This race gets a bad rap, but honestly, I thought it was great. Granted I may be a bit biased because most of the course is familiar territory to me. The run starts at the Baltimore Zoo and heads west to circle around Lake Montebello (represent!!), before returning along most of the same roads to end up back at the start. The running group I joined up with at the beginning of the season does all their runs in Druid Park, home of the Baltimore Zoo, so the hills there came as no surprise. Lake Montebello is 2 miles from my house so I’ve logged plenty of miles there as well.
It seems everyone’s chief complaint is the hills. I didn’t run this race last year, but it appears that in 2009 the elevation map posted on the race site, not to mention the title of the race itself, were a little misleading. This year they rectified the first problem by not posting an elevation at all, though in my opinion, the hand-drawn course map they posted instead is a bit low-rent for a race of this size (4,000 runners). The long course of 2009 was also remedied, or at least my Garmin registered it as fairly accurate (only .05 over the touted 10 miles, a vast improvement from the .25 over that was last year’s debacle).
My goals for this race were: (a) keep my mile splits below 9:30 and finish in under 1:35:00; (b) finish with a sub 10 min/mile average and come in under 1:40:00; and (c) considering the shin incident on Wednesday, simply finish.
Last night I set my alarm for 5am – we had a 7:30 am race start and parking was said to be a zoo at the Zoo (Heh, heh…I crack myself up), laid out all my gear and hoped for the best.
This morning I woke up 3 minutes before my alarm went off (don’t you LOVE that?) and tried to slip into my clothes quietly while Kirk slept (he had to work until noon so he didn’t play the role of cheerleader today. Tear!). Since I had already pinned my bib to my tank top (in an effort to get out the door that much faster), of course I tore the bib as I pulled my shirt over my head (thus ensuing a mad search for packaging tape). Once dressed, I opted to leave the SPIbelt and CamelBak behind. For some reason running as “naked” as possible sounded very appealing today. In the end the only items I took were my Garmin and my iPod which I jammed into my sports bra once we got going. Mental note: Add the iPod Shuffle to my gift wish list!!
I got to the Zoo just before 6am and found Uncle Paul right away. We killed time with some stretching, game planning, and pottying … twice. And of course, by taking cheesy pre-race photos!
Not the most flattering shot of me (tell me, why do we even try for the long-arm shot anymore? They are never cute and are almost always a waste of memory card space), but I had to post it because Uncle Paul is SMILING! He never smiles in photos … let alone two in a row. It must be all that pre-race nervous energy. 🙂
Uncle Paul’s been having some issues with his PF and it’s been acting up intermittently and unpredictably so he wasn’t really sure what to expect today. For that reason he had four separate goals. He told me that his A goal was to finish in under 1:40:00 (right in line with my B goal, which was far more likely to be actualized than my A goal). His B goal was to beat his time from last year which was in the 1 hour and 50 minute range. His C goal was to finish without walk breaks and his D goal was to finish. Period.
This is the first race we’ve participated in together where we didn’t actually run any of it together. From the starting gate I jumped in toward the back on the 9 minute corral, while he waited until the masses were off and running to join in the fun. He likes the thrill of passing people while I prefer a built-in pace group I suppose. Typically he catches up to me torward the end and we finish together. Sadly, I think the 10 mile distance is too short for that. I missed him at the finish line. 😦
Mile 1 was downhill, but long. Literally, it was over a tenth of a mile long, which had me worried (needlessly) that the course would be off again this year. Mile 2 stared to climb a little bit and there was an awesomely manned water stop that I managed to hit up without slowing down (same outcome at mile 8 when we passed it again. Score). Mile 3 was hot. Have I mentioned that there was a total of about 300 feet of shade along the entire course? Ugh. Somewhere along mile 4 I decided it was too hot for my hat and I stuck it into the waistband of my shorts. This was short-lived as it brought on fears of more hat thieves and the sun in my eyes was not fun. At the water stop around mile 5 I put the hat back on and dumped a cup of water on my head. This was such a wonderful feeling that I repeated the manuever at each subsequent water stop. Mile 6 was uneventful with the exception of a block of blissful tree-lined street running. Lovely shade, I’d almost forgotten you existed! Mile 7 was uphill and for the first time my time dropped below 9:30. I was really bummed by this because I knew the last two miles were uphill – if I couldn’t hack it here, I knew it wouldn’t last through those last brutal miles. At that point I knew my A goal was not going to happen. Mile 8 I managed to pick it up again, but 9 & 10 were the slowest miles yet. I finished strong and had a good time which is good, but I’m a little disappointed that I didn’t give it 110% the whole time.
Looking back I see my problem. The buffer between my A goal and my B goal was 5 minutes. That’s HUGE! Once I knew I wasn’t going to finish in under 1:30, there was nothing really pushing me because my B goal of a sub-1:4o was already in the bag. Rookie mistake. Ultimately, my overall average was 9:36 min/mi which is great for me and I’m thrilled with my Garmin finish time of 1:36:08. I know that if I pushed those last two miles like I’d pushed the first 6 I could have shaved at least a minute off that time and that bites. The good news is that I have the Annapolis 10 Mile Run in just two short months. I’m hoping to finish in under 1:35:00. With a B goal of finishing in under 1:36:08. How’s that for narrowing my buffer?
Uncle Paul came in at 1:41 – just over his A goal which he was none too pleased about. Not that you could tell if from this picture.
We are a sweaty mess!!
Both of us finished pain-free which still amazes me. My hips and ankles usually start to ache after 6 miles or so. I guess the long runs I’ve been tackling for my marathon training are really working! At the finish line there were apples, banana, WATERMELON (yay!), cold towels (double yay!), ReGen Muscle Recovery Beverages (my tummy did NOT like these though the 3:1 carb to protein ratio sounded like a winner), beer (runners were given two drink tickets), and live music.
We were also able to pick up our premiums after the race. The B10 was voted “Best Swag” by Runner’s World last year. This year’s pullover is great, and I can’t wait to test it out, but given that it’s June, I’m going to have to wait about 5 months…
It did however work fabulously to sop up the massive amount of sweat soaking my shorts and save my car’s interior on the drive home. I mean, really, what more can you ask for?
My split times:
Mile 1: 9:26
Mile 2: 9:22
Mile 3: 9:28
Mile 4: 9:19
Mile 5: 9:33
Mile 6: 9:28
Mile 7: 9:40 <– first big hill
Mile 8: 9:35
Mile 9: 10:14 <– it’s all uphill from here!
Mile 10: 10:03
10.00 miles; 1:36:08; 9:36 avg