Runners come in all shapes and sizes. So too do their preparation routines for races such as Saturday’s 19th annual Baltimore Running Festival.
To be fair, there are some common threads. Many of the competitors will log a certain number of training miles to brace themselves for the rigors of the marathon’s 26.2-mile route that begins at South Paca and Camden streets near the Brooks Robinson statue outside of Orioles Park at Camden Yards and ends on East Pratt Street near the Transamerica Building at the Inner Harbor.
Steps will be taken to ensure that each runner’s health and strength is at or near its peak. And every fabric of clothing and piece of equipment will be checked and double-checked to avoid any unforeseen disasters.
But the marathon embraces differences.
“We have one finish-line structure for a reason,” said Dave Gell, a spokesman for Corrigan Sports Enterprises, which is helping to coordinate the Baltimore Running Festival. “The Baltimore Running Festival celebrates runners of all ages and abilities. Our Pratt Street finish line hopefully serves both as the completion of a goal, and the start of even bigger things to come for every runner.”
Here is how several participants of Saturday’s marathon approached preparing for the race:
Avoiding dad bod
On his race bio, Andrew Madison wrote that he opted to run in this year’s Baltimore Marathon because he “wanted to take a crack at winning it before the dad bod sets in.”
Madison, a 32-year-old Catonsville resident who works as an actuary for Medicare in Woodlawn, has not run in a marathon since the 2016 New York Marathon, saying he decided to wait until his 15-month-old son Lochlan could sleep through the night.
“I was like, ‘Yeah, I think I can function and train hard again,’” he said.
Madison said he runs six to eight miles during his lunch break from Monday through Friday, 15 to 20 miles on Saturday, and eight to 10 miles on Sunday.
The other part of the equation is his diet. Since cutting out chili and other greasy foods, reducing the number of nights he has grilled meats, and trimming his alcoholic intake to a single beer per week, Madison said he has lost about five to six pounds from his 6-foot-3, 180-pound frame.
“When you cut out trash, in a few weeks, you feel a whole lot better,” he said. “I definitely lost some weight after doing that. In a marathon, that adds up when you’re trying to run quickly.”
‘I feel pretty nervous’
Denise Knickman has competed in 30 marathons, and Saturday will mark her 10th Baltimore event. But it will be her first marathon since 2016 because of an assortment of injuries, including Achilles tendinitis, which explains the Baltimore physical therapist’s anxiety about the race.
“I really hope to run around 3:07,” she said. “I feel pretty nervous. I don’t really know how I’m going to do because I haven’t been able to train as much running-wise as I have in the past. I just sort of hope that the cross training helps me to the same level.”
Knickman, 51, has been cautious about her training. She has alternated 90 minutes of running on Tuesdays and Thursdays with regimens of cycling and swimming Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. She reserves 3-hour runs for the weekend.
“I think it’s helped me to be able to get back to running and racing,” she said of the cross training. “I had to take a pretty long time off. So I think it’s helping me to keep my running going by running every other day.”
Knickman said she will likely play U2’s “Beautiful Day” in her car while driving to the starting line and wear her traditional red hair ties to celebrate her graduation from the University of Maryland.
“I guess somewhere along the line, I must’ve thought I did better if I had a red hair tie in,” she said with a laugh. “So I kind of stuck with that position.”
No running for the hills
Bruce Newman has competed in more than 100 marathons and is Baltimore’s reigning men’s champion for the wheelchair crank division. But in his town of Stella, N.C., the 73-year-old former Army member has no hills to train on to prepare for the elevation changes in Baltimore, where he has raced from 2014 through 2017.
“Ever since I’ve gotten into handcycling, I’ve never really had a big problem doing hills,” said Newman, who sustained a lower spinal cord injury as a paramedic in an ambulance accident after retiring from the service. “So since I don’t get a chance to train for them, I don’t really worry about them. It seems to work OK for me. I hold my own on hills.”
Newman said he averages 70-80 miles per week with one day off. But he said he does not get into technology to test his resting heart rate or get into any specialized upper-body training “other than 16-ounce beers. If you can lift enough of them, it helps out.”
“I do it because I enjoy it,” he said. “It gets me out of the house, and it gets me out in the fresh air, and I feel good, and I think it’s good for me.”
‘A propensity to suffer’
The Baltimore Marathon will be Will Wright’s first road marathon of his career. But the Locust Point resident and director of corporate accounts for an Austrian manufacturer has competed in the Spartan Ultra World Championships in Iceland in 2014, more than 50 obstacle races, and six trail ultra-marathons, which are races longer than the usual 26.2 miles.
“I’ve found that I’ve just got a propensity to suffer a lot longer than most people do,” Wright, 27, quipped. “For me, I’m having fun.”
Wright said he began training for the Baltimore Marathon over the summer. He raced in the Endless Summer Six-Hour Run organized by the Annapolis Striders on July 27 to prepare himself for running in the heat and took part in a 12-hour Adventure Trail Run on Sept. 21 that entailed 50 miles.
At his peak, Wright averaged 75 miles per week, but has tapered his mileage to about 40. He acknowledged that he will rouse himself from bed before sunrise to squeeze in a run before a hectic work day.
“I’m planning it around my meeting schedule and my flight schedule and all of those things,” he said. “I’m also a very early-morning person. I don’t like running at night. I will if I have to, but oftentimes, it’s just a matter of if I want to get in 20 miles today, I’ve got to get up at 4 a.m.”
The journeys to the Baltimore Marathon may vary, but the post-race celebrations will allow the participants to experience similar emotions.
“Everyone congratulates each other,” Knickman said. “It’s just a big party at that point.”