2009 Baltimore Marathon – Race Report

First off, some kudos

First off, big ups to Summer for hosting me for the weekend. This was my 3rd Baltimore Running Festival, and she’s put me up each time. She drove me around the city (thank goodness), cooked (amazing food) and introduced me to some of the coolest people ever. Her friends are awesome.

My experience

This is one of the first races I’ve ever set a specific time goal. I was attempting 3:50 (an 8:46/mi pace). My only other road marathon (in March 2007) I finished in 4:19, and last week’s trail marathon I did in 4:01. A 3:50 should be attainable, so long as my legs aren’t shot from back-to-back weekends of 26.2+ races. I felt good going in, but I just couldn’t be sure.

Beautiful weather

I was blessed with beautiful weather, yet again. Somewhere in the low 70s at the start. Dropped to the 60s halfway through. A few rain drops to cool things off, but they only lasted for a couple miles. The weather was right for a fast time.

The first mile was slow because I was dodging the mass of people at the start. It opened up quickly, and I found my 8:45 pace, so I thought. It turned out I actually found an 8:20 pace, and I maintained it for the first 6 miles or so. I got to mile 7 about two minutes ahead of schedule.

Halfway point

At the halfway point, I was five minutes ahead of schedule. I started to think I might break 3:45. In the back of my mind, though, I knew I was pushing pretty hard, and there were already quite a few hills that I ran right through. I knew more hills were coming, and wondered what my early, fast pace might mean for later.

I ran through mile 20 still ahead of pace, and hit mile 21 right at 3:00, four minutes ahead of pace. But just like the race last weekend, my legs turned into Jello, and I had to walk.

I pushed through it better than I did last weekend. I was able to run through the pain. And I did still have an outside chance at 3:45 as I neared the finish, but I didn’t quite make it. 3:46:03. A new PR, and goal accomplished, with 4 minutes to spare.

The Baltimore Marathon course

I consider Baltimore a pretty tough marathon course. There are many long, gradual hills throughout the race. Beginning, middle and end, although the last few miles probably have the fewest hills. You run through the nice areas of the city, as well as the not-so-nice.

Fan support

The fan support this year was incredible. There were more people cheering than I remember 2 years ago when I ran the half. Even another guy commented to me during the race, and he’s run it 5 years in a row.

  • High school bands & cheerleading squads.
  • Little kids with “free high 5” paper hands.
  • Homemade aid stations with gummy bears, pretzels, chips, bananas, oranges, peanut m&ms, gels and even beer.

Even the “bad” sections of town had parents & their kids out on the front steps, clapping & smiling.

What I learned

  • You will perform better when you have a time goal you’re trying to achieve (it helps you mentally push through)
  • Conserving energy early on makes a big difference
  • I know many people like to ‘run the whole thing’ (myself included), but I do believe you will achieve a better time if you take walking breaks (unless you’re from Kenya)
  • The city of Baltimore has a few hills
  • My legs were built to run no more than 20 miles at a time. I need to train them to do more.
  • The more you acknowledge & appreciate the fans that cheer you on… the louder & more enthusiastically they cheer for everyone else.

Looking forward

Now it’s time for me to take a little break before my 50-miler at JFK in November. No more races until this one. I don’t have a goal yet for JFK, but I’m thinking my goal should not include a time… it should just be to finish within the time limit. Why? Because that’s all I need to qualify for the 100-miler next June.

The result

3:46:03 – a PR
516/3132 – overall
403/2022 – men
74/310 – M25-29