There is a time to go for broke, and there is a time to not go for broke. As a runner who is a shadow of what I was last year at this time (not that that was elite or anything), I have to pick my battles. Not every race can be a PR, and in a busy racing season, it's probably not wise or realistic to even have that as a goal. (Though try telling that to Chris, who's PR'd in seven straight races going back to November!) That's what I'm telling myself, anyway. Maybe I even believe it.
I'd decided several weeks ago that I was going to push hard for a PR at either the Hershey 10K last Sunday or the Sole of the City 10K today, but not both. I went way too fast out the gate at Hershey, died, somehow had an excellent negative split and finished with a 10K distance time that is a pretty significant outlier from any 10K time (race or not) that I've ever run before. With that already under my belt, I decided I was going to take today nice and easy and have a good time, especially when I saw that the temperature was going to be quite a bit above my preferences. I'd continue breaking in the new Brooks Adrenalines and try to run a good race, but not worry about busting my butt for fortune and glory.
So, in one sense: mission accomplished. 57:17, much more in line with my usual 10K pace. I felt like I paced myself better; my legs hurt a lot less than they did after both the Hershey 10K and my 6.3 at Cousler Park on Wednesday; and considering what a warm, sunny day it was, I felt good. I followed my plan perfectly.
On the other hand, I thought I could come in a little under this, especially when I hit the 5K mark at just over 27 minutes, almost the same point I hit it at Hershey. There was no sweet negative split this time, though. In my defense, I see that my second-best 10K time this year was a 56:10 that I ran on a chilly night a month ago. It was warm out there in Baltimore, and the sun was beating down pretty heavily for a good portion of this. Don't get me wrong -- it was a beautiful morning, but a cold night is much more Brian-friendly running conditions. But there's no arguing that I'm just not in the same shape yet that I was at Dreaded Druid Hills last year, where I was only 20 seconds slower than this on a much hillier course. (I'm currently undecided whether I'll give the DDH 10K another try this year or wait till next.)
I had a good time and I would run this race again. There's nothing super distinctive about it that I would really plan my schedule months in advance to make sure that I'm around for it, but I think that's true of the vast majority of races; it's not really meant as a criticism. Other than the Shamrock races in Virginia Beach, I'm not sure that I've found that "Wow! That was such a fun race I have to run this every year!" race (and since Virginia Beach is 1000 hours away, every year is not going to happen there, either). I like that we're trying some new ones this year, and I enjoyed this one.
I thought it was well-organized, a challenging course, and the post-race festivities were fun, although we didn't stay very long since our friends were leaving and we felt more like breakfast food than Greene Turtle wraps (I have mine in the fridge, though, so I'll update in a future blog post if it's notable either way.) Charm City Run did a nice job with it, and yes, we did check out their new McHenry Row store, which was probably their point, anyway.
A couple things stood out about it. Whoever sung the National Anthem (I'll try get their names) was spectacular. Great job! The swag was nice. (The Under Armour quarter-zip pullover premium is nice and the regular race shirt seemed nice, too.) And lastly but certainly not least, Chris and I both appreciated that we ran the Inner Harbor-Key Highway loop that every downtown Baltimore race seems to have in the opposite direction of the other races we've done (I've done MCVET 10K and the now-defunct Orioles 5K, she's down the Baltimore Women's Classic, and we've both done the St. Patrick's Day Parade 5K). However, the Key Highway to Inner Harbor and back direction definitely made the second half of the race hillier and tougher than the first half!
My only criticism (other than to have the race on a cooler day!) was that I didn't think the mile markers were prominent enough. I missed mile markers 1, 4, and 6 (if there was a 6). Only of our group of friends saw all of them, and I heard others say that they missed them, too. On the plus side, at least they were mile markers. (Yes Hershey 10K, I'm looking at you).