Woke up at 4:30 so I could eat and drink, and then digest before the race. 2 rice cakes w/ peanutbutter and about a 1/3 of a glass of Nathan Catalyst, and then decided to repack my bag into another bag. I don't know why but I did.
Headed off into the dark, arrived just before 7 and walked about a half a mile to the starting area which was already buzzing with activity. At some point I put my cell phone in the pocket of my throw away jacket. I planned to wear my fuel belt and bought an additional 'pouch' to attach to my belt to take all my extra junk (have you seen how small the Fuel Belt pouches are???). I had already turned in my bag to bag check but started thinking about how I didn't want to schlep this extra stuff for 13.1 miles so I began to reevaluate my junk.
(you know, the jacket I was going to throw away??) and felt my cell phone. Whoopsie! I took off for bag check and the very nice volunteer dug through the boxes AGAIN to find my bag so I could toss it in. Whew!
Then I remembered that I forgot to put Body Glide on my neck (shirt seam at the neckline), underarms and thighs and started beating myself up for not having my head in the game.
I was standing there pondering the universe when all of a sudden I heard someone yell "GO!" and off we went. It was a gun start with chip finish - which I really don't like because it always takes me a while to cross the start because I'm lined up towards the back like I should be ('cause I'm slow).
I wanted to stay in the 11 m/m range for most of the race and then pick it up at mile 10. I would be reminded that a man plans his course but God orders his footsteps. Mentally, I had broken the race into 4 5K's. The first 3 miles were relatively flat, save one section of a steep downhill from the bridge to the tow path. 2 5Ks through the battlefield (insanely hilly) and then 5K from roughly Sharpsburg to the finish (a couple of hills but mostly downhill).
I actually did pretty well staying on target except for 4 miles (4, 7, 8, & 12).
Tossed the jacket near a dorm door and took off. The weather couldn't have been more AMAZING and the scenery more beautiful. It was a little chilly and just a perfect day to run! I had cut the toes off a pair of Jake's socks and used them as arm warmers until I warmed up. I kept a pretty even pace the first 3 miles and then tossed the arm warmer socks next to some potties (Jake was quite offended they didn't receive a more appropriate resting place). Enjoyed a caffeinated Gu during this time since I didn't have any coffee this morning.
Here we begin the hills. Sawyers Mill Rd was quite the adventure. Race fans/family(??) decided to drive along with us. No joke! We're huffing and puffing up these crazy hills on a narrow country road only to hear someone yell "Car!" so we could move over. Invariably it was an out of state plate filled with people cheering. Um, thanks, I think? A woman was running next to me as a truck started to pass us. She must have not been paying attention because she screamed and jumped. The truck was pulling a trailer with 3 Llamas in it. We almost got creamed by a llama trailer! Wild!
Miles 7-9:Things started getting fuzzy here. I felt great, really great the first 6 and had to work at not speeding up. So glad I had that restraint or I would have died
I made it through the back portion of the battlefield, across Rt 34 and then started up the most insane hill (I think around mile 7 on the chart but I don't remember for sure). And there was a photographer at the TOP. I did manage to smile only because I had walked up the 2nd half of the hill. I ate another GU shortly after. They had a great water stop at this point. They were playing the theme from Rocky and the volunteers were wearing funny hats. It was a nice pick me up on a course that thus far lacked any real crowd support.
Mile 8ish I got the most intense pain in my side. Like rip my guts out and kill me pain. I walked a little, drank a little, ran a little but I was in serious pain. Not throwup or GI issues, but the muscles hurt more than I could imagine possible - it actually still hurts when I laugh or breath deep so I don't know what I did. I gripped my side in a death grip and ran (with the most lovely look on my face I'm sure) and looked up to see a race photographer with a video camera pointed at me. Thanks pal!
As if that wasn't enough, my calves pretty much decided they were NOT running up any more hills. I felt (and looked?) like I was a hobbling 100 y/o woman. I did a lot of run/walk from there until mile 11.
Mostly downhill. Thank you, Lord, for small mercies! Any uphill still made my calves scream at me so I took walk breaks during this stretch, even in the last mile - which I hated, but I felt like I was crawling at this point.
We had to run past the stadium end zone, then around the side to the other end where we entered the field and finished on the 50 yard line. Once I hit that last corner something took off in me and I sprinted to the finish- well, at least it felt like a sprint. I could hear my high school track coach yelling 'elbows!' 'knees!' And I finished stronger than I think I have for any race I've done.
Without a doubt, I left it all on the course. My Garmin time (which I didn't stop until I had my medal and was walking to the water table) was 2:26:40. My official time was 2:27:20. Either way, it's a PR on one tough course so I'll happily take it!
I hobbled up the ridiculously steep hill to the celebration area and hung out at our club tent for a few minutes. Then I decided I should have a shower since I was caked in salt so I hobbled over to the wellness center - a half mile or so away. On my way, I spotted my throw away jacket so I picked it up. Inside the shower room, I hung it on a peg....where I left it and didn't realize it until I was about a quarter mile away!
Freedom's Run is a great race. It was well organized - 4 distances in one morning! - and the course really is beautiful. But you will EARN your medal, no doubt.
And the MEDAL! How could I forget! The full marathoners got a larger version of the half medal. At first glance I thought it was just a cheesy little trinket. But then I looked at it and realized it's HAND CRAFTED! It's the armory that abolitionist John Brown and his men tried to take over during the Civil War. So Cool!