Friday, October 16, 2009

Baltimore Marathon

Last Saturday, Oct. 10, I ran in the Baltimore Marathon which was my first marathon. I finished in 4 hours and 28 minutes which was about what I expected based on my training runs. It was a lot of fun to participate, and an adrenaline rush. I guess that is why I have started signing up for all these running events.

I started the marathon late, which may not surprise some people who know the difficulties I have getting places on time. I had ordered breakfast from the room service card the night before, which let you order it at a certain time. I ordered it to be delivered at 6, which I'm sure all the other marathon runners in the hotel did too, so of course it was late and got there around 6:40. By the time my mom and I checked out of the hotel and walked the mile to the marathon start, it was 7:50. I went looking for the bag check. That was a mistake because the bag check was probably 1/2 mile away from the starting line. By the time I had checked my bag the marathon had started! There were some other late runners also running for the starting line through the crowd, so I followed them.

When I finally crossed the starting line it was just me as everyone else had already gone, it was kind of funny because everyone was still cheering, and kind of ironic. I saw my mom and waved at her but she didn't see me with everything else that was going on. Later, it turned out that my start time was 5 minutes later than my chip time, but thanks to the chip time it was no big deal.

I think starting late really took the pressure off during the race. For one thing, hardly anyone passed me the whole time. In the beginning, I caught up to the other runners and kind of settled into the whole thing. I noticed that some people started walking really early on, like around 4 or 5 miles in. I think I was around a 10 minute mile pace for the early part of the race. It had turned out to be a really nice day, and I was enjoying running through all the parts of Baltimore which were completely new to me, as I've only visited the Inner Harbor and Little Italy before.

My mom was able to see me at a couple of points where the course doubled back through downtown so that was great. Also, the other runners were all really cheerful and many neighborhood residents had come out and were cheering so that lifted my mood even more. About at the 10 mile mark, it started to seem that I had been running for a long time. Still, I was continually passing people since I had started from dead last in the pack.

Around the 13 mile mark, the course became clogged with participants from the half marathon, most of whom were walking. There were also some large hills on the course, which I had tried to prepare for with hill training, but there were a lot of big hills. Trying to run uphill after 13 miles while weaving around numerous walkers was probably the most difficult part of the race. After a while I got used to that too. Near the end of the race the course looped around a lake which was nice, and I realized I was at mile 20. Then we ran thorough a great neighborhood where everyone was dancing in the street to R&B and I ended up dancing with and high fiving a cool lady, and I saw a guy dressed in a tiger suit dancing on the roof of a car to a boombox blasting Eye of the Tiger. That really perked up my spirits. Right after that I saw my mom again, and my friends Mike and Amy who were coming out for the end of the marathon. I said hey but did not stop because by that time I felt like I really had some momentum going.

After mile 21, I felt like I was set for the rest of the race. So I just ran as fast as I wanted to. I did 8 and 9 minute miles to the end and I felt great. Then it was over. They had run out of silver blankets when I got to the corral at the end, and I didn't want their bagels. I collected my medal and got my bag out of the bag check. Then I called my mom and my friends. It turned out they were stuck in traffic and I had to walk a mile to meet them. I met them at the Hilton where we were staying that night. I had to wait a while for them to get there, so I checked in. Then we all went for lunch at the Cheesecake Factory, where I had a beer and a great time hanging out with everyone.

After lunch I took a nap and then we went out in Fells Point because it was Saturday night. Maybe I should not have overdone it like that, because I was fine on Sunday, but then on Monday I became extremely ill with the flu. Since then I've been laid low with fever and chills and today is the first day that I've had the energy to post.

Anyway, I am already planning to do another marathon. I've signed up for the Memphis marathon on December 5. I feel like I went too easy on my pace for this marathon and I could have a faster time if I started out with a faster overall pace. At the end I still had a lot of energy. I do need to get some new running shoes though, because the ones I have now give me huge blisters on the soles of my feet. I'm looking forward to the one in Memphis because my family and friends live there so it is a good reason to go and visit between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

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