The name for sponsorship and marketing purposes is the Under Armour Baltimore Marathon, but I'll call the race on October 15 by its real name, the Baltimore Marathon, not the Under Armour Marathon. Sponsors come and go. Just as I call it the Chicago Marathon that I did last year, not the LaSalle Bank Marathon, and the New York City Marathon that I'm doing on November 6th, not the Ing Marathon.
Whoops, all of a sudden we're 3 1/2 weeks out! I'm looking over the marathon information carefully in my mild pre-race panic. The Geico pace groups only go down to a 5:00 projected finish. Nah, that's a pace of 11:27 min/mile - maybe for the first half, but I couldn't keep it up for a full marathon and I know myself well enough that I would die in the second half. So I'll be doing this one solo (with a few thousand fellow runners). Darn, if I were faster I could run with the gecko.
I hope to finish well under 6 hours, but anything closer to 5:30 would be great. My last 2 marathons last fall were 5:59 (Chicago 2004) and 5:52 (Richmond 2004), but hopefully we'll have some cooler weather by then and my cross-training this year will help my endurance a bit.
The newly-revised course map incorporates a new loop around Fort McHenry (you know, former home of the Star Spangled Banner), which is a scenic diversion through the National Monument. I've run that loop before in shorter races and it offers a nice flat view across the harbor.
The elevation map shows a brutal uphill for the first two miles as we head from Camden Yards up to Druid Hill Park, and a shorter uphill between miles 3 and 4 as we traverse past Johns Hopkins. I'll have to keep my head on straight to take these nice and super-slow at an easy pace in those first four miles in order to save my energy for the miles to come. Then we head back downhill from miles 4 to 6, then loop around the harbor and Fort McHenry and back around the harbor at nearly sea level.
Then from miles 16 through 19 we'll hit the most difficult section of the course, going back up that same elevation up to Clifton Park and two additional shorter uphills after that through mile 23. I hope I won't be forced to walk too much of it! Fortunately we'll have a nice steady downhill from mile 23 to the finish line at Ravens Stadium when I can hopefully keep the pace up - thank goodness for that!
I'm treating this race as my last long-long training run before the New York City Marathon, so I'm not going to attempt any 20-milers beforehand. In the next two weekends I'll do one more long-long run of around 18 miles, perhaps another of 14 miles, some shorter runs incorporating a teensy bit of hillwork, then taper hard (my best sport!) until race day.
Woot! I just figured out a great target time for this race! I was on a 4-person relay team "Team Penguin" there in 2001 and I was the final anchor leg, crossing the finish line 388th out of 393 teams in 5:40:05. I said at the time that I would NEVER see those numbers at the finish line in a standalone marathon. It sure would be nice to prove that prediction wrong in 2005. Hmm, that's just a shade under a 13:00 pace. Beating that time looks like a fantastic "dream goal" to me!