, , , , , ,

First of all, a big THANK YOU to everyone who has been waiting so patiently for this blog post. I know the suspense has been driving some of you crazy! I hope it was worth the wait! 🙂

Finally, 2 weeks and 1 day after the Baltimore Marathon, I am sitting down long enough to get this race recap finished. I really wanted to get this posted sooner, but on October 12th (the day before the marathon) I found out that I would be starting a 2 week Instructional Assistant position in Kindergarten the following Monday. This led to a really busy 2 weeks post-marathon, but I believe that it helped me with recovery because I wasn’t just sitting around all day.

Let’s take a trip back to October 13, 2012…

The morning of the marathon started at 4:00 am! It is amazing how easy it is to get up on race day, compared to training days, even if you don’t realize why the alarm is going off. The alarm went off and I didn’t even hear it! Rob told me I needed to get up, but I wasn’t sure why. Then I realized what day it was…RACE DAY! The day we had been training 4 months for was finally here! Unlike the previous years, I actually slept really well and didn’t dream about running!

We got up and got everything around. We ended up leaving the house a few minutes later than we wanted to, but still made it down to M&T Bank Stadium by a few minutes after 6:00 am. We finished our breakfast (oatmeal with banana for me) in the car before  venturing out into the cold! Actually, I didn’t even eat all of it, as I have a hard time eating a lot right before a big run like a marathon!

One of our biggest fears was the weather not cooperating for marathon day, as we did a lot of our training in hot and humid weather. The weather on marathon day was pretty good. It is was in upper 40’s (48 when we got out of the car), so probably about 50 degrees by the start of the marathon at 8:00 am!

It was chilly while waiting to go check our bag and head to the starting line, so we did some walking around to stay warm. It wasn’t too crowded at first, but that changed quickly as it reached 7:00 am. Below is a view of celebration village from M&T Bank Stadium.

It was just starting to get light out, but we were still freezing!

Rob before the marathon trying to stay warm!

I was so cold, even my nose was red! I did have my hood up, but took it down for the picture!

A picture of us freezing together! I am usually not very good at taking self-portraits, but this one turned out pretty good.

We tried to get a Daily Mile meet-up together before and after the marathon. Unfortunately, we didn’t seeing anyone before the marathon and afterwards it is just too crowded to find anyone!

I wasn’t able to do what I originally planned for my shirt for the marathon so I bought a 26.2 breast cancer ribbon tattoo to wear instead. Sorry the picture isn’t very good, but I took it myself.

After we decided to brave the cold and checked our bag, we began the walk to the starting line! It was a very cold walk, even with those fancy gloves! 🙂

The camera guys caught us again!

The walk seemed to take forever, probably because my teeth were chattering! No lie, it was that cold! We got to the other side of Camden Yards (Oriole Park) and went to the bathroom one last time before finding our pace group.

We found the pace group and stood with the massive crowd of runners ready to run the Baltimore Marathon! We didn’t have to wait long after we got to the pace group before they played the National Anthem and the marathon began!

I was so pumped up and ready to run that I forgot to turn on my GPS! I started my watch as we crossed the start line (3 minutes after the first runners crossed), but somehow forgot to get the GPS ready. I blame it on the fact that I was too cold to think about it! We got a mile into the race, I looked down at my watch to see what our split was and that was when I realized I never turned on the GPS. I was so mad! I quickly turned it on, but because I was moving it took it forever (even longer than it normally does) to sync up. I tried to get the miles back on track at mile 3 by hitting the lap button, but I don’t think it was very accurate. So, the mile splits were messed up for the entire marathon. Since we were running with a pace group, I tried to not let it bother me, but I like to know all of that information! I love to be able to look back at the data!

Besides the GPS issue, the race started out really well. I ended up taking my gloves off a few tenths into the marathon (as I hate running with gloves on and especially ones that are too big), which I quickly regretted because it took my hands forever to warm up. I think it was around mile 5 before my hands started to warm up! One thing I can say about this marathon was that I was never hot! I was actually cold for most of the run! I would go back and forth between being cold and warm, especially my hands. Rob wore his gloves for a while and ended up just putting them in his pockets when he finally took them off. He even offered his to me at one point, during the first mile, I believe. I said that I was alright, but mainly I am just stubborn!

The marathon start is always pretty slow because of the large number of runners, and we start going up hill during the first mile. We didn’t even get 3 miles into the marathon before runners were heading to the trees for bathroom breaks! Crazy, but all you can do is laugh and keep running! It seemed to take longer than I remembered from the previous 2 years for it to start spreading out. It didn’t start to spread out until 3-1/2 miles in, when we headed into the Maryland Zoo and through Druid Hill Park.

The Maryland Zoo was awesome again this year! Rob didn’t get to run last year, so this was a new experience for him. We were able to see more of the animals this year. We saw a skunk (didn’t get sprayed, thankfully!), an owl, a duck, a bird (didn’t hear what it was), and a penguin!

Shortly after the Maryland Zoo, we saw a marriage proposal sign for a woman who was running the marathon! There was a big sign that read, “Will You Marry Me?” We later found out that she said YES and was wearing her ring and posted a picture about it on Facebook.

The next few miles seemed to fly by! The pace group was awesome and so much fun! Dave, one of the pacers, had a horn and blew into it at EVERY mile marker to show the number of miles we had already run! After awhile we had to count them out as he blew into the horn because he would lose count, but who can really blame him, as he was running and blowing into the horn! Greg, Tonya, and Tim were the other 4:45 group pacers! What a wonderful group of pacers! I actually ran with Tonya and Greg last year too!

We both were feeling really good 7 miles into the marathon, which is when I believe the next 2 pictures were taken. Sometimes it is hard to remember, as they take a lot of pictures along the way.

Rob looking strong!

I am just cruising along at this point. I was enjoying the beautiful weather, and the sun, as it felt great…for once! I think I was finally starting to warm up here!

The crowd support wasn’t as good as I was hoping for this year. Last year wasn’t the best either, but the first year we ran it, it was awesome! I finally figured out why (at least I think), the first year we ran the marathon was the 10th anniversary, so the crowd support was amazing! Last year and this year though…not as good. There were some very quiet miles this year, which makes running 26.2 miles even more difficult.

One of my favorite parts of the course was between miles 9 and 13, which goes by the Inner Harbor and the Under Armour Headquarters. This section definitely had the fan support and it was amazing! The schools were out cheering the runners on and played some great music. It was really hard not to get too caught up in the excitement, as we still had over half the marathon to go and the toughest sections as well.

We were doing really well, felt great, and stayed right with the pace group. We ended up stopping just before mile 11 for a potty break. There wasn’t a line for the port-a-potties, so this was a great time to do it. We knew we were at a good spot, as we would be able to easily catch back up to the pace group, and we did before the next mile! We couldn’t have asked for a better time to stop! The first year we ran Baltimore, we lost about 10 minutes due to a bathroom stop, so we were hesitant to stop this year, but glad it all worked out for us this year.

One good thing about running the Baltimore Marathon a few times, you know where most of the camera guys are going to be! 🙂

Rob smiling and giving a thumbs up for the camera about 14 miles into the marathon, with his pretzels!

I was feeling awesome 14 miles into the marathon…

and really enjoying that sunshine!

Still smiling, but the “best” was still to come!

And by the “best,” I mean those dreaded hills! The hills start at about mile 15 and continue until about mile 23! This is definitely the hardest part of the entire course!

Unfortunately, this is where the pace picked up a little bit for the pace group, as I think we got a little bit behind due to the large number of runners at the beginning and the half-way point (which is where the half-marathon starts). We did pretty well for the first hill between miles 14.7 and 17.6, but the second hill really got to the both of us. It wasn’t so much the up for me, but the downhill, and just the opposite for Rob! My quads were burning on the downhills and more than I remember it doing during last year’s marathon.

We were able to stick with the pace group through the hills and around Lake Montebello (miles 20 through 21-1/2), which is another favorite part of the marathon for me. It is just beautiful, despite the hills to get to this point!

A picture of Rob coming around the lake!

A shot of both of us coming around the lake! Despite the smiles, we were both in some pain, which is to be expected.

Rob had some “goodies” along the way (donut holes and pretzels), but it wasn’t until the mile 21 water stop that we both had a gel. That gel never tasted so good! The gel definitely helped me to push it through the end of the marathon…quads hurting and all.

We made our way around the lake and what was waiting for us…yep…another hill! This is where we started to lose the pace group. Rob was a little bit upset by this, but I told him not to worry about it as I knew that they had picked up the pace a little bit. Even I could feel the pace difference. We could still see them for awhile, but it got really crowded again and we lost them for a little bit.

We kept on going and ended up weaving in and out of other runners and walkers a lot! This is what really started to wear on the both of us! It was horrible! I am not usually one to complain about having to weave around people, especially during a marathon, but it was terrible! Way worse than the last 2 years!

We were just past the 22 mile marker, when Rob said he needed to take a walk break. So we walked for about 1 minute and started running again. It was at this point that he told me to go ahead. I told him, no and that I was staying with him! This was his year to PR and I promised that I would run the whole thing with him, and that is what I did!

We started to catch up to the pace group between miles 23 and 24, as we could see them and hear Dave’s horn! So that was a huge boost to us! The crowd support picked up, and that helped as well. We ended up taking one more 1 minute walk break around mile 25, but I knew we were still within reach of our time goal of 4:45! I told Rob that we only had about one mile to go and to just keep running! It was at this point when he asked me if I would hold his hand as we crossed the finish line. Of course I would! We did this together!

The crowd was amazing coming down that final stretch! This is definitely my favorite part of running this marathon! Running through Camden Yards and down the final shoot makes the 25 miles you run to get to this point totally worth it. The emotions we both felt coming down that stretch were unreal. It brought tears to both of our eyes!

Here we are at about mile 26…notice we are not smiling at this point…we are human…ha, ha! At this point we both were in a lot of pain from those killer hills! Can you see the concentration on my face?

Last .2 here we come…

with a little bit of a smile!

Still smiling as we knew we were almost done!

The crowd cheering you on is what gets you down that final stretch! There were a lot of people lined up and down the fence.

Almost there…I even saw the camera guys up there this year, but they still missed getting me when I was looking up!

Rob too!

It was right after this point where I told Rob to move towards the middle of the course because I remembered from the first year that it was not good to be too close to the sides for the pictures, especially with 2 of us in the frame.

We grabbed each other’s hands and finished the last few yards hand in hand. I remember hearing the crowd say, “Awwww!” as we held hands! It made me smile!

Here we are getting ready to cross the finish line together in 4:45:35!

I was so happy for Rob! First of all, we didn’t know if he was going to be able to run until 4 days before the marathon, due to an injury! Thankfully he was able to run, and ran without any pain from the injury! Secondly, he hit his time goal of 4:45 with those horrible Baltimore hills! Nothing really prepares you to run those hills, unless you are able to train on them. So, so proud of him!

All smiles after crossing the finish line together and holding up those hard earned medals! They were heavy too!

Rob with his medal!

Me with my medal!

Both of us together, holding our medals, and marathon finishers again!

Not quite an Olympic Gold Medal, but the closest we will ever get to one! This picture was totally the photographers idea, and a smart idea at that because I definitely knew I wanted to buy this picture! By far one of my favorite pictures from this year’s marathon! 🙂

After the race, we waited in line for the usual post-marathon food, which seemed to take forever. While we waited, I took a couple of pictures for some other race finishers. Then we headed over to celebration village to walk around (waddle was probably more like it), get our official time results, and my double medal!

We made our way back to the finish line area to watch some fellow runners cross the finish line. We were hoping to see a couple of people that we knew finish, but unfortunately (for us) one of them finished a few minutes before we got over there and got a spot close enough to the fence to see.

We stay for awhile longer because we really wanted to see Sid finish the race. Sid was running the marathon in honor of fallen solider, Jimmy Malachowski, and presented his medal to Jimmy’s mother and father after the race. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to stay and see Sid finish the race (which he did), as I started to feel ill!

A picture of the finish line from the other side!

It was an incredible day for the both of us! Rob met his goal and PR’ed by 21 minutes! While it wasn’t a PR for me, it was a wonderful accomplishment. I finished my third marathon in 2 years! After the first (and during it) I said I would never run this marathon again, and yet, here I was running it for the third time. This year my sole goal was to get Rob his 4:45 marathon! I am so happy I was able to help get him across that finish line and with a new PR!

Here is a quote from Rob’s Facebook page after the marathon…

Ok, so I don’t post often, but this one is worth it to me. AsBrooke Olejniczak already posted, we finished our marathon today in a new personal best for me: 4:45:35. My goal was 4:45, so goal complete! Thanks again baby for believing in me and pushing me through the pain to hit my goal! You truly are the best!

I didn’t realize how much I had actually encouraged him until I read this! It is one of the best feelings in the world to help someone else reach a goal as difficult as running a marathon. I am so proud of you, baby! You did amazing!

The day after the marathon we slept in, rightfully so, and managed to get around to run (not literally) a few errands. Of course we both wore our marathon shirts!

Since we had our marathon shirts on, I wanted to get pictures of each of us wearing our medals.

Rob with his medal and finishers shirt!

Me wearing my medals and marathon shirt!

And just for laughs…

Yes, we did! Thankfully, we didn’t have a sled though! Those hills we tough enough without it! 🙂

Thanks for reading (and waiting)!

~Brooke & Rob