Race Recap: 2016 CareFirst Baltimore 10 Miler – 04 JUN 2016

Saturday was the 9th annual Baltimore 10 Miler.  I had heard/read many great things about this race.  It is heavily marketed among the running community here in Charm City so I was interested on what it would be like and excited to experience it.

Frederick felt like it was just yesterday so this race really felt like it sneaked up on me.  To be honest, it probably felt like it got here quickly thanks to all the groundwork I was putting in for my job hunt.  Applications and interviews sure make the time fly by!

Packet Pickup

Much like the Frederick Running Festival, B10M had 3 Dick’s Sporting Goods locations for bib pickups.  They were held Tuesday through Thursday from 4-8 and each day was at a different location.  They also had pickup at the entrance to the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore on Friday from 12 to 7.  I chose this date to go since it started earlier (chance to avoid traffic), it was closer in proximity to my home, and the zoo was available for a visit afterwards.

After my daughter was done with her My Gym class that morning, we packed it up into my SUV and headed into the city.  The drive was uneventful, thankfully, and there was plenty of parking.  Bib pickup was just that: bib pickup.  There was no frill, just a computer to look up your e-registration card (if needed), files with bibs, and a small rack with one style of race shirt.  I didn’t expect an expo since they were holding pickups at different locations each day.  However, a small bit of me was disappointed because I do like perusing expos…as long as they aren’t overly crowded (dang agoraphobia).  It took all of 2 minutes to get my bib so if you enjoy and in-and-out approach to picking up your race items this is a race to consider.  You definitely won’t be tempted to blow money, that’s for sure ;-).  Afterwards I headed to the zoo for some strolling around to see the animals while it was still a relatively cooler time in the summer.

Race Day

Druid

Not my photo, but an awesome one of the park thanks to Flikr.com!

Oh, race day.  I noted that the race started at 0730 so we made the plan to depart the house at 0600.  We managed to leave a bit earlier and stopped at a Dunkin’ Donuts along the way to grab breakfast.  I went with a muffin and coffee instead of my usual latte and oatmeal for today since Starbucks isn’t along the way.  I managed to eat about half of the muffin and some coffee on the way but decided to leave the rest for after the race.  We thought we were in the clear for getting there with plenty of time but, boy, were we wrong.

The website said that we should expect to arrive 20 minutes later than any time we wish to arrive because of traffic.  I thought they were joking.  Nope.  This is a very high profile race in Baltimore, and with that comes the high participation rate.  We did get there by 0620 but were stuck in stop-and-go traffic for about 20 minutes before I bailed out of the car.  It was heinous at all entrances.  Thankfully, we were right alongside the start area so I took off from the car at 0645, completely bailing on my plans to chill in the car and nurse my son.

I took the short walk to the start and searched for the bag check.  I noticed that since they took a minimalist approach to bib pickup, the usual clear check bags weren’t given out.  Apparently I was supposed to bring my own bag if I wanted to check anything.  Oops.  I didn’t have anything crazy with me but I wanted to drop off my shirt and possibly my phone beforehand.  I shrugged it off and made my way to the start and looked for my pace corral.

The corrals were set up exactly like the other Corrigan events.  It was self-corralled with corrals separated by pace.  They were doing 3 wave starts to minimize the crowding at the start and I believe the second wave started after the 10 minute pace (not too sure because I didn’t really look).  I settled into the back portion of the 7:00 pace corral and started my wait.  Around 0715 I got a phone call from my husband.  He managed to make it before we started!  I handed off my shirt and phone to him and he got set up with the tracking app.  We chatted for a bit then I headed back to my spot.  The National Anthem was sung at around 0725, the charity groups were sent off at 0727, and finally at 0730 we were off!

I did my typical routine of just running at what felt like a comfortable effort.  It was quite humid and warm outside so I knew that aiming for a fast pace probably wasn’t smart.  I was very glad I had spent all of the day before hydrating (maybe over-hydrating, to be honest) and happy that it was overcast.  I was definitely feeling the humidity immediately.

BALTIMORE_10_MILER-Course-Mapv2016

Mile 1 headed east along the northern portion of Druid Lake.  The elevation quickly changed as there was a large downhill immediately after we left the park grounds.  I groaned mentally since I knew that meant I’d be running up this beast on the way back.  This was an out-and-back course, after all.  Still, I kept it easy and took advantage of the effortless downhill.  Shortly after completing this mile someone’s dog got loose at the water stop, tripping up the 2 men in front of me and causing me to come to a dead stop.  It was a bit frustrating because it was obvious that the dog was overwhelmed by the commotion and the owner merely had a rope tied to the collar as a makeshift lease.  The dog did snarl at us but it was merely from fright.  It made me wish the owner had thought this through or at least gotten a proper leash on the dog.  Thankfully that was the only hiccup in the route.

Mile 2 went just south of the John Hopkins campus and then headed north with a gradual elevation climb.  The inclines and declines created a rolling hill feel to the course which didn’t feel terrible but wasn’t great either.  My legs were feeling great through them all, though, but I knew that if the entire course followed this lead I’d be feeling the hurt soon.  The course soon headed east again towards our turnaround point, Lake Montebello.  I passed mile marker 3 and the course finally had a noticeable downhill.  I reached the lake around the 3.5 mark and caught a glimpse of the lead male runner.

Lake-Montebello

The course was fairly flat the entire way around the lake.  Here we ran past mile markers 4 and 5, the glorious halfway point.  I then exited the park, a full 12 minutes after the lead runner.  I knew from this point on it was back to the zoo.  Heading west back to Druid Lake we cut right to make a small out-and-back loop.  Then the course hit the first uphill.  This didn’t feel too terrible since I had a nice break around the lake.    Miles 6 to 8 felt okay as well since the overall course felt like elongated rolling hills.  It was just enough to challenge me and then give me a downhill break just when I needed it.

Passing mile marker 8 is where it got interesting.  Half of mile 9 was an overall decline in the elevation.  However, about 2/3 of the mile in was when we hit the large uphill back up to the zoo.  That one hurt…bad.  I pushed as hard as I could but I was hurting and slowing.  My pace flashed at 9:00 for that part and for the first time I felt the fatigue in my hamstrings.  Still, I pushed because I knew at some point I’d reach something close to flat ground.  Thankfully, mile 10 did just that and the steepness of the uphill decreased greatly.  We looped around a portion of Druid Hill Park which was such a tease as I could here the finish line announcers.  Finally, I made the final turn west towards the finish.  I glanced and saw I had roughly 1/4 of a mile left.  I decided to give in my last kick.  I knew I wasn’t PRing today but I’d be close to my last 10 miler time.  I sprinted as fast as I could and crossed the finish at 1:15:22, giving me an overall pace of 7:32.

Finisher’s Chute and Village

b10m

Awesome finisher’s premium. Photo: Corrigan Sports

Cold, wet towels were handed out immediately after the finish which felt AMAZING.  Medals were right after that and the first post-race photo op was offered.  With my finish time the chute was nice and calm.  I stopped for water, guzzled 2 half paper cups of Gatorade, and grabbed some food.  I found my husband and children just outside the exit and stopped to smash the huge slice of watermelon I grabbed.  Watermelon tastes so great after a warm run like that!  I then went over to get an “official finisher photo” taken and then grab my race premium.  Again, with the varying locations for bib pickup they didn’t set up to pickup the premiums before the race.  Instead we received them at the finish which was easy to accomplish.  We then went over to the King Crab participants’ area where I grabbed actual ice cold water that I promptly downed and checked out the beer.  I decided against one since it was either an IPA or some sort of citrus-based beer, both which I dislike.  Finally, we decided to head out and make the uphill trek to our car.  Talk about a proper cool down lap!

Final Thoughts

Love the penguins on the medal!

B10M was a lot hillier than I thought it would be!  I drive around the area enough but never really notice the hills when I do drive through the area.  They aren’t large rolling hills ala Williamsburg, VA but that’s what makes them deceiving.  You don’t realize you’re climbing uphill until you hit the hill.  It definitely was a challenging race in that aspect but a very enjoyable one.  Despite the elevation changes, the course was very straightforward so you knew what to expect on the way back.  It was also very scenic and only ran through a business district for about 1 mile in either direction.  The run around Lake Montebello was beautiful and I loved that portion the best.

Temperature-wise, this race sucked.  The overall stats for weather were partly cloudy at 73 degrees with 84% humidity.  It stayed overcast the entire time I ran but about 20 minutes after I finished the sun came out in full force.  I can only imagine how much more the course sucked at that point.  Minimal clothes was a must for this race, as was proper hydration.  Welcome to Maryland summer!  Ha.  I was so glad I took hydrating seriously the days leading up to the race.  I didn’t stop at any of the water stations because I didn’t feel the need for it.

As for the turnout and parking logistics for this race, this was just as horrible as the Baltimore Marathon 2 years ago.  Traffic was a nightmare when I got there and apparently was just as bad even an hour before we arrived.  I hate traffic in general so this made this race a major turnoff for me.  I learned from the last Baltimore Marathon to just stay the night before at a hotel but for this race that wasn’t feasible.  It’s great that this race draws such a large participation, especially since it’s heavily entrenched with charity supporters.  However, I will not be running this race again anytime soon.  I much prefer races where there are several parking entry points (this one had only 2 with only 1 interstate leading to it), less traffic lights populating the surrounding streets (again, adds to the backup), or at least has a smaller field of runners.  It makes the pre-race prep that much more enjoyable =-)

Would I recommend this race?  Definitely.  Corrigan Sports knows how to treat it’s runners right.  There’s never a shortage of post-race food and the premiums are always nice.  Race merchandise is always reasonably priced unlike at other big name races.  If you’re paying the big bucks it’s usually for an Under Armour branded apparel.  The scenery is so pleasant and there are so many great supporters along the route.  The hills may be a challenge but if you’re looking for one, this is the race to complete.  You’ll definitely get a taste of what’s in store for you at the Baltimore Marathon, that’s for sure.

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