Baltimore Running Festival Recap

On a dreary, rainy Friday night, Joe and I headed up to Baltimore for the Baltimore Running Festival. Traffic was a nightmare but at least the Baltimore Hilton made check-in quick and easy. And we got a huge room to boot.

We headed over to the convention center for the expo. Although it took us a while to find the exact location, packet and shirt pickup was easy. We didn’t stick around to shop around very much. We were both pretty hungry so we walked over to Little Italy to find dinner. A 5K requires tons of carbs no?

We ended up at Sabotino’s, which looked like it hadn’t been updated since the 1950s. We had a nice but flustered waiter (he appeared to be waiting on everyone on the top floor, which was pretty big). We started with the prosciutto-wrapped melon (awesome) and then I had lasagna and Joe had penne vodka with a side of meatballs. Italian food in Baltimore > Italian food in D.C.

Afterwards, we wanted something sweet so we stopped in at Vaccaro’s. I meant to take a picture of my cannoli but I was too busy stuffing it into my face instead. Joe had a cannoli AND tiramisu. He wasn’t running in the festival so he frankly didn’t care how much he ate.

Since our hotel was so close to the starting line (one block), I didn’t need to wake up before sunrise to get ready. I took a peak out the window and already saw a lot of the runners gathered. I got sucked into the excitement so I hustled to get ready and dragged Joe out way earlier than necessary.

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View outside our hotel window

The starting area was packed but I really didn’t care because I was just so happy that a) it wasn’t raining for the first time in days and b) it wasn’t disgustingly humid like it was in Orlando. We got to see both the cyclists and wheelchair people start and then all the marathon runners.

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Me sort of awake

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Starting line on a lovely running morning (cloudy skies, cool temperatures)

The 5K folks were supposed to start at 8:15 so I gave Joe my jacket and a quick kiss and told him I’d see him at the finish line. While I was waiting to start, some guy behind me was telling his friend about how he’d be happy if he “only” ran the 5K in 21 minutes…since he hadn’t trained and all. I wanted to kick him. Now, he was more than six feet tall so he has a naturally long stride, but I didn’t really want to hear how he considered 21 minutes a “slowish” time. Humblebragger.

After the national anthem, we were off. The first mile was entirely uphill. It was making me feel more tired than I expected but I tried to focus on the scenery. I’m not super familiar with Baltimore so it was nice to run in a part of the city that was new to me. There were not a lot of spectators out on the 5K path, just a few grumpy locals who complained to the cops about the road closures. Before I knew it, we were at the halfway point. And since the course was essentially an out and back on parallel streets, that meant that the second half of the course was downhill. Woo hoo!

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I wanted to make sure the news helicopter above could see me at all times, so I wore that bright pink shirt you see in the middle there.

After last week’s 10 miler, a 5K felt like a breeze. I was flying on the last mile. I got to run on Eutaw Street, next to Camden Yards (Go O’s!), which was awesome. We finished right near M&T Bank Stadium, home of the Ravens (boo). I crossed the finish line in 27:55, definitely not my fastest 5K ever but I was pretty happy considering I haven’t been running for speed lately. My time was good for 50th place in my age division (out of 420). Splits:

Mile 1: 9:46 (hello crowds and hills)

Mile 2: 9:07

Mile 3: 8:15 (downhills are the best!)

.1 Mile: 49.4

Average race pace: 8:58

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I’m obviously way too fast for the shutter speed of Joe’s cell phone camera so there’s just a little pink blur in the background there.

After spending a lot of time on long runs, I was amazed at how quickly 3.1 miles went by. I almost missed my medal because I was texting Joe, who was demanding food and drinks from the finisher’s area. I loaded up on pretzels, cheese curls, protein bars and olives (random). We hung out for a bit at the finisher’s festival, checked out some of the other 5K finishers and then headed back to the hotel to shower and get packed.

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Clearly all 5Ks should warrant a medal.

Thankfully, the hotel was a short walk from the finish line too. We could see part of the course from our window so we kept our eye on the news coverage so we would know when the winner came through. I saw the first few handcrank cyclers, then the leader for the relay, and then finally the winner of the marathon, David Berdan. He was the first ever Baltimore-area native to win the marathon, finishing in 2:30:06.

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You probably can’t really see but there’s a guy who looks like an ant next to the 5 statue. That’s the marathon’s winner.

After we checked out, we headed out to watch some of the marathon finishers come through. The folks finishing at that point were still some of the elite athletes. They were pretty inspiring and I tried to take a few tips away from their form. (Note to self: run like a gazelle, not a hippo.) Then we headed to Jimmy John’s for lunch. It was my first time there and it was pretty good, even if our server was surly. I couldn’t quite finish my sandwich since it was so big.

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Watching these super fast guys motivated me to go stuff my face at Jimmy Johns

Then it was off to Under Armour and City Sports for a little shopping. I got some things I didn’t need (a new headband and shirt from Under Armour) and something I did (new running shoes from City Sports; I’m officially retiring my beloved black and pink Under Armour running shoes). I’m in love with my new Nikes. They’re super comfortable and they just happen to match my running jacket. Joe has decided he’s now a “serious” runner and bought a pair of Newtons. I am of the belief that all Newtons are ugly, What do you think? Who got the better shoes?

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My beautiful new running shoes. Love that they look a little retro. AND they were named a Runner’s World Best Buy.

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The hideous things Joe calls shoes. Supposedly they’ll make you a better runner or some nonsense like that.

As we headed back to the hotel to pick up the car, we cheered on the folks who were still finishing the half and the marathon. Some folks looked absolutely spent but they still motivated me to get out there and try another half. Certainly if some of those folks could do it, so can I.

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More marathon and half marathon finishers.

Finally it was time to head home because there was a very important Maryland game to watch. For Joe, that meant nap time.

I thought the Baltimore Running Festival was great. The organization was wonderful and everything went smoothly that day. I got the best race shirt I’ve received so far (one that retails from Under Armour for $35). Although the 5K course didn’t have many spectators, it looked like the other courses did. I think I would consider signing up for one of the longer races next year, even if the hills look brutal.

No more races for a couple of weeks. Next up: Run for the Parks 10K in early November.

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