Baltimore Half Marathon 2016
The first race I ever ran was the Baltimore Half Marathon in 2013. Last month, I did my fourth Baltimore Half Marathon. We headed to Baltimore on Friday afternoon after work. I snagged a nice hotel in a convenient location. After we got parked and checked into the hotel, we walked a few blocks to the expo. The expo was held at the Convention Center this year, after being at M&T Stadium (where the Raven’s play) last year. The packet pickup was a smooth process and then it was time to check out the vendors. I always try to pick up a few pairs of Feetrures, my favorite sock brand.
The half marathon didn’t start until 9:45 on Saturday morning, so there was plenty of time to get dinner and I didn’t need to rush to get to sleep since I didn’t have to be up terribly early. I was still up pretty early on Saturday and eager to turn on the tv and watch the race coverage on the local news. I had time to leisurely get ready and head outside to the start. The weather was absolutely beautiful. Not too hot, not too cold, no rain in sight. I had a quick breakfast of half of an egg sandwich, went to the bathroom, and ran up and down the Inner Harbor a few times. I lined up in my assigned wave, #4 and the mass of runners moved toward the start. I was hoping for a PR but I also had realistic expectations. I crossed the start line and the first mile was tough getting into a rhythm. The people were packed together and it was hard to navigate around the various paces. I’ve noticed the same issue the other times that I did this race and I’m not sure what causes the logjam. Maybe too many people per wave or not enough time between waves. Once we got to mile two or so, it was much easier to settle into a pace. I knew right away that it was not my day for a PR so I was just looking to run a decent race. Around the 4th mile, the half marathon merges with the full marathon. It works out pretty well. It gives the half marathoners a chance to settle into a pace and it also gives the faster, more competitive marathoners a chance to get ahead before the half marathoners are funneling in. It seems like it would be terribly chaotic, but it works quite well in reality. By the time the races merge, the first third of the race is complete. After a few more miles, we spend miles 7 and 8 running around Lake Montebello, which I really enjoy. I was running right on pace with what my half marathons from the last few months. I still felt a little sluggish and the perks of doing the same race many times is that I knew that about halfway around the lake, there is a water stop and there are quite a few food options at that water stop. I knew there would be bananas and I was looking forward to getting one. When I started doing races I thought I should take water/Gatorade at every stop. Then I realized that was too much so I started not taking any. I am finally at the point where I am pretty good a recognizing when I’m feeling strong and fuel would just make me feel sluggish and drag me down and when it would be a good boost.
I was excited that I was able to determine that even though I was feeling pretty good, a banana would sit well in my stomach. After we got around the lake and back on to the street, the next few miles are residential and the hills really roll. Honestly, the hills roll all 13 miles but I tend to notice them more in the second half. The last few miles start to get into busier downtown Baltimore. Once the race enters to stadium area, the finish is so close. The finish is in Camden Yards, the stadium where the Orioles play.
I finished with a respectable time, although not a PR. That was okay with me. I had a really good time. The runners are noticeably supportive of each other in Baltimore maybe more so than anywhere else I’ve run. The police also cheer quite a bit for the runners and I don’t seem to see that other places that I run.
The Baltimore Half Marathon wrapped up the 2016 King Crab Challenge (Frederick Running Festival, Baltimore 10 Miler, and Baltimore Running Festival) and the 2016 Maryland Double (Frederick Running Festival and Baltimore Running Festival). I collected my hard earned King Crab blanket and Maryland Double medal before we headed off to the hotel for a quick shower before spending the rest of the day exploring the ships that were in town for the first ever Maryland Fleet Week. I’m already looking forward to the 2017 King Crab Challenge!