I signed up for Freedom's Run Marathon last year after hearing about the beautiful course from my friend Kris. The other main draw is that it's a small field. After running ultras on trail for so long, crowded races make me cranky.
When the government shut down and the race had to change the course to omit the C&O Canal and Antietam Battlefield, I took the deferral option. I forgot all about it and agreed to crew a friend at Grindstone 100. Oops. Well, I wasn't going to back out of a commitment. Besides, I hadn't done much running since Vermont 100 in July. It was probably for the best.
And then my friend pulled out of the race due to an injury. I figured I'd just slog through the marathon since I'd paid for it, and simply enjoy the scenery. After all, I had run 100 miles in July, and a half marathon in September. Surely that would suffice for training?
I started off with Mary of @coffeeneur fame and a bonafide bad ass runner to boot. She also claimed that she had not trained for this run, and I figured since she had biked 60 miles to Harpers Ferry the day before, I could take it easy and keep with her. But she was soon disappearing into the cool morning, running her own race. That woman is STRONG!
The course was as lovely and scenic as promised, though by the end of the ten miles on the C&O Canal I was ready for a break. It's a wonderful place to run, but I got too much of a good thing when I trained on it almost exclusively for my first two marathons.
Despite my eagerness to be done with the C&O Canal, the end of my time there also meant the end of the flat, runnable surface. Now there were hills. Relentless, steep hills. I bet a lot of marathon PR dreams die right about here.
Antietam Battlefield was a moving place to run through. The hills and a gusty headwind gave me plenty of time to contemplate the suffering of those who fought here.
The course then finished with about 4 miles on the road. Typical road, and boy was I ready to be done. I kept moving steadily and finally saw Hubz, Ed and Mary waiting along the finish route. Into the stadium, and finally, across the line.
I collected my very rad ceramic finishers medal and then we migrated to the party at The Bavarian Inn. This was the perfect end to the day. Mary and I received a complimentary pint glass as finishers plus a beer to fill it, and we toasted in the warm sunshine while taking in the stunning view. There was Bavarian food available for purchase as well.
I'll be back, Freedom's Run Marathon, and I'll stay at the Bavarian Inn next time! And someday, I'll ride my bicycle out there the day before. But I'll probably spectate that year.
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