2014 Baltimore Marathon & Running Festival

In lieu of my weekly running recap, I am posting my race recap for the marathon.  Last week’s running total wasn’t anything to scream about, anyway.

Initially, for October’s race I had decided on the Virginia Beach Wicked 10K. When we moved up to Baltimore, I saw a few runners out on my runs along the waterfront wearing Baltimore Marathon shirts. I got curious and googled it one day to see when it took place. I saw it was about 2 weeks before Wicked and decided to run it after talking to my husband about it. I ended up deferring the 10K to next year (I was just going to run both in October) because my husband didn’t want to make the drive to VB. I don’t blame him. I hated making the 4 hour trip. With merely 2 months away from race day, I set out with a tight and quick training plan with the hopes to finish in the 4 hour range. It was insane plan to begin with, but in the end it worked out.

The whole race weekend was referred to as the Baltimore Run Fest. The weekend consisted of the marathon, marathon relay, half marathon, 5K, and 2 kids races. The expo was opened up on the Thursday prior to the race and was located at the Baltimore Convention Center. Finding the location was easy as it was located downtown and parking was available for free at 3 of the parking lots next to the Ravens’ Stadium. I chose to go on Thursday because it was deemed the slowest day of the expo. After a morning at the zoo, I headed over and arrived around noon, about an hour after it had opened up. Once there I had a choice of walking to the expo (about 5 blocks) or taking a free shuttle that would drop me off right at the entrance. I opted for the shuttle since I had my 2 year old with me. The shuttles were spread out to come by every 15 minutes so the wait was bearable.

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This shirt was pretty awesome.  Probably my favorite race shirt so far!

The expo was extremely busy for what they called a slow day (makes me wonder what kind of chaos Friday is!). Picking up our bibs was easy. The one thing I found strange is they didn’t print names on the bibs or any identifying information. As for what you got at packet pick up, you really only received your race shirt. The shirt was nice, though. It was an Under Armour long sleeve tech shirt. I believe the half and full shirts were long sleeves and the other races (relay, 5K, and kids) were short sleeve. The full shirt was a nice neon green and they had the great option of either men’s or women’s cut. The one thing they didn’t do is mark your bib for which shirt size you chose a registration so the people behind the counter had to just take your word for it. Again, something the race organizers should probably look into putting on the bibs like other races I’ve been to. The shirt itself was a 30 dollar shirt so it was a nice running perk. Still, you pay so much for registration you kind of expect a nice shirt, lol. They had several if your typical race vendors there selling running gear and nutrition. They had their race store and an UA store. Apparently this was the first year that UA did not sponsor the race weekend. You really couldn’t tell considering everything they sold at the race store was UA. I did end up buying a nice long sleeve shirt and capris with the race name on it. There was a lot of great stuff but a lot of it was pricey and I really couldn’t justify spending $50 on running tights or $80 on a tech pullover. I did check out some of the other race booths there since I wanted to see what kind of marathons are around this area. I’m considering doing the Pittsburgh or Philadelphia Marathon next year so I checked them out. Once we were done moseying around, Izzy and I headed home.

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Shot of the capri pants I bought. They were super comfortable and I love the design =)

Race morning was insane. My husband decided that we should leave by 5:30 AM (the race began at 7). I was a bit wary since I saw how many bib numbers there were at the expo but agreed. Once we got off the highway it was bumper-to-bumper traffic. It took us 30 minutes to get to a parking lot after being re-directed twice. I was having a mini panic attack because I didn’t think I’d get to the start on time ( I hate being late to anything). Thankfully we were able to get there 15 minutes prior to the start. The only down side was I didn’t get to eat anything I planned to eat before the start. I downed some sport beans and hoped for the best. The race was self corralled by pace so I made my way to the midway between 8 and 9 minute pace markers. My goal was to maintain an 8:30 to a 9 minute pace which I found to be conservative and perfect for the amount of training I was able to get in prior to the race. After the National Anthem and the hand cycle start, we were off promptly at 7. I didn’t find out until after I finished that the runners were actually released in waves to help with congestion. I’m not sure how many there were but I’m glad that they had some sort of crowd control.

The first 5 miles were rolling hills through downtown and up to the Maryland Zoo and Druid Park. I was familiar with the route I took since I’ve been to the zoo a few times with Izzy but wasn’t expecting the hills. For some reason in my mind I thought Baltimore was fairly flat. I learned quite quickly that it’s not, lol. Still, I was able to maintain a good pace though it fluctuated between 7:50 and 8:45 depending on whether the mile was uphill or downhill. Druid Park was really nice and the route through there was scenic. I enjoyed this part the most because it was the only park on the route that was nice, lush, and beautiful. From there I headed south on St Paul St towards the Inner Harbor to complete miles 6 through 14.

The run on St Paul was amazing in that it was entirely downhill. I got some of the best mile times on that portion and my glutes were thanking me for the break. As I approached the Inner Harbor I realized that the half marathoners were lining up in their corrals (they were starting at the marathon halfway point). The route continued through Federal Hill, past Domino Sugar (where my husband works!) and looped around the Under Armour headquarters. From there the route backtracked to the Inner Harbor and ran right past the half corrals. The half started just as I passed the 13 mile mark. Rather than run along the Inner Harbor with us, the half ran up St Paul to join us at Patterson Park (around mile 15). I felt bad for them because that was a brutal uphill. I really enjoyed the next 2 miles because it ran through the areas I used to run in when we were living in Canton. It brought back nice memories of my 6-milers with my daughter in tow in the BOB. I even ran last the rental we had! From there the route turned north on S Linwood Ave towards Patterson Park and Lake Montebello to complete miles 15 through 22.

This portion of the race was brutal. It was constant rolling hills and by the time I reached Lake Montebello my glutes were screaming. It only got bad enough twice where I had to stop and stretch for about 10 seconds to get my lower back to stop spazzing. The half marathoners joined us at Patterson Park, as I mentioned earlier, and from then on we shared the route. Mile marker 20 was right at the entrance of Lake Montebello and 21 was near the end of the loop around the lake. This portion was flat and was a compete relief after all those hills. From there the route went west along 33rd St to complete miles 22 through 23. This portion was full of more rolling hills. I was pretty much over hills at this point, lol.

The route zig-zagged to get us to Howard Street where the route headed south towards the finish. This was a welcomed portion of the race because it was mainly downhill and the final 5K of the race. I ran past the University of Maryland Medical Center and then down Eutraw St to enter the Oriole Park at Camden Yards. I told myself that these last 3 miles would be nonstop running at a quicker pace so that I could finish sooner. My feet were starting to hurt badly so I wanted to get off them as soon as possible. At one point I even had tears forming in my eyes because of how badly they started to hurt. This was frustrating because although my legs were tired and feet were hurting, I felt like I could be running faster because I wasn’t out of breath or pushing as hard as I could. Still, I reminded myself that it wasn’t unusual to feel this way because this was an endurance run. Of course my body would wear out before my mind. I checked my watch at that moment and realized that although I wouldn’t get a sub-4 finish, I’d still get a great time. That was enough for me to push hard for the final mile of the race.

The last .2 was through the Oriole Park. At this point I could hear the finish line and I pushed hard. As soon as I rounded the corner and saw the finish, I saw the clock. It was at 4:04 and I broke out into a sprint. I was going to at least get it under 4:05. I crossed at 4:04:43. I may not have gotten the sub-4 I wanted but I was pretty damn pleased. 4:04 is nothing to scoff at with only 8 weeks of training under my belt. My average pace ended up being 9:20, though I was pleasantly surprised when I saw my 8:38 average for the first half. Gives me hope that my half next month will be a sub-2.

After going through the runner chute I met up with my husband and daughter. Izzy ran her kids race and I was thrilled to hear that she enjoyed every bit of her .1 run. Apparently she told my husband that she was “running to mommy” because she wanted to find me. How adorable is that? I’m just glad she had a blast since I wasn’t sure how she would handle the race. My husband also surprised me with more race gear he decided to buy me. He got me a nice UA cold weather Run Fest sweater, 2 much needed beanies for the winter, and even splurged and got me a Pandora bead that will have “Baltimore Marathon” and my race time etched into it. Pandora was this year’s sponsor for the race and it was perfect since I own a bracelet. It was really sweet of him.

The Runner Village was really nice. There was the usual race gear vendors from the Run Fest and UA but there were also all sorts of food vendors and activities for kids. The standard beer tents were there but I decided against getting one since all I wanted was water and a hot shower. It was a lot bigger than other Runner Villages I’ve been to. Had I not been in pain I think I would have stayed longer to check it out.

Before we took off I stopped at the medical tent to get ibuprofen since my legs from the knees down were aching like crazy. Normally I wouldn’t bother going to the med tent but it was that kind of pain that feels like it’s in your bones, not your muscles. Sitting wasn’t helping so I figured an anti-inflammatory would help and boy, did it help! From there we made the long walk back to the car.

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Loving my paces.  Definitely aiming for a sub-2 at the half on November 16th.

As I said earlier, I’m pleased with my finish. There’s still a small pang in my heart that I could run just 5 minutes faster to get that sub-4. However, the longest run I was able to complete in training was 17 miles and I didn’t even feel worn out until around mile 22. I didn’t hit a wall, per se, in that I didn’t have a moment where I just had to stop and walk for a long period of time. Considering I achieved this time with only 8 weeks of training, I’m proud. Now imagine how well I’d do if I did an actual 4 month plan! Or, imagine how awesome it would have been if it was a flat race course like Shamrock. I’m sure it would have been a sub-4 in that case, lol.

All in all, this will definitely be a race I do again. Next year I’m looking to do their King Crab Challenge: Frederick Half in May, Baltimore 10 Miler in June, and the Baltimore Marathon in October. After my 12 month challenge is done this year, I’m planning to go back to just doing a few races a year with one major race. This will fit the bill. I can’t wait to be back next year!

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