Saturday, June 13, 2015

Race Recap & Review: Bel Air Town Run 2015

Last Sunday I ran a personal best at the Bel Air Town Run in Bel Air, MD. Bel Air is the town I grew up in and this race is also the very first race I participated in back in 2011. This race holds a special place in my heart and I try to get back to it every year.

This year, I waited until race day to sign up so I had to pay the maximum price: $25. If you sign up online, you can register for just $15. I'll definitely be signing up online next year :-)

I got to race-day registration really early- like an hour and a half before the 8 am start. After picking up my packet, which included a cotton t-shirt and a bunch of information on upcoming races, I walked back to the car and then to a cute little coffee shop on Main Street.

Adorable and affordable- my kind of place.

I grabbed a cup of the house blend and then sat outside watching people gather for the race. Though this is just a local 5k, they usually have about 1,500 people participate. I texted my friend Laura and she came over to say hello. Fun fact- Laura and I were cheerleaders together in high school and now you can usually find us at the races together in the Baltimore area!

Around 7:45, I finished up my coffee and headed to the start line. Since I've done this race three previous times (2011, 2012, 2014), I knew what to expect on the course and used this pre-race time to think about the course and my strategy. Downhill for the first mile, plateau for most of the second, and then one long uphill followed by one short hill followed by yet another hill to finish- the last half mile of this course is tough!

I didn't have a time goal for this race though I knew I'd like to beat last year's time on this course- also my 5k PR- 32:44. Since my training has been almost non-existent since the Pittsburgh Marathon, I wasn't expecting to beat it by much but I definitely wanted to try.

The race started and we were off! I really struggle with pacing myself- my normal pace is around 11-12 min/mile and I know how that feels. But I don't know what faster than that "feels" like. So, I decided that I would run each running interval so that I was out of breath by the end and then use the walks to recover. I used 1:1's for this race and during the run portion, I kept repeating the words "steady" and "push" with each footstep. Overall, I think this worked really well- especially for the first mile.

Around the halfway mark, I started to feel really, really hot. The sun was out in full force and it was pretty humid. Luckily there was a water station at the 1.5 mile mark so I drank a little and then poured some on my head.

All the past year's race shirts lined up at the mile 1 mark.

My beautiful hometown!

I got to mile two and started to feel myself slowing down. I kept repeating my mantra words and reminded myself that this was just a 5k- it's ok to feel uncomfortable because it's only three miles. I hit the first of the last three hills and focused all my energy on getting to the top. And I stuck close to the side of the road to try and stay in what little shade there was.

I made it up the big hill and then took a sharp turn to the left to tackle the smaller but steeper hill. By this point, the heat was getting to me and I was ready to be done. I pushed on and finally the last uphill to the finish was in view. I could see the clock and knew that I had a chance to PR- mustering up the last little bit of strength I had, I charged up the hill and over the finish line.

Happy finisher.

After I cooled down a bit with some water and orange slices, I went over to the official results- they were printing them out and posting them near the finish. I knew that I'd beaten my previous time but I wasn't 100% sure on the official time. I finished in 31:28! A new PR by a full minute and 16 seconds!

Then I took a look at my splits, ha! I definitely came out way, way too fast and then slowed down over the three miles. My last mile was almost a minute slower than my first! This race showed me two things: 1. I am capable of running faster than 11-12 minute miles. 2. I need to learn how to properly pace myself so I have an even effort throughout the race.

Yikes! Look at that last .1 though :-)

After doing the happy dance, I went back to Shamrock Coffee for another cup and they only charged me a dollar because I'd been there earlier in the day. Awesome! Support your local businesses and they'll love you back!

Overall, this is a race that I will continue to do each year. It's cheap, it's fun, and it's a lucky course for me- I've PR'd three out of four times I've ran it. Maybe I'll finally get a sub-30 minute time in 2016! :-)

Another fun fact- can you tell when I started wearing Enell sports bras?! For my very first race in 2011, I think I wore three regular sports bras- yuck! This year I got to show off the new raspberry zest and I'm still totally in love with this color. Thank God for good support and fashionable colors :-)

How do you pace yourself during a race?


  1. Amazing run my friend! I am so proud of your progress and inspired by you on a daily basis!! xo

    1. Thank you, Dani! I hope to one day be able to keep up with you! :-)