Four Bay Hundred Baltimorons: Mike "Tucks" Valliant, Mike "Wood Frog" Keene, Jim "Postmaster" Richardson, Pierre "Gel-in-his-hat" Bernasse, post-race, Oriole Park at Camden Yards for backdrop.
One week ago, I finished a 10-mile run, out of breath from having been sick, and was sure I couldn't have run a marathon. After one more 4-mile run during the week, I went to Baltimore on Saturday with the goal of simply finishing the marathon. I accomplished that goal. The better story is the camaraderie and accomplishment, that our group of Bay Hundred banditos came away from Baltimore with. The short story version is:
Mike Keene - 3:52:00
Pierre Bernasse - 4:17:04
Jim Richardson - 4:35:21
Mike Valliant - 4:40:18
Jim Richardson earned two significant awards: 1) best time vs. goal (he guessed about 5 hours, first official marathon), and 2) coolest bib number: #2345.
Pierre ran his second, and hilliest, marathon to date, and set a PR on a tough course.
Keene went up with the hope of breaking the 4 hour barrier. He signed up at the expo with a 3:50 pace group, and straight took care of business. Baltimore is not an easy course to set a tough time goal against. Mike went out hard and kept it going.
As for me, I feel good when I complete a marathon. I am thrilled for where I ended up Saturday vs. a week ago. And it made the race and the day to be there and have all four of us finish. A moment like that, shared, is sublime.
By way of a race report, the Baltimore Marathon was, for me, a tale of two races. There is the 18-mile race, that I ran well for--walking only at aid stations to get water or Gatorade. I ran with or ahead of the 4:15 pace group for the first 17 miles of the race. My splits for the race were (clock time, not chip time, which was about 1 minute, 15 seconds faster): 59:34 at mile 6; 1:36 at mile 10; 2:06 at half-marathon; 3:09 at mile 19; 3:36 at mile 21.
Then there was the 8.2-mile race, after the 18-mile one, that I limped through. At the half-way point, I was feeling good and on pace for a 4:10 finish. Everyone who runs Baltimore is well aware that the race begins at mile 16, after you have gone through Fells Point, and then turn uphill for miles 16 - 23. It is only truly "all downhill" when you hit the 25-mile mark.
For my compadres: I was able to catch a glimpse of Mike K. at an aid station outside Fort McHenry at mile 10, as I had just passed mile 9. Pierre came up behind me between miles 14 and 15, looking fresh, we chatted a bit, and then he trotted ahead, looking like 4 hours might be in the making. I looked up and saw Jim as I was grabbing Gatorade at the mile 17 stop. We ran together for a good part of miles 18 and 19, he went ahead, then I started catching up to him after we rounded the lake at mile 21, only to have to let him go.
Two years ago, when I was well trained, I hit the half-way mark in 1:55 and was crushed by/at mile 15, for various reasons. This year, I past the mid-mark slower, but held pace until almost mile 19. Much better in that respect. Also on the positives I should note that I really didn't have muscle cramping like I can get. I tried to drink more, and took one Succeed S-Cap every hour or so. Two other notable occurrences: 1) I picked up speed consistently on the last mile, running at a good clip through Camden Yards, and then finishing the race down the chute at a full sprint, whipping by baffled runners over the last 100 yards, and 2) I finished 3 minutes or so faster than the last time I ran Baltimore.
I have yet to run a complete race in a marathon or longer race. This year, inconsistent training, then bronchial sickness, made me work for my finish. The last two races (Holiday Lake 50K and Delaware), debilitating leg cramps stopped me to a hobble, until I could push through them, but where I had good paces going through 17 miles in the 50K and 20 miles in the marathon. And my first shot at Baltimore was a similar story to this year.
I feel like I have been in shape to run a sub-4-hour marathon, though not on Saturday. I do feel like I have unfinished business--food on the table--with the distance. But that business will go unfinished, the food will go cold, for a while. Maintaining a balance with family, work, house, etc., is too much right now with long race training. The 2008 race calendar, for me, will peak at 13.1 miles, with a goodly number of 10s thrown in for good measure.
Race times aside, Saturday was the best race experience I have had--where everyone felt such a sense of accomplishment; so much a part of a community who have done something remarkable in its own right.