A Simple Running Log

October 17, 2016

Baltimore Marathon recap

Filed under: Uncategorized — aschmid3 @ 11:47 am

I finally had a good long run in this training cycle! Saturday morning, I ran the Baltimore Marathon in 3:54:34, and I feel like I can take a good chunk off of that in my goal marathon in Philly next month.

I drove up to Baltimore on Friday afternoon to pick up my stuff at the expo, held this year in the convention center. I got my very nice Under Armour race shirt (with thumbholes!), my race bib and a smaller bib that said “FULL” that I definitely pinned to the back of my shirt during the race this year.

The only thing I wanted to buy at the expo was a pair of those ugly $2 throwaway gloves, because it was supposed to be chilly at the race start the next morning, but I couldn’t find them anywhere. I couldn’t believe it. There’s usually piles of those things at expos, especially bigger ones like Baltimore’s. The cheapest gloves I could find were $12, too much for something I would probably toss on the side of the road by mile 3. I decided I’d just risk slightly cold fingers.

Next stop was Meredith’s house, where I was spending the night. We had chicken tenderloins, spinach and sweet potato fries for dinner, and I had a couple beers with her. Last year, I held off on the beer the night before the marathon and had bad digestive problems during the race anyway. Apparently the beer hadn’t been the problem, so why not?

I was in bed by 11 p.m., alarm set for 6 a.m., planning to be parked in Baltimore around 7. I didn’t know anyone else running the marathon this year, so I had no reason to get to the race site more than an hour ahead of the 8 a.m. start time.

Saturday morning, my pre-race plan was going off without a hitch — up at 6, out Meredith’s door at 6:30, eating a plain bagel and a banana and taking two Imodium on the drive into the city, in Baltimore and flying past the parking scammers on my way to the free parking lots near the football stadium before 7.

Until, that is, I got to the lots and found they were full, and the volunteers there had no idea where to tell us to go instead. Even if I’d wanted to give up and give the parking scammers $10, I couldn’t, because I had zero cash on me.

I took off in search of parking. Traffic was backed up everywhere because of all the roads closed for the races. I had no idea where to go and I couldn’t get there anyway. The minutes were ticking by. I was starting to feel a little panicky.

I felt a little better when I spotted this idiot, who’d somehow run an Audi up on an embankment.

audi-wrecked

I might have been getting desperate for parking, but I wasn’t that desperate yet!

Just past the Audi was a turn for more lots on the opposite side of the football stadium from the ones I’ve usually used. I took a chance and found those lots were also open, for free, and there was still plenty of space. I parked my car not a moment too soon!

I took off running. I don’t normally warm up for a marathon, but I didn’t have a choice this time.

I dropped off my bag at gear check, found a mostly empty bank of port-o-potties to empty my bladder, crossed the road where 5K runners were coming to their finish line and made it to the marathon start line with minutes to spare before the gun. They sang the national anthem, counted us down, fired a confetti cannon and bam! The Baltimore Marathon was under way.

marathon-start

I was happy to get going. The weather was absolutely perfect — no breeze, humidity didn’t feel bad, cool but not cold temps. I didn’t even need throwaway gloves!

The first three miles of the course are a long, low-grade uphill. I settled into the crowd and didn’t push the pace. I ran them in 8:46, 8:53 and 8:57.

Then the course turns into and runs through Druid Hill Park and the Maryland Zoo. The zoo handlers had a penguin out welcoming us into the zoo. So cute!

This part of the course is mostly flat or downhill. The next three miles sped up to 8:37, 8:29 and 8:27, in spite of a slight course adjustment due to construction that added two sharp uphills at the end of mile 6.

We passed the first relay exchange point just before the mile 6 marker. At the water stop past the mile marker, I ate the only GU I brought with me and took a salt cap.

The second relay leg is the best part of the course. It’s mostly downhill as we run toward the Inner Harbor. Miles 7, 8 and 9 were 8:52 (I slowed to eat my GU), 8:28 and 8:16, my fastest of the day.

2016-baltimore-marathon-first-half

Somewhere in the first half.

The Inner Harbor was nuts, as usual. The half marathon is about to start at the marathon’s halfway point, so those runners are watching us come through before their race starts. There’s also a ton of spectators. It’s very high energy.

After the course runs through the Inner Harbor area the first time, there’s a two-mile out-and-back. It’s not very scenic, as it’s mostly an industrial area, but the spectators are out in force.

The turnaround, just before mile 11, is at Under Armour’s headquarters, and they have a big aid station with a ton of GU. I took two, one of which I ate there, along with another salt cap. I held on to the second one to eat at mile 16.

Miles 10, 11 and 12 were 8:39, 8:39 and 8:27. We passed the second relay exchange point.

Past the relay exchange, we ran back through the Inner Harbor. I had to use the bathroom, and found a bank of port-o-potties near the half marathon start that were mostly empty at that point, as the half marathon was starting. I was in there a couple of minutes. I didn’t pause my Garmin, but when I uploaded the race info, it doesn’t show the stop.

So when I passed the mile 13 marker during the race, the Garmin said it’d taken me 10:26 to finish that mile with the bathroom stop, but the race data says mile 13 was 8:27. Anyway.

2016-baltimore-marathon-halfway

I think this a little past the halfway point.

I passed the mile 13.1 point – halfway! – just under 1:56. I kinda knew I’d blown my chance at negative splitting and getting those free New Balances from Strava. I’d bought a couple minutes by stopping to use the bathroom before the end of the first half, but the real hills were coming up.

Plus, as I kept reminding myself, this was a training run. I’m not going to have time to recover from this race before training for the goal race continues. Be smart!

I really like the next three miles of the course. The half marathon is still separate from the full marathon, we’re spread out enough no one has to weave through other runners and there’s enough spectators to keep the runners pumped up. Miles 14 and 15 were 8:40 and 8:27.

Mile 16, I’m not sure what happened. I had taken two more Imodium at a water stop in mile 14. I’ve done that before, but this time, I’d brought soft gels instead of caplets, which are bigger and easier to find in a pocket while trying to run. I don’t know if the soft gels weren’t settling well while I was still running or what, but my stomach was starting to feel like it might revolt. I took a couple short walk breaks as we started hitting the first hills.

At the end of that mile, the marathon joined the half marathon for the final 10 miles of both races. I passed the mile 16 marker in 8:56, ate the GU I’d been carrying and took my last salt cap. (I meant to take another one before the end of the race, but I accidentally dropped it on the ground here. Oh well.)

My stomach was starting to settle, but it still felt a little iffy. The course had gotten a lot more crowded all of a sudden, right as we were getting into the biggest uphills. I didn’t feel like weaving any more than I had to, so my pace slowed. Miles 17, 18 and 19 were 9:29, 9:11 and 9:06.

At mile 19, we passed the final relay exchange point. Now we were in the homestretch! The next mile went uphill some more, then ran down to Lake Montebello. I ran mile 20 in 9:13, and passed 20 miles in 2:58. I couldn’t help but think if I’d just stayed home and run a 20-miler, I’d be done now!

But I didn’t, so I still had a 10K to run. I thought back to this race last year – this was exactly where my digestive system had gone into a meltdown and I’d had to stop to use the bathroom twice in the final few miles. This year, however, the Imodium had stopped torturing my stomach and I felt pretty good!

Halfway around the lake, at mile 20.5, was the final aid station with GU. I took a vanilla bean and slowed to eat it. Mile 21 came up before we finished the lake loop. I ran that one in 9:12.

2016-baltimore-marathon-mile-21

Near the end of the lake loop.

2016-baltimore-marathon-mile-21-2

Ten steps later.

The next mile still had some significant uphill running. There were also some spectators handing out Natty Boh. When in Baltimore, drink like Baltimorons. That cheap beer actually tasted pretty damn good at the moment. I finished mile 22 in 9:34.

The 23rd mile was one of my favorites. The spectators are among the best on the whole course. Right near the mile marker are a couple of guys who always dress up in tiger costumes and stand in the bed of a pickup parked on the side of the street, blasting “Eye of the Tiger” on repeat for hours while all the runners go by.

eye-of-the-tiger-guys

Before we got to them, I saw a woman dancing around in a hot dog costume, holding a sign that said YOU’RE A WEINER, which I found absolutely hilarious. I ran that mile in 9:08.

Just a 5K to go! I checked the elapsed time on my watch. I could definitely coast my way to a sub-4 finish.

There was quite a bit of downhill in mile 24. I used that to my advantage and ran that mile in 8:55.

In the 25th mile, we hit one last uphill, as we had to cross a bridge. That mile slowed a hair to 9:05.

Final mile! Baltimore has one of my favorite finishes — down Eutaw Street, between the warehouse and the stadium in Camden Yards, and then out to the parking lot between the ballpark and football stadium. The crowds got thicker and louder as we neared the ballpark. I high-fived every little kid who had a hand out and rode the spectators’ energy to an 8:27 26th mile.

And there was the finish line arch! I crossed the line in 3:54:34 — 10 seconds faster than I ran Shamrock in March. (My Garmin helpfully pointed out if I hadn’t had to stop to use the bathroom, I’d have finished a couple minutes faster, as my moving time was 3:52:22.)

I’d just run a sub-4 marathon on a challenging course to cap off a 61-mile training week. I was pretty happy with it!

My time placed me 21st of 157 in the F 30-34 age group, 130th of 981 women and 527th of 2,353 total finishers.

And then I got my medal. I love this stupid medal so much.

medal-closed

medal-open

I made my way to the runner reunion area, to briefly meet up with one of my Runner’s World friends, Ken, who had run the half in 1:36.

2016-baltimore-marathon-post-race-with-ken

I got my gear check bag, changed into dry clothes and hit the road, stopping at Qdoba on the way to scarf down some tacos.

Anyway, I really love this marathon. Between the hills and the merge with the half marathon at mile 16, I’m not sure I’d ever run it as a goal race, but Baltimore puts on an extremely well-run and highly supported event. Pretty sure I’ll be back in 2017. I’ll just have to either get there earlier or remember where the alternate free parking is.

Saturday evening, I went to my sister’s house for my youngest nephew’s 13th birthday party. I can’t believe he’s a teenager! I picked up Pepper from Clark’s parents’ house on the way home, and then went straight to bed.

Other than going over to Clark’s parents’ house again the next afternoon to take Snoopy for a walk while they were gone for the day, I did not move from the couch at all Sunday. The day-after long run hunger hit and I spent the day trying to fill the void while watching football and NASCAR.

Clark finally got home from Ohio late Sunday, hopefully for good this time.

This morning, I had an early assignment for work, so I didn’t do a short easy run yet. It’s another gorgeous day here, and they finished up the work on that road that was closed for repairs last week, so later this afternoon I will take Pepper out for a lap around the 4.5-mile loop. My legs were a little sore yesterday morning, but I feel back to normal today, so training continues as scheduled.

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2 Comments »

  1. I did the Baltimore Half last year. I love all the unofficial aid stations they have and the thought that people put into them.

    Comment by afastpacedlife — October 17, 2016 @ 12:28 pm | Reply

    • Agreed. The spectators were definitely one of the best parts of that race!

      Comment by aschmid3 — October 17, 2016 @ 2:27 pm | Reply


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