|heading to the starting line|
Entering mile 22 I thought the hills were pretty much done. And if I believed the well-meaning spectators, I would have cruised downhill to the finish. Not so! We did have a net loss in elevation, but the hills still erupted along the way. I no longer trusted those on the side lines yelling that this was indeed the last hill. Yeah right! I knew better now.
I was feeling a little rough but no rougher than any other longer run. I started passing people left and right. That always feels good. The problem was the amount of people. Weaving in and out of the ever present crowds became a mission. I was scoping out a bit ahead for the shortest path to the next hole in the crowds.
I took mile 25 a bit easier with the intent of pushing it in that last mile a bit faster than what I had been running. Finish strong so to speak. At the top of what eventually was the last hill, was a guy standing on his car, dressed as a tiger, with "Eye of the Tiger" blaring from his car stereo. Good stuff.
|Approaching mile 21|
I ran that last mile, cruising past quite a few runners, in about an 8 min/mile pace. Good for me for the 26th mile. I intently checked my watch as we neared 26 miles. My watched read "26" but I saw no mile marker. Maybe they didn't put out a 26? Then I saw it, way ahead. My watch read almost 26.2 when I got to that sign. Bummer! Still .2 to go. My watch officially clocked 26.31 miles, which is to be expected. It's almost impossible to run a course exactly as measured. And given all the weaving I was doing, I wasn't that far off. Nonetheless, the garmin watch has added a new element to these longer races. I often think back to my dad's marathoning days and wonder how far he actually ran and how fast in those pre-chip days. I am sure he could take a couple minutes off his 2:59 Marine Corps Marathon PR.
I came across the line and needed a drink! My lips were painfully chapped from the wind. But Mylar blankets and the enormous medal were handed out first. The crowd moved slowly and eventually I had a bottle of water in my hand. I headed into the finishers area and briefly looked around. The winds had seriously picked up (almost knocked me sideways that last stretch into Camden Yards) and I was getting cold in my wet clothes.
The lines for food (general fare: chips, fruit) was long. I snuck in line and grabbed a banana. The beer line was long too as was the soup line (which was what I most wanted at that point). I am just not one to wait in line. Call it lack of patience, but getting home was suddenly more appealing then shivering in the wind, beer and soup in hand.
I ended up walking about a mile, looking for my car I had so carefully parked before the race. I wandered off in the opposite direction quite a ways before realizing that nothing looked familiar. Good grief! I turned around and ambled back eventually spotting my car. A quick clean up and change and I was headed home. Running the marathon without my family was a bummer, but each of my kids had activities planned for the day that I was not going to ask them to give up. The JFK 50 will be for that!
So, all on all, I think Baltimore did a good job. It was well organized. They have a ton of races going on and it seemed to all run pretty smoothly. The course itself is quite challenging. Probably the toughest road marathon I have ever run. Really beat up my joints (knees, hips) because of the bad street conditions and concrete surfaces. It was super crowded. I know some runners enjoy the energy from a larger group. Not me so much. I don't mind running with others, but I enjoy finding my own space, not having to have a strategic plan to pass someone and just room to get in a groove. That said, I did get to run and meet some neat people.
And if I am being picky, the shirts are a bit loud. They are made of a wonderful recycled material that is butter soft but the color! Good Lord. Remember the neon yellow of the 80s? Yeah, that loud.
Today, the first day post race, I feel good expect for my knees and a few other sore spots. I am very happy with the effort as it puts me in a good place for the upcoming ultra.
Here are the stats according to my Garmin watch:
26.31 miles in 3:49:25 (8:43 min/mile average).
Official time was 3:51. I believe my watch. :)
I placed 26 out of 185 in the 35-39 age group (top 14%) and 174 out of 1,234 women (top 14%). Out of the 3,353 marathoners, I came in 782 (top 23%).