Ran the Baltimore Half-Marathon this past Saturday. Posted a non-inspiring time of 2:35. For the non-runners, a half marathon is 13.1 miles. And the 2:35 would thus be 2 hours and 35 minutes by my non-official time from my watch. I think official times include that point at the beginning of the race where the race has officially started, but those of us near the rear are just sort of waiting to go across the starting line. I started my watch once my feet actually crossed the starting line – no fair cheating me out of the literally minutes waiting for the hordes in front of me.

I’d been told it was a runner-friendly course. And I had seen the maps and elevation charts of the marathon. The map of the half was posted, but the elevation chart never was. Turns out, that’s ’cause the half marathon was significantly more hilly than the full one, at least at the start of the race. The race was laid out such that there were several sections where one street equaled a mile. Those mile-long streets at the beginning of the race turned out to be uphill. So, at the bottom of the street, you can see the full mile laid out ahead of you, and it’s all uphill. Conquered the first one, grumbling a little. Conquered the second one, mildly cursing. When the third and fourth ones hit, my legs just plain oomphed out. Ended up doing a mixture of running and walking. Hadn’t planned on walking at all, but, ya gotta do what ya gotta do, and there was no way I wasn’t going to make it to that finish line.

Just to give you an idea of the shape I was in when I got done: the last couple of miles were downhill, for the most part, except for a major hill across the Howard Street bridge. I just walked that entire thing – didn’t have any gas in the tank, either physically or mentally, to power up it. When I crossed the finish line after running through Camden Yards, I was so tired that I had trouble sitting on the ground to stretch. Discovered my arches were cramping, the tops of my feet were cramping, the muscles along my shins and calves were cramping… When I tried to stretch all of that out, I got a muscle spasm along my rib cage so bad that I was concerned that I might have done some major damage (it seems I hadn’t: I’m fine today).

Today I’m more than a bit sore. I’ve had worse days after sports: playing the first game of rugby of the season would usually kill both my upper and lower body for up to 4 days afterwards. Today just my legs are in pain. Stairs are something to be contemplated carefully. But my feet are fine: very little blistering. I think I might even try a run on Tuesday.

I’m not sure when the next half will be, or when I’ll go for the full marathon (26.2). But I’m looking forward to them, and to building up my endurance (particularly on hills!) so that the next go-round, I win more decisively. Wasn’t sure in parts of the Baltimore run whether I’d have to cry uncle or not. But I now have a medal that says I beat the dang thing. And the muscle aches to prove it.

By the way, the 2004 results are posted at http://www.bkbltd.com/2004/baltimore3.htm. Apparently, I came in 1231st of the women entered in the half-marathon. Of 1530. Not great, percentile-wise. Plenty o’ room for improvement. But if I had been able to keep running at my 10 mile per hour pace (which I did for the first couple of miles), I’d have come in more around a 2:10, or 730th place. Looks like I need to do more hillwork. Given that I was doing 8 1/2 minute miles for the 5K last weekend, 10 seems within the range of reasonableness. Something to shoot for, regardless: I’ll test it out on the trail in the coming weeks at shorter distances and then build up to the 13.

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