Monday, 13 August 2012

Baltimore 10 miler, way overdue race report

This is one of the most popular running events in Maryland and had about 4,500 participants. It took place in Druid hill park on 16 June (hence the title!), which is nice and would be my first opportunity to race there.
Mercifully the 7am start meant the temperatures were a tolerable 68F at the start, but would ascend to the mid 70s by the race's end.
The race started a little late and proceeded east out of the park and through a smaller park adjacent to The Johns Hopkins University campus.
Soon after the second mile we turned onto Greenmount Avenue, that reminds many of the grittier scenes from The Wire TV series.
By now I was settling into my pace well and was running at about 91/92% of MHR and trying to hold myself back. Soon we were doing our one lap of lake Montebello. I had always wanted to include this in a training run but getting to it involves running through some very scarey parts of town unless you take a seven mile detour via Druid Hill Park.
It was here that I first encountered...let's call him Mr. Showoff. He came blazing by me near the five mile mark, as we neared completion of our lap of Montebello, moving quicker than six minute mile pace. Spectators' roars spurred him to greater efforts and he soon disappeared.
Now we were doubling back onto 33rd street and back towards Johns Hopkins and it was a long slow drag up the not very steep but relentless hill and here I began overtaking quite a few, including Mr. Showoff.
The temperature was definitely higher but I was increasingly confident of going under seventy minutes. Mr. Showoff also remained confident and he flew by me again at the eight mile mark and elicited the same whoops from spectators.
Back into Wyman Park, adjacent to Hopkins and I reeled in another few runners that I had been very slowly closing in on for the previous two miles and this really gives you a great mental and physical lift.
Final mile now and I felt confident enough to increease the effort; anyone can hurt for a mile. Shortly after the mile mark I passed a lady who I remember losing contact with in the early miles and and as I passed she reacted and passed me again before I further increased the effort and passed her again; this little duel was a great distraction from the pain and effort and helped a third of a mile pass a little quicker. Last half mile and who should I encounter, but Mr. Showoff, looking very unsteady on his feet and coming to a standstill with his hands on his knees and shaking his head like he was trying to rid himself of dizziness. He would try to get moving again as I passed but he came to a halt but thankfully remained upright.
I crossed the line in 01:09:03 and very happy with the effort and the time. While almost five minutes slower than my personal best I feel I am moving in the right direction again and the conditions would have had a mitigating effect. A good race, interesting course, and the post race offerings of two beers, gels, fruit, water, and other food was the greatest I have ever encountered. Unfortunately fools who thought it appropriate to make off with entire boxes of gels and more than one premium (a nice white quarter zip top with the race logo), marred things a little and spoilt it for others. Onwards and upwards!

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