Freedom’s Run Marathon Race Report

So I’ve been a bad bad blogger. 3 kids including a fully mobile 6 month old has made blogging time a bit um…non existent? I’m here thought with a race report of the Freedom’s Run Marathon, my first marathon back after having bubs in April.

We ended up getting an AirBnB because it was going to be easier logistically with the kids. We checked in the night before and dropped off our stuff and then hit packet pick up and grabbed a bite to eat. The race starts in Harper’s Ferry and ends in Shepherdstown so we stayed near the finish in an old school house.

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Our cute AirBNB

The race starts in Harper’s Ferry, hits a tiny bit of trail and then goes to the C&O canal and then through Antietam and finishes in Shepherdstown. There was a shuttle that took runners from the parking at Shepherdstown to Harper’s Ferry, but my family drove me over so I could use my electric pump until right before the start. My plan was to pump at mile 14 and to hand off milk at the aid station right when the race goes from the C&O canal.  The family dropped me off, I hit the bathroom and waited for the race start.

First fail:
I was so nervous about having time to pump that I went out WAY too fast. First of all, I’m a shit pacer. I ran a 50K before ever doing a marathon and while I’ve done a fair amount of ultras, this was only my 2nd marathon ever. I went out like a scared bunny and the first couple of splits were in the 8mm range. Not good. I was desperately trying to slow myself down but still hitting splits in the 8s and 9s.

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Me being a dumbass and running way too fast.

After crossing the bridge and getting on the C&O, I call my husband and let him know that I’m ahead of pace and that I’m going too fast. I let him know I’m switching to intervals b/c at this point, I can’t seem to make myself slow down and I KNOW I’m going to burn out by the 1/2 marathon point.

Second Fail:
My Coros Pace doesn’t do run/walk. I can set an interval workout, but it maxes at 64 cycles and won’t last a marathon and when it’s done it stops the workout. I was afraid to use my Fenix 3 because it was a refurb and untested for a long run, so I was running with the Pace. I decided to use my phone’s Tabata timer to switch to 3/1 intervals. This worked until I had to take my phone off of airplane mode so that my husband could contact me to handoff my breast pump. At that point, ANY contact on my phone: texts, messenger, etc, stopped the timer. I was using the walk intervals to remind myself to fuel and drink water. Still ahead of pace…by a lot.

Third Fail:
Pumping while running was an epic fail. It hurt…like a lot and I couldn’t relax enough to get any milk out. I had a sad ounce of milk and decided to just nurse the baby when I saw them. I’m walking/running and the milk is just spilling everywhere and I’m ugly crying at how much that stupid ounce hurt to pump and now it’s spilling. At the aid station, I see my husband, say hi to the kids, grab the baby and start nursing on one side. Only now, I’m blacking out a bit. The same thing happened after MCM, when I run really hard long distance and then stopped. Fed bubs, hand him off. Grab a gel (which I don’t use) and start walking towards Antietam because I need to keep moving to keep myself from fainting.  Dad takes the kids to run the kids’ race and then to help pass out medals.

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I do love hills

The hills helped me out a LOT. I was able pace myself by hiking the hills (like I usually do in ultras) and running the flats and downhills and I started to feel pretty good.  It was a gorgeous day, the volunteers were awesome and I was thinking I had a decent shot to set a PR despite stopping to nurse.

The race description said:
The full marathon is a point to point with a small net elevation loss. You course 4.5 miles Harpers Ferry National Park, cover 10 flat miles on C&O Canal, roll over a country road to Antietam Battlefield for 2 miles, cover 5 rolling miles of the rich land of Antietam, and finish with 4.5 flat to downhill miles into Shepherdstown.

So I was mentally just trying to make it until it started to go downhill. Except their definition of downhill and mine are apparently completely different. The course was open to traffic so I’m running on the shoulder next to traffic and spotting all the wonders of road running, like used hypodermic needles.

Fail number 4:
I’m starting to get a lot of pelvic pain. I was thinking it was post pregnancy related and I totally have to pee. However, at the last aid station I hit up a porta potty and realize my pee is orange so I know something is off with my hydration. I’d been drinking and taking in electrolyte chews and had a couple cups of water downed gatorade on course but something is off. Running hurts. I call my husband and tell him I’m doing the walk of shame.  Less than 2 miles in and I ended up meeting a couple of ladies to chat with and we all started to run again for a bit. I needed a walk break again so I ran/walk into the finish. It was NOT a PR, but I’m proud of getting it done less than 6 months after having my third kid and my first race in my shiny new age group (balls, can’t believe I’m freaking 40).

IMG_2497I grabbed the baby and nursed and then we went across the street as part of the race swag was a pint glass that you had to collect at the Bavarian Inn after party. I got my very long awaited post race beer (my first beer post baby).  I had as similar pelvic/dehydration issue last year at Dam Yeti 50K and I knew that one beer helps so I slammed that bad boy and then we drove back to the AirBNB so I could rehydrate, shower, and stretch before we went back out for dinner and a walking Ghost Tour.

This race was a good learning experience. I learned that I have no business having a pace hit a 6:54 during a marathon. I need to dial in the nutrition WAY better while breastfeeding. I need to bring an electric pump in a drop bag instead of a hand pump while running and I’m a trail and ultra kind of gal. I’m way too used to aid stations and single track and suck at pacing on road. I also decided I’m going to go for my first post baby 50K in March and will be doing the No Man’s 50K 

All in all, Freedom’s Run is a great race and not overly crowded with great support. My kids loved doing the kids race and loved handing out medals.

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