Sights and sounds from the 2016 Baltimore Marathon. (Kim Hairston/Baltimore Sun video)
Six years before his first marathon win, Patrick Hearn lost his breakfast.
In 2010, he signed up for the Baltimore Marathon, his first competitive race at 26.2 miles. The Sykesville native's stomach was disagreeable. In the days before the race, he ate more than he had to. At the starting line he felt queasy, and along the route he threw up. He finished anyway.
After crisscrossing Baltimore on Saturday in a personal-record time of 2 hours, 26 minutes, 18 seconds, nearly five minutes better than the runner-up, Hearn was feeling considerably better. No spilled guts, all glory.
"No idea I was going to win," said Hearn, 26, a Glenelg High and Maryland graduate, after topping the 2,352-person field. "Nice feeling."
Dan Swain of Parkville and Michael Wardian of Arlington, Va., were second (2:31:16) and third (2:31:45), respectively. Caitlyn Tateishi of Washington won the women's race and was 22nd overall, finishing in 2:55:42.
Reigning champion Dave Berdan placed fifth, his 2:35:45 time more than five minutes slower than his winning mark last year and in 2013.
For the first 15 or 16 miles of a day with pleasant weather and few problems, Hearn ran in the lead group with Berdan. By then, Hearn knew whom he was up against: Spectators were yelling, "Go, Coach!" at the Stevenson cross country coach and two-time race champion.
Then came the pain (Berdan's) and the gain (Hearn's). Berdan underwent hip surgery in November. He didn't resume running until March, hoping a half-year of running would be enough to get him into medal contention. For the painful last 10 miles, Berdan knew it hadn't been. He'd gone out too fast.
The 2016 Baltimore Marathon is seen in time-lapse as the runners start up Paca Street. (Jerry Jackson/Baltimore Sun video)
"That was the hardest 10 miles of my life," Berdan said. "Aerobically, I was fine, but my legs wouldn't go anywhere."
Hearn went to the front by himself. The final 8 miles or so felt familiar, reminiscent of early morning runs in Newport News, Va., where he's stationed with the USS Abraham Lincoln. A lieutenant, junior grade, fulfilling the last year of his five-year U.S. Navy commitment, Hearn helps oversee the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier's reactor compartment while it is refueled and upgraded.
In other words, he's part of what makes a 99,790-ton ship go. But never had Hearn gone so fast himself. He came in second in last year's Charleston (S.C.) Marathon in 2:35:56, off the winning pace by 99 seconds. He was 107th overall in the 2015 Boston Marathon (2:32:24) and 18th overall in Washington's 2015 Marine Corps Marathon (2:34:56).
When Hearn reached the home stretch near Camden Yards and spotted the finish line, he was not so anonymous. The thousands of fans in attendance knew who the guy with the shaved head in the Navy singlet and candy-cane shades was.
"A lot of the support from the crowd," he said. "I guess a lot of people got word of my name. I heard a lot of 'Go, Patrick!'"
Hearn planned to fly back to Virginia today. Until then, he was happy to spend time with his mother at home in Sykesville, watch the Maryland football team play Minnesota and, yes, get something to eat.
Tateishi, 29, the women's winner, is not some homegrown champion. This was her first time in Baltimore. She grew up in Hawaii and ran track at Division III Pacific, in Forest Grove, Ore.
Cheering crowds have become an integral part of Baltimore Running Festival as runners look for the boost of encouragement and spectators find a way to participate without having to pound the pavement. Some say it's best just to embrace the race rather than fight the traffic.
The Social Security Advisory Board employee had one goal for Saturday. It wasn't to win, though that would come. It was to break 3 hours. She'd come close at the Boston Marathon in April, finishing 43 seconds off the mark.
"I felt like I did everything I could have that day," she said, "but I knew what I wanted to do differently today."
In Tateishi's research for the race, she'd read that the last quarter of the marathon would be relatively smooth sailing. Starting at Mile 20, it was supposed to be all downhill from there. Not so. The road started to slope unexpectedly. She got through the incline, but it "kind of broke my spirit a little."
The joy she'd experienced striding through the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore returned when a police officer on a motorcycle began to trail her on the track late in the race. She figured that was good news. Then folks on the side of the road began calling her the "first lady" — also good.
As she broke the tape, Tateishi was smiling from ear to ear. The next-best female finishers, Silvia Baage of Rockville and Janet Becker of Rockford, Mich., came across about 10 minutes later.
Tateishi stayed around for the trophy presentation before heading back to Washington to pick up something else. She and her boyfriend had just adopted a dog from the Washington Humane Society. Saturday was the day they'd meet Polly.
"This is going to be a perfect day, actually," she said.