I was nervous going into the Baltimore 10-Miler. Even though I was coming off a great 10K race the week before, I knew my training wasn’t right for a 10 miler, nor such a hilly course. But I tried to go into it with the best attitude possible.
The night before, I had laid my outfit out, pinned my bib to my shirt, had gone through my training logs to get myself pumped, and settled in for an early night. Too bad the room next door hadn’t gotten the memo. They were having a party cramming too many people and too much alcohol in a single room.
I considered asking to change rooms, but I didn’t want to have to go through my pre-race, pre-sleep ritual all over. I sucked it up and threw a pillow over my head. A girl left the room shouting, “I’ll be back bitches!” and I knew I was in for a long night.
My alarm went off at 5:30am, and I contemplated staying in bed. I was still sore from my double dose of P90X two days previous. Alas, I got up, scarfed down half a bagel with peanut butter and sipped on two cups of coffee — probably one too many.
I hopped the bus to Druid Hill Park. I chatted some with an off-duty police woman. Her and the bus driver wished me luck. Thankfully, I rode the route the day before and knew exactly where to get off, that helped calm my nerves.
The lake was beautiful as the sun was rising and the dew glistening. I grabbed a bench overlooking the lake and meditated in the sunshine, absorbing and reflecting the energy and nerves of the 6,000 other runners around me.
It was getting close to time, so I made my way through all the scantily clad people towards my corral. They played the Star Spangle Banner and I don’t think I’ve ever heard a crowd be so quiet — maybe because Baltimore is still heavily Catholic, maybe because Francis Scott Key wrote the anthem only a few miles away from where we were standing, who knows, but it was the calm before the storm.
The race started and I immediately had stomach pains. Oh shit, I thought. My big worry was that because I hadn’t trained properly, I wasn’t ready for anything longer than 60 minutes, nutrition and drinking-wise. My plan was just to wing it, and that clearly wasn’t a good idea.
I stuck with the 1:35 finish pace group, but was having a hard time pulling it together. After 2 miles, I decided to run my own race and moved away from them. By mile 3, I was utterly surprised to be ahead of them. But I figure if this pace is what feels natural and good, I’ll just keep doing that. The race is fairly boring until about mile 4-6, when you go around Lake Montebello. I love running by the water. I also love the moment of being half-way done.
Nothing too exciting, I followed behind a young Rasta man (presumably from his shirt and dreads) and an older woman for awhile. I passed a man who was juggling the race, that seems to be a thing now. An older short gentleman who was carrying the U.S. flag with him as he ran. Overall, just a lot of single people trying to keep their heads up as they charged into the hills.
The hills weren’t so bad actually. The start of the race is all downhill, which can mentally defeat you knowing that the last two miles are basically all hill and no relief. Around mile 8, the pace group caught up and passed me. I was bummed, but was determined to finish no matter the time. At this point my stomach was a roller coaster, and I couldn’t decide if I should stop and grab a bathroom or try drinking something. Thanks to my lack of practice, I didn’t have a solution, so I did nothing.
It was getting hot and my legs were starting to falter. I started to notice that with each pounding foot, my knees were getting a jolt of hard pavement. Every now and then a breeze would come through and I’d end up covered in goosebumps (a bad sign of dehydration). Once we got back into the park the size of the crowd started to pick up, so I was grateful for that.
I only had a mile left and I wasn’t sure I was going to make it! But running through the park brought back a lot of positive memories – playing tennis and riding my bike – so I found that ‘thing’ deep inside and chugged on. Sadly, there was no strong, triumphant finish. Only me shuffling my feet across the finish line as the emcee announced my crossing (that was actually pretty exciting and lifted my spirits.)
Across the finish line there were snacks (chips and peanuts), but more important ice cold towels and watermelon! These two things are the best things ever, and every race should end with them. I stood around and stretched and then got my race premium, which is this badass white Under Armor track jacket. It is well worth the price of the race and the hilly course.
I had to book it after the race was over, since I wanted to get back to my hotel with enough time to shower before checkout. Unfortunately, the bus was taking too long to show up, so I opted to just run the 2 miles back to the hotel. It wasn’t too bad actually, given that it was all downhill!
My official time: 1:36:29.86, 9:39 per mile.
Kind of funny, my pace for the first half? 9:26, not bad. My pace for the last half? 9:52. Yikes!
Before and after photos. That thing around my neck is the ice towel.