Nearly three years after registering with a qualifying time from Boston 2019, I will get to run the Chicago Marathon next weekend!
I feel ready. My training couldn’t have gone better and my body held up well throughout the high mileage weeks. As long as I stay healthy this next week, I am good to go! I got my new COVID booster and my flu shot at the beginning of September, not wanting to take any chances! I do have a quick business trip to Dallas at the beginning of the week – I fly out Monday and come back late Tuesday night. Then I go to Chicago on Friday. Crazy week and I’m trying not to be too anxious about it!
OH! And I also got my official Boston Marathon 2023 acceptance this week. This was my 4th time registering for the race and the first time I had a big enough cushion that I knew I was in no matter what. Can’t wait to go back for my 3rd Boston in April!
I ran a race every weekend in September. Here’s a quick recap of my last few weeks of training and racing!
Rip It Events’ Police Pace 10K
I wasn’t too happy with my time of 44:28 in this race, and I recognize how silly that is. Until just about a year ago, my 10K PR was 44:50, and that was from 2017. It took me years to beat that! But I had just won the Mike Sterling 10K in Crisfield with a 40:52 the week before, so running more than three minutes slower was tough to swallow.
That said, it’s not surprising I was so much slower. First of all, the weather was God awful. It was pouring down rain on race morning, to the point where I did not want to get out of my car. (At least it wasn’t 90 degrees and humid?) The course was at Centennial Lake Park in Columbia, which was hilly and also had a lot of windy curves. Those always slow me down. And, because it was so wet outside, I was afraid of tripping and falling, so I’m sure I was running more tentatively than usual. I did like the course, but it was a double loop (the race also included a 5K, which ended after one loop.) That is mentally challenging. I did pass a ton of people, but at least for the first half of the race, it was hard to tell who was doing the 5K and who was doing the 10K, so I wasn’t sure what place I was in.
After I crossed the finish line (almost mowing down an older lady – sorry!!!), I checked my results and it said I was third place female. Cool! Except the first place female’s time was listed as 31:xx. So, we had an Olympian in our midst? Hmmm. I knew that couldn’t be right and was pretty sure that was someone who had registered for the 10K and then noped out at the 5K. Sure enough, the awards ceremony was canceled because of issues with the timing chips. I actually came in second, behind a 17-year-old who ran 39:xx.
So overall, a good race even though I wasn’t excited about how I did!
As a Rip It Events ambassador, I ran this race for free. Opinions are entirely my own!
Charm City Run 20 Miler
I had been wanting to do this race, meant to be a supported training run for people registered for fall marathons, for years and was originally supposed to run it back in 2018 while training for the Baltimore Marathon. But then I strained my calf doing a stupid 5K fun run two days before the race, so I did the smart thing and bailed on it, hoping that I’d be able to run Baltimore with no issue. (And I did.)
I just had no idea how the hell to pace this race. Long run pace? That seemed like the logical thing to do, but racing it would be more fun. However, I was concerned about burning myself out before Chicago. I decided to make a game day call and determine how I was going to run it once I started running it. Strategy! The weather was nearly perfect, though it got kind of warm toward the end, and I started out running a 7:50ish pace. Then I picked it up a bit … and picked it up more. This race is a point-to-point (my favorite!) that takes place on the NCR Trail north of Baltimore. The whole thing is just slightly downhill, so it was kind of hard not to go fast. After four or so miles I started clicking off miles in the 7:30s, then a string of sub-7:20s. Well, OK, I thought to myself. Let’s just see how long I can hang on.
Pretty long, in fact, and I felt decent — never hit a wall or anything. I ended up averaging a 7:25 pace for the whole thing, finishing in 2:28:25. Whew! I came in 7th place female and third in my age group. While I was pumped about the time, I immediately started to worry I’d ruined my marathon by going so hard in what was really supposed to be a training run, three weeks out.
However, the day after the race, I felt just fine – not at all sore. And I continued to train that week normally, including a hard track workout. All good. So, I decided not to worry about it any more. That 20 miler also topped off a 70-mile week, and I obviously was not tapered or anything. I feel like that’s gotta be a good sign for the marathon. Or, at least not a bad sign!
My plan called for me to run a race two weeks before Chicago that was between 8K and 15K, and way back in May, when I was plotting out my fall marathon training, I saw the Kensington 8K happening on September 24. Perfect! Except, as the day drew closer, I also saw a few other races that fell in the 8K-15K range that I would have preferred to run instead. There was a 13.1K (8+ miles) scheduled for September 25 on the Eastern Shore, and then a 10-miler, my favorite distance, the same weekend in Reston, VA. So I started to have some serious FOMO. When I woke up the morning of the race, I didn’t really want to do it! Shorter distances really are not my thing.
But! I’m so glad I ran it because I had an amazing race! 32:17/6:30 per mile pace, good enough for first place female master – which came with a $50 cash prize – and fourth overall female. There were some really fast people in this race. Like, I was not even a little bit close to the third place female – she was four minutes ahead of me. The top three females all ran at a sub-six minute average pace! Blazing fast.
Also, I just really liked the race! It was mostly flat except for one last little hill at around mile 4.5. The weather was fantastic – cool enough for arm sleeves. And, most importantly, we could use the nice bathrooms in the Kensington Town Hall at the start, so I didn’t have to pee in a porta potty! Score! It was a great experience and I shouldn’t have been so sour on it.
It also has me thinking that maybe a sub-20 5K is within my reach after all. So much so that I switched my Baltimore Running Festival registration from the (hilly) 10K to the (flat) 5K. This race is actually six days after Chicago, so it’s probably still a tall order, but YOLO!
But first – CHICAGO! Going for that 3:20, but I’ll be happy with any PR (sub-3:26:00!)