Monday, April 14, 2014

Race Recap & Review: Sole of the City 10k

On Saturday, me, Matthew, and my dad ran the third annual Sole of the City 10k. This is one of my most favorite races and I was so pumped to run it again. I also had my eye on a new 10k PR because I've been getting faster during my mid-week runs: three training runs last week with paces of 9:47, 9:38, 9:36. Crazy, right?!

Anyway, Matthew and I drove down to Maryland on Friday night. With the race starting at 9 am on Saturday we wanted to make sure we got enough sleep. Dad had picked up our packets on Thursday from the running store that sponsors this race, Charm City Run. With this race, we had the option to just buy the 10k for $40 or purchase the race and the Under Armour premium for $75. Dad got the premium and Matthew and I decided to pass on the jacket when we registered. However, once they posted pictures of the premium, I wanted one :-) Shout out to Deirdre at the Baltimore store for hooking me up! I called her on Friday and she put one on hold for me to pick up after the race.

Gray is the men's pullover, black is the women's.

How could I pass up this awesome premium?

Saturday morning, we got up, got dressed, and were in the car by 7:30 am. We had about a 40 minute drive to the race so we figured we'd get there around 8:15. That didn't quite go as planned. Once we got close to the race site (at about 8:20), there was a lot of traffic. The volunteers directed us towards large parking lots behind Under Armour's headquarters. Last year, we had absolutely no issues with parking. But this year was awful. There wasn't anyone directing traffic in the parking lots so you had no idea if the lot was full or not- you just had to keep slowly snaking through each lot to look for open spaces.

By 8:45, I was incredibly panicked. We still weren't parked and were at least an eight minute walk from the race start. And I had to go to the bathroom- we'd been in the car for over an hour and 15 minutes. Finally, we saw a spot and grabbed it. It was 8:51. We walked/ran towards the start line. Dad and I considered going to the bathroom in a city alley but we quickly reconsidered once we saw all the police walking around :-)

The national anthem was starting by the time we got up to the start. We made last minute plans on where to meet up at the finish (because we had all planned to run separately) and then Matthew went up closer to the start and Dad and I hung back. My plan had been to run the first three miles with Dad and then try to pick up the pace for the last three. However, with the anxiety-ridden start and my full bladder, I knew I would be reassessing this plan.

At the house, before the panicked race to the start.

Dad and his gf, Margie- our awesome spectator!

Starting under the flag- pretty damn cool.

The gun went off and it was time to go! Dad and I were running 2:30/1 intervals and I was letting him set the pace. Immediately, I knew I wasn't going to PR this race. I made the decision that I was going to finish with dad- today wasn't going to be a 10 min/mile day. Feeling a little defeated, I tried to focus on the new course and enjoying my time with dad.

Charm City Run captured this beauty- I'm adjusting my timer. Dad looks cool :-)

This course was the reverse of what we'd done last year. I actually really, really liked the new version. The first three miles were run parallel to the Inner Harbor and went through some very cute neighborhoods. Then the last three miles followed the inside of the Inner Harbor back to Federal Hill, where we started.

Courtesy of Sole of the City 10k

About a mile into the course, we saw a bathroom! Well, we found a port-a-potty near some construction. Once unburdened, I thought I'd feel better. I didn't. This just wasn't my race.

Our #runningselfie just after the start.

Making our way towards Little Italy. Love the mural on the side of the building.

Dad and I plowed on. We didn't talk during the run intervals- I was just focusing on my music and putting one foot in front of the other. But we chatted when we walked. It was a great distraction from the crappy run I was having. I don't know why, but I just felt horrible. Earlier this week, I had run sub-10 minute miles! And here I was, struggling to keep the pace under 12 min/mile.

Around mile 2.5, we (literally!) ran into a couple of friends. Morgan, who ran the Princess Half Marathon with Matthew and me, was running with her roommate Olivia. They looked awesome! We stayed near them until around mile five. Then I got the worst stomach cramps I've ever had. This was the first time I'd been moved to tears during a race. I still don't know what caused them and I pray I never experience them again. Needless to say, we had to slow down. I felt terrible for making my dad slow down; he was feeling so strong. I felt like I was holding him back. This was eerily similar to the race we ran together a few weeks ago. I have got to figure out why my training runs are awesome and my races are not.

Morgan and Olivia getting it done!

Finally headed back towards the Inner Harbor.

Awesome view of Federal Hill.

All through mile five I was struggling. These stomach cramps were kicking my ass. It also didn't help that there had only been two water stops on the course and it was a semi-hot day- temps reached the mid-70's. I knew I was dehydrated and could have used one more water stop on the course. This was a complaint I heard from several other runners at the after party. Yes, I know it's only six miles, but with the sun beating down on you and 70 degree temperatures, you still need to hydrate well.

Finally around mile 5.5, we started up the large hill towards the finish. In last year's course there was a ridiculously steep hill just at the end of the course. To improve it for this year, they changed the route so the incline was spread out over a longer distance. Either way, hills suck.

We kept inching along until we finally saw the finish. Gritting my teeth, with tears in my eyes, I ran across the finish with my dad. Official time- 1:14:55. Matthew and Margie were there cheering us on and taking pictures. Matthew had grabbed us each a water. We walked through the end of the chute and went right to the beer line at the after party :-)

Kudos to Matthew for getting this amazing shot of me and dad finishing!

10k finishers!

While Margie, Dad, and Matthew waited in line for beer, I ran over to the Charm City Run store (the after party was at McHenry Row- a strip-mall type shopping plaza) to pick up my premium. Chaos doesn't even adequately express what the store was like. There were tons of people in a seemingly endless line waiting to check out. After about 20 minutes (there were only four people in front of me- I have no idea what the hold up was), I finally got up to the register to pick up my jacket. It took less than 30 seconds once I was finally able to get to the counter. In the future, they need to figure something else out for that store- more cashiers/cash-only lines-  anything to prevent all those lines and all that waiting.

By the time I made it back to my family, they were on beer #2. While I started on my first beer, we chatted with a bunch of different friends that had ran the race. We saw Morgan again who immediately asked, "Do I make the blog?!" :-) And I got to reconnect with a friend from high school who I'm pretty sure I haven't seen in 10+ years. We also saw our friend Justin for the third time in three weeks- he also ran the Mission 10 Miler and the Brigance Brigade 5.7k.

Me and Chris; Me and Morgan; Me, Justin, and Matthew. Love our running friends.

Since we had other plans that day to visit a winery, we weren't going to stay too long at the after-party. We decided to go pick up our free food, courtesy of The Green Turtle. By the time we walked down to the food, there were just some wraps and green bananas left. We grabbed a few things and started to walk back to the parking lot. Then I had a small, slightly inappropriate fangirl moment for......a local weatherman! Justin Berk (my all-time favorite meteorologist) was literally just a few feet from me! I giggled like a little girl and asked him for a picture. I think Matthew was embarrassed for me :-)  Luckily, Mr. Berk agreed and I got my picture.

Can you tell how excited I am??

We made our way back to the Under Armour parking lot to get the car. When we got there, we realized what a mistake we'd made. Literally ten feet from where we'd parked were two port-a-potties! We could have gone to the bathroom before the race, eliminated 90% of our stress, and not wasted at least three minutes on the course had we just seen these port-a-potties and used them when we got out of the car. Lesson of the day- never be so anxious that you miss what is literally right in front of you.

What was awesome about this race: The premium, the unlimited free beer (no one was taking tickets or checking bibs), free food, after-party entertainment (two bands), improved course.

What was less than awesome about this race: Parking, lack of water stations, crazy crowds at the Charm City Run store.

Will I do this race again? Absolutely! This is a course that I love, in the city I love, with people I love- I'll be back for sure. Next year I'll leave more time for parking and carry my water with me :-)

What I wore:
Sparkle Athletic visor in Gunmetal
Under Armour Women's Tech Short Sleeve V-Neck in Black
Fila Skimmer Pants in Maui
Hoka One One- Kailua Trail in Lime

QOTD: Have you ever arrived to a race later than anticipated? Did it impact your performance?


  1. Ugh sorry you had a difficult time. Last year I had to pee during Nike Women's and couldn't find the port-a-pots at the start. Ended up waiting in line 10 minutes for one on the course- fearing that it would be the only one (based on previous experience in DC) Turned out that people were using the monument bathrooms along the way.. with plumbing and everything. Oh, and a friend pointed out the bathrooms at the start (when I was at the finish), which were just around the corner from where I was lined up. Moral of the story.. get there early! lol

    I don't know if you were in CCR when I was, but there were two lines.. the first was out the door.. the second had a short line inside the store. It was hard to tell there were two lines though.. and if you were in there after me, it may have gotten worse.

    1. I did see the shorter line! And once I hopped in it, I had a woman (who was in front of me in the longer line) get up in my face about it when I got to the other register before her- it was so ridiculous. As I was leaving a CCR staff member was telling people about the shorter line and redistributing the people so I'm sure it got better as the day went on. People can be crazy when they're tired :-)

      And yes, I usually always get there early for that reason! Next year, we are leaving at least 2 hours before the start!

  2. Getting to a race late and feeling rushed is the worst! It definitely makes you miss the obvious things right in front of you, like porta potties. But it looks like you made the best of the situation, and the finish line photo of you and your dad is just adorable! The after party looks like it was amazing, especially with all that beer and food!

    1. Thanks, Kathryn! I know I really am blessed to be able to run with my dad- having a full bladder is just a minor inconvenience ;-)

  3. I just found your blog today and I'm glad I did! Your race re-cap was so detailed and fun to read.

    I also ran Sole of the City this year and was fighting with stomach cramps the whole race as well. Must have been something in the air that day!

    1. Thanks! It must have been something in the air- so not fun! I'm checking out your blog now :-)

  4. Tummy issues are the worst! But on a positive note, I love your running tights!

    1. Thanks! They were a great find at Kohl's :-)

  5. Yikes! I'm sorry you had to experience such difficulty on that run. Keeping yourself hydrated on marathons like that is highly important, but then again there's that bladder issue as well. Haha! Just remember to plan ahead and make sure a comfort room is available the next time you decide to have another bottle of water. Anyway, I'm glad you had tons of fun. Take care! :)

    Paul Franken @ American Pure Spring Water