As hesitant as I was to embark on yesterday’s 22 miler on top of everything else on my plate yesterday, when my eyes popped open at 5:45am I took it as a sign that I should go. Before I could chicken out, I downed some breakfast, grabbed my gear and headed to the rendezvous point at Patterson Park.
The run was actually a supported training run on the Baltimore Marathon course put on by my favorite local running store — Falls Road Running Store, the official sponsor of the Baltimore Marathon. Runners could log anywhere from 10-21 miles with options to pick up extra mileage at various points along the course. I was going for 22, my longest distance yet.
Parking turned out to be a beast of a challenge and I logged my first half mile running from my car to the meeting point. I got there just as instructions were being relayed over a handheld mega phone to the couple hundred runners that had gathered for the run. The gist of it was that while there would be water/fuel stops along the course, there would be no traffic control and we would need to watch for cars, stop for red lights, etc.. Everyone signed a waiver of responsibility, left a donation if they so wished, and then we were off.
Per usual, the first few miles were the toughest. It took me a bit to find my stride, but my pace was pretty much where I wanted it to be – I was pleased to see that I wasn’t going out super fast. The Baltimore Marathon is notorious for its hills, which is the whole reason I wanted to do this training run on the actual course. I’m pleased to report that they were a complete non-issue – looks like my hill training is working out well!
The water stops were at three locations on the course and were strategically placed so that we passed each of them twice – which was a very good thing. I’m still struggling with hydration. I took 4 salt tablets over the course of the run and drank plenty of Gatorade, but I still felt like I took in way too much fluid. I’ll definitely be researching this in the coming weeks, but if you have any tips I’m all ears.
We were given a list of turn-by-turn directions at the start, but the crowd was pretty thick and I didn’t need them for the first 2 hours as I could simply follow the herd. After that we started to spread out and it got pretty sparse — at some points I could maybe see one other runner up ahead. Luckily, I know this city pretty well, so I wasn’t concerned about getting lost, only a little nervous at the thought of logging way more miles that I had intended. When I hit 15 miles and we were still running away from the finish I made the decision to turn around. It worked out perfectly – I hit the park at exactly 20 miles and then ran around the perimeter for the last 2 miles. Turns out some people (like me) had picked up extra miles while running through Druid Hills, while others (like the ones I was following later in the game) had not and were looking to make up the difference at Fort McHenry. If I had followed them all the way there I would have run a full marathon by the time I got back to my car!
Although the last few miles were hilly, they were surprisingly easy, though granted, they were also super slow. That’s ok though, I wasn’t out to set any records. I finished 22 miles in about 3h58m, which should put me right on track for a 4:30 marathon finish.
Oh! and I got a chance to meet my pacer for the marathon! He works at Falls Rd Running Store and we talked briefly about his strategy for race day. I’m really looking forward to running with a pace group.
Also, I got a lot of questions this weekend about the iPod Nano Multi-Touch I purchased on Friday. I took it out for its virgin run on the 22 miler and met with success. The clip worked great and didn’t budge the entire time, the touch screen was easy to use while running and I really have no complaints. When I first clipped it to my fuel belt I was a little discouraged as the screen was upside-down, but I soon figured out that I could rotate it in any direction – awesome! I’m thrilled to finally have an mp3 player that I can clip on while I run and not have to worry about carrying it, wearing an arm band or accidentally sweating on it and causing a premature death.
Check out my new power song – I played this one on repeat for the last mile. The video is a little disconcerting though, no?