There’s nothing quite like the comfort of the pre-race rituals. Oatmeal. Coffee. Dressing, putting up the pigtails, applying a little mascara. Pocket pat-down (gels, got ‘em!). Bag check. Use the port-a-potty. Get in line and use it again. Find my corral. Something new for this race—I was bringing my Blackberry, so I could tweet updates and take a picture or two if I so desired.
7 minutes from the start… I am in the first wave! Eep, who do they think I am? (9:38 AM)
I knew I was in Baltimore when, during the National Anthem, the crowd sent up a shout of “OH!” when Miss Maryland USA sang, “O say can you see…” With a crack we were off. Run easy, I thought, run easy girl.
Mile 1: 8:46
Mile 2: 9:02
Just ran by Apex thtr—adult movies! Ha! (10:01 AM)
The first few miles went by easy enough, as we ran away from the Inner Harbor and over to Little Italy, Fells Point and around Patterson Park. I was happy to be running through my old college town. (I wasn’t a runner in college. Actually, I went for a run once my freshman year. I was listening to Fugazi on my Walkman and was running so fast I nearly puked after 10 minutes. That was the end of that experiment.) My thoughts turned to HK and TW, friends from the Green Mountain Relay who were running the full marathon and had already been on the course for nearly two hours. I also thought of Dan, and how I couldn’t wait to get to him and give him a big hug—he would be waiting for me somewhere between Miles 9 and 10 with his wife and CB. I passed a group that had clearly formed a party around the marathon going by their front door—they had a table set on the sidewalk with pitchers of Mimosas and Bloody Marys. I shouted, Can I have a Bloody Mary? and the whole party raised their glasses and shouted back in unison, “Yes!”
Mile 3 in 8:36?? Yikes! Funny sign—run like u stole it (10:14 AM)
Mile 3: 8:34
Mile 4: 8:49
Mile 5: 8:56
This course didn’t have any steep hills, just a lot of gradual inclines that seemed to never end. I definitely watched my effort levels and tried to distract myself with the sights on the side of the road. Everything I ran past felt like Baltimore—it was definitely a case of Dorothy not being in Kansas any more—the storefronts, the homes, the spectators. Baltimore row houses are a trademark of the city’s architectural style, and part and parcel with those rows of homes are the stoops upon which everyone sits. One of my favorite sights was a whole family–four kids, a mom, and her man—spilling out the door, all crammed onto three narrow steps, and hooting and hollering for all of us runners. They’d cheer, but only from the stoop!
Downhill! Finally! Mile 5.5! (10:36 AM)
Mile 6: 9:19
Well, downhill for a little but I knew there were plenty of hills coming up all the way until the 10-mile marker. I seemed that they had stationed someone from the neighborhood watch at each incline to tell the runners, “Just two more blocks to the top of the hill!” It was helpful information to have, actually—not demoralizing at all. At around six and a half miles, I texted CB my location and pace so they’d have enough time to get from the apartment to 33rd and Guilford Avenue, where they would wait for me to run by.
More than halfway! (10:45 AM)
Mile 7: 8:50
Mile 8: 9:01
Mile 9: 9:08
At a certain point we ran around Lake Montebello; that was pretty flat and was a chance for me to recoup some of my energy. A news helicopter hovered over the lake (local TV was broadcasting the entire marathon—pretty cool!), so of course I waved and smiled as if it was the Roosevelt Island tram, hoping I’d end up on TV in my pigtails and Team Fox singlet. Nah…The weather, I should have mentioned earlier, was utterly cooperative—though it was a little warm and humid at the start, the temperature seemed to drop as the race progressed, it remained slightly overcast and we even had a refreshing misty rain fall upon us at about 1/3 and 2/3 of the way through the course. The race organizers couldn’t have planned it better themselves. I was amused by the squeaky noise hundreds of sneakers made running over the damp roads.
I just saw dan! @teamfox this race is for him!! (11:11 AM)
Mile 10: 10:07
Soon after Little G chirped my split for Mile 9 (ah, Mile 9!), I started looking to the left for my trio of cheerers. And there they were, all huddled together under a big golf umbrella. I called and waved to them, and CB rushed over and gave me a great big hug. Then I kissed Dan and his wife, and stood there panting and grinning while CB took a picture and then I said, Well I better get going! I ran off but turned to catch another glimpse of my friends. For the next three miles, the image of the three of them waving me goodbye pushed me forward.
At the 10 Mile marker, I turned to a runner next to me and asked, Is it all downhill from here? He laughed, and I said, No, that was a serious question.
Mile 11: 8:01
Mile 12: 8:30
Mile 13: 7:52
+0.21 miles: 1:29 (7:15 pace)
My only tentative strategy coming into this race was that after Dan, and after the hills, it was Go time. There was no reason to hold back, since the last three miles of the course are pretty much all downhill. So, I kicked it! It felt good; it was difficult. I passed a guy who I overheard saying to his buddy, “Man, I don’t remember getting passed by this many girls last year.” Spectators haed started cheering for me, “Go Team Fox!” By Mile 12 I felt like I was working just as hard as I had been at Mile 25 in the New York City Marathon last year. I could feel my tank getting low; I knew it would take me to the finish line and no further.
Finished! 1:56! @baltrunfest @teamfox feel super (11:46 AM)
Official time: 1:56:33 to be exact, an 8:50 pace, which is faster than I honestly thought I could go. It’s startling for me to think about what a journey this year has been for me. This is far off my PR, and it’s only my fourth-best time for the distance, but yet I am pleased with the effort; I realize I couldn’t have done any better. It’s a night-and-day experience from the Bronx Half I ran in February; symbolically, that race’s tee was the one I threw away at the start in Baltimore. This time there were no tears at the end; it’s possible I’d wrung out all possible race-related emotion during my freak-out the night before. My left and right hamstrings took turns making me uncomfortable throughout, but if I popped my posture back into proper form the pain immediately subsided. I love my medal; it depicts a crab breaking the tape. After I’d stretched, showered, and changed I cabbed it back up North Charles Street for a late lunch with Dan, his wife, CB and RL (another dear friend of Dan’s and an old college buddy). It was the perfect capstone to the day—sharing a meal with close friends, toasting the quietly heroic efforts we each make to get ourselves and our families through the day, the week, the year.