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Forest Hill marathoner more focused on DVDs' running time

Forest Hill marathoner more focused on DVDs' running time
Mike Woodring with his shirt that has an iPad built in to the back. Woodring will be running in the Baltimore marathon and will be playing highlights of the Orioles' and Ravens' championships. (Lloyd Fox / Baltimore Sun)

Here's one man's scheme for running in Saturday's Baltimore marathon: strap an iPad to your back, show highlights of the Orioles' three world championships and hope other runners hang back to watch it.

That's Mike Woodring's game plan, anyway.

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"At least the DVDs will entertain me and those running behind," said Woodring, of Forest Hill. "If you're going to be on the road for four hours, you need to find ways to enjoy yourself out there — something that makes people smile as they go past me. Hopefully, though, they won't."

Come Saturday morning, Woodring will don his racewear, including a special-made T-shirt with a clear plastic pouch on the back. Then he'll slide in his iPad with its 12-inch screen, hit the play button and take off running to the sights and sounds of great Orioles teams of yore.

The two-hour DVD features highlights of Baltimore's World Series victories in 1966, 1970 and 1983. Who wouldn't slow their pace for a time to watch Frank and Brooks and Boog in their prime?

When that's over, Woodring said, he'll switch to a football DVD celebrating the Ravens' victory over the New York Giants in Super Bowl XXXV, "so the folks behind me will get to enjoy Trent Dilfer, Jermaine Lewis, Shannon Sharpe and Ed Reed one more time.

"I won't be able to see it myself, but I'll follow the whole game in my head, from the coin toss to the trophy ceremony afterward," he said. If he's still plodding any part of those 26.2 miles after that ceremony, he'll switch to a DVD of Super Bowl XLVII.

His running time is irrelevant, the 47-year-old electrical engineer said.

"I know I'm not going to win this, or go to the Olympics. So why not have fun while you're out there?" said Woodring, who ran his only marathon in Philadelphia in 2011, finishing in four hours, 29 minutes and 47 seconds.

He bought the $40 shirt online last year, while training to run a half-marathon in Columbia. He wore it for that race, during which he showed the movie "Star Wars."

"Both the film and I had running times of about two hours that day," he said. The movie didn't keep people from passing me, but I got a lot of compliments as they went by, like, 'where can I get one?' and 'may The Force be with you.' "

For Woodring himself, the film proved a godsend.

"During a race, you try to focus on anything but the road in front of you and how your legs are hurting," he said. "Listening to Luke [Skywalker] fighting Darth Vadar was a great distraction."

An avid sports fan, he chose to pay tribute to the Orioles and Ravens on Saturday.

"The Orioles make it to the playoffs so rarely, why not start with Orioles Magic?" said Woodring, who attended Opening Day this year. He'll wear an orange jersey over the white T-shirt, after cutting a rectangle in the back large enough for the iPad to show through, and purple shorts with a Ravens logo. His footwear includes a pair of 20-year-old orange-and-black sweat socks, with an Orioles logo, that he bought at a yard sale a decade ago.

Never mind that the iPad adds nearly 1 1/2 pounds for him to lug during the marathon.

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"It's all part of making the race fun," he said. "But it does strike me as ironic that while I'm wearing really lightweight running shoes, I am handicapping myself by wearing this iPad."

It's not something his wife would do.

"Running a marathon with anything extra on you is crazy," said Sandy Woodring, who has gone that distance herself. "Plus, it's not like the iPad is attached to Mike's body, so it will be bouncing up and down and adding extra friction. By mile 23 he'll probably wish he didn't have it on him.

"On the other hand, it has to be neat for the runners behind you. I love reading the backs of other peoples' shirts during a race; it gives your brain something else to think about. So watching baseball and football games will be cool."

"I'll help anyone who stumbles to get up," he said.

And what if, during the race, Woodring passes beleaguered runners who want to watch the show?

"That's my way of encouraging them to speed up," he said.

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