Monday, October 13, 2008

26.2 Miles of Fun

Baltimore Marathon – October 11, 2008

This race is only around 30 minutes from my house and a well run race. They also cap the marathon field at a reasonable amount (4,000). I refuse to do any race that has over 5,000 runners. I really don’t like crowds. UA is the sponsor so you get a nice long-sleeve tech shirt and a cool medal with a Maryland Blue Crab on it. There is also a 4-person relay-team option for the marathon, a ½ marathon, a 5k and a kids fun run going on the same morning. A very inclusive bunch is in charge of this race. All told there are around 20,000 runners doing the various runs. I did this run in ’05. I was well trained for that race but got sick the day before. I did the race anyway. I loaded up on Advil and went for it. I finished it but my time was a sucktacular 4:05:55. About 20-25 minutes off what I had hoped. I felt miserable from about mile 15 on.

The race starts and finishes around the Orioles and Ravens stadiums. The Ravens stadium is opened up before the race so people can use the restrooms. The day was beautiful, around 55 at the 8am start and 70 by noon. Sunny, no clouds and a slight breeze. The family had stuff going on that morning, hometown 5k. 3 of the kids ran the 5k and 2 ran the 1 mile fun run. So I went up there by myself. Which is no big deal since my plan was to do this race as a training run for the JFK 50 miler next month. I used this race as a dress rehearsal for the big race next month. I tested out a new fanny-pack water bottle holder thingy. And I tested out my nutrition plan. Both worked well. But basically I just wanted to run it and enjoy the day. I was worried that if I raced it my legs would be trashed for a few weeks. So I did not take it easy this week so my legs would be tired for the race. I also have a 12 mile run on the schedule for tomorrow so I really needed to behave myself. I’m guessing I’m in around 3:35-3:40 marathon shape right now. So I figured I’d try and run it somewhere around 3:50 (8:37 per mile pace) or so. That would be a personal best by a few minutes for me and not wipe me out.

Lined up like cattle with the rest of the runners around 7:45. It was a little brisk but nothing bad. I wore shorts and a sleeve-less top and was fine. Lots of overdressed people at the start; long-sleeves, running tights, hats, gloves etc…some of these people were going to be hot later on. The race started on time and we inched our way towards the start line like a bunch of lemmings heading off a cliff. I didn’t record my mile splits but I did check the first few to make sure I was going at the right pace. My first mile was 9:20. A little slow but excepted since I had to weave my way through slower people who lined up way too far in front for their ability. Here’s a guideline to know if you lined up correctly: if you are planning to walk most of the race and finish in 6+ hours and you see Kenyans all around you, you are probably too far up front. Scoot back a bit. The second mile was also slow cause I had to go tinkle. Coffee, water and sports drink before the race will do that to you. Towards the end of mile two I finally saw a tree (finding trees is an issue in the city). Made a dash for it, along with about a dozen other guys. It was a large pine tree so there was room for all. Guys were coming and going, I imagine that poor tree will be dead soon. Note: ladies if you are going to go to the bathroom in the trees too, wearing tights that have to be pulled down might not be the most modest option.

The rest of the miles were pretty uneventful. I never felt bad during the race which was nice for a change. Lots of spectators cheering on the course. A few bands playing. Ran through some rough neighborhoods with their crack-houses (no I didn’t stop, although some meth might have improved my time). We ran around Fort McHenry and also had a 1.5 mile lap around a beautiful lake. The last mile was my fastest. I blame that on the crowds. Coming back down into the finish area I was feeling pretty good. The crowds were thick and rowdy and music was blasting so I picked up the pace. Plus I like passing people. I crossed the finishing line, grabbed my finishers medal and a few snacks and water and then jogged to my car. I was home 30 minutes later.

Things I saw: old dude running in a Tux, Ravens Cheerleaders relay team, guy running while juggling 6 balls, dude running while skipping rope, tall very pale and skinny guy wearing nothing but a blue Speedo with HOT written on his rear-end. For the record, I beat all but weirdo Speedo guy.

So I’m pleased with the results especially considering the following: I didn’t taper for the race, I just did my normal workouts. The first 2 miles were slow. I stopped every 4 miles to refill my water bottle.
No stress leading up to the race, I didn’t start checking the 10-day forecast 15 days in advance and I actually slept well the night before. Plus all my training as been slow miles, granted lots of those slow miles, but slow none the less. I figure with some faster training and some rest before the race, I can take off even more time next year.

Final results: 3:46:56. 6 minutes faster than my previous best marathon time back in ‘03.
574th out of 3,114 finishers
91st out of 287 in my age group (40-44)
2nd out of 11 from my home town. I knew if I kept narrowing down the results I’d get a podium spot.

For you running stat geeks here are my times and heart rate averages for this year’s race and the disaster 3 years ago.

2005 – time 4:05:55 average heart rate 166 bpm
2008 – time 3:46:56 average heart rate 155 bpm

So 19 minutes faster this year and avg hr down 11 beats per minute. Even taking in to the account that I’m 3 years older, it’s nice to go faster and work less.


june cleaver said...

Wow... congratulations! I am still on the tinkle part of your post though. If you are a woman, just how are you supposed to pee if you don't pull down your tights? Do they have port-a-potties? See, I can never run a marathon because these are the issues that would freak me out and make me have a panic attack at the starting line (and I would be standing next to all of the Kenyans for sure).

Thos said...


I bet you were first place out of parents of 10 or more children though. Maybe even 8 or more.


Rob said...

JC - yeah the point was that it was not cold out and they should have worn shorts. lot easier to just pull shorts to the side and go without having to pull your pants down. There were porta potties every 5 miles or so. It's just the first 2 miles that are the problem cause people have been drinking gatorade and water all morning to get ready for the race. or coffee in my case. the first few miles people are peeing everywhere.

Tom - you are right. they should have given me a medal

momto5minnies said...

Thank you for clearing up the "tinkle" issue ;)

GREAT JOB ... I am very impressed. You sound so nonchalant about your finish ... grab your medal and go home.

I do think that you are a little nutty. Just so you know ;)

Rachel said...

You just blow me away. I am utterly astounded by those who run marathons. Congrats. It sounds like it was fun.

As far as tinkling goes, that is a major reason why I can't really run. Though I can do intervals of sprints. It's because the tinkling will just happen when it wants to. Which is no darn fun and just a wee bit embarrassing. :-)

And yeah, you shoulda got a medal for 1st place for runner with over 10 kids. I bet you were the only one of those.

the Mom said...

Try the OKC marathon. It has lots of porta-potties every mile along the route and bands playing to get you going.

Congratulations on the great time.

the Mom said...

I meant to keep you running! Not get you going in the potties! I'm so embarrassed! See what happens when it rains to hard to run and I have to jump rope in the basement instead?

Rob said...

The Mom - I was wondering what you meant. I was trying to figure out what type of music would get things 'going'? Heavy Metal maybe.

I actually prefer trees to porta potties. trees are cleaner