So several months ago I signed up for the Celtic Solstice 5 miler race – a local favorite for tons of people, with a bit of a cult following. Lots of men in kilts, tons of people in festive Christmas garb (although this year there was a guy wearing a menorah hat!), guys playing bagpipes, and Irish wolfhounds! Love the Irish wolfhounds.
My goal for the race this year was to finally beat 1 hour, and based on some of my training runs this summer/fall I don’t think that was totally unreasonable. However, that was before I decided to have the nose surgery. Since then I’ve only run 3 times, for a grand total of just under 5 1/2 miles. Not exactly the best preparation for a 5 mile race. Because of this I had revised my goal to a more realistic 1:10 – 1:15, or basically just finish upright.
My husband, who usually runs with me, decided to sit this one out, but he was my personal bag check for this race – we got up nice and early and headed down to Druid Hill Park to claim our parking space and my spot in the porta-pot line (I have my priorities). It was cold, about 28 degrees when we left the house and 34 when we got there, but it has been way colder. And big bonus – it was sunny this year! Heat!! But yeah, 34 is still cold whether or not the sun is out. After the ceremonial parade of bagpipers and guys in kilts and the Irish wolfhounds, we got on our way. The course starts out right up a sizable hill, which I was prepared for becuase I have run this race several times before, but the next mile or so of the course was different than in past years due to construction. O.M.G. Okay it wasn’t really that big, but whatever – it was still big. Druid Hill Park is just on the outside of the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore, and anyone who’s been to the zoo knows that it’s pretty hilly. Well, that means just on the other side of the zoo’s fence is pretty hilly too. There was a hill from about 1.25 miles to 1.5 miles, give or take, that was a total bitch. I ended up walking a bit of that, but other than that my walking was pretty minimal.
I got a bit of pain in the hip and butt muscles from the early hills, but I must say I felt pretty good. The out-and-back around the half way point that’s gotten me in past years seemed like a piece of cake this year. As I came around to mile 3 at about 37 minutes, I thought I might actually come close to my original pre-surgery goal – that was a huge psychological boost. I pushed all the way around Druid Lake (mile 3.5 – 4.75) and was getting closer to actually realizing my goal, but still thought it might be a bit of a stretch. As I rounded the last stretch of the lake and headed back downhill towards the finish line I pushed even harder – and almost threw up – and crossed the finish line in 1:01:58. So close!!! Ahhh!! BUT, all things considered, I am so proud of myself for coming so close to my height-of-training goal after being off for almost two months. I have a little bit of achiles pain but otherwise feel great. I also beat my previous course PR by almost 2 minutes. All in all a great day!