Steve Gray from Abingdon, MD (Male)
Age on race day: 37
2006 Baltimore Marathon - Baltimore, MD
This was my 4th marathon and I finished in 3:42:16.
I consider myself an intermediate runner and I primarily run for fitness. I had never really planned on running a marathon. I was happy with the the 5K distance. Then it happened. A friend of mine was running the First Annual Baltimore Marathon in 2001 and his wife was running as part of the Relay team challenge. Her team was looking for 1 more person to run so I agreed. I would run the final leg, which was 6.5 miles long. As I stood at the relay exchange point, I saw all of these awesome people coming through of all abilities. It was at this point I decided that I needed to give this a shot. Two years later, I had been talking about it and talking about it, when, at the end of August 2003, my wife told me that I had better start doing more than talking about it, because she already signed me up for the Baltimore Marathon that year.
I had no training under my belt, but went out and did it anyway. I finished, in nearly 5 hours, and it hurt for days. But I was hooked. I incrementally have gotten better times with each run, and I have even moved up to the ultramarathon field. Last November I ran and finished the JFK 50 miler. Not bad for a guy who just wanted to run 5Ks.
I actually followed a training plan designed for ultramarathon distances. On Mondays, I taught a morning and evening spin class, and strength trained. I took Tuesday as a rest day. Wednesday and Thursday I ran between 5-10 miles each day, at a comfortably hard pace. On Friday, I strength trained. Saturday was a long run day, I usually ran between 18-26 miles in the months leading up to, first Baltimore then JFK 5 weeks afterwards. Sunday I would run a very easy 5 miles. A note, after I ran Baltimore, I did a minor taper the following week. Then I went back up in mileage, culminating with a 30 mile run 3 weeks out from JFK.
The best training advice I would share with others is to listen to your body. When you start feeling out of it, you need to rest. There is a big difference between being tired and being totally exhausted. Some days it is better to shut it down and get your rest, and pick it back up when your body is ready.
The 2006 Baltimore Marathon was better than expected. I always love this race. It is very well supported and the organizers do an amazing job of putting together a great experience for us. This year was no different.
It was pretty cold at the start, but it had the makings of a great day. I was using Baltimore as a training race for an ultramarathon, 5 weeks later. I had planned on running this race at around a 4 hour pace, which would push my endurance and prep me for a very long day at my other race.
I started off smart, but still had to watch my pace. I kept creeping up in speed, and kept having to bring it back. Finally, at mile 6, I decided that I would just run whatever my legs let me run. I threw the whole pace thing out the window, but still kept track of my splits.
The crowd support of the Inner Harbor, which we would run through twice is incredible. This year was no different. There are always so many people there and they get you pumped beyond belief. I was having a great time on this run, and even managed to spot a few friends out on the course.
I hit mile 16, where the half and full marathon merge, and was slowed down considerably. I liked this, personally, because it allowed me to get under control for mile 20-22. Finally, mile 20 hit, and some guy up in front of me yells out, "who wants to run a 10K with me?". For some reason, this drove my adrenaline through the roof and I started running faster and faster each mile from then on in. I actually ran my fastest mile of the race, on mile 26. I wound up finishing the race in 3:42 and change. This was a bit faster than I had planned, but it felt awesome. When I finished, I was on cloud 9. I had a PR under my belt and I really didn't mean for it to happen that day.
This will always be my favorite race, because of the course, the volunteers, the organizers, and the crowd support. Oh yeah, the other runners are awesome as well. I love seeing people out there that are doing this for the first time. You can see the hard work they have put in getting ready for this race, and to be able to share it with them is a great experience.
I didn't have any problems with my recovery. I ran the next day, ate plenty of bananas, drank a few cold beers, and took a nice nap.
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