Tuesday, May 10, 2016

2016 Frederick Nut Job Challenge Recap

This past weekend, I crossed a big item off my bucket list - I completed my first half-marathon.  And not only did I run the 13.1 miles on Sunday afternoon, but I turned out to be a complete Nut Job by adding the 5K race on Saturday evening.  While the pain is still fresh in my legs and joints, I've already started reflecting on the lessons learned from this race experience.  I can tell you that there will me more posts to follow on the emotional highs of this past weekend, but for now I'm just going to stick to the basics of a race recap.

Frederick Twilight 5K - The Frederick Running Festival kicks off on Saturday evening with a 5K race.  The race begins on the track at the Frederick Fairgrounds.  It's a well attended event and features a variety of elite runners as well as plenty of first timers.  The course is a fairly flat out and back course that runs along some back open roads.  There is not much shade and not much to look at, but the course goes by pretty quickly.  There is a water stop in the middle of the road around 1.25 miles and then you pass it again coming back not far before the 2 mile mark.  I ran this race beck in 2014 and not much has changed.  Participants are treated to a fun after-party featuring music and beverages (of the adult variety).  While there is no race "bling" for the 5K, it is the first step in earning your status as a Nut Job.  I didn't particularly care about time for the 5K as I wanted to keep my legs fresh for Sunday morning.  I a pair of women who were having a great time jogging along and enjoyed listening to their funny stories and banter.  The three of us also cheered on a 5 year old who was struggling to get through the last mile.  He was adorable, dressed as Superman and running with his dad.  I had a group of friends with me who were running this as well and after some time on the infield of the fairgrounds celebrating, we returned to one of their houses in Frederick for a delicious Italian dinner and to crash before the half in the morning.

Frederick Half-Marathon - Luckily with staying close by in downtown Frederick, we didn't have to get up too early on Sunday morning.  My friend Ali is an awesome host and had a spread of bagels, peanut butter, coffee, and bananas ready for any quick fuel-ups that the runners staying at her house wanted.  We left the house at 6:15 and made it to the start by 6:30AM.  I had my game plan going into the race and knew that I wanted to stick with it - I didn't want anyone else to dictate my race to me.  I have been training my long runs using run/walk intervals as I've increased run distances.  I jogged the first 5 minutes to get through the bottleneck at the start and then settled into my 60/60 intervals.  Compared to many other courses in Maryland, the half is relatively flat with the exception of a long, steady uphill between miles 11 and 12.  The course is very scenic as it weaves through historic downtown Frederick.  Miles 8 - 10 were run through a quaint neighborhood where many supporters came out playing music, blowing bubbles, and high-fiving runners.  The course was well supported with water, gatorade, and bathrooms around every 2-3 miles.  Throughout the race, my splits were amazingly even - settling in right around 13 min/mile from mile 1 to mile 13.  I crossed the finish line in 2:53 and felt elated. . .followed immediately by exhaustion!  My body was spent and I was not sad when a carload of my friends wanted to head back to shower rather quickly rather than hanging around.  But there was time to pose with my bling before leaving!

Will I be back for more half-marathons?  Absolutely!  I think it's a great distance to challenge you mentally and physically while not overwhelming you.  Will I complete more challenges again?  Probably. . .I'm a slave to the bling!!  The Frederick Half was the first part of the King Crab Challenge and the Maryland Double with the Baltimore 10-miler in June and the Baltimore Half in October completing those challenges.  Can't wait for more race excitement this year!

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