My favorite 5k by far is the Baltimore Women’s Classic 5k that was held this year on June 23, 2013. It’s such a fantastic race that COMPLETELY spoils you for all other 5k’s! Plus, the BWC Foundation raises money for families engaged in gynecological cancer treatment and it’s their vision to reduce the number of women who die from gynecological and ovarian cancers. (For more info or to make a donation, go here!)
They also kick things off by offering optional training programs in seven different locations. For an additional $25.00, you get eight weekly training sessions that include a guest speaker, warm-ups, different coaches for each level of fitness, and a DJ to add to the festive atmosphere. And you get a cute tee-shirt. And they have door prizes – I won an adorable necklace and bracelet! Getting to know other runners in your area also makes the BWC feel more like a community event rather than just a one-day run.
My closest training was held at a local high school, which made it super convenient. It was also convenient being able to pick up my race packet there prior to the race, rather than driving to Baltimore or waiting until race morning.
Which brings us to … race morning!
This year’s race was even more exciting than usual because a dear friend of mine, Jeri Smith-Ready, author extraordinaire, was running it as well. Because of my perpetual fear of being late … and knowing how crazy, crazy long the port-a-pot lines can be, we met super early and carpooled to Baltimore. On the drive, I was a little worried – somewhere around week three of training, I started experiencing some calf/Achilles pain since I was also doing Insanity at the same time. (Not smart. Really not smart.) But after taking a week recovery and then reducing my Insanity workouts, I was feeling much better come race day.
Despite a little mishap finding the correct Camden Yards parking lot entrance, we made it in plenty of time for the mile walk to the Inner Harbor. Nature started calling my name, however, in a big oh-my-gosh-I-have-to-pee kind of way. Thank God Jeri got the idea to duck into a hotel to use their restrooms. Hooray! Real Toilets! No port-a-pot! I can wash my hands! 🙂
We then finally arrived at the Inner Harbor and Rash Field where music was playing and thousands of women were gathered!
After warm ups and another potty break for me due to my nervous bladder, I joined the 9 to 10 minute pace section that was clearly marked by volunteers holding up signs. While waiting, I re-tied my shoes. Straightened my race bib. Fiddled with my iPod. Re-looped my earbud cord. Tied my shoes again by squatting down which brought on weird thoughts about how awful it’d be if somebody tooted. (Too much? Sorry.) After finishing the rest of my usual pre-race jittery stuff, I found my darling hubby along the sideline!
Come on. See if you can find me. Hint: my arms are raised. 🙂
Before long, the race started and we were off!
(Confession: I hate my arms. I mean, I really, really, really hate my chunky, old-lady arms. Meaning, I really, really, really need to cut myself some slack already.)
Okay, here was My race plan for Mile One:
Relax. Pace. Be the passee, not the passer.
The reason why:
I get very anxious at the start of each race. (Hence, the pre-race jittery stuff.) I’m also claustrophobic and competitive, so I have a bad habit of dragster-zooming out of the starting gate, passing runners right and left in a frenzy to break free, which means that by the end of mile one, I’m exhausted and breathless with those passed runners now passing me right and left. The BWC’s course also has a bugger of a hill in the first mile that left me nearly crawling my first time.
Relax. Pace. Be the passee, not the passer. I kept whispering this to myself during the first mile and–bonus–I actually listened, so I was feeling pretty good by the first mile marker … that seemed to come up really quick. I checked my watch:
Nah, this gal has never ran a 7:36 mile, so I knew something was off-kilter. Still, I went ahead with–
My plan for Mile Two:
Relax. Pace. Kick it up a notch.
Here’s where I started to speed up just enough to pass some runners who had their butts kicked by the first bugger of a hill. Problem is Mile 2 went on … and on … and on, enough to make me think there really was an error with Mile 1’s distance. Still, after finally seeing the Mile Two sign, I went ahead with–
My plan for Mile Three:
Relax. Pace. Be the passer, not the passee.
I really wanted to beat my previous PR of 27:12, so I put my legs in gear, feeling pretty good and (thankfully) not having any Achilles or calf pain. Soon, I came upon the very best part of the race, where we round a corner and get that first gorgeous view of the inner harbor, feeling the breeze from the water on our faces.
With the finish line in sight, I was thrilled to see Bob on the sidelines, but since he wasn’t expecting me so soon, he didn’t have his camera ready. (We did later catch Jeri, though, who did AWESOME on her first 5k!)
And when I saw the timer at the finish line … SUCCESS, it was about to hit 27:00, so I hit my PR! (So I thought … more on that later.)
I was sweating buckets and my eyes burned something fierce by this point, so I was extremely grateful for the icy-wet towels they give each runner, plus a rose, drinks, and the best part? A MEDAL!
Seriously, how many 5k’s give out medals? And it was gorgeous!
After getting blinged, I grabbed some watermelon and tried to discretely wipe the sweat from my eyes before mascara smeared to my chin. (Yes. I wear makeup during runs. What can I say. I’m flawed.) I then went back to Bob for a sweaty hug and to wait for Jeri to finish. Pretty soon, she was earning her bling and we were done!
We completed our day by strolling around Festival Village, eating bagels and more watermelon, enjoying free samples and snooping at running shirts for sale. All in all, it was a fantastic run, fantastic day, and Jeri and I plan on gathering more friends next year to form a team. Interested? Let me know!
As for the course, it was later announced on the website that the course was mis-marked to be 2.95 instead of 3.1, so after calculating my pace, I didn’t hit my PR. But whatevs, I had a blast and my calves felt healthy afterwards, so I’m taking that as a win-win and I can’t wait for next year’s BCW!