Thursday, June 30, 2016

Race Report: Frederick Running Festival 5K and Half Marathon

I decided to make a return trip down to Maryland despite having already run here in November 2014 at the Annapolis Running Classic, so this trip was to also check off another state for national anthems, as I was able to get in touch with the communications director for the race, who was excited to bring me on board to sing the anthem for this year’s half marathon and 5k races.

My “jalapeño" for the weekend.
I also was attracted by the bling – if I came back to the state in October and ran the Baltimore Running Festival Half or Full, I would get a special “Maryland Double” medal!I also was able to get a flight down to Washington Dulles airport on United, which marked the last two of eight segments I needed to match my elite status from Delta (Silver Medallion) to United, to give me Premier Silver on this airline until the end of the year.  The flight down from LGA went smoothly, having left on Saturday morning, and I got my rental car from Budget …which turned out to be a Kia Soul in a lovely shade of green, which I lovingly referred to as my “jalapeño.”

For the weekend, I was going to stay with a family friend -  in fact, my godsister – and alum of my high school, Dina, and her family, who lived in a gorgeous modern home in Ashburn, Virginia, about 25 minutes away.  So modern and so new was the area they lived in that GoogleMaps didn’t even register the location, and satellite images didn’t show several of the homes that were finished within the last year.

Godsister Dina!
After customary hugs – the last time I saw Dina was during Ragnar DC, when both of our teams just happened to be neck-and-neck for most of the weekend, and before that it had been decades – I had some delicious pansit bihon that was prepared by Dina’s kids’ yaya, and then Dina, her older son Nicholas, and I, made the roughly 1 hour drive up to Frederick to retrieve our bibs and then run the evening 5K.

The 5K run was highly attended, and while at bib pickup, I ran into some friends as well as some folks who had recognized me from my Instagram posts and posts in running Facebook groups. I met up with Dave, the race’s communications director, and set myself up at the startline to sing the national anthem on the stage of the Frederick Fairgrounds.

Out and back on Monocacy Blvd
After the anthem, I snuck off, and got myself into the corrals, reuniting with Dina (who took video of my anthem) and Nicholas, and we were off – rounding the gravel track on the fairgrounds, before exiting eastward onto the out and back on the rolling Monroe Avenue and Monocacy Boulevard, with the finish line back on the fairgounds track.  It was a fairly warm evening, so I was pretty sweaty by the end of the run!  I finished in 30:13, and then met back up with Dina and Nicholas, who finished just behind me, while also taking photos with other friends who spotted me at the finish line.  After taking in a cup of Harpoon beer (sponsoring the weekend), we drove back to Virginia to get Dina’s husband Chris and then go out for dinner.

After a good night’s sleep, I woke VERY early the following morning to drive the hour back to Frederick and to be able to park in the adjacent lot by 5:30am. The race wouldn’t start til 7, so I took my time to acclimate to the chilly weather, which warmed up by the time the race started to 54° thankfully!  Again, I sang the national anthem at the startline, this time starting on the long stretch of Patrick Street in front of the fairgrounds, with the light of the morning sun peeking through the treelined street, as Sid Busch held the American flag, which he ran with for both races.

Singing the national anthem, with Sid Busch holding the flag
(Photo by Bill Green of the Frederick News Post)

The startline!
At 7, we were off, heading straight into downtown Frederick, making a left turn onto East Street, and then making our way to the western part of Monocacy Boulevard, which turned into New Design Road, and rounded Loats Park. We turned right onto Stadium Drive, and ran on the road between Mount Olivet Cemetery and Harry Grove Stadium, as we ran northward back into downtown Frederick.  We then took a slight left onto Market Street, one of the main drags of historic downtown Frederick, as we passed the 5K mark, and many locals lining the streets cheering us on.

Running through downtown Frederick
We turned left onto 6th Street for two blocks before turning again onto Bentz Street,  hitting mile 4 at the turn onto Carroll Parkway, as we ran along the south edge of linear Baker Park.  Along the way, a fire truck was parked in a house’s driveway, with an American flag hoisted on its ladder, cantilevering over the street.  Just before mile 5, we passed Frederick High School.  We turned onto Kline Boulevard, and into Fairview Avenue in the neighborhood of Westbrook as we made our way back near the park, this time on the northern edge of the park at West 2nd Street.   I felt really strong that morning, clocking in sub 10-minute miles for my first 7 miles.

American Flag over the course
Downtown Frederick
We headed back into downtown, weaving in and out of roads, and even running through a portion of the local institution of higher education, Hood College.  Until then, the hills weren’t really too bad – they were definitely there, but they weren’t affecting me like I thought they were going to.  Then we had a pretty rough one during the 8th mile, as we weaved through streets in the northern part of the course,  along Fairview Avenue, Market Street, 16th Street, and then finally to the Fredericktowne Village area at mile 10.   We turned right onto Schifferstadt Boulevard, and had a nice long downhill section, before we were so cruelly encountered with a short out and back on Church Street before hitting mile 11.

Before long, we were back on Monocacy Boulevard, like the night before, making our way on familiar roads to the finish line, but this time, skirting a road north of the fairgrounds (Highland Street), as we were cheered onto the finish on the gravel track, once again.  I finished with a strong 2:11:32, happy to complete yet another half marathon!

Victory Headstand in the Fairgrounds!
With my friend Travis!
I stuck around and went up to the stage, which was cordoned off as a VIP area that I got access to for having sung the anthem, and cheered on friends as they finished, and in particular my friend Travis, who was able to qualify for Half Fanatics with this race! I also got to meet a new friend Offie, who was decked out in all colors and patterns of the Maryland flag – he had been near me at the start, and I was able to catch him finish the race as well.

The bling!
After a quick pasta meal on the stage to refuel (thank you again, Dave, for providing the VIP pass), I headed back to Ashburn to get showered and packed up at Dina’s house, before we took separate cars to celebrate Mothers’ Day at Reston Town Centre, at one of Dina’s favorite restaurants, Passionfish. After lunch, I headed back to Dulles for my flight home – braving an extremely long TSA Precheck line – but happy I got another half marathon checked off my list!

New friend Offie, decked out in the colors of the Maryland state flag!

Always a blast to see my gorgeous friend, Lilian!
The beautiful D'Agostino family, thrilled to have been able to spend the weekend with them!

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