4-hour marathon or break 4 hours.


Once the gun went off, the sun had already rose and it was light outside. The weather couldn’t have been more perfect for race day. It was in the high 50’s and slightly overcast.

I hadn’t really studied the marathon course too much because I kind of wanted to be surprised. Before the race, I had reached out to a friend from high school, who was the only person I knew who actually ran this marathon, and she reassured me that it was a great course which went through some great neighborhoods and had a lot of community support along the way.

The first half of the marathon was really pleasant. The start line was near the convention center, where the expo was held, located in Downton Baltimore. From there, we made our way up to Johns Hopkins University, then ran through the Baltimore Zoo where there were some animals being held by the zookeepers whom were cheering us on.

The squeeze through the Zoo was a bit narrow, but since it was a smaller marathon, everyone was courteous enough to make room for each other.

As we made our way to the half-marathon mark, miles 9-12 had a turnaround point where we had to loop back from where we came from. Afterwards, our pace group leaders gave us a heads up that we would soon be joined with the half-marathon runners around mile 16.

This threw me for a loop.

To give some background, not only were people running marathon on their own, but there were also runners who were on 4-people relay teams to run the marathon distance, and then, eventually the half-marathon runners would merge with us. It was a lot to work around.

This was probably the part that made it the most difficult to stick with my pace group. Given the number of people who were running different distances, it became a bit crowded at certain points.

I managed to find my way back to my pace group through the half-marathon merge and I was able to stay with them as we ran around the lake, which was located near miles 20-22. Then, that’s where the rolling hills started taking place.


From what I had heard from my high school friend who ran the race, the course was relatively flat, but based on the second half of the course, I found that it most certainly was not.

I started losing my pace group  after mile 22 and had slowed down significantly during miles 23-25. Step by step, they started getting further and further away and that’s when I started losing hope of breaking 4 hours.

I pushed through the last 1.2 miles with everything I had left, which resulted in negative splits, but I ended up missing a sub 4-hour marathon by less than two minutes.

My official time was 4:01:54.

I later found out that the 4 hour pace group finished in a time of 3:59. Though I was disappointed to not break 4 hours, I did however come out with a 6 minute PR! And this was mainly what I came to do.

I followed a solid training plan, was both physically and mentally prepared for the marathon, and ended up breaking a 5-year-old marathon PR.

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This marathon will definitely go down in the books as one of my best races (so far). It has also taught me a lot about how to really prepare for marathons the right way.

The fact of the matter is that marathon training takes time.

You have to stick to a solid plan, fuel your body properly, sacrifice a bit of your social life, and most of all, you have to put in the work. It is not a race to be taken lightly and that is what makes it so humbling.

The time and dedication that I had put into this race was exactly what made it as memorable and successful as it was. And now, I can learn from this, improve on it, and continue to better myself for future races.

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5 factors to consider when signing up for a marathon

As a former employee of Runner’s World Magazine, I had the privilege of running my very first marathon through the Runner’s World VIP Program (formerly known as “Runner’s World Challenge”). I was able to gain first-hand experience and extensive knowledge on how to properly train for a marathon with the help of my colleagues along with our robust amount of published content within the magazine.

Being that it was my first marathon, I took it very seriously. I made sure to allow myself the proper amount of time for training as well as dedicating myself to following a specific marathon training program (In this case, it was Hal Higdon’s Novice 2 Marathon Training Program)

Although I had no expectation for a specific goal time, I did want to ensure that I gave it my all and was as prepared as I could be.

I finished in a time of 4 hours and 7 seconds, with a decent amount of energy left over afterwards. In hindsight, now knowing that I was well-prepared enough, I wish I had aimed for a time of under 4 hours, but that’s besides the point.

After running Big Sur Marathon, I had never felt more accomplished in my life. I had assumed that since I had one marathon in the bag, every marathon following this one would be a piece of cake. Little did I know, that’s completely untrue.

Just because you ran one doesn’t mean it will get easier or that it will be a similar experience for your next. Just like any job or any relationship, you never have the same experience twice. There are many factors that go into running a great race. One thing is for sure – Never lessen your efforts or level of integrity.

Here are some of the major factors that can make or break your marathon experience:

  1. The Course. Some people don’t like to research the course beforehand. I personally think that’s ridiculous. Knowing the course can play a huge role in how you train. Knowing whether or not it’s hilly and knowing where the hills are located can help you both physically and mentally. Being prepared for running up or downhill will affect performance and fatigue in the long run (no pun intended) based on your training. Other factors in the course include altitude, scenery, and terrain.
    • Altitude falls under the “hilly or not” bucket. Running a race in Colorado versus New York are two completely different experiences because of the altitude levels, which ultimately affects your breathing.
    • Scenery can psychologically affect your performance. Visually stimulating courses may or may not improve your running pace, depending on how affected you are by your surroundings. If you want to see more trees, sign up for a race in a more remote location. If you want to see more buildings, sign up for a race in a larger city.
    • Terrain is in reference to pavement versus dirt. Depending on where you primarily train, your legs, and more specifically your knees, can be severely impacted by the texture of the course. Pavement tends to put more strain on your joints as opposed to dirt trails.
  2. The Crowd. Similar to the way people are affected by running with music, running a marathon that has great crowds can aid performance. One of the things that I loved most about running the New York City Marathon was amount of support you received from the local communities as you are running through the different boroughs and neighborhoods.
  3. The Training Plan. Not all training plan works for everyone. When it comes to running, everyone has different levels of expertise and physical fitness. Some training programs cater specifically to elite runners, while others cater to beginners. In addition, people also have such varying schedules throughout the week that not every program fits their daily routine. However, when it comes to marathon training, you do have to be flexible as well as dedicated. Skipping out on long runs or refraining from speed workouts can really hinder performance.
  4. The Season. In the United States, primary marathon season takes place in the Fall. Most of the major big-city marathons occur between September and November (and they fill up fast, so make sure you sign up early!). Fall in the United States can be wildly unpredictable. Temperatures tend to fluctuate and so do the chances of precipitation, high-wind factor, and humidity. If you are running a race in the Fall, be cognizant of the fact that a majority of your training takes place in the Summer, so the temperatures will not be nearly the same. You also must consider the chances of rain, high winds, and high humidity. Be properly dressed and well-hydrated.
  5. Size of the race. The size of a marathon can widely vary from a range of a couple hundred to thousands among thousands. I’ve run three marathons thus far, which include the Big Sur Marathon, New York City Marathon, and Marine Corps Marathon. Of the three, New York City and Marine Corps were very large races that took place in larger cities, with participants upwards of 30,000+ runners. The Big Sur Marathon, on the other hand, only had approximately 6,000+ runners. The size of the race can affect your performance depending on your preference of running alongside more people or fewer people.

From my personal experience, the best marathon I have run still remains the Big Sur Marathon, my first one. And this is because of the fact that I was so adamant about training.

So my advice is this – You get what you give.

The amount of preparation you set aside will not be in vain. Give it everything you have and it will come through in the end.

A Reason to Run

One of the things that I find most incredible about being a runner is the unwavering support that comes from the running community. Through the years, it’s never ceased to amaze me of how much the running community truly gives back.

As a former employee of Runner’s World Magazine, I’ve had the honor of being directly involved with many large races, such as the New York City Marathon, Chicago Marathon, Big Sur Marathon, and many more, where I’ve had the pleasure of meeting dozens upon dozens of people who have a story to tell behind the reasons why they run.

For me personally, it’s always been something that I did just for myself, but when I’ve spoken to many others, it’s always been about so much more. It’s for a cause.

Aside from working at Runner’s World, I’ve also been a runner for nearly my entire life. I’ve ran enough 5K’s to lose count and eventually made my way up to long-distance races such as as half-marathons and full-marathons. It was only recently that I realized how many people ran for causes instead of just for fun. Those causes have been a pivotal driving force in the fruition of the thousands of non-profit organizations and non-profit races that are in existence today.

In complete honesty, running (especially long distance running) is not for the faint of heart. It’s a love-hate relationship that people often try to shy away from. Not everyone enjoys it or is motivated by the act of running alone, which is why running for a cause is a much more compelling reason to start.

I’ve had many friends and colleagues ask me suggestions for races to sign up for and I can recommend many that I’ve run, but I’ve always found that it’s more meaningful to sign up for races that actually hold a place close to your heart.

At the end of the day, after the miles are completed and you’ve proven to yourself that you can do it, you can pat yourself on the back and move on with your life. But knowing that you’ve ran those miles to affect change, to make a difference – That is something to show for.

And that is why I’d encourage anyone to become involved in running for a reason.

With Spring underway and half-marathon and marathon training right around the corner for the Fall season, try to see if you can find it in yourself to run for something that matters; or even just try to get more involved with a non-profit that means something to you.

For more ways to get involved, check out websites like Eventbrite.com for opportunities. They have great resources for fundraising.

RACE REPORT: 2016 Marine Corps Marathon

This past Sunday, I ran the 41st annual Marine Corps Marathon which took course through our Nation’s Capital in Washington, D.C.

Earlier this year, after running the Brooklyn Half Marathon back in May, I had my sights set on completing a full marathon by the end of 2016.

I had a devastating experience after running the 2014 New York City Marathon and had taken a bit of a break from training for any races up until this year.

It felt good to be back in a regular running routine and have that feeling of working towards an end goal.

Initially, I had no idea what marathon I would end up running. It wasn’t until June that fate stepped in and a friend was looking to transfer her Marine Corps Marathon bib to someone. The minute that I found out, I immediately reached out to her and before I knew it, I was signed up for it.

I had almost forgotten what it was like to train for a marathon. The last time that I was actually following a legitimate training plan and taking it seriously was when I ran the 2013 Big Sur Marathon (which is my marathon PR to this day.)

When I began training for the Marine Corps Marathon, I told myself that I really had to get back into race mentality – that I had to take it seriously instead of just “winging it.” I followed Hal Higdon’s Intermediate Marathon Training plan, which is what I typically have used in the past. It’s straightforward and easy to follow.

After 4 months of training, and a few weeks of setback due to a foot injury, I felt that I was ready as I could be. When it came to travel arrangements, however, not so much.

I booked my hotel in Alexandria, VA which was conveniently located near both the race expo, start line, and finish line. I booked my flight very close to the weekend leading up to the race. In that time, train prices from New York to DC had already drastically gone up, and the bus just didn’t seem like an appealing option.

My sister and I landed late Saturday afternoon after already experiencing some flight delays. We went straight from the airport to the expo and arrived there only half an hour before the expo closed. I picked up my race bib and hardly had time to scan the exhibitor booths. When we left, we were starving after not eating lunch, so we went right to our hotel and ended up ordering Dominos (Not the wisest decision I’ve ever made. More on that to come)

That night, I laid out my race clothes, did yoga, and just tried to relax and mentally prepare for what I wanted to accomplish the next day.

I woke up at 5AM the next morning with a ton of energy and pre-race jitters. It hadn’t officially hit me that I was running a 26.2 mile race until that morning.

The hotel shuttle transported us near the start line, where we ended up walking nearly a mile to get to.

By the time we arrived, the sun was starting to rise and so were the temperatures. It was forecasted to reach near 80 degrees fahrenheit that day and surely, it did.

The race took off around 8AM.

I took the first 5K of the race very slow, knowing not to make the mistake of starting too quick too soon. I was feeling good when I started, but stopped at mile 6 to use the restroom. From that point, I already knew that I’d be behind and would have to make up for it later on. Stopping for the restroom took about 10-15 minutes off my time, so I tried to pick up the pace.

I ended up crossing the 13.1-mile mark in a time of 2:04, which I was fairly pleased (and surprised) about.

With half of the race behind me, I continued to feel good from miles 14-19. I managed to keep a steady 9:30 minute pace and had planned to really crank up the gears at mile 20.

And then, my worst fear happened.

I hit a wall at mile 21, was having stomach issues, and made the heart-breaking decision to stop, stretch, and walk a bit (which I had told myself I wouldn’t do). From there, it was a long and grueling 5.2 miles of alternating between running and walking.

At that point, I had to accept the fact that I was not going to make my goal time of finishing near or under 4 hours.

I did finish strong, using everything that I had left in the tank to stride across the finish line with a time of 4:38:44. I wasn’t ecstatic, but I wasn’t nearly as devastated as I was after the New York City Marathon.

Though I didn’t finish near my goal time, I did learn many lessons, which I’d like to pass along. Hopefully this will be helpful to anyone reading.

  1. Give yourself an extra month to train just in case something happens along the way such as an injury or a cold
  2. Pick a training plan and stick to it
  3. Do NOT order fast food (especially with cheese or dairy in it) the night prior, or even 2 nights prior, to your race. Don’t even order anything out of your normal diet. The last thing you want is an upset stomach.
  4. Make sure your bowels are empty before the race
  5. Get to the expo early. If you can’t make it a day before, then try to make sure you go a few hours before it closes. It’s not worth it to rush or be stressed about whether or not you’ll get there in time
  6. Try as hard as you can to reach 20 miles for your furthest long run
  7. Look at the course map and elevation early on so that you know what to train for
  8. Incorporate speed training
  9. Even if it’s a flat course, incorporate some hill training just in case there are even the slightest of inclines
  10. Make sure to stretch A TON in the days after the race 
  11. Don’t beat yourself up if you didn’t the time you were hoping for. Even finishing a marathon is a huge accomplishment in itself

12 Days Until Marine Corps Marathon

I’m only 12 days away from running Marine Corps Marathon – My third marathon in the books for me.

I ran my last long run of my marathon training this past Sunday and felt quite relieved to have not been as slow or as sore as I anticipated.

In the past, I’ve always underestimated the difficulty and dedication that comes with running a 26.2-mile race.

It definitely isn’t easy.

Yet, little by little, I’m getting better with each training period because I’m understanding the weight of the consequences that come with being unprepared for a race of this distance.

Two years ago, I ran the worst race of my life – The New York City Marathon. What was supposed to be a magical and exciting race ended up being one of the most awful experiences of my life. It’s not that the race itself wasn’t magical or exciting, it was my performance in running it that made it the disaster that it was.

The reason why I’m so intrigued and so passionate about training for a race is because it truly tests a person’s character, will, and determination. It sure did test mine. It humbled me.

Running is a love-hate relationship and not everyone loves it.

The reason why I love it is because it forces you to struggle with yourself. And sometimes, the best thing you can do is face that struggle. Running is a solo act. Even with team running events like Cross Country or Track & Field, you still only have yourself. You can’t tap out or have substitute anyone in your place. It’s you, your two feet, and the ground beneath you. And I think that’s something that people always struggle with, even if they love running.

With my marathon coming up right around the corner, I’m looking forward to seeing what this race will put me through; what it will do to me.

Even with the training that I have behind me, there are still those external factors that can make a difference The fun part is seeing how I how I handle it.