#RaceRecap: Baltimore 10-Miler

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I’ve had more than enough time to let my race experience at the Baltimore 10-Miler sink in. All-in-all it was a great morning and I’d  highly recommend the race to anyone looking for a challenging urban course look no further than this event.

Let me break down all the positives of the event and look at its challenges. I think “Challenges” is a great way to look at things because there really aren’t any negatives with this race in my opinion. There are some things that you might want to consider if you’re looking for a 10-miler to do. You’ll also notice some of positives are also challenges. It really all depends on how you look at them.

Positives

  • Great swag! The medal was awesome and adorable with the cute little penguin runners on it. The finisher’s premium was this great half zip. It’s a really nice material and the embroidery on the sleeve and front is really nice. I love the color too!

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  • The hilly course was great! I train where you can’t avoid hills so I usually just power through them on race day as best I can. There were several in this race, including a long challenging one at mile 9.
  • The weather! It’s June in the mid-Atlantic and that can mean just about anything when it comes to the weather forecast. You could get sunny and 50 or 85 and thunderstorms. This year, it was somewhere in the middle. It’s a gamble, but nothing that should make you shy away from the race.
  • The post-race party is always a big hit. There is a live band, a wide variety of food and even a place to buy more Baltimore running gear.
  • The volunteers were outstanding! Everyone from the police along the course and at the finish to the water/aid station volunteers had smiles on their faces. They were loud and proud and happy to be out there with all the runners.
  • Post-race food for runners immediately following the race was exactly what I would love to see offered at all races. There were numerous tables of watermelon, plus bananas and orange slices. There were also chips, granola bars and much more. I personally enjoyed two large slices of watermelon before I left the coral.
  • The urban setting. I haven’t run a ton of urban races so this was a nice change of scenery for me. The loop around Lake Montebello was great and it was neat seeing Baltimore residents out and about using the bike/walking path and the wide variety of exercise equipment along the way.
  • The race benefits a lot of great causes and organizations, including the Maryland Zoo, Athletes Serving Athletes, Back on my Feet, Team Diabetes and Signal 13. If you want to run for a cause you definitely can.

Challenges 

  • The course is challenging! While that’s really a positive for me, it can be tough for runners not used to hills. Some of the hills are steep, some are long, and some are both. Mile 9 is one a lot of people talked about. I know it was making me want to walk, but I pushed through it simply because I knew I’d get to the finish faster if I kept running 🙂Screen Shot 2016-06-16 at 1.26.17 PM
  • Another challenge the course has is it’s not always the prettiest along the way. It’s a very urban course and while some areas are pretty nice, others were not. There were also some angry drivers  stuck in traffic along the way, but us runners just smiled, kept running and let the police handle them.
  • The weather was a challenge for me personally. Despite the sun not being out, which turned out to be a big plus, the temperature was high and the humidity was higher. I might have grown up in that weather, but I’m no longer used to it. We have our humid days in central PA, but it’s not something we really get used to even through a long summer. The weather pushed my plans to PR aside.
  • There wasn’t a lot of crowd support. The volunteers and police more than made up for this, but it would’ve been nice. While I saw some people out along the course in front of their homes, most weren’t cheering and the sidewalks and porches otherwise were empty.

Overall, I really enjoyed the morning. I even traveled to this race alone, but it wasn’t a big deal. I had people tracking me along the way and runners are a pretty fun and inclusive group. I finished with a 1:24:56, which wasn’t too far off my PR. I’d definitely like to see my time improve in future 10-milers.

Keep this one in mind in the future if you’re looking for a race that’s a bit more challenging than a 10k but not quite a half marathon. This was a great summer race distance, especially after coming off my Maine Coast Challenge and training season. I’ll be keeping this one on my list for a repeat down the road.

Have you ever run a fun 10-miler? Which one?

 

 

#RaceRecap Annapolis Running Classic

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It was great to be out running a race again this weekend. I can’t believe I only have one race left on my schedule before the year is out. Then it’s time to bring on 2016. Still trying to make a list of races to do.

Anyway, back to the Annapolis Running Classic. I ran this race two years ago and loved it. It was pretty special to run around a place I spent a lot of time visiting growing up and to bring a friend to her first race. She got hooked! This year I once again convinced a friend who hadn’t run a race before to sign up for the 10k. He did great and I think is now inspired to keep running and do another race.

You never know what weather is going to be like late in November, but it was perfect. I woke to temps in the 30s and by race time it was around 45. The sun was out and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. Couldn’t have asked for anything better.

Parking was a breeze, but I have noticed some posts on social media from other runners who got stuck in traffic. Not sure there is any remedy to this than to just tell people they have to arrive much earlier. The race is at 7 a.m. and despite being less than 2 miles down the road, I left at 6 a.m. and was parked by probably 6:10.

After parking I met up with my friend and his wife in the heated tent before heading over to the Blue Angels plane for a photo with two other childhood friends. It was fun to reconnect with people I hadn’t seen since graduating high school 11 years ago. Can’t believe that much time has passed!

Two of the friends I met up with. We both have buddies through the I Run 4 organization and their names both happen to start with "L."

Two of the friends I met up with. We both have buddies through the I Run 4 organization and their names both happen to start with “L.”

By the time we all headed to the starting chute, it was pretty backed up. I thought about moving up but by then they were literally counting down to the start so I stayed in the back near the 2:20 pacer. Gotta love chip timing!

The half marathon and 10k follow the same course for the first 5 miles before the 10k turns to head back to the stadium, while the half marathon turns and heads over the Severn River.

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There have been some complaints that the course is long for both races. The race directors disagree and said the courses were both recertified on Friday, the day before the race. I know it’s really hard to run the exact distance between weaving, not being able to cut the corners exactly right, etc. I don’t wear a watch while running but I know when I have, my GPS watches have been off .2-.5 of a mile. Who knows?

Regardless, the course is beautiful. You start at Memorial Stadium and head straight into downtown historic Annapolis where you round Church Circle, head down Main St. and around the dock area. Then you run past part of the Naval Academy, St. John’s College and back out of downtown briefly for the first out-and-back section. After heading back you head across College Creek and that’s where the two courses split.

The half marathon takes you across one of the bridges over the Severn River. This bridge arcs like a rainbow so it provides a challenging climb in both directions. Despite the climb, the views of the bay and the academy are incredible and I think take your mind off what you’re doing a bit.

On the other side of the river are some challenging out-and-back sections on tough hills. For the most part I like hills and they’re similar to what I run here in PA so I was prepared. I spent a nice chunk of this section of the course hoping to chase down the 1:50 pacer. I had caught the 2:10 and 2:00 pacer within the first few miles. I wanted to PR and thought my best bet was to catch that pacer, forgetting I didn’t cross the start line until almost 3 minutes after the race started.

As I began the trip back up and over the bridge I realized that with a little more than a mile remaining I was not going to catch the 1:50 pacer. I was bummed but decided to just finish strong. There is one final climb through the parking lot to the finish line and the clock said 1:52 when I crossed. I was hoping my chip time would be better, but wasn’t sure how much.

I look rather angry in this photo, but I swear I was having a great time. Contemplating buying this since I don't have a lot of photos of me running.

I look rather angry in this photo, but I swear I was having a great time. Contemplating buying this since I don’t have a lot of photos of me running.

One of the things I loved was that within minutes of crossing the finish line I got an email with my actual time. There was no waiting or searching for results. I was thrilled that I PR’d with a 1:49:26. It might have only been 14 seconds faster than my previous best, but it meant I attained my goal. I also finished 20th out of 273 in my age group and was the 101st female finisher. I’ll take it!

The medals were once again really nice, as were the ribbons. My friend Justin and his wife and I headed straight to the party tent and had no trouble picking up our swag, getting some food and beer and listening to a bit of music. However, when I left the line to get in the tent stretched almost the entire way across the parking lot to where I was parked. I think they’ll have to reevaluate the setup for next year.

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The sun was a bit of a problem, but I tried.

Overall, I once again loved the race. They really do a nice job and it’s such a great place to run. There are some things they should evaluate for next year, such as the post race tent situation. In addition, it might be necessary to recertify the courses again to truly confirm the distances for those who are convinced they’re off. I definitely recommend the Annapolis Running Classic for anyone looking for a late fall 10k or half.

Did you run this weekend? Where? How’d it go?