I decided I like Half-Marathons so I found another in Maryland. The Frederick Half- Marathon. I was hoping to run this one with my sister and niece as well but scheduling made it impossible. Frederick is about an hour away from my house but I figured I could get up early and versus getting a hotel room. If packet pickup was only available at the site then I probably would have gotten the hotel versus driving there twice. Which leads me to…
Pre-Race: Here is something you don’t see every day. They had packet pickup in a number of different locations throughout the week prior to the race. Instead of driving an hour to Frederick, I only had to drive 15 minutes to Elkridge. They also had picket points in Falls Church, Baltimore and Rockville. They also had some same day pickup. I loved the convenience. I walked in and out of the Elkridge Road Runner Sports in less than 5 minutes. I REALLY REALLY loved this. I hope they do it again next year. The website also has all the important information you could need about the race.
Race Day: I can’t help myself so I showed up ridiculously early. The race started at 0730 and I was there before 0600. Not surprisingly, there was almost no traffic to speak of. If you show up later there may be more traffic. If I had advice for runners it would be to show up early (for any race, not just this one) you never know what could happen. There were plenty of port-a-potties which is always a concern at the bigger races. Everything was well marked and easy to find. I had so much time that I sat and read my Kindle before stretching and getting ready to run. The weather cooperated as well with a sunny not too hot, not too cool day. Everything pointed to a great race day.
The Race: As soon as the race started I realized I had a problem. A very tiny problem. I had a tiny pebble in my left shoe. Now the smart thing would be to stop, empty the shoe of said pebble, replace show and hit the road. My plan was a little different. I decided if I could wiggle my shoe, I could move the pebble to a less conspicuous spot where it would not bother me. So for 11 miles I tried shaking, and wiggling my shoe to get comfortable. Dumb? Yep. After my 11th mile I was too tired to notice or care and just finished the race with my little friend. Dumb, but I hate to stop on a run.
Outside of the obvious shoe issue, the race went rather well. The water stops are plentiful and well spaced out. This is a bigger race so the crowd was better than what you find at the B&A Trail Half. One guy had a beer and bacon stand setup which almost made me barf just to smell and look at. I don’t understand how people can drink right before during or immediately after a run. I used to do some Hash runs in Arizona where we drank a bit after the run but I have never been a fan.
Just like the B&A Trail I was struggling at the end. There is a hill right before you enter the track for the finish. Early in the race it might not be a big deal, but for me I just wanted to cry. My trick is to look down and just put one foot in front of the other and don’t stop. I survived but felt it was a cruel trick to have the hill there. That being said it is one of those things that I won’t forget if I run next year. I also really liked finishing in front of the Grandstand on the track. My finish time was 1:59:17 which beat my wild goal of getting under 2 hours.
Post Race: They didn’t hand out the race premiums until after the race. You had to find the Conga line that lead from the end of the race to the EXPO area. Then you followed the line (slowly) around to where the premiums where. I understand that this was how the exhibitors at the EXPO got the exposure they desired (that they missed out on with the multiple packet pickups.). I just didn’t love the execution. It got real crowded and probably got worse as the day went on. I sort of weaseled my way through the expo and maybe moved up in line a bit. Yes I cut through the EXPO floor to the chaotic area where the premiums were handed out and maybe cut ahead of a lot of people. My apologies to those people I cut. Do I have a great solution? No. If there is a way to better space people out it may help. Honestly I didn’t love it, BUT I will deal with it if it means the multiple packet pickups.
Goodies: A nice medal, a nice long sleeve shirt, and I think there was a hat in the goodie bag. All worth it. They also emailed me the results within a few days of the race. One added surprise was an email with a link to the video of my finish. Very nice touches.
*****I would give this race 4.5 stars. They really worked to make everything convenient for the runners. The race was big enough that there was ample crowd support. I like the goodies and the extra effort put in to make this race runner friendly. I will probably do it in 2012.
For more information: http://www.frederickrunfest.com/