After racing the Half Full in the heat and humidity on the 6th, my body was pretty beat up and tired going into the Baltimore Half Marathon. It was the last race of many on my calendar for 2013, but it’s also the race where I ran a PR in 2012, so I had a little more confidence than I did at the Half Full. The weather was a complete 180 from the weekend before. It was cold, a little rainy, and just a little bit of wind – typical weather for Baltimore in October. Regardless, I went into it without any major expectations and just told myself to run on how I felt on the day.
The Baltimore Marathon/Half Marathon is one of those races where you tell yourself every year you’re done with it, but you find yourself the next year signing up for it anyways. I guess it’s because it’s a hometown race and it starts and finishes at Camden Yards and M and T Bank Stadium. I also like the course because it truly showcases the sights, sounds, and feelings of Baltimore. You start at the beautiful Oriole Park at Camden Yards and run uphill towards the Baltimore zoo. It’s a nice little area with small office buildings and a small park. As you make your way from the zoo towards the harbor, you get to see what Baltimore is really known for. Sea food restaurants, the harbor, and Under Armour. That’s about all the beauty you’ll see. The rest of the run takes you by boarded up houses, homeless people, and the sense that you may be shot, mugged, or kidnapped were it not for the police officers at every half mile point. That’s Baltimore for you! The course is pretty rolling with gradual hills that eventually takes you to Lake Montebello – about a 2 mile like that’s flat, but is still my least favorite part of the course. They always say the first and last impressions are the most important. Well, Baltimore definitely doesn’t disappoint. The last miles take you down Eutaw street, past a beer stop, and a dancing tiger on a car playing Eye of the Tiger. It’s the great way to end a race. Unlike other races, you get to see the good, the bad, and the ugly all in one race.
The Baltimore Running Festival always brings out a good number of people from the Harford County Area. I met up with Courtney early in the AM to go down to the race with the Charm City Run training group. We got down early enough to see one of my buddies Tyler start his first marathon. I eventually ran past him when the half marathon merged with the full marathon and he was looking pretty strong. He ran a pretty solid 3:40 marathon, which is great for a first timer! After the start of the marathon we went to Pickles to drop off our stuff with the CCR group and then walked to the half marathon start at the inner harbor. I was able to find a bathroom without any lines and then just waited around in the rain until the start. Brrrr. The gun went off and I quickly settled into a pretty easy pace to get my legs warmed up. I ran the first few miles in 6:25 and felt great. My heart rate was steady around 155 and my breathing was well controlled. My strategy, again, was just to go on how I felt. I held back a little on the uphills and really hammered away on the downhills and the flats. By mile 3, you make it to the park and you merge with the marathon. When I run the half, it’s nice because I can pass a lot of marathoners and I feel like Superman. When I run the marathon, I realize I’m at mile 16, I’m hitting the wall, and I feel like Fat Albert. It’s the worst. (One of the biggest reasons I don’t run the full anymore at Baltimore). I found a good group to run with and we ran around the lake together, but they took off after coming out of the lake around mile 7. I ran alone for most of the rest of the way and just cruised. I felt good and looked at my watch and was averaging a 6:10 pace and was on track for a 1:18 – both a PR and faster than the qualification standard for the New York Marathon. I put it into high gear for the last few miles. Around mile 9, you pass the Johns Hopkins SigEp water stop. Being a SigEp from Maryland, I always wear my SigEp jersey and it get a lot of hoots and hollers from them. Damn Proud. All was going great. I was imagining a fast finish with my hands in the air and a smile on my face and a top 10 finish. CRAAAAACK. I literally fell to the ground at mile 10. I guess I was so concentrated on the race, or maybe the ridiculously fast marathon girl in front of me, that I side stepped on a pot hole in the road and rolled all my weight onto my right ankle. I got up and hobbled to the sidewalk. People were passing me and saying to run through the cramps. This irritated me, because I wasn’t cramped and I didn’t want to look like a fool that went out way too fast, only to bonk in the last miles. I managed to limp, hop, and scoot to mile 11 where the “medical personnel” checked out my ankle. They didn’t have ice, but they did have Tylenol and an ACE wrap. 4 minutes in the medical tent and they said I would be fine if I walked to the finish. I walked away until the next turn, and then booked it. I figured if I ran fast enough, the ankle would just loosen up and the pain would go away. Running down Eutaw street, I started catching up to some of the people that had passed me. I thanked them for their “words of encouragement” and then I heard a “Go Bosley!” from the crowd. I stopped, looked around, and saw Claire and Richard – good friends from college. I smiled, said hi back, and kept pushing to the finish. I crossed the finish line with a disappointing 1:24, but was more worried about my ankle. After looking at my results, I still managed 33rd overall and 33rd male, and 9th in my group. A small set back from 3rd in my AG last year and 25th overall, but then again, I didn’t hobble for half a mile. I started heading to the medical tent, but was quickly distracted by the free Chick-Fil-A. I grabbed 1..2…3 sandwiches and was immediately content. Broken ankle or not, I just got 3 free chicken sandwiches. Delicious. I sat at the medical tent, munching on my chicken, and got the nurse to wrap my foot. It looked like a softball, but I didn’t care. I had my food. I waited around and watched people finish. A good running buddy from college, Mike Meadows, came in about 4 minutes after me. Awesome sub 1:30 race for him! I also saw Jeff and Jerry from RASAC and then Courtney came in at 1:40. She had a great race and her comeback is well on it’s way! We met up with her parents, made our way back to Pickles, enjoyed a beer, then we were off for more delicious food at Bertuccis. A big congratulations to everyone who raced!
The best part of the end of the season is that the following week consists of zero workouts, a lack luster sleep plan, and enough food to make you sick. Flash forward to Wednesday. McDonalds had a special for BigMacs. It was BigMac wednesday. I rarely eat fast food, non-the-less BigMacs. I downed that BigMac like it was the last edible thing on the planet. After hours on the toilet, I immediately regretted the decision, and I immediately scheduled an appointment with one of the vascular surgeons I work with to re-open my arteries.
The ankle is still a little sore, but a week off did it good. The swelling has gone down significantly and I can now put my body weight on the ankle. I plan to get back to the gym on Monday and am really looking forward to getting back to the grind for 2014.