The Baltimore 1/2 marathon was my last race before my first marathon. The Marines Corp Marathon is a mere 2 weeks away. I consider the Baltimore half as sort of a dress rehearsal for the real thing. I did everything I planned to do in the actual marathon. The night before I filled up on carbs, went to sleep early and on race day I was up at 5:30AM getting ready to head out to M&T Bank Ravens stadium. I arrived at a reasonable time and were able to found an ok parking spot. I had planned this race with a friend months ago so we were really excited for it. We made it to the race earlier than normal to avoid the debacle that we had to endured in the Lawyers Have Heart 10k, we came a bit late and couldn’t check in out stuff so we ended up having to run with our phones, keys and wallets. It was not a pleasant experience.
After taking some time to put on our bibs, time chip, and stripping down to our race clothing we headed out to the start of the race festivities. Neither of us had much for breakfast, if you could call a banana that, so we went around scavenging for food. This was still very much early in the day, around 7:30AM so the volunteers haven’t enough time to unpackage all the food provisions yet. We asked one of them for bagels and she was nice enough to lead us into the inside tent where mountains of ready to eat food were stored. We had our choice of whatever we wanted. We gladly took her up on the offer and filled our stomachs. Being creatures of habit we were still a bit hungry after walking around for a while, we headed back into the tent to help ourselves to more food. Another volunteer kindly remind us that we can’t be in there and the food will be available when its on the table.
With so much time left before the 9:45AM start of the half marathon we wander around trying to see how much free stuff we can get. Apparently if you have the time there is quite a lot of free stuff to acquired. The Toyota, Geico and United way booth had decent giveaways.
We started walking to the starting line at 9:15AM, as we arrived we were able to spectate and cheer on as the faster marathoners approach their 1/2 way point. We had a hard time trying to get to the wave we were suppose to start in, both of our bibs were in the 30k+ range so we should be in the last and 3rd wave. We settled for the 2nd instead. The weather was perfect for long distance running, we were pumped up as more and more marathoners pass by.
We came to the race with a plan in mind, start slow and finish strong. There is no better satisfaction than finishing strong knowing that you have more then enough in your tank to sprint to the finish line while smiling for the camera. The popularity of the negative split have been proven by world elite runners and preached by coaches across the country. We stuck to the plan and ran about a 10 minute pace for the first 7 miles. As we were approaching the Lake Montebello loop, which I must say is the BEST part of the course, the windy breeze was a godsend as it gave runners a chance to truly appreciate the joys of running. The brief escape of pounding the potholes filled pavements on the roads was greatly appreciated. I liked it so much that I considered making another loop just to feel the breeze again. I also really like the gummy bears that were provided along the course, also the hi-fiving guys in the chicken and tiger suits were very entertaining and encouraging.
By the time we made it out of the loop the mile 8 marker was close by and staying true to our negative split plan we picked up the pace and ran a 9:00-9:15 pace. We passed a lot of runners that went out strong and are getting low in their gas reserves. I would be lying if I say it wasn’t a satisfying experience. We started the 2nd half of the race with new found confidence and vigor, weaving and squeezeing through other runners as we make our way to the finish line. We both crossed the finish line at the exact moment with a chip time of 2:08:34
The post race accomodations was the best I’ve seen, the space blankets (I don’t know the official name) was a nice touch. This is the first race I’ve ran that give out medal to finishers. As soon as we finished we made our way to the free massage tent. I’ve never gotten a massage before and I now realized what I’ve been missing out on. The masseuse I had was great, whatever she was doing, it worked, I felt like I could run another half marathon after that.
Overall I had a great time running the Baltimore half marathon and will definitely come back next year. Instead of the half I’ll be attempting the full marathon. Next year we plan to run both the Frederick and Baltimore marathon so we can get that 3rd coveted Maryland Double medal 🙂