I've run this race a bunch of times. My 5K personal record is here, set back in 2010. It's easy to set a PR on a course where the first mile is essentially all downhill. Because I have run this race so many times, I have a system. I park at the lot at Pier 5, right at the end of I-83 and walk up the hill to the start in front of the Washington Monument (no, the one in Balitmore). But, Charm City Run was advertising parkingpanda.com as where you should reserve parking, so I thought, ok, I'll reserve parking in advance.
Well. I reserved it a different lot, the one at Power Plant Live!. The one that is right at the finish line of the race. When I got to the end of I-83, traffic. So much traffic. I thought I'd find a different way to get to the parking lot. I still had an hour before the race started (remember, though, that it's a long walk up to the start). Bad choice. I ended up circling around, finding roads closed all around (for the race) and finally getting to the entrance of the parking garage but unable to enter because of the line of cars going into it blocking my way. I was going to miss the race if I didn't park and start walking, so I ended up parking in the next garage I passed. It was somewhere on Lombard Street, and it took parking panda, but not my reservation :( So, I double paid for parking.
I walked up to the start and arrived only about 6 or 7 minutes before the race was going to start. I couldn't get to the back because I was approaching from the starting line and the street was too crowded. I was panicking about this. After all, this is a crowded, fast first mile and I was going to get trampled. I was up at the front, where the people are that finish half marathons before I get across the starting line.
The race started, and I tried to get through the crowd to go farther back, moving in the opposite direction of the crowd. I guess this was disruptive, but I was really careful to not knock into people or whatever. Regardless, some guy said "you are going the wrong way." I replied "I should be in the back." He said, "No, you belong right here. Just run." So, I said, f-it, And headed on down. He was right, the course was all mixed up with no sense of anybody placing themselves properly at the start. People were weaving, people were walking, people were creating roadblocks, people were cursing walkers. All the usual cast of characters.
I was expecting to meet up with some friends at the race, but in the end couldn't find them. I ended up running alone, which was actually fine. I figured I'd find them at the finish. They were probably legitimately in the back of the pack.
It was a pretty fast first mile, as it always is. I seriously always amaze myself at this race. Then, the course flattens out but never really turns very uphill. I felt pretty good about it in general. I ran one minute of running and 30 seconds of walking and that worked out pretty well.
I crossed the finish line with a final time of 35:44. Not my best, not my worst, but my fastest 5K since having the baby (I have started re-categorizing my PRs as "before baby" and "after baby" since chasing my pre-baby PRs is too frustrating).
The finish was crowded. I decided that I wasn't going to find my friends and ended up just leaving without getting beer. I was still annoyed about the parking (and spent the entire race annoyed by it). In the end though, parking panda refunded my money for my parking and so I can say that I would recommend the service :)
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