Dr. J on Running

28 The B&A Trail Marathon, Pasadena, MD

16 March 2013

I spent the last week playing war games in Alabama. The regimented schedule permitted three good runs, but the food featured too much fried southern cuisine and too little protein. After a week of donuts, ribs and peach cobblers, I was ready to take on Annapolis.

I picked up my race packet from a local running store on Friday afternoon, and thanked the race director for the long-sleeve shirt. During dinner, my left upper gum got irritated and turned angry. A couple of drops of Oragel went straight to my sinuses. Gentle flossing dislodged a large filling. I spent the night in dual tooth and sinus pains, rinsed with salt water every few hours, and tried to sleep sitting up to drain the sinuses. It turned out that molar #14 had cracked all the way into two teeth, having been possibly weakened during my supersonic F-16 ride at 50,000 feet.

The morning weather forecast included a tornado watch, 70 percent chance of rain, wind and cold temperatures. Fortunately, we awaited the start inside LA Fitness. I saw Jennie and Tom of Columbus, OH, whom I had met in Jackson, MS. We chatted briefly, exchanged war stories, and made a date for Alaska.

A large tour bus pulled up and unloaded a bunch of Korean runners. I learned later that every year, a group of KRRC (Korean Road Runners Club) runners travel from Korea to NYC for sightseeing, then ride down to run the B&A Trail Marathon. I saw many of the Korean runners later during the race.

The marathon started promptly at 0800, followed by the half at 0805. Suffering from lack of sleep and a sore tooth, and weary of running in 38 degrees and rain, I reserved the right to DNF. I overdressed with a wind jacket, Lycra pants, socks on hands, and a hat. I ran half-a-mile, walked half-a-mile, and repeated.

The course ran North along the Baltimore and Annapolis (B&A) Trail the first couple miles, then returned past the Start and the parking lot around 5 miles. I shed my jacket, pants, socks and hat, and ran in shorts and a long-sleeve Team 413 shirt. The skies darkened three times, spitted a few drops of rain, and then cleared. The severe weather passed south of us, and the tornado never materialized. By noon, the winds died down, and the sun came out. Weather-wise, it turned into a decent day, mostly cloudy with temperatures in the low forties.

The half-marathon runners kept me company for a couple of hours. I enjoyed the scenery of ANTs in every color. With such a fit field, I wondered how many runners I would see after the half-marathon turn-around – not too many, it turned out. Keith ran by in his pink tutu – I had met him in Casper, WY. Spotting the occasional 50-Stater or Marathon Maniac lifted my spirit. Inhaling cold air aggravated my tooth. Drinking cold water made me cry.

My pace remained steady and slow. I averaged around 13 minutes per mile. I ran a slow 11-minute per mile, and walked a brisk 15-minute pace. I covered about 4.5 miles each hour, projecting a finish time just under six hours – fine with me. My hands felt cold. I picked up a discarded pair of tiny bright purple gloves and wore them half-way up my hands. A very friendly group of volunteers took very good care of us. Water stations were about three miles apart. The cold weather kept the recreational use of the trail fairly light, and police controlled traffic at intersections.

After we lost the half-marathon runners, I distracted myself by cheering the lead marathon runners on their way home. At Mile 15, the course went off a cliff for about a mile, then we turned around and climbed straight up until Mile 17. After traveling the last hour without seeing a single runner, I celebrated seeing two women after the turnaround – I was not in last place! I saw two more runners later, then I raced my guts out to pass an old woman.

The warm sun lifted the temperature but not my pace. I waddled along, wondering when my body would revolt. I counted the miles, downed the Gatorade and ate the Powerbar, and focused on moving forward. At Mile 20, my tooth pain had subsided, so I took a pair of Ibuprofens.

I heard cheers at Mile 25. Natalie and Marc had arrived from Stephens City and Colorado Springs, and they walked up the course looking for me. They ran with me the next mile, then left me to celebrate alone running down the chute. I crossed the Finish Line in 5:45:03, and my GPS showed 26.47 miles. All in all, the Annapolis Striders put on an extremely well organized race, and my painful experience affirmed the view of fellow 50-Staters that the B&A Trail is indeed the marathon to run in Maryland.

After a quick shower, we celebrated my 28th Marathon at Ram’s Head Tavern, a Scottish eatery not far from the Courtyard. The salmon with crabmeat and shrimp tasted heavenly, but the Tiramisu did not.

Dr Kamal Jabbour ran a conservative race in all of sorts of hurt to complete the 28th state. Dr. J's RUNNING Column appears in Cyberspace whenever endorphins call.

© 2013 Dr Kamal Jabbour