It only got up to 94 degrees yesterday, but the dew point reading made it feel like way over one hundred. At 8:30 am I was on the lovely Baltimore Inner Harbor walkway, watching some sweat-soaked race leaders in the Survivor Harbor 7 Seven Mile Race go by. The two front-runners were neck and neck; both had their faces contorted with the strain even at mid-race.
I love this scenic race through historic Baltimore, but it is always hot. It runs from the harbor waterfront out to Fort McHenry, around that park along the water, back down to the harbor, past all the ships in the Inner Harbor along the brick-lined Promenade, and out to the Can Company, an abandoned manufacturing center that was converted into a vibrant hub of commercial and residential units.
I just had to do its inaugural running in 2004 because I had never done a 7-mile race before. You know, part of life's checklist, seven-mile race, got it. All of my 10K times except for the first one had been run at a sub-8 minute per mile pace, so I figured I'd easily extend that pace to a 7-miler. Not so fast.
The first year I ran 58:29 (8:21). It was hot. The second year it was even hotter and I was even slower, 58:34 (8:22). The third year the weather finally cooperated a little and I ran 54:17 (7:45). Mission Accomplished.
The race has a 3-Mile Race component, which joins the main race in progress at the Inner Harbor after the race leaders have gone by. I signed up for that this year. (Left: Running along the Inner Harbor in the 2006 race.)
Once again it was so hot that I wilted. I went out fast but didn't arrive at the first mile marker until 7:25. Then my time for the second mile slipped to a 7:45. My third mile time deteriorated to an 8:05 for a 23:15 (7:45) finish, a PW. Notice the steady 20-second per mile downward progression in my pace. My five other 3-milers had all been run in under 23 minutes.
After the race I was wringing wet. I went into a nearby Starbucks for coffee and the frosty air-conditioned interior hit me like a frigid arctic blast. I'm sure they appreciated me leaking water droplets all over their counter as I handed them damp bills from my pocket.
This wonderful race, requiring a 100 mile round-trip drive, has become an expensive luxury in our new times, unfortunately. I think that with gas going from 97c to $4.03 on W's watch, a new dawn has arrived in my racing life. No longer can outlying races be done casually. Good going, Decider and Just-Get-Over-It Tony. (Can you tell that I don't think January 20, 2009 can get here fast enough, otherwise known as BLD, Bush's Last Day?) (Right: Although the guy in blue blew me away at the finish in 2006, he still dragged me along to my seven-mile PR.)