This weekend Brian and I took a trip up to Baltimore so that I could run the inaugural Charles St. 12-Miler put on by Charm City Run. We also happened to be child-free this weekend since my parents had requested a weekend with the girls…perfect timing! We headed up on Friday afternoon (it took us three hours, ugh), and were able to go out to dinner and shop a little at Towson Town Center. Then it was an early bedtime before race day!
My pace buddy, Danny, and I decided to run this race after hearing that it was all downhill. I also thought it would be a fun way to get some of my MCM training mileage in. It gets lonely out there, so I will jump at any chance to get a long run in with a buddy! Because my training called for a 14 miler this weekend, I ran from our hotel to the start line (a little over 1.5 miles) before the race. The race started at the Shops at Kenilworth in Towson and finished down Charles St. and Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. We ran through some beautiful areas, including Towson University, University of Maryland – Baltimore, and Loyola. There was a large police presence, and it was sort of fun to have so many of them along the race course!
As far as the course itself, even though it was a net downhill, it was definitely hilly. I feel like it was marketed as more of a downhill race than it was. The course elevation map made it seem like a semi-hilly first three miles and then downhill the rest of the way, but the whole course was rolling hills with the biggest (and cobblestoney) hill coming around mile 8. After mile 3, Danny and I kept saying, “well, this has to be the last hill, right? The course map says so!” but we were mistaken. At least every uphill came with a nice downhill. Other than the surprising hilliness, the course was really fun, and I enjoyed running through three universities, down Charles St, around the harbor, past the National Aquarium and to the finish at Power Plant Live. I thought that logistics were great for an inaugural race and the swag was pretty awesome, too. The premium was gender-size specific Under Armour hoodies & there were finisher medals (wee!). There was also a finish line party at Power Plant Live but we opted for brunch instead.
In terms of performance, we both decided to go into it as an easy, conversational long run with no pressure attached. Danny had to move into a brand new house this weekend (!!) and his wife, Dominique’s, request was that he be uninjured after this race ( 🙂 ), and obviously my focus is on the big race in October. Weather wasn’t terrible but it was still a little humid, but luckily the sun stayed away! We went in aiming for a 9:10-9:30 pace (and this was before we realized how hilly it was!) and our final pace was 9:22 min/miles, so we were happy with that. Final time was 1:52:33. I really enjoyed this race, and thought it was so liberating to run without feeling pressured to stick to a certain pace. It was so nice to have a buddy, too – I didn’t listen to music at all during the entire race, and the miles just flew by (until the last one, but that’s par for the course with any race!). One surprising thing about this race was how crowded the course was. They didn’t close all of the roads, so we were stuck in one or two lanes of road and the policemen were very strict about not letting you run around the cones to pass. We were like sardines for a while! The race only started to clear out around mile 7 or so – usually races clear out so much faster. Then again, we were literally at the back of the pack going across the start because of the port-a-potty lines, so we had a lot of people to get around! Final stats were: 530 out of 1557 overall & 63 out of 239 women 20-29.
I think we both still felt strong at the end of the race, and I felt like I still had more juice in me. Neither of us was completely exhausted to the point where we couldn’t easily function afterwards. What was also encouraging was that I felt like there were times during the race that I could have gone faster – I hope that bodes well for MCM! My half marathon paces were faster, so I know I (and Danny) can go faster for longer (8:45 min/mile was my half PR pace), but it was great to actually enjoy the experience. I also feel great about this race (and all my slower long runs!) after reading this article on long run pacing by Runner’s World.
I would definitely do this race again (hopefully Danny agrees!), and I hope our 20-miler in September is just as enjoyable. Today’s 7-miler was a little tough after yesterday’s long run (I flipped the runs this weekend), but it was totally worth it!