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.