I'm a BaltiMORON and a King Crab

With this post I'm caught up on all previous October races. On 10/15/16 I ran two races as part of the Baltimore Running Festival. And man, did I come home with the bling!

It was a fine race day in Baltimore and I finished up with 4 medals and a fleece blanket

I ran the Baltimore 5K at 7:30 AM, and then the Baltimore Half Marathon at 9:45 AM. There was plenty of time in between races to take a breather, and I got in a 16 mile training run when all was said and done. Running both of these races on the same day was called the BaltiMORON challenge and earned me a bonus medal in addition to the individual 5K and Half Marathon medals. And because I had also run the Frederick Running Festival Half Marathon (my blog here) in May, I earned the Maryland Double medal (for doing Frederick and Baltimore half or full). AND -- because I also ran the Baltimore 10 Miler (blog here) in June, I earned my King Crab Challenge fleece blanket (for doing Frederick Half, Baltimore 10 and Baltimore full or half). I also got nice Under Armour shirts for both the 5K and the Half. Because of the combination of races I ran, I came away with more bling than a person running the full marathon could have earned (there was no way they could do the 5K and BaltiMORON since they were running the full marathon). In case that's all too confusing, just look at the photo of all the bling I earned by running multiple races starting in May.

The top 2 medals were from previous races in this series: the Frederick Half and the Baltimore 10 Miler;  next: Baltimore 5K, Baltimore Half, BaltiMORON and Maryland Double; the Baltimore Half Marathon medal is shown closed in this pic, but you can open up the crab and see a view of the Baltimore skyline
A view of my King Crab Challenge fleece blanket covering the dinette table. It's a decent size and very soft

Race weekend started for me on that Friday when I drove to Baltimore to pick up my race packet. Sid was the volunteer handing out the BaltiMORON bibs, so I got to say hi to him. I also bought a set of Race Dots at the expo. These are magnets that you use instead of safety pins to fasten your race bib to your shirt. More about those later.

Sid was manning the BaltiMORON bib station at the expo

Then on Saturday morning I had to get up early to drive to Baltimore and get a decent parking space. I gave myself plenty of time for a port-o-potty break after my drive. I got over to the starting line for the 5K, which is the same place where the marathoners would start a little bit later. I found Letty in the corral and decided I would run with her. She's a little faster than me, but that would be good for me. We started uphill and soon caught up with Sid. At that point Letty and I decided to stick with Sid. That was appropriate, as I was wearing my "Sid Busch for President" shirt.

Start of the 5K
Here I am following Letty and Sid uphill during the 5K

We walked up most of the hills, but ran the flat and downhill sections. It looked like Sid was going strong. It's always interesting to run with Sid because so many people know him and call out to him on the course. He's a celebrity in Baltimore, for sure, coming off his 200th marathon experience there last year (blog here). It seemed like one in 10 runners either said hi to Sid, patted him on the back, gave a high-5 or wanted their picture with him. It was fun and exciting, and before we knew it the 5K was done. We collected our medals and food and then Letty and Sid were off to their hotels to rest up before the half marathon. I decided to stick around the finish area until it was time to line up for the half.

Letty and Sid carrying the flags; this was my view for most of the 5K
With Letty and Sid wearing our 5K medals

After I had some snacks, another port-o-potty stop and rested a bit, I checked my bag. I had worn my Marine Corps Marathon jacket during the 5K, but now I was checking it along with my 5K medal. It was going to be too warm for a jacket and I didn't want to run wearing the medal. At bag check I discovered that I was missing one of the four Race Dots on my bib. These are really strong magnets, so it didn't simply come off. I think it was forced off when I was in the port-o-potty dealing with my jacket and my shirt and bib getting crunched up. So I adapted. I used two Race Dots on the top corners of the bib and the third one on the bottom center. That's actually how the Race Dot guy at the expo recommended they be worn. Makes sense that way because when bending at the waist there is less of a chance of the different sets of magnets attracting each other and shifting the bib around.

Once my stuff was settled I headed to the half marathon start, which was in a different location than the 5K and full marathon start. I was going to meet up with Brittany, who I met at the Frederick Half and saw again at the Baltimore 10 Miler. We had a good time chatting and drinking beer after both of those races. We were planning to actually run this one together.

The set-up of the half marathon start is kind of awkward. The half marathon corrals are a middle lane in the road flanked by lanes of full marathon runners who were almost halfway into their race. To get to the inside lane for the half marathon corral we had to CROSS the lane of marathoners running by. That could be dangerous and very distracting for those runners. I hated having to cross in front of them. But I soon found Brittany; we were starting toward the back of the half marathoners.

I found Brittany
Almost to the Half Marathon starting line

Baltimore has hills, and these races had quite a bit of uphill running. Brittany said she hadn't done enough training this summer, so she simply wanted to finish without a horrible finish time. I told her I'd make sure we finished in under 3:00. We would do 4:1 run/walk intervals and walk a little extra on the uphill portions if needed, and run the downhills even if we were on a walk break. We got into a rhythm and things went pretty much to plan.

It was my first time running the Baltimore Half after doing the full marathon last year. While the half marathon shares much of the same course as the full, there are some differences in the beginning miles. Eventually we met up with the full marathoners and relay runners and ran most of our course with them. The later starting time of the half marathon made sense, as we were pretty much running with people at about our pace once we connected with the marathoners. When some races merge half and full marathoners onto the same course, it is poorly timed; one race has faster runners and the other race has slower runners, so this makes things unpleasant for all. But in this race it was smooth, at least for our corral.

I enjoyed running with Brittany and catching up. The weather was good, trending a little bit to the warm side at the end of our race, but not unbearably hot. I saw some folks I knew on the course including Sid again, and Lori. There were a few points on the course where people were serving alcohol. I recognized the first beer station from running the marathon last year. This was still early in our race and we skipped it. Later we came to a mimosa station and I had to have one. These are small portions, of course. And closer to the finish there was another beer station. I couldn't say no to being served beer by a man in a kilt.

One of the few on-course photos I took during the Half Marathon
Hmm...and there were other, more controversial signs that I am not sharing (it's election season, after all, and some of it got ugly)

Brittany and I walked a little more in the last miles of the race, but I have to say that she hung in there and did a great job in spite of her lack of training. We had enough energy to run into the finish and we certainly beat 3:00.

After the finish we had some stops to make. The half marathon medals and my BaltiMORON medal were distributed in the runners-only finish area. We also got water, fruit, granola bars and chips there. We had to exit the finish area and go to a tent to collect our Maryland Double medals and our King Crab blankets. We were quite loaded down with stuff, so our next stop was bag check so that we could organize things.

With Brittany and all our medals

Then we met up with Brittany's boyfriend Josh, found our way to the beer garden and hung out for a while drinking beer, eating chips and people watching. It wasn't the best beer (Michelob Ultra), but it went down smoothly. I missed the nice craft beer that we had at the Fredrick Half and at the Baltimore 10 Miler. But this was a bigger event and I'm sure the sponsorship deal with Michelob was good. We didn't complain as we soaked up the sun and watched parts of the air show that was taking place at nearby Fort McHenry as part of Baltimore's Fleet Week festivities. Nice to celebrate a good race with some aircraft fly-overs!

One of the best air show pics I got as I was walking back to my car
What you don't experience in this photo is the sound that they made

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