Race Recap: Celtic Solstice 5 Miler

Hey friends!  Hope everyone enjoyed their weekend!  This past Saturday, I ran the Celtic Solstice 5 Miler in Baltimore.

This is my 5th time signing up for the race, but really only my 3rd time running it since it got snowed/iced out 2 other years. Unfortunately, they won’t cancel the race for inclement weather and there is not a refund.  So I got smart and sign up just a few days before the race when I can view the forecast. 😛

With the race start being at 8:30 am, my running partner and I decided to leave our ‘hood by 7 am to give us enough time to get there, park the car, and use the port-a-potties. Thank God we did leave early because we thought we would be smart and take a back road to the start area (the Maryland Zoo). We did this because the main way to get to the start is a short exit off the main highway and every year it is notoriously backed up and you are just waiting. Well when we tried to take the back entrance into the zoo, it was closed off. Womp womp! Then we drove around to the front of the zoo, where Santa was waving in traffic to another parking area. Well we must have been on the naughty list this year, because when we pulled up to the lot the attendant (Santa’s helper?) told us the lot was full and we would have to find another lot. So we turned around and were luckily pointed down another road, where we parked right at the start!!  Score!!

After parking, I quickly spotted the Irish Wolfhounds that kick off the race each year. I love petting these gentle giants!  This boy was 165 pounds!

 

Soon enough, it was time to start the race! We all had to walk up the road and turn around to run the other direction. Kinda awkward and it was packed. I couldn’t see the bag pipe march with the dogs but I sure heard it! So much fun!

Then we were off!  It snowed the day prior so I had to watch my footing but the race route was pretty well salted. Mile 1 was crowded but honestly, I do this race for fun. If you follow me on Instagram, you know my fitness watch broke a few weeks back. That allowed me to not be constantly looking at my time and just enjoy the scenery. The course goes through Druid Hill Park, which is America’s third oldest park. Oh, and it’s hilly as all get out. It was fun to run by all the quirky features of the park such as an old graveyard, pools, tennis courts, a K-9 Police Unit, and the Zoo. By mile 4 I was feeling the hills but knew the last mile would be over quickly.

After finishing, I quickly went to the post-race tent and grabbed some mulled wine. That’s always the food item that has the longest line. So right there is your incentive to run a little faster during the race 😉

Basically, the post-race food is the reason why I run the race. Other than the mulled wine from Boordy Vineyards, there is delicious soup (think it was vegetable soup?) from a chef in Baltimore, Italian cookies from Trinacria Deli in Baltimore, and coffee and hot cocoa from Zekes.

Another fun year at the Celtic Solstice in the books!

So tell me, what’s your favorite Christmas-themed race? How many of those cookies would you have eaten post-race? Be honest 😛

Race Travel: How You AND Your Family Can Stay Sane

Hey friends!  Happy Tuesday and last day in February! To end our partnership theme month, today I want to talk about how to travel to a race with your family. Sounds simple at first right? You’re probably thinking, how can this be any different than a vacation? Well it is VERY different. Here are some tips to help you make the best out of race travel so that everyone leaves happy!

Pre-Race

Tip #1: Set expectations

Well before your big race, it is important to set expectations for the trip.  Is this a race you want to take seriously?  Is this just a bucket list race? Your fellow travelers need to know these things.  If you are taking the race seriously, your family needs to understand that the night before the race you need to be in bed early, time will need to be spent at the expo to pick up your race bib, you may need to eat a very specific diet leading up to the race, etc.  Your family is probably thinking this is no different than a vacation. Also explain what you need from them.  Do you want them to spectate the race? Do you need them to drive you to the start line? Do they need to have a large fountain soda waiting for you when you cross the finish line?  Ok, that last one is really one of mine 🙂 Luckily my boyfriend is gracious enough to make sure I have one after every race.  Thanks honey! He also knew it was important to me to take a picture of the Boston Marathon finish line prior to race day.  How amazing is this picture he took?!

FinishLine

Tip #2: Create a spectator map

If your family is spectating your race, it is critical that you create a spectator map so they will know exactly where to be, at what time, and when to expect to see you.  Your family likely has no clue what the course is or the race start. Make it easy on them by writing down all the details.  This past October my boyfriend and some friends were spectating the Marine Corps Marathon to see myself and another friend.  I made a cheat sheet of what time to be at the train stop to get to D.C., what metro line to hop on once in D.C. and the times, where to catch breakfast before the race, and what intersections to be at and what time.  I have to toot my own horn.  It took a LOT of work so I suggest doing this at least one week in advance. I also suggest checking the race website for spectator tips.

Post Race

Tip #3: Have a meeting point after you cross the finish line

If you are running a huge race with thousands of people, you need a meeting area. If you only listen to one of my tips, it needs to be this one.  The last thing you want to do after a race is walk (er, limp) around trying to find your family. Some races have a family meeting area.  Frankly I do not find this to be useful because usually they are too far from the finish and that is where everyone else is meeting.  I suggest picking a landmark near the finish such as a store or restaurant. I always have my phone on me as well, that way my boyfriend and I can touch base and find each other.

Tip #4: Celebrate WITH your family, not just your achievement

You may have endured some grueling miles, but your family has endured waking up super early on a Saturday, shuttling you around, transporting themselves through the race course, and being extra nice to you even though you were stressed and moody before the race. Be sure to thank them and treat them to dinner or an event. You want them to keep supporting you, don’t you? 😛

That’s it for now!  Share any tips or stories you have in the comments below.  Happy running!