Wednesday, December 29, 2021
By Melissa Kitner-Triolo, Charm City Run Training Group Member & Race Participant
I recently signed up for my 10th Sole of the City (SOTC) 10K race for 2022. I have run every SOTC race since its inception in 2012 and SOTC was my first race ever. I had been running for about 3 years when a group of us (about 7) from work decided to all run a 10K race. One was an avid running, one was a couch potato, there were some others and then there was me, a relative newbie runner. We heard about a new race in downtown Baltimore put on by Charm City Run (CCR) called Sole of the City, at their then new location at McHenry Row. After running the race I was hooked on SOTC. love running in Baltimore City and the comradery of the SOTC runners, staff and volunteers is contagious. I always see other runners that I know and haven’t seen in a while, so it is a great way to catch up.
The after party with the music, food and drinks, just hanging out with the other runners is enough to extend that runner’s high. I loved the old route running from McHenry Row, so was a little worried about this year’s race with the change in venue to Fells Point and the new route. But my fears were unfounded. The new Fells Point location was perfect. Watching the sun come up over the water before the start, as well as the after party right on the water at the finish were added bonuses. We were still able to run along the harbor promenade and even ran up to Patterson Park. Of course if you run in Baltimore, you have to expect hills and the new SOTC race course did not disappoint – the hill on the way up to the park and at the end of the race – ah, ya gotta love hills!! It was especially gratifying to see some of the runners from our training group place in the top 3 in their age and sex category this year. It is fun to celebrate successes, which I know is a direct result of training with CCR!! That brings me to my next topic.
In the lead up to the first 2 SOTC races I ran and trained by myself, much of it on a treadmill (Ugh!!). But after my second SOTC, I wanted to try running a longer race, maybe a half marathon. I was already shopping at CCR for running shoes and had signed up to receive CCR’s emails about fun runs and upcoming events. However, I had never come out for any of them. Then in July of 2013, after receiving an email about a fun run and nutrition event at the Timonium store, including sampling running supplements, I decided to stop by. Well, that happened to be the first day of the Summer/Fall half marathon training targeting the Baltimore Running Festival. I happened to see one of my neighbors there and ran 6 miles with her and her sister. After the run, I thought well, if I am ever going to run a half marathon I really need to sign up for training. I signed up that morning, trained with Katie Heyl and have been training with CCR every year, ever since. I started only training in the Summer/Fall for the Baltimore half marathon. After a few years I started signing up for the Spring half marathon training with Ericka Butler, even at 5:30am, and I am not a morning person. I have also completed Speed and Strength with Jessi Ceiri and most recently have been training with Dawn Litrenta for both the half marathon and 10K (after an injury) training.
All of the coaches and coaching are first rate. They know when to kick you in the butt to push you and when to tell you to take a breather or see a physical therapist if you are injured. I love that the coaches emphasize not just running, but also warming up, stretching after a run and strength training to improve your running and decrease the possibility of injuries. We have done a plank challenge (not to brag but I won a water bottle for being 1 of 2 people to hold a plank the longest – 10 minutes – yea, I don’t think that is going to happen again ), jumped rope and we currently start our track workouts with a series of strength exercises and end stretching with bands. I also appreciate that CCR brings in other fitness professionals to help us explore ways to achieve our running goals. We have had Barre classes, Yoga for runners, Self-Defense, as well as physical therapists, all as part of the training – you can’t beat that. Oh, and we receive 10% off of full priced items in the store during training. Knowing how quickly shoes, socks, etc., wear out when running 4-6 times a week, this is a real perk. I love running with Charm City Run so much that I signed up for the Race Team for 2022.
After all of this time of training with CCR, I still learn new points that help me strive to be a better runner. Two points coaches have told us that have really resonated with me are “You might not like running hills, but they make you a stronger runner” and “If you want to run faster you have to run faster”. This especially helped me out this year for the Baltimore half marathon, as I came in 9th in my age & sex category and 5th in the SOTC race.
Finally, I simply love the comradery of the CCR training groups. I have made many lasting friendships over the years and love seeing people who I have trained with at various races who may have moved onto other training groups (e.g., marathon, ultra-marathon). Training with my friends at Charm City Run really helped me make it through the pandemic, even when we had to wear masks outdoors around each other. I am a social person, so being able to get together with friends for training or fun runs that CCR schedules has helped me feel connected to others. Nothing beats running with friends (we run and talk, and talk and run) and the social events scheduled during training are an added bonus!!