Is it bad that really the sole reason Matt, Mike and I signed up for the Baltimore 10-Miler was for its awesome race premium – a long sleeve, ¼ zip shirt? We also hadn’t run a race in awhile so it was nice to put this on the calendar. However, we were pleasantly surprised at how well-run this race was, surpassing our expectations. Despite the June heat, we’d run this one again!
This race is known for having great premiums every year and they make a big deal out of the “Reveal” that they post on YouTube. You can watch the reveal video here. The race is only about $65 to register and the premium is estimated to be $74.99 according to the video.
I didn’t train much for this race. Since my last race, the 17.75K, I’d kept up a routine of running a few days a week and doing a longish, 6+ mile, run on Saturdays. However, Mike and I were in Italy on vacation for about 2 weeks prior to the race and only ran once, although we walked a lot and did some not-so-easy hiking. The week of the race, we ran 6 miles on Sunday (first day at home after vacation) and 4 miles on Thursday.
There’s no expo for this race so packet pickup is at rotating Sports Authority stores around Maryland the week before the race. However, limited race day packet pick up is available to the first 200 runners who sign up online for it. Mike and I picked up our packets at the Rockville, MD Sports Authority on Tuesday. It wasn’t that convenient since packet pickup only goes until 7 pm and battling rush hour traffic out of DC is often a struggle. None of the packet pickups were very close to a Metro stop either. There’s no day-of race packet pickup so you’ve got to pick it up the week before. We picked up our bibs and some coupons from Sports Authority, including any free meal from Noodles & Co. good through December – nice!
I was careful with my diet the week before and especially the two days before the race. The day before, I ate small meals throughout the day with a balance of protein and carbs. I also had two hard boiled eggs with lots of salt and a little pepper for an afternoon snack. Delicious!
Since the race was in Baltimore, we had to wake up very early … 4:15 am. We left DC at 5:00 am. I ate a Smooth Caffeinator Picky Bar, and drank some coffee and water during the car ride. The race began near the Baltimore Zoo on the northern side of the city. We were worried that there would be one road in and the traffic would be really backed up (like when Matt ran the Frederick Half). But around 6 am, when we arrived, we didn’t hit any traffic coming in and found a parking spot fairly close to the race start.
We usually get to races at least an hour before the start. This was about 90 minutes before race start. We were the first ones to use the portapotties – not many people were around.
We were also surprised to see so much of a set up. Many booths in the finish line area (also start area) had opened early. The start/finish area was in a beautiful park with lots of open green space. We sampled Butter Pecan iced coffee from the Dunkin Donuts truck! I decided to save the donut for post race but Mike and Matt both had a glazed munchkin. Naked juice was also giving out samples before and after the race. (I love free samples, if you can’t tell).
We did have a lot of time to kill. I think I used the portapotties about 3 times. I had a lot to drink and also get paranoid about having to go to the bathroom during a race. Even the last time I used the portapotty, I didn’t have much of a wait! Good planning, Corrigan Sports!
We didn’t have pre-assigned corrals, but rather were asked to choose an appropriate wave start, according to our estimated pace. We looked for the 1:15 and 1:20 pacers and stood around them. The first wave was everyone up to 1:30 finish time. Mike decided that he was going to try stick with the 1:15 pace group for as long as possible. I don’t really like running with pace groups so decided to just keep a comfortable pace for me – slow down when needed and speed up when feeling strong. Matt planned to stick around 1:20. Mike and I both took an Accel gel around 7:15 for a pre-race boost.
At around 7:15 am, a race organizer announced that due to heavy traffic, they were going to postpone the start of the race 10 minutes to 7:40. I had never heard of that before. It was kind of frustrating for those of us who did arrive really early to avoid the crowds. Race organizers put out information encouraging participants to arrive early to avoid the crush. And what’s 10 minutes really going to do? The whole race was chip timed so the clock starts when people cross the start line.
At 7:40 am, we were off on a nice downhill start. I started probably a little too fast but I was feeling really good. And I wanted to really take advantage of the downhills. It took a couple of miles for the course to thin out but I didn’t have a problem staying at my pace early on. It wasn’t an urban-style race at all, despite being in Baltimore. We ran along a few blocks that weren’t very attractive but the rest of the race was pretty scenic – through neighborhoods, on boulevards with landscaped medians, by Johns Hopkins University. There weren’t a lot of race spectators but my last race was the 17.75K with zero race spectators, so I was happy to see any spectators!
The course was HILLY!! The hills were rolling for the most part. I don’t usually mind hills because they break up the monotony of the flat road. However, these really wiped me out towards the end. Running around Lake Montebello was a nice flat break and the turnaround point for the race. At this point, it was getting pretty hot and the course, especially at this part, didn’t have much shade. After the lake, between miles 5 and 6, there was a gradual, never-ending uphill. I started to feel really tired at this point in the race. My legs felt SO heavy and my glutes started hurting. Another runner, who also seemed to be struggling a bit, was running next to me and commented on how brutal the hill was.
I heard a big group coming up behind me and saw it was Mike with the 1:15 pace group. It’s kind of stressful having a giant pace group come up behind you! Ah they were passing me! I didn’t expect to PR on this course but I also didn’t want to slow down too much. I still had a ways to go! At about mile 7.5, Mike started to fall back from the pace group. I caught up to him around mile 8 near Johns Hopkins (again).
Mile 7.5 is also about when I started really rationing my water. I debated stopping at the water stops to get a refill. There were about 6 water/Gatorade stops. I decided to just push through to the end and only take a sip if I felt I really needed it. I just didn’t want to stop. I was afraid I wouldn’t get going again.
We both knew, from the elevation chart, that a huge uphill was coming around mile 9. At mile 9, Matt caught up to us both. The three of us finished the last mile together in sort of a fartlek style, pushing each other to the end, as cheesy as that sounds. Note: it was actually more like 1.5 miles – the distance seemed to be a bit off for the whole course. My and Mike’s Garmin watches would beep a significant distance after I passed by each mile marker. Mile 10 made up for it. It felt long! But we were SO close to finishing.
Spectators packed the last ¼ mile leading to the finish line! I love the last part of races with the finish line in sight. I picked up the pace and sprinted to the finish line.
Cold wet washcloths! AMAZING. Volunteers handed these to us in the finish chute right after we picked up bottles of water. This was the best thing. The washcloth on the back of my neck immediately cooled me down and felt so good. Can all warm weather races do this?!
The food was AMAZING as well – of course there were bananas but also watermelon! Runners could not get enough watermelon. It was smart to put that last in the line because people kind of just hung out around the watermelon, eating slice after slice. I loved the assortment of Utz (Pennsylvania company) snacks, including my FAVORITE Party Mix.
Matt, Mike and I hung out in the shade on a hill by the finish. Conveniently there was a portapotty right there (that didn’t smell), so I was able to use the restroom right away. My stomach felt okay. I just needed to sit for awhile to let the gurgling subside but it was better than any other race, I think.
We picked up my backpack at the bag check. Seamless. It took about 5 seconds. Very well organized bag check area with lots of volunteers! Then we picked up our Race Premium finisher shirts. They ran smaller than people expected so many runners were trying to exchange for a smaller size.
All runners got 2 free beers so we got in the SUPER long line for beer. It was a gorgeous day (felt much cooler after we stopped running) so we didn’t really mind standing in line for 25 minutes. We picked up our beers and found a spot in the park to relax and listen to the band. Loved the whole finish area!
Overall, we were really surprised at how great this race was! Some of the big pros and cons:
+ Race Premium
+ Logistics, including bathrooms, food, start/finish area
+ Wet washcloths
+ Beer, band and setting for the finish area
– Limited race day bib pickup
– June heat – we lucked out and it wasn’t too bad
Oakley sunglasses (very necessary)
Lululemon Pace shorts (discontinued)
Lululemon Run Swiftly scoop neck
Zensah compression sleeves
Saucony Omni sneakers
Garmin Forerunner 10
Rest of the day:
Mike and I had crabcakes at Ryleigh’s Oyster in the Federal Hill area of Baltimore. Delicious!
On the way home, we stopped at Heavy Seas Brewery just outside of Baltimore to take a brewery tour. We saw some fellow Baltimore 10-Miler finishers there, as well. The tasting room had just been redone about 6 months ago. For $5, you got a tour, 5 tastings and a Heavy Seas pint glass. Such a fun day in Baltimore!