This has been a very busy weekend! Yesterday morning I got up super early so help out with the Dreaded Druid Hills 10k – I had really hoped to be ready to run this super hilly course this year, but it just wasn’t meant to be, but I figured I could at least volunteer! It’s a pretty small field of pretty quick individuals so I want to make sure I’m definitely ready to kick ass on it before I sign up.
Then this morning was the Baltimore Women’s Classic! As I’ve mentioned before, it’s the second-oldest women’s-only race in the US – really kinda cool! I’ve been looking forward to it for months, but the last couples weeks’ training just hadn’t inspired a whole lot of confidence in me. I didn’t feel too great when I woke up this morning so I was estimating a 37:00-38:00 finish, just a little off my PR, which certainly seemed doable. I forced down a piece of bread with honey and some Pepto, then husband, ‘did, and I piled into the car and headed up to Baltimore early this morning. When we got there we parked at Oriole Park at Camden Yards and walked the mile or so over to the starting area at Rash Field. First bad omen of the day – some woman’s perfume gave me an asthma attack walking over there! Yikes!
This was the first time I’ve gotten to a race at just the right time. Plenty of time to use the porta pot, chat, and warm up before lining up. It was sunny, but a bit overcast, upper 70s and pretty humid – not nearly as hot and humid as last year’s race, but not really an upgrade either! At the starting line I ran into a former classmate of mine from Hopkins, which was a really nice surprise – just chatting with her for a few minutes put me in a better mood and frame of mind.
At 8:00am we were off! Because this is a women’s-only race, it tends to feel a bit like a “yay me!” kind of race, which seems to attract a lot of inexperienced racers. Not judging at all – because I’m happy to see people up and active regardless of the motivation or pace – but it does make for a more congested start because people don’t always seem to be as aware of race etiquette (e.g. if you’re walking, don’t start up front, and don’t run/walk 5 abreast!). The course is flat for about the first 1/2 mile or so, until it turns up a hill which usually weeds a few of the overly-optimistic people out (myself included, last year!). Unlike last year, I was able to make it all the way up the hill without having to stop, which made me feel really good. It can be hard day-to-day to see the progress, but when something that would have had you to your knees a year ago becomes easy, it’s a great sense of accomplishment. Things started to clear out after the hill and although the course was congested it was manageable for the most part.
Last year I remember being able to find patches of shade, but this year I couldn’t find any. I had planned on running the entire course but did have to stop for a few seconds to keep from overheating. My legs and lungs were fine, but I guess I just haven’t adapted to the summer sun yet. Whatever, I wasn’t aiming for a PR or anything, just a respectable run. And even though I had my shiny new Garmin on, I decided I wouldn’t look at it – whatever happened, happened. Based on effort and perceived pace I felt like I was running 13:xx miles, which would certainly be slow, but not the end of the world. As we got back to Key Highway and were about to turn onto the Promenade for the home stretch, I snuck a peek at my Garmin and decided to push it a bit towards the finish line, just about a 1/2 mile away. The Promenade runs along the Inner Harbor and doesn’t have a barrier, so I hung to the left to avoid the .000002% chance of falling into the water. Because that would be gross. But this is klutzy me we’re walking about, so the odds are probably a bit higher.
After a few more turns, the finish arch was in view – and so was the clock! OMG!
I kicked it in one last time for the last 100 yards or so and screamed as I crossed the finish line with a massive PR – 33:25!! Holy crap! That’s 3 min and 24 seconds faster than my 5k PR (and over 10 min off of last year’s BWC time)! I was so incredibly ecstatic. I was 240/540 in my age group and 1264/3211 overall. Not too shabby for an off kinda day! (Edit: Turns out the course was .2 mi short – I still finished in 33:25, but that was only for 2.9 miles. For a full 5k it would have likely been just over 35:00. Major bummer.)
I made my way down the chute to get my water bottle, cold wet towel, rose, and (new this year) finisher’s medal, then off to grab some grub – super juicy watermelon (yum!), smidgeon of a bagel, orange slice – and bask in my new PR. I ran into my classmate again and chatted for a while, enjoying the breeze, before heading home. All in all a damn good day.