This past May I ran a half-marathon in St. Michael’s, Maryland. Earlier in the year when the days were cold and short, a friend suggested that a few of us sign up for the St. Michael’s Running Festival and make a girls’ weekend out of the race. A few months later, spring weather had arrived, bags were packed and five of us were off to the races!
My parents had been to the quaint Chesapeake town of St. Michael’s in the fall so I was really looking forward to visiting. That Friday evening after race packet pick-up–all set up in what appeared to be the storage garage of a nearby church–it was time to chow down with a pasta dinner.
The next morning we loaded our two cars and drove back into town for the race. The neat thing about the festival was that there was a race for everyone–two of the girls would run the 5K, one the 10K, and two the half-marathon.
Racers seemed excited and the music was blasting. After the National Anthem we were ready for go-time. My friend Emily started her 10K and a few minutes later Lily and I were off for the half-marathon. The race began near a school, wound its way down Main Street and the picture-perfect town. As we left town, the road turned into more of a highway until we hung a right into a golf-course neighborhood. During this part of the race I saw a few glimpses of the water and a few miles later I was back on the main drag. This part of the race was rather boring in my opinion. This out and back portion of the race had very few fans; hence, I needed to find other ways to keep me preoccupied. I began fixating on people’s t-shirts. One guy was wearing a Baltimore Running Festival shirt with a crab on the back. I passed him at one point, then he passed me, and then I passed him again. During races, especially longer ones, I always have two or three people that I play a game of chase with. It helps to gauge how I’m doing and gives me some extra juice when I start getting tired. Plus, yeah I get a little competitive.
As I crossed the 10K mark, I knew I was running a strong race. Finally a few miles ahead I saw the turn-around, only about 5 miles to go! I saw the leaders go by and the pack ahead of me was in sight. The beauty of a race under 2,000 people is that you really see how you stack up against the others.
As we approached town again a spectator yelled to me, “Wow, way to go! Two half-marathons in two weeks!” Well, not quite. I was an imposter wearing the race shirt from the Nike Women’s Half that took place the week prior. I ran last year, but not this year. A friend gave me the shirt because it was too small. That comment did put some extra spring in my step though!
Soon the race took a right down a neighborhood side street. A water stop was waiting and then there was about a mile left to go down a trail. Crowds were gathered along the homestretch with a quarter mile to go! I saw Christy and Andrea, who ran the 5K, and Emily cheering me on from the side of the trail, which brought a smile to my face. And then before I knew it I was finished the race!
After I grabbed some water I joined them to cheer on Lily as she finished her first half. After a massage, we meandered to the post-race party where an Army band was playing music. We checked out our finisher stats on the board and I set a new PR at 1:44:18:0, with a pace of 7:58, 10th in my age group and 84th out of 1,260 runners overall. I felt great–my speed is improving (even had negative splits–i.e. I ran faster during the second half than the first) and it was a wonderful day to race!
Lunch was next on the agenda. On the menu–crab cake eggs benedict and coffee. Yum! Then we meandered through the historic town and visited the cute shops. I plan to return to St. Michael’s again as it was a great weekend getaway from the hustle and bustle of the city!