Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Baltimore Women's Classic 5K: June 26, 2016

So, bar review has been fun. Said no one ever. This is most of my life:
All day, every day. Four-six hours of study and reading, followed by a 3.5-4 hour class every night, and this past Saturday even included a 6 hour practice test. On the one hand, I definitely feel very prepared - on the other, I just want to sleep. And go outside. 

On top of that, Lilly and K have been in San Diego for three weeks, but they're home now! 

To break it up, I recruited a little group of friends to run the Baltimore Women's Classic 5K this past Sunday. This is one of the oldest and largest all-women's events on the east coast, and it's the third year I've done it. The course is great, it starts just a few blocks from where I live, and the swag is great.

Charm City Run hosts packet pickup and late registration in each o their stores throughout the week, but they also have bib pickup on the morning of the race. CCR is really great with pre-race emails, and send out almost daily reminders of your bib number, their hours for that day, plus all you need to know for race day, from parking, photos, to a map of the entire neighborhood. 

I got the race start around 7:30, and didn't have to wait in line at all, just got my bib, t shirt, and bag, and then met up with my friends. The t shirts this year were full on technical t shirts from New Balance; in the past they were technical cotton, which wasn't bad. As usual, they  matched the logo and the medal (yes, it's just a 5K but there's a medal!).

The start/finish area is around Rash Field, a big sand volleyball court on the harbour in downtown Baltimore. There's a big stage, and a number of fitness instructors were leading dance warm ups and pumping out some loud music to get everyone ready. A few minutes for the 8am start, my friends and I walked over to bag check, dropped our bags, and then hopped up to the start line. They had pacers with goal paces marking where you should stand to start, but no waves, and the back as for walkers and strollers. I fell in with the 9-10:00 pace group, but the start was so crowded, I don't think we got up to a 9:00 pace until about a third of a mile in. 

The course winds through Federal Hill, an older section of Baltimore, with a variety of rowhomes, bars, and cobblestone streets. Around the first half mile mark, there is a fairly big hill that kills most dreams of a fast first mile. Once you get to the top, though, it's an easy, if twisty, run, with two water stops, a mild uphill after mile 2, and then a loop onto the waterfront promenade for the last 1/3 of a mile. 
I really love when race photos only capture me flat footed, never mid-stride. Apparently gazelle isn't my look.
I was hoping to break 27:00 on this race, which would at least tie my college PR, back when a 5K was the longest race I thought I would ever run. After the SD marathon, my right knee had been pretty tender and as a result, I didn't run at all for three weeks. I was hoping that would be enough to heal whatever was wrong, so I could attack my Superfrog training with a vengeance. 
Unfortunately, it wasn't enough. A little after mile 1, I could feel my MCL starting to hurt a little bit, and by mile 2, my knee was throbbing with every impact. I didn't slow down to walk, but tried to adjust my stride to lessen the impact. My first two miles were at about 8:45 and 8:55, but mile three killed me. I managed to finish in 28:32, placing 232/2882 overall. 

The finish line area is great - after passing over the finish line, there was ice cold bottles of water, a cold towel, as well as roses and medals. There was a spot to get a free finisher's photo, and then cool tents with vendors, and tables piled high with bananas, chewy bars, pretzels, chips, and watermelon slices. There was also the chance to refill your bottle with water or gatorade. The morning was getting HOT fast, though, and, in typical Bmore style, more than comfortably muggy. Once all of my friends were done, we high tailed it out of there for some coffee, brunch and a shower.

This is one of my favorite events in Baltimore, and I'll be sad to not be here next year. It is a great race for a fast time with some challenges, if you're competitive, but also super supportive if this is your very first race! 

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