Baltimore Half Marathon Recap – The 13 Minute PR

I had such a great time at the Baltimore Half Marathon.  Everything just seemed to fall into place and I’m still sitting around and smiling like crazy because I’m so happy with how everything went. This will be long so bear with me!


Early Friday afternoon, I headed up to Baltimore with Suze and our friend Suzanne to get our shop on.  I threw caution to the wind and broke the “no new stuff” on race day and got a new Under Armour shirt and sports bra and a really cute new SweatyBand. I run in a lot of Under Amour so I just took a leap of faith that I’d love the sports bra just as much as I love my other gear.

We grabbed some delicious pasta at Vapiano for dinner and I headed to bed nice and early so I could be ready for my extra early wake-up call.

Carbs loaded!

Laid out the night before so I won't forget anything!

Surprisingly, for the first time ever, I managed to put my race anxiety out of my mind and sleep well.  I guess for the first time ever I was also calm enough to eat my whole dinner! I kept my fingers crossed that I could keep my nerves in check during race day too.

Race Day:

Suze and I headed up to Baltimore far before the race’s 9:45 start time.  The race had a strange set up, where the full marathon started at 8:00 and the half started almost 2 hours later  at the full’s 13.1 mark.  Of course that complicates things for the half runners a bit – due race road closures we had to get to Baltimore at around 7:30 and had an awful lot of time to kill pre-race.

Dressed and ready at 5:40 a.m.

But it ended up being a pretty good thing.  I had time to eat breakfast and not worry about not having enough time to digest.  I had a whole cinnamon raisin bagel with a little cream cheese and some coffee at 6:15 and was confident I was going to feel great during the race.

At around 8:30 we went to meet up with Sarah who was running the half with her husband. It was his first half marathon!

Ready for 13.1 miles of awesomeness!

Before I knew it, the race was starting! I was still really excited and not at all nervous.  Sarah and her husband took off ahead of us, since they were aiming for a faster finish time, and Suze and I started our race plan.  I am so happy I decided to set my Garmin display to not display time and pace.  All I had to look at were intervals and I had absolutely no idea what pace I was running at so I wasn’t stressed and I could really enjoy the crowds and energy and there was plenty to pump me up at the start!

Miles 1-3 were a lot of up and down hills but I was honestly expecting much worse.  I stuck with the plan and let the adrenaline take me through mile 1 and then implemented my 4 run:1 walk policy.  I made sure to be smart with the walk intervals – if I was on a downhill I skipped the walk interval. I also made sure to walk through the water stops when I drank Gatorade to minimize stomach problems.

At Mile 3 I almost lost Suze at the water stop.  I grabbed my Gatorade and she was gone. I stopped and waited for her for a little until a spectator gave me a great piece of advice that stuck with me for the rest of the race: It’s not what behind you, it’s what’s in front of you. Keep going! I told him what Suze looked like and asked him if he saw her to tell her I was a little ahead of her. It turned out she had passed me and I saw her a bit ahead of me and sprinted a good bit to catch up with her.  I was so happy to find her!

Miles 4 and 5 were not terribly memorable.  I know from Suze’s watch that we were pretty much dead on with distance at the mile markers, we were running the course smart but I wouldn’t let her tell me our pace. I didn’t want to know where I was until I hit the lake at mile 7.  I lost Suze for good after the water stop at mile 5.  I turned around when I was going to start my next run interval and she was right behind me but then she just vanished.  I tried to find her but remembered my advice from my favorite race spectator and just kept going.

Mile 6 showed the biggest hill on the elevation chart and I spent a lot of time dreading it and worrying about it.  It turns out it was not nearly as bad as I was expecting. Not even close.  I met an older woman on the way up the hill and I told her she was doing great and this was the worst hill and once we were done we’d have smooth sailing until the end of the race.  We made it up the hill and I felt so relieved! If that was the worst then I could kill the rest of this race.

Miles 7 and 8 were around a lake and I hit a major second wind after finishing the big hill.  Mile 7 was the first point that I looked at my watch and I was pleasantly surprised to see 1:22. I was ahead of a 12 minute pace!!  I saw a few race photographers and hammed it up for them. I jumped in front of one and airplaned. He was not entertained.  I took Halloween candy from spectators.  I ate a Reeses Peanut Butter cup at mile 8! It was delicious but it made me so thirsty! I don’t think I took a single walk break on the lake.

Miles 9 and 10 had awesome crowd support but the miles weren’t terribly memorable. I stopped at the water stop at mile 9 to drink some more Gatorade and refill my water bottle because I had drained most of it after eating the Reeses.  I grabbed a handful of gummy worms and candy corn from spectators (who the heck am I? Seriously? I never eat this much running!).  I wasn’t planning to look at my watch time again until mile 12 but I had a feeling I was going to set at 10 mile PR so I looked and I did! A 2:30 10 Mile PR!

Mile 11 is where I guess I hit my wall.  I was suddenly so tired.  I ate more of my Honey Stingers chews to try to get a last little energy rush.  Funny enough when I look at my Garmin data mile 11 was fine. I ran it in 11:42 so I guess my perceived exhaustion was a lot worse than my actual exhaustion.  I switched my Garmin’s display to show my pace/time at this point.  It was a mile early but seeing 2:09 on the clock at mile 11 was such motivation. I knew I could hit my time goal of 2:36 and maybe even beat it!

Mile 12 my hips were killing me. I had to stop and stretch twice.  Part of me thought it was stupid to hop off the course and do some downward dogs this late in the race but I wanted to finish with a smile on my face.  I didn’t want to cross the finish line looking unhappy after such a fun race.

Mile 13 was so crowded that walk breaks were no longer an option. I could see the stadiums in the distance and I took off.  I put my pump up run jam on repeat and let Flo Rida carry me into Camden Yards, past the photographers (I jumped up and down and cheered wildly when passing the guy going into Camden Yards. I hope he caught me on camera!).

There was a cop right at the marathon’s 26 mile sign and I must have looked so happy because he shouted “THAT’S HOW YOU FINISH A RACE! LOOK AT THAT SMILE!” and I just kept going as fast as I could. My last .14 was at a 9:46 pace! My official finish time was 2:34:48, 13 minutes faster than I ran Virginia Beach last month.  

 I know this was the longest race recap ever but I’m so proud and wanted to make sure I’m able to remember everything.  I definitely found a plan that works well for me and I’m excited to see what I can do on a course that’s not constant hills.  I can finally say that I’ve been bit by the half marathon distance.  Thank goodness I gave it another try after Virginia Beach.  My main goal for this race was to finish happy and I definitely did.  My reach goal was to finish in 2:36 and I met that too.  I just can’t stop smiling! Oh and if anyone is wondering, the new shoes worked out perfectly!

Have you ever had a race where you exceeded your goals? Tell me about it!

49 Responses to Baltimore Half Marathon Recap – The 13 Minute PR
  1. Gwen
    October 16, 2011 | 2:50 pm

    GREAT recap Carly! Congratulations and enjoy this!
    Gwen recently posted..WeekendMy Profile

  2. Michelle @ The Running Jewess
    October 16, 2011 | 2:52 pm

    You are such a rock star. Reading this made me so happy! Do me a favor and come out to the west coast in May and run a half with me. :)
    Michelle @ The Running Jewess recently posted..Ringing in the New YearMy Profile

    • Carly D. @ CarlyBananas
      October 16, 2011 | 8:56 pm

      Omg, I would love to run a race in California. Which race are you looking at in May?

  3. Liz
    October 16, 2011 | 3:18 pm

    Great job girl! After reading this I am definitely going to change my Garmin screen on my next race. I wonder if at mile 11 had you seen your pace was still fast, maybe you would have let yourself slow down. Congrats on a new PR!

    • Carly D. @ CarlyBananas
      October 16, 2011 | 9:32 pm

      I think it turned out to be really helpful in this race because there were no time clocks(well there were 2 for the full marathon people but I had no idea what my time was in relation to it). When I looked at my Garmin splits I’m even more happy I did it because my early miles were pretty slow due to crowds and I think I would have been discouraged. I’m going to try it again at the MCM10k and see if it’s helpful again :)

  4. Marcia
    October 16, 2011 | 3:35 pm

    Congrats! So happy for you…great recap!!!
    in 2009 I ran my 2nd marathon. My goal was “to run like I felt” I had no real time goal in mind, but thought running a 3:45 would be awesome..I easily ( well. not that easily) ran a 3:34! I was totally shocked. It was awesome. :)
    Marcia recently posted..MIGHTy Tuesday -ThursdayMy Profile

    • Carly D. @ CarlyBananas
      October 16, 2011 | 10:15 pm

      Wow that’s amazing! It’s surprising what we can do when we just trust ourselves.

  5. Bridget
    October 16, 2011 | 4:41 pm


  6. Theresa
    October 16, 2011 | 4:46 pm

    So happy to hear you had such a great race! That’s one heck of a PR too – congratulations!
    Theresa recently posted..The Day Before: Goals for LongleafMy Profile

  7. Victoria (District Chocoholic)
    October 16, 2011 | 7:04 pm

    Congrats on 2 PRs (10 mile and HM) in one race!
    Victoria (District Chocoholic) recently posted..Protein Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk Cookies: We’ll Miss You, Lauren!My Profile

    • Carly D. @ CarlyBananas
      October 16, 2011 | 10:43 pm

      Thanks!! I can’t wait to run another 10M race to try to break it again. And another half… This half gave me major race fever.

  8. Lee
    October 16, 2011 | 7:14 pm

    Great job, Carly! That’s a huge PR!!
    Lee recently posted..Peachtree City Classic 15KMy Profile

    • Carly D. @ CarlyBananas
      October 16, 2011 | 10:44 pm

      Thanks Lee! The one benefit to having a really tough first half marathon is the huge PR potential for future races :)

  9. sugarmagnolia70
    October 16, 2011 | 8:00 pm

    congrats on an amazing PR!! And that’s great advice you got….always look ahead.
    sugarmagnolia70 recently posted..Hooray for Kindergarten!My Profile

    • Carly D. @ CarlyBananas
      October 16, 2011 | 10:50 pm

      I seriously love race spectators. I can’t wait to spectate at the Marine Corps Marathon and repay the favor!

  10. steena
    October 16, 2011 | 8:35 pm

    Congratulations Carly! That’s awesome that the cop yelled that at you too!
    steena recently posted..When I get off the swings I put on my tu-tuMy Profile

    • Carly D. @ CarlyBananas
      October 16, 2011 | 10:56 pm

      Thanks Steena! I can’t wait to spectate a race and shout encouragement at people. It always peps me up so much!

  11. A
    October 16, 2011 | 9:31 pm

    “I guess for the first time ever I was also calm enough to eat my whole dinner! ”

    UM… Carly? Is that YOU?!?! I’d like to be with you just once when you actually eat more than 4 bites of food :-) And all the candy during the race, and breakfast?!?! REALLY?!??! I think I am more proud to hear about that than the running :-) but congrats – i am so glad you just had fun with it and I can’t wait to see some of the pictures. I hope this motivates you to do some more races after a much deserved break – little stashin needs something to cheer you on with next year!
    A recently posted..Game Day Snack Week 6 – Mozzarepas!My Profile

    • Carly D. @ CarlyBananas
      October 16, 2011 | 10:51 pm

      I know! I always seem to eat meals with you when I’m nervous. My appetite is the first thing to go if I’m even a little bit worried about something!

  12. Coco
    October 16, 2011 | 10:11 pm

    Yay, what a happy Half! You train on some serious hills in Arlington–I’m sure that paid off. I wonder if all the candy caused that energy drop off? No matter – you rocked it anyway. Have you ever done a song list post, or would you share your “pump up run jam” list? I haven’t downloaded new music since the end of May.
    Coco recently posted..Race Recap: Race For A Cause 8KMy Profile

    • Carly D. @ CarlyBananas
      October 16, 2011 | 10:32 pm

      I think I underestimated how much hill training I’ve done. It didn’t seem like much but I guess it’ was sufficient!
      Hm, I never thought about the candy’s effect on energy. I was so excited to be able to stomach food that I never thought past the whole “Oh cool, I can eat!”
      I can definitely do a pump up song post. How are you with offensive lyrics? I always want to ask before I post songs about booty shaking and strippers.

  13. Sana
    October 16, 2011 | 11:16 pm

    This race recap made me so so happy :)
    Sana recently posted..Day 16: Long ExposureMy Profile

  14. Allison@ Happy Tales
    October 16, 2011 | 11:54 pm

    Girl, you are a complete ROCKSTAR! I love love love that you took the time to stretch, even if at mile 12, because you wanted to cross the finish line not in pain. You definitely be speakin my language :)

    • Carly D. @ CarlyBananas
      October 17, 2011 | 5:22 pm

      I’m convinced those stretch breaks are the reason I feel great today! I have a little bit of soreness but nothing bad :)
      I think we need to run a race together sometime!

  15. Jeff
    October 17, 2011 | 5:36 am

    Congrats – Great Recap! – I ran Baltimore too – My First Full Marathon

  16. Suzy
    October 17, 2011 | 9:57 am

    I am so FREAKING proud of you! You are such the baller. I’m sorry if I held you back – you could have had another 3 minutes! :/

    PS. Cute outfit! Very Maryland… :)
    Suzy recently posted..Wordless Wednesday: You’re so vain.My Profile

    • Carly D. @ CarlyBananas
      October 17, 2011 | 5:25 pm

      You know I love a themed race outfit!
      One day we’ll get a race together where I’m not dying. Cherry Blossom 10 Miler or bust!

  17. Kathryn
    October 17, 2011 | 10:23 am

    Way to go! That sounded like such an awesome race, I’m so happy for you! Have you shared your Pump Up Playlist before? Can you? I’m always looking for good running tunes!
    Kathryn recently posted..Fatty, fat, fat, fatMy Profile

    • Carly D. @ CarlyBananas
      October 17, 2011 | 5:24 pm

      I’ll do a music post next week for sure. I hope no one judges my awful taste too harshly haha :)

  18. Allison
    October 17, 2011 | 12:30 pm

    Great job, Carly! You’re super inspirational and I have to give you MAD PROPS for doing another 1/2 so soon after the VA Beach 1/2. I just did a 10k on Sunday it was a total struggle!
    Allison recently posted..Boo! Run For Life 10kMy Profile

    • Carly D. @ CarlyBananas
      October 17, 2011 | 5:26 pm

      Thanks Allison. I was really worried going into this race because I hadn’t trained as much as I did before VA beach – but I think it ended up being a good thing. It was a really fun race. I definitely recommend it :)

  19. amy
    October 17, 2011 | 1:50 pm

    Yea! Great job!

  20. Jeffrey
    October 17, 2011 | 3:07 pm

    Congrats! A huge PR for you. Must be on cloud 9!
    Jeffrey recently posted..Beating the St. Louis BluesMy Profile

    • Carly D. @ CarlyBananas
      October 17, 2011 | 4:56 pm

      I am definitely still so excited. I’m doing my best to resist the urge to sign up for spring races. :)

  21. Shannon @ Mon Amour
    October 17, 2011 | 3:37 pm

    Congrats on your PR! I ran this race for the first time this year and loved everything about it!
    Shannon @ Mon Amour recently posted..The Baltimore Half Marathon Race ReportMy Profile

    • Carly D. @ CarlyBananas
      October 17, 2011 | 5:21 pm

      Thanks Shannon! Congrats to you too! I read your recap but can’t comment on it for some reason. I love your picture of the tigers – I thought they were hilarious :)

  22. Jessica @ Healthy Dairyland
    October 17, 2011 | 4:19 pm

    Congrats on the PR! You rocked it!!
    Jessica @ Healthy Dairyland recently posted..Hydration. It’s serious!My Profile

  23. Allison
    October 17, 2011 | 7:15 pm

    Congrats on the new PR! It sounds like you ran a great race.

  24. David H.
    October 18, 2011 | 1:40 pm

    David H. recently posted..THANK YOU!My Profile

  25. Carrie Shaw
    October 19, 2011 | 11:32 pm

    Very impressive that you ran baltimore (with its beastly hills) 13 minutes faster than you ran va beach (which I imagine is much more flat). I also ran on Saturday and thought it was so fun- but the wind and the hills were a big struggle for me! Also, I am a huge fan of the long race recap- maybe because I do the same thing but I feel like races are the most fun thing to write about and to read about!
    Carrie Shaw recently posted..Toenails are for Sissies…My Profile

  26. Jess
    October 21, 2011 | 9:22 am


    The same thing happened to me last year at Baltimore. I went in planning to do it for fun, no desire to PR, just running it because it’s a great race in a fun city.

    I ended up finishing mere seconds off my PR. It was amazing. I think just going into a race to have fun makes it easier to not psych ourselves out.
    Jess recently posted..Financial Friday: BudgetingMy Profile

  27. Nancy
    October 23, 2011 | 8:33 pm

    Great recap and awesome run!!! I also ran the half marathon and it was fun to relive the race through your posting. :)
    Nancy recently posted..nancymustard: what a cute website. Profile

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