I’m just going to come right out and say it. This race is going to be on my list of MUST-RUNS every year from here on out. I had a freaking blast on Saturday and not just because I destroyed my previous 10K PR. (Destroying your previous PR definitely adds a little something extra though.)
Saturday races are harder for me to commit to because my husband works that day so I have to find a babysitter. Luckily my wonderful mom was off and was able to take over Betty-duty, so I was up and out of the house headed for McHenry Row in Baltimore City a little after 7am. Start time wasn’t until 9, but I wanted to give myself some extra time because we’ve already established that I’m directionally challenged and also because Sole is a fairly sizable event – something like 3,100 people ran it this year – and I figured parking would be at a premium. The weather was PERFECTION. In the shade it was a bit chilly, but in the sunshine it felt every bit of glorious 60 degrees. My first race of the year in shorts.
Notice the shoes. I decided to go with the new ones. More on that later.
Anyway, I managed to get myself there without getting lost, found a parking space quickly, cursed my way through several broken zip ties trying to attach my chip to my shoe, got my bib on, and headed to Dunkin’ Donuts to meet up with some friends. It got crowded down there fast. At around 8:30 I told my friend I was going to make a stop by the port-o-johns and it’s a good thing I went then because the bathroom line was a total crap-show (pun somewhat intended). It was so bad that as I was standing there, two trucks loaded down with extra toilets arrived to uproarious applause. I would have laughed really hard if I wasn’t so afraid I might pee myself.
By that point it was almost 9 and I had lost track of everyone I had originally met up with so I made a beeline to the start figuring I’d meet up with everyone after we were finished. I got a signal with my Garmin with barely a moment to spare and hit go right as I crossed over the starting line. Only to realize moments later that I had actually crossed over the finish line and the start was still like 100 yards away. Oops.
It would all work out anyway because it was the usual Baltimore City road race log jam. Our streets are just not built to accommodate thousands of people running at the same time. So my start was slow and I had to do a lot of dodging and weaving because I was pretty back-of-the-pack, but I didn’t really mind it as much as I did with the St. Patrick’s Day race where I only had 3 miles to run.
I cannot say enough nice things about this course. It started and ended right around the same spot (hence my confusion) and took us on the nicest little foot tour of the city. We ran past the harbor, around to Fells Point and then looped back again on a slightly different route. U2’s Where the Streets Have No Name came on my iPod right as I was running toward the big buildings of downtown during mile 2 and the sun was shining brightly and it was really kind of an epic moment. Baltimore is pretty foul in many ways, but I still have a lot of hometown pride and I felt that a lot throughout the race.
There was even some spectator turnout. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, but I still wasn’t expecting it. Some guy had a hot pink sign that told the women they should run faster because Luke Bryan was at the finish line. I had to come home and Google Luke Bryan later on because I had no idea who that is and frankly it wouldn’t have made me run any faster even if I had.
Most of the course was relatively flat but there were some nice little elevation changes as we worked our way through Fells Point and past Luke Bryan sign guy. My favorite part was running back along the Harborplace Promenade, over the footbridges that connect the piers, and the looks on the faces of everyone who was just out there enjoying the beautiful morning and clearly had no idea what they had walked into.
I was feeling pretty damn fantastic when somewhere right around when my watch signaled mile 5 there was a short, but obnoxiously steep, cobblestone hill up to Key Highway and then our relative flatness turned to gradual uphill-ness for what seemed like the remainder of the race. In hindsight it really wasn’t that bad, but that late in the game when I had already been pushing myself and wasn’t mentally prepared to climb a mountain, it was a bit rough. The upside was the the hill seemed to be slaying everyone so at least it wasn’t just me. There ended up being a slight, but much appreciated downhill in the home stretch and I concentrated on the crowd that I could see gathered just before the finish line turn, willing myself to reach them faster. I knew my clock time was going to be way off since I started so far back and that my Garmin wouldn’t be right either because I’m dumb. Anyway, my chip time:
And my splits because I’m pretty happy with them.
1 7:29.7 1.00 7:30
2 7:09.0 1.00 7:09
3 7:15.0 1.00 7:15
4 7:05.9 1.00 7:06
5 7:13.0 1.00 7:13
6 7:29.0 1.00 7:29 <— UGH…hill.
7 2:22.3 0.35 6:41 <— But yay I totally made up for it for the home stretch!
8/768 AG and 22nd woman overall out of somewhere around 2,100, plus beats my previous 10K race PR by more than 2 minutes. I’m a happy, happy camper.
There was some fun post-race stuff happening so I hung out awhile. I grabbed a free beer right away because there was no one in line yet and I figured I might as well take advantage of that, but only had like 3 sips of it because – duh – I hate beer. There was some live music and a bunch of food set out for us. Along with the standard bananas and water, they had a variety of sandwiches. Did you know that apparently runners don’t like ham?
Not pictured: The fact that these were the only sandwiches left on the mile long table. Poor, sad ham pile.
I met back up with some people and we took some pics. I’m such a solo flyer most of the time that I forget how much I like hanging out with people. Plus it’s nice to have someone to take pictures of me all race gear’ed out and not have to look like a loser taking awkwardly angled selfies.
I love how I look like I’m about 6 feet tall in that picture. I’m really not 6 feet tall.
My thoughts on Sole of the City? Awesome from start to finish. The worst part of the whole experience was the parking lot at packet pickup last week where I almost got hit by a horrible man in a convertible BMW. The actual pick up was a breeze as per usual. The swag is fantastic – THAT JACKET! (And also I just realized yesterday that there was a voucher for a free Bikram class included in the bag so I know what I’m doing on Wednesday night!)
The event itself was well organized with a scenic, well-marked course – despite having to run on a bit of cobblestone again which is NOT my favorite – with two well-placed water stations, friendly and helpful volunteers, and a cool post-race hangout. The bathroom situation left a little bit to be desired, but to be fair they did have a very special toilet delivery just in time so I won’t hold it against them.
Now I know you are all just dying to know about the shoes. I took the Mizunos with me just in case I chickened out and changed my mind, but in the end I definitely made the right decision going with the Connects. I want to individually hug all of you that suggested the Pure line to me. They are the most responsive shoes I’ve ever worn in my life. They make my feet feel like they are spring loaded and I am absolutely in love with them and have decided they are going to be my shorter-distance speed shoe of choice. I wore the Mizunos for a cross train day yesterday and they felt so awkward now on my feet by comparison. So at least I’m getting some use out of them, but I won’t be running in them anymore unless I’m chasing Betty.
Speaking of Betty…in case you missed it on Saturday, the winner of the Luna bar and balm is the lovely Headlong Running Betty. No relation to my daughter, but I do love that blog title! You should go check her out because she is amazing!
Also today is the last day to enter the AmLactin giveaway! So if you haven’t done that yet and would still like to, it can be done HERE!
I hope you all had as wonderful a weekend as I did!
Did you run or race this weekend? Tell me about it!