Frederick Half Marathon Race Report

On Sunday I ran the Frederick Running Festival Half Marathon in Frederick MD. It was my first time doing this race, and it's part of a series I signed up for. The King Crab Challenge races comprise the Frederick Half in May, the Baltimore 10 Miler in June and either the Baltimore Marathon or Half in October. These races are close enough to home that I don't need to spend money on hotels or flights, and the drive to each is only about an hour.

Finisher's medal and carnation from Frederick Half

I arranged to pick up my Frederick packet the morning of the race, so I got up early and hit the road by 4:30 AM. Parking was easy in a grass lot across the street from the fairgrounds where the pre- and post-race events were held. I found Sid at the packet pic-up and got a quick pic. After getting my bib I had some time to relax in the car before heading to the start area. I looked for friends who were supposed to be running this race, but found no one. It was quite crowded in the start corrals. After a brief opening ceremony, we headed out to run 13.1 miles.

I found Sid at packet pick-up

Pre-race selfie at the fairgrounds

Starting corrals before they got crowded - see the starting arch in the background

I didn't do any research on this race or the course ahead of time. At packet pick-up I got a copy of the course map. It was a loop course with a small out & back section. For the most part, I wouldn't have the opportunity to see people I knew. The good news is that the scenery would be constantly changing. I didn't know Fredrick at all, so I had no idea what the sights would be, or what the elevation changes would be. I was in for a surprise: we had a LOT of hills to run! There were many long stretches of uphill, and it seemed far fewer segments of downhill. Normally, I would hate the fact that there were so many hills, but knowing that I need to improve my hill game for the Mexico City Marathon, I looked at this as a good training opportunity.

I ran my run/walk intervals and tried NOT to walk extra up the hills. The old Sandy would have been defeatist about the hills and walked way too much. The new Sandy only walked up the hills if they fell during a regular walk break. I also walked through the water stations, but not for too long. And if a walk break fell on a downhill segment, I kept running. This was going fairly well for the first half of the race, even if I was slow. The hills were tough because I had done a 5.5 mile hill workout the previous day (oops). In the second half it got a little warm and I did slow down. On a couple of the hills I needed to add extra walk breaks. But overall, I did so much better than I would have done before starting my new training plan for Mexico City.

The course itself was mostly uninteresting, except for the portion that ran through the downtown area.  Other than that, we ran through housing developments and some farmland. It wasn't the worst course; it just wasn't the best. But it was well-organized. Aid stations were at the right intervals and all had water and Gatorade. At Mile 4 we got Dunkin Donuts Munchkins (I took one chocolate one). Also after Mile 4 there were people handing out beer and Jello shots. I had a cup of Yuengling. Both the donuts and the beer were a little too early in the course. They would have been better at Mile 9, for example, but I wasn't complaining. There were also two aid stations giving out Gu. Overall, great support and very helpful volunteers.

Runners on the course

Mmm...chocolate Munchkin...and I didn't yet know it, but beer ahead!
These neighbors had the best on-course party going...and they even had a person in a t-rex costume

I had hoped to finish this race faster than the previous weekend's half in Columbus OH, but once I knew the nature of the hills, I realized that would not happen. The best I could do was to push myself and hope not to be too much slower. I finished about seven minutes slower. I'll take it, given the hills.

The last leg of the course was on the fairgrounds race track, and I was thinking of the Kentucky Derby (held the previous day) as I ran that last loop. I was unable to channel the speed of Derby winner Nyquist to pick up my pace. But cross the finish line, I did. We all received our medals, and since it was Mother's Day, all the female finishers were given a carnation. There was water, Gatorade, chewy granola bars and different varieties of fruit. I didn't take much because I was saving my hands for the beer.

On my way to the finish festival I picked up my race shirt (they only gave me my bib before the race), which was nice, and then got in the ridiculously long line for beer. I made a new friend in line. Brittany had done this race before and I learned that she does well on hilly courses. During our time in line, and afterward while sitting in the sun drinking our Harpoon beer (yay to having good beer!), we compared notes on different races and had a really nice conversation. Brittany lives near Baltimore and I'll see her again at the Baltimore 10 Miler in a few weeks.

I'm not sure if I'd do this race again. It was a good event, and I'd recommend it to anyone who's not scared off from a hilly half marathon. It's just a little too far from home to make it an annual "must do". But, I'll never say never.


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