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Race Report: 2013 Baltimore Marathon

Baltimore Marathon 2013 Race ReportI love Baltimore. It’s my hometown. It’s filled with great places. And great people.

I love the Baltimore Marathon. It brings my hometown, the great places, and the great people together. The 2011 Baltimore marathon was my first marathon. I STRUGGLED through my first marathon. It was war. But the next morning I was looking for the date of the next Baltimore marathon. Baltimore was my first sub 4:00 marathon. And honestly I didn’t think I would ever run under 4:00 in a marathon.

The Baltimore Marathon is also right around my birthday. My first year (2011) it was 2 days after my 40th birthday. Last year it was on my 41st birthday. This year it was the day before my 42nd birthday.

So the Baltimore Marathon is like the Superbowl of running for me. When I think about my running race schedule it’s the first on the list and then I start thinking about others.

And like the Superbowl, some games are fantastic and some are terrible.  This year my Superbowl of running was pretty great.

I woke up about 3 hours pre race. Went through a pretty standard getting ready routine: eat, coffee, poop, chill, dress, leave. I was out the door by 6:35 for a 8:00 start. Every year I’ve parked in the same lot southwest of Ravens stadium and this year was the same. That lot makes it easy to get out once the race is over. You are outside of all the event activities and the course itself.

My friend, teammate, and most frequent running partner, Jeff Dudley, was planning on running the “Dudley Half.” Jeff was going to run the first half for fun and then peel off. So we met at the start line. Jeff being Jeff he wanted to line up in the 3:15 pace group. I went along and figured we would just get passed for a while once the gun went off.

Baltimore Marathon Hills 2013

It meant a lot to me to run with Jeff. When I first started wanting to be a more competitive runner Jeff was my inspiration. In fact, 2 weeks prior to my first marathon I said to myself, “someday I want to be able to keep up with Jeff.” Jeff’s been helping me speed up ever since and is a great training partner. It was a blast to be able to put in the first 13.1 with him.

The gun went off and we started running. In retrospect it was great to start with the 3:15 group. We were in less traffic and were able to ease in to a nice pace.

Just around the corner from the start I saw my cousin Lauren with my aunt and uncle. Every year my uncle charts the “race within the race” and plans 4-5 stops to cheer for various family members that are running. We’ve had marathoners, half marathoners, 5kers and relay folks. Sometimes all in the same year. This year my cousin Linda was running the half, Heidi was running the relay, and I was running the full. It was great to see them at the start.

My friend Bob Villanueva came flying by right after the start. Bob was running strong and I knew better than to try and keep up with him. He had a great race.

We passed some Team ASA (Athletes Serving Athletes) friends including Ty Goehringer who was running his first marathon. I love ASA and what they do for Athletes to help them compete. Every time I saw an ASA chair being pushed by a wingman I tried to scream out some encouragement.

Right after the start we ran into our Adventures for the Cure teammate, Fran Interlandi. I’d never met Fran before but we had seen each others race reports. Fran’s a veteran marathoner, ultra runner, and triathlete. He was fresh off a PR at the Half Full last weekend. Jeff, Fran, and I cruised along for a while talking. It helped me to be running with my teammates. Jeff and Fran were obviously ready to run faster, but I reigned myself in. Eventually Fran took off and Jeff and I continued on.

When we dropped back into downtown around mile eight we were having fun. I saw my cousin, aunt and uncle again entering downtown. Along Light Street I saw a group of my fellow Young Life leaders who cheered me on. Running through the Inner Harbor, Federal Hill, Tide Point, Harbor East, Fells Point, Canton, and Patterson Park is always a blast. Some of our best neighborhoods with great people cheering.

Greg Rittler Baltimore Marathon 2013I passed my cousin, Linda, who was getting ready to start the Half on my way past Harborplace. Soon after Jeff dropped off at the halfway point near Harbor East. I was on my own. I was feeling strong at the halfway point. My stated goals for the day was a sub 3:40 time. My real “don’t tell other people goal” was 3:30. I was easily on track for the 3:30 if I was able to keep my pace from dropping off much.

I did a mental check at the halfway point: legs felt good, head was straight, nutrition felt fine. All systems were good. I just needed to run another good half marathon.

I train and race with Infinit nutrition. I may be their biggest fan. Infinit is a custom blend nutrition solution. You can actually adjust the amount of electolytes, calories, carbohydrates, protein, caffeine, flavor etc. to make a formula that works for you. I’ve had great success with two custom formulas (one for two hour events or shorter and one for longer than two hour events). I haven’t had to think about nutrition since early in the season because of Infinit. I just bring the right formula and drink a bottle per hour. [SIDENOTE: if you want to try infinit hit me up. I can have some samples for you and connect you with them. GREAT organization.]

In the case of the marathon I was debating whether I would run with my own bottle or just rely on the drink they have on course. I opted to save the weight and rely on the course nutrition. I did drink a bottle of Infinit Jet Fuel prior to the race to get me topped off and prime the engine. So along the course I drank two cups of sports drink at every water station with two exceptions: I skipped the first because they didn’t have sports drink and somehow I missed the station at Lake Montabello. Otherwise it was grab two cups, drink, and run. Worked like a charm. No additional food needed.

With nutrition set and all systems go I was ready to race to the finish.

Leaving downtown and Patterson Park you start the long climb up to Lake Montebello. We also were joined next to the park by the half marathoners. That added some energy to the crowd and pulled me along for a while. My pace up the hills to Lake Montebello stayed at 8:00 minute miles or faster so by the time I crested the hill on Hillen at mile 19.5 I was feeling great and I started picking up the pace.

My friends Shawn Downing and Rob Zeigler cheered a bit while running around Lake Montebello. Rob actually jumped in and ran with me for 1/2 a mile which was awesome. The loop around Montebello was quick. I had one more hill to go.

Greg Rittler Baltimore Marathon Elise RittlerBy the time I got to mile 22 on 33rd Street I knew 3:30 was in the bag and was trying to see if I could run 3:25. It was downhill from here and I knew I had a great finish in me.

My last 3 miles were 7:43, 7:39, and 7:05. I was thinking if I ran a 7:00 final mile I might be able to squeeze in under 3:25. I waved at my cousin, aunt and uncle at mile 25 and was telling them I was going to finish right around 3:25.

I was moving so fast I almost blew by Elise and Seth who were cheering for me about 1/4 mile from the finish. I turned and waved but kept moving.

I crossed the line at 3:25:54. I couldn’t have been happier. Another PR (I knocked 20 minutes off my previous best marathon time). I was 19th out of 249 in my division and 170th out of 3093 marathon runners.

There’s nothing better than greeting Elise and Seth at the finish. They are my biggest fans. We met up with Linda to congratulate her on a great race before we headed out. I missed Heidi at the finish but heard she had a great race.

The 2014 Baltimore Marathon is on my calendar already (October 18). Get it on yours! There is a race for everyone. I have something special planned for next years marathon.

Keep moving forward,

Greg

p.s. here’s the strava file for any of you data geeks out there like me.

Baltimore Marathon 2013 Ravens Stadium

 

 

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I am the CEO of Blue Ocean Ideas, a creative agency in Baltimore, Maryland. My job is to clarify the strategy and take care of my team. I am married to the beautiful Elise Rittler and we have four great kids. When I’m not at Blue Ocean Ideas or with my family I am riding a bike, running, playing ultimate frisbee, eating, or sleeping. There is a little more about me here.

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