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Baltimore Half-Marathon - Run

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Baltimore, Maryland
United States
Baltimore Running Festival
65F / 18C
Total Time = 1h 55m 3s
Overall Rank = 1290/8643
Age Group = M 45-49
Age Group Rank = 70/333
Pre-race routine:

This race officially cemented my return to distance running. Almost three years ago, my knee and back doctors told me I'd never run again. After lots of trial and error I figured out a way to get back at it with an acceptable level of discomfort and have had a great past 12 months.

At the running festival last year I broke 23 minutes in the 5K, followed by PRs in the 10K, 5 miles, and 5K again over the next 8 months, including breaking 22 minutes for the first time since high school. I also raced an Olympic triathlon in May.

All that was left was to conquer my white whale, the Half Marathon. I've completed the race 4 times and finished in a little over 1:50 back in 2010, but was on pace for more like a 1:47 before blowing up the last 5K.

Training went well minus a couple of back flare-ups and getting sick once. I had the highest run mileage in a month since I've started tracking this stuff and felt well-prepared going in. The taper was perfect; I was ready to jump out of my skin by the end of the week.

Based on my VDOT, I should be running this around 1:44; I was thinking more in the 1:48 range.

Event warmup:

Typical pre-race meal, beer and pizza. Slept pretty well and woke up around 4:30. Did a quick 20 minute spin on the trainer to get loose and hit the foam roller. Ate a zone bar and an apple. We drove down almost last minute and got there about 45 minutes before gun.

WU was jog for 1/2 mile, stretch, and then a few strides before the race started. I was carrying about 16 oz of watered-down Gatorade and I was limiting myself to that to avoid the cramping hell I went through 4 years ago.

The Plan called for holding 8:00 miles, slowing a little uphill, speeding up a little downhill. I mean, what could be easier than that??? :-/
  • 1h 55m 3s
  • 13.1 miles
  • 08m 47s  min/mile

The gun went off and I settled into my planned pace:

Mile 1: Feeling good, HR down, right on pace. About 8-flat.
Mile 2: Uphill. Slowed down, HR goes up a bit but I feel strong. 8:10-ish
Mile 3: Steep downhill then flat. Opened up a little, HR goes down, feeling great. A little under 8. Right where I want to comes the uphill part.
Mile 4: Slow climb; still feel good - one of the loudest cheering areas as the marathoners merge with us. Still holding pace...about 8:10
Mile 5: Up, then down, then up again. Tough mile to pace but overall around 8:10. This is starting to get harder to hold and a tough spot is coming up. Suck it up, buttercup.
Mile 6: 1st soul-sucking hill, pace falls to high 8s. I'm fatiguing.
Mile 7: More up, then steep downhill to Lake Montebello. 8:30...1:45 isn't looking so good but I was still around 59 minutes through 7 miles
Mile 8: Pancake flat loop around Lake Montebello, lots of cheering and music so I tried to get back to the 8-flat target pace but it wasn't happening. 8:13 or so.
Mile 9: This section crushed me four years ago and I wasn't letting that happen again. I tried to hold around 8:20 but couldn't, HR is spiking and I'm starting to fade. Again. Pain cave is deepening. 8:48
Mile 10: Rolling hills; the uphills are knocking me down to high 8s and I can't even hold 8-flat on the downhills. I hit mile 10 at 1:25 and change. 1:50 still in reach but I'm not feeling a sub-25 5K in me.
Mile 11: Downhill but that didn't seem to help any. I couldn't hold below 8:15 or so...wheels are getting loose. I'm not sure if I'm thirsty or not.
Mile 12: Full-on BONK!. I hit the Charles Street bridge and that steep climb wasn't happening. I walked it. I stepped to the side of the road and stretched for 20 seconds. Kept walking. Jogged down the other side, then we go uphill again and I walk. I keep walking. Even that sucks. I'm almost laughing right now I'm being passed by so many runners. I kinda of jog/shuffle for the rest of that mile, coming in at a smooth 10:36.
Mile 13: Given my condition, I decided to mail this in a bit and just cruise in so I don't hurt myself and enjoyed the final mile. I picked it up a little bit through Camden Yards to the finish line and saw my family and I just started laughing and shaking my head as people were sprinting by me.
What would you do differently?:

Run more. Oh, and not gain 10 pounds over the summer. :-)
Post race
Warm down:

Walked around and started shivering (got real windy at the end). Found the family and my wife had bought me a cool UA warm-up jacket. W00t!!!!!! I hit the hot tub early and often over the next couple of days.

Four days later I'm still a little beat down.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

Long-run endurance, I guess. Race day execution? Nutrition? Hydration? I'll figure this thing out one day.

Event comments:

I love this race. it's so cool running through the Baltimore neighborhoods and I got to run by my own house this time.

I'm not sure if I'm cut out for this distance. I think there's a weekly mileage threshold necessary to get where I can be and my body just won't hack that. I think there was also some expectation management that I need to address going forward; I clearly went out too fast and faded. I'm great at pacing shorter distances but haven't figured this one out yet.

That said, I'm thrilled that I was able to race this again. A little disappointed for sure but not every race can be perfect.

Last updated: 2014-07-15 12:00 AM
01:55:03 | 13.1 miles | 08m 47s  min/mile
Age Group: 0/333
Overall: 0/8643
Performance: Below average
Course: Rolling course; first 9 miles is uphill, last 4 downhill. There are three soul-sucking hills at miles 5.5, 8, and 11.
Keeping cool Below average Drinking Just right
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Below average
Mental exertion [1-5] 3
Physical exertion [1-5] 3
Good race? Ok
Course challenge Too hard
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities: Good
Race evaluation [1-5] 5

2014-10-22 12:59 PM

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Middle River, Maryland
Bronze member
Subject: Baltimore Half-Marathon

2014-10-22 3:58 PM
in reply to: #5062141

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Subject: RE: Baltimore Half-Marathon
Good race report.
2014-10-23 1:43 PM
in reply to: 5Books

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Crab Cake City
Subject: RE: Baltimore Half-Marathon
Nice race mike! glad to see you back to running strong. I wish I could have ran it this year but I had to work
2014-10-23 2:51 PM
in reply to: #5062141

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Subject: RE: Baltimore Half-Marathon

Your comeback story is a wonderful one, Mike, and one you should be proud of.  Even though your results at this race weren't what you were hoping for, you still finished high in the crowd.  Congrats, and good luck with all future running endeavors!

2014-10-24 9:43 AM
in reply to: #5062141

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Franklin, TN
Subject: RE: Baltimore Half-Marathon

Good race report Mike.  The good news is, there should be lots of HMs this fall/winter to exact your revenge. 

If I had to guess, you went out a little fast given how much hill climbing you were required to do.  You have to average 8:24s to hit are certainly capable of that.  If you went out a bit more conservative, say at 8:30 - 8:40 pace, you would have been able to handle the hills a bit easier.  Of course, coming off a taper, I bet the 8:00s felt pretty easy at first but that extra speed catch's up to you as you get deeper into the race and/or encounter hills.  At least that's been my trial and error experience.

2014-10-29 11:20 AM
in reply to: JoelO

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Subject: RE: Baltimore Half-Marathon

MMmmm beer and pizza, the best fuel!


Keep at it man, you are doing great! 

2014-10-29 12:17 PM
in reply to: #5062141

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Washington, DC Metro
Subject: RE: Baltimore Half-Marathon

Congrats on the race and good job.  More progress for you will come, I'm sure!

2014-10-30 11:02 AM
in reply to: #5062141

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Englewood, Florida
Subject: RE: Baltimore Half-Marathon
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date : May 24, 2010
author : Coach AJ
comments : 0
My question is am I playing with fire entering the half marathon this close to my primary goal for this season which is the HIM?
date : June 15, 2009
author : Ali Winslow
comments : 0
I just ran the Boston Marathon under nine minute miles, can I run eight minute miles for my half Ironman training runs? Or should I go slower?
date : November 17, 2008
author : mat steinmetz
comments : 7
I just started doing tris this summer and I have two under my belt, both sprints. Is it reasonable to build up for a Oly in early ‘09, with a HIM in Oct of ‘09
date : June 10, 2008
author : kns57
comments : 0
Steady is our walk. Ignoring the pain that is radiating from my feet, I continue to place one foot in front of the other. Again I wonder, “Why am I doing this?”
date : July 10, 2007
author : Ontherun
comments : 0
Having three seasons under my belt I thought I knew what I was doing. That all changed with a few new challenges and a bunch of new friends.
date : October 24, 2005
author : mikericci
comments : 0
This program should be used for an athlete whose goal is to run a marathon in the 1:30-2:30 range and has a good running base in the past 8-12 weeks.
date : October 2, 2005
author : smeeko
comments : 2
I will assume you have not run consistently more than 6 miles and have never completed a half-marathon. I believe running your first half-marathon is a big task which requires dedication and work.
date : January 10, 2005
author : ewkfit
comments : 0
My training was taking off. I had never felt stronger. I was making bigger strides than I ever had. I was stronger and faster than I had imagined myself ever being.