Sunday, April 28, 2013

Sole of the City 10k - Race Recap and Review

I thought I had shared the Sole of the City 10k race last weekend. Hubby asked me yesterday if I was going to talk about it. Oops! Guess I didn't.

Last year Charm City Run in Baltimore hosted the first Sole of the City 10k - The Day Runners Get The Right Of Way. I had never run a 10k before, so we signed up. Then I ran the Hershey 10k the weekend before and that whole first 10k went out the window. LOL! It was a fun race, with some friends and a PR.

This year, we signed up again. There was a slight course change, but I didn't think anything of it. We got there early for packet pick-up because they changed the packet pick-up locations from last year and living a little over an hour away means it's more difficult for us than those who live in the Baltimore area to grab our stuff. We got there about 7:15 a.m. and very easily grabbed our bag and jackets. Yes, this race doesn't do t-shirts, they do jackets! You can register without the premium, but it's such a great jacket, why would you???

Photo taken from Sole of the City 10k Facebook page
It was a chilly morning, so I decided to wear my jacket for the race. The race was the Saturday following the bombings at the Boston Marathon, so they asked runners to wear blue and yellow. Hubby and I complied. 

The race was a little less organized than last year and we weren't sure where to line up. Last year we lined up on the street, but this year we lined up behind the finish arch. We waited and waited and waited for the start. They were talking, but we couldn't hear anything. The sound system did not work as far back as we were. By the time the race started, it was about 15 minutes past the designated start time.
Hubby started the race with me as he's been doing the past few races. Once he got himself into a rhythm, he headed off to run his race. I kept my pace. Nothing too crazy. I hoped to PR, but you never know.

I had good splits for me as I ran along. I skipped my first walk break as I usually do during a race. I always feel that it's silly to stop at the half mile mark during a race. Anyway... I kept going and felt like I was running a really good race. I felt good. I felt fast. 

Then we came to the alternate course from last year. We had to go through Rash Field. We came off Key Highway, through a short underground tunnel, then around American Ninja Warrior set-up to the bricks of Inner Harbor. Once off Key Highway, where I was in the crowd literally came to a slow crawl. Then once we could run again (once through the tunnel) it was too crowded due to narrowness of course to get back up to speed until we were on the path to Inner Harbor. Worse.Alternate.Course.Ever.

We got around the Inner Harbor, then around the Aquarium pier. As we came along the back of the Aquarium, there was the first water stop. I stopped for water. While it was cold, I knew I needed the water. From here, we turned onto Pratt Street and ran against traffic in one of the car lanes. Heehee! Past the warehouses, we turned back onto Key Highway to wind our way back to the finish. This stretch kinda makes me smile honestly. They stop traffic on Key Highway so runners can cross back into the neighborhoods. Drivers just get out of their cars and stare at us with a look of, "why are we stopped on a major road in Baltimore for this?" Heehee!

Back to the neighborhood area and the same course as last year. It was filled with hills. Ugh. Honestly, give me the hills at the beginning, not the end of a race There was another water stop around mile 4, which I partook again. Then it was just running to the finish. On the last huge hill before turning to the finish, there was this adorable little boy banging his toy drum as we ran by. Too cute! Everyone I asked if they saw him said they did and how cute was he??? 

Turned the corner and headed to the finish. Literally steps before the finish line is a fire station and a good number of the guys were out on the sidewalk cheering us in. I thanked them for being there and they thanked me. Silly boys. Turned to the finish and saw my time. Sadness. I know it was gun time, but still...

Hubby and I found each other and headed to the beer/food area. It was not set up the same as last year. Not happy about that. We got in line for food - granola bar (S'Mores), banana, chips/pretzels, sandwich (ham or veggie). Then got in the beer line. It wasn't too bad, but it was Bud Light. 

Once we stopped running, we were cold again. LOL! It was windy! We drank our beer quickly, put our stuff in the car (did I mention the parking garage behind McHenry Row was free?? Nice!), and headed to Dunkin Donuts. We always get DD after a long run on Sat. so it was perfect! When we got to the front of the line, the gentleman behind the counter said, "Medium iced coffee..." LOL! Apparently, every runner had come in and ordered the same thing. Guess all runners are alike. :)

So, what did I think of this year's race? 

1. I love the giveaway! It's comfy, soft, and stretchy. On Sunday, I saw a gentleman in his jacket and had a really nice conversation with him at the Orioles game. :) Ahhhh...runners...
2. The late start and not being able to hear the announcements at the beginning of the race. I've noticed this at several races lately, that the announcements are garbled towards the back of the line of runners. Maybe adding in additional speakers along the starting area so those announcements can be heard. We had no idea what was going on. It was like listening to Charlie Brown's teacher. 

3. The alternate route cost me a PR. I needed to run a sub 1:17:52. This year? I ran 1:18:38. I'm pretty sure if I didn't have to walk through the tunnel and slow down around Rash Field I would have PRed. Argh...

4. The course is challenging. I personally think it's mean when race directors put a crazy steep hill at the very end of a race. I know the fast people don't care, but us back of the packers struggle on those. I'm not saying yea or nay, it just hurts at the end.

5. Did not like the post-race area. There was no direction, it was confusing. I will give them props for adding the veggie sandwich option this year because last year it was chicken and ham, neither of which I eat. But, last year, the post-race food was in a nice box that you grabbed from the table near The Greene Turtle. This year, the food was on long tables in the middle of the street. You went down and grabbed what you wanted. I did not like this. Normally I don't care, but last year was just so much better. It was impressive. This year? Eh. I also heard the sandwiches weren't that good. I ended up not eating my veggie one so I can't speak to it.

6. For us slow runners, by the time we finished a lot of the faster runners were leaving. Ok. No problem. The problem for me is that people were leaving the parking garage and having to go on the road where runners were walking after finishing the race, where they were grabbing food, and where they were congregating with friends. It was not that safe considering the line for food was so long when I got there that we had to continuously move out of the way of cars trying to leave. Having parking literally three feet from the start is amazing, but they really needed to direct people out a different way.

7. I liked they honored their $10 off a purchase of $10+ that day in the store. I did not use mine because they took the bib when you used it, but I saw tons of people using it in the store picking up stuff. The girl at the register got a bunch of energy items and paid like 12 cents. It was a great added giveaway. I wish they would have just make a big X through the coupon and let you keep the bib though. Not complaining too much honestly. I just think this would have been nicer. 

Overall, I like this race. It's a fun race, a distance that isn't too common, and a great run around Baltimore. The only thing that would make the course better is if they got the stadiums in somehow, but I have no idea how they would do that. The give away really is the best and unless there's some weird thing going on, I look forward to running it next year...and PRing!!

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