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Parks Half Marathon Race Report

While everyone else is getting excited about pumpkin beer, apple picking and boots weather, I’m gearing up for a totally different season: wedding season.

After completely escaping all summer nuptials, I’ve got two weddings to attend in the next two weeks. Both smack dab in the middle of my 50 miler peaking and tapering. Because I’m kind of stupid, kind of stupidly addicted to racing, and more than kind of obsessed with nailing my ultra training, I’m racing the morning after both receptions. Some people cure post-wedding hangovers with brunch, I race.

The first one, you all know about. It’s this weekend. 50 kilometers of trail running following my friend Charlotte’s brats-filled, Wisco-beer-heavy wedding.

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And the second wedding/race coupling, is the last weekend of the month after a college friend’s big day.

This one happened because I couldn’t stand the thought of skipping out on the Vermont 50 completely. It’s Vermont. I want to cheer on some friends running the race. It’s Vermont. I miss Vermont. It’s Vermont. I miss Vermont cheese and beer and ice cream. It’s Vermont. You get it. And if you don’t, you clearly have never experienced the Green Mountain State. I’d recommend fixing that ASAP.

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Anyway, after we wrapped up Hood to Coast festivities, us red-eyers spent Sunday evening grilling, drinking, and soaking up the last few hours we got to spend together.

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I took advantage of this time to complain about how much I wanted to do the Vermont race to my little cheese-obsessed, new-Vermont-resident of a running friend.

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Being equally addicted to racing and Vermont, she was on her iphone investigating the option to relay before I had finished saying “the sharper the cheddar, the better.”

As this was transpiring, Steph was in earshot, and the second she heard talk of Vermont beer and cheese, she was volunteering to round out the relay trio. 

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So now I’m still doing Vermont. With two very awesome ladies. YAY.

Both of these races are going to involve getting up obscenely early, after enjoying a cocktail or five and probably getting kicked off the dance floor when the band wants to pack up and go home. And not only do I have to wake up and somehow get myself to a start line, I have to…run. On trails and shit. Where people who are more gifted than myself at remaining upright still tumble a lot.

So last weekend, I decided to train for these race day conditions. I had one friend from Middlebury who wanted to celebrate her birthday like a Midd Kid (read: with plentiful jello shots and an overflowing gin bucket).

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And another friend from Midd who wanted to race a half marathon together the next morning.

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A small part of me thought about playing sick and skipping the race, or the party, or both. But a much larger part of me, a part that is pumped for a couple of weeks of busting a move to “SHOUT” and toeing the line at new races, saw this situation as a perfect training opportunity.

So at 8 pm on the dot, I showed up at Meredith’s on a mission to celebrate her 26th year, like a 21 year old, and not bail early.

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Time stamp: 1 am. Mission complete.

To complete the second half of my weekend training, I set 12 alarms, threw all of my race gear into a tote bag next to the door, and called a cab to show up at my door at 5:45 am so I could get to Bethesda in time to meet Tris and make our way to the start line.

What happened during the early hours on Sunday morning is why we practice these things, kids. Some lessons from the chaos of race morning, that very nearly cost us an on time arrival.

A) I should have set a 13th alarm.

B) I should have called two cabs, and prayed that one of the drivers knew that when I said “Medical Center METRO STOP” twelve times, I meant the METRO STOP and not any random hospital within sight of the highway.

C) I should always leave for a race at least an hour earlier than I think should.

Whatever, minor scares aside, we made it to the start. And if practice really does make perfect, I’ll be the first one showing up in Madison this weekend.

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Tris decided a few weeks ago, that he wants to force himself into good running shape by racing once a month. And since I send him emails about five times as frequently as that asking him to join me at various start lines, he knew I would be a very willing participant in Sunday’s half marathon.

We seeded ourselves somewhere around the 1:40 pace group, even though I warned Tris that it might take me well over twice that long to slog through the race, thanks to that whole 35 miles the day before thing.

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Not exactly ideal race prep.

When the gun went off, I told him to feel free to leave me behind. But Tris and I have not hung out recently, and he quickly informed me that he wanted to spend at least a few miles catching up on life and running. And my legs actually wanted to keep up. While the initial steps out of bed earlier that morning had been a bit of a strugglefest, they seemed to shape up as soon as they started running.

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The course started on Connecticut Ave, a busy road through whatever part of Maryland the cab/Tris had driven me to. I made a conscious decision not to research the race course ahead of time. I had no desire to fret about hills or boring highways on race eve, when I had much more important things to worry about.

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Like which color to pick. FROM AN ENTIRE RAINBOW.

But within the first few miles, we veered off the highway and straight into the woods to run along a fantastic paved trail.

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I know it looks blurry, but trust me, it was just lovely.

I was surprised by just how much I enjoyed the race and the course. When you hear “Rockville, MD” (the location of the race start) you don’t picture a peaceful jaunt through a scenic park. At least I don’t. Then again, I am not entirely sure I’d ever been to Rockville prior to this race.

But the course was great, my legs behaved, and I had a blast running with Tris. During this slightly stressful peak training period, it’s a welcome relief to be able to combine social time with training time.

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Tris and I kept a pretty steady pace the entire race, and crossed the finish line together in 1:39.04.

And with some quality training under my belt, my game face is officially on for this weekend.

13 Responses to Parks Half Marathon Race Report

  1. This is fantastic–I love that you simulated what these two upcoming races will be like. Such a good idea. ;)

  2. Aaaahhh, that was you! I was behind you for a minute, just noticed the shoes (they are trucks) and thought “that looks like Emily’s shoes. Naaahhh” Loved the weather, loved the course, and SO MUCH FOOOOD!

    • SO funny. And yup, total trucks. I wish you’d said hi! Next time. Holy food at the end is right. And such a weird assortment! Pasta at 9am? I mean, I love me some carbs covered with cheese, but maybe some muffins next time!

  3. Hey thats me! Yesss, I made the blog! In a non-running capacity obviously. So great to see you over the weekend. We need to get together more often, Meredith too. I know you two won’t turn down a bottomless brunch at some point in the near future!

  4. Looks like such a great time. I really should start running with friends. I’ve had several offers but for some reason turn them down. Maybe because it’s my time to unwind and think. Or I’m just lazy and don’t want the committment. :)

  5. So excited for #VTcheeseparty! And you know, running too! You are going to kill your 50 miler!

  6. you can chat while running a 1:39. sigh. RUDE.

  7. you amaze me. for reals. no way in hell i would’ve made it anywhere after partying and going to bed at 1 am. pretty sure i would’ve had a panic attack in the cab and no way in hell could’ve i have run that fast (well, still can’t anyway quite yet) after 35 miles the day before and partying. hats off to you!

  8. Convinced anyone else from this weekend to head to Vermont? LOL! And if partying + alcohol is what is takes to hit a sub-1:40, I’m so gonna put this in my training plan.

  9. Oh man, I am so bummed I missed a Sweaty Emily this weekend at the race! Granted, I finished like 45 minutes behind you guys but spotting a running celebrity would have made my (PR) race even better. I run that route all the time, if you start in DC, go through Georgetown, hit the Capital Crescent trail to Bethesda you can run the whole thing backwards (and then some, for those who like that kind of thing). Congrats and good luck on the upcoming 50k!

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