Wednesday, January 25, 2023
By: Stephanie Clark, Charm City Run Training Group Member and B3 Finisher
Running the Under Armour B3 Distance Series presented by Kelly Benefits is such an exciting pursuit because it encompasses different distances, different seasons and gives you an opportunity to capitalize on your strengths as a runner and focus on your weaknesses. There really is something for everyone. Do you love running in the cold? Great! The Shamrock 5k is your race! Prefer the heat? Charles Street 12 has you covered! The great thing about the challenge is that there really is a place for everyone no matter your ability or what distance you see as your best or favorite.
After the pandemic being able to do this challenge changed. Prior to 2020 it was just something that I did every year. I enjoyed it, it kept me motivated throughout the year (including those tough summer months of training where the Maryland humidity can really just be a bear for training!) and gave me automatic races to look forward to every few months. Post pandemic- I truly don’t take being able to do these events for granted. Being able to get together with one of the best running communities in the country (I think we are the best, but I may be biased!) 3 times a year for races that push you to do your best and then celebrate your accomplishments together with stellar after parties is something I have really come to appreciate every single time I am able to participate!
The series kicked off with the Shamrock 5k this year – and it was a cold one! (Thank goodness the sleet and snow from the day before had stopped though.) I was fortunate enough to meet up with some of my Charm City Run Training group members prior to walking up to the start so that I had company while we waited for the race to start. Once the gun went off it was just a sea of green through the streets of Baltimore! Since the race starts off downhill it provides a really cool view of the runners flooding the street. In another example of our running community being so great, personally I was really running out of gas at the last half mile of the race and a local runner I have been fortunate to race with was right there and she kept me going – we crossed the finish line seconds apart. After you cross the finish line the real fun begins at PowerPlant where everyone is able to toast their accomplishments and enjoy an afternoon of fun together.
Next up is Sole of the City – building on the 5k and doubling the distance to a 10k. Although I am typically a fan of longer distances Sole of the City has always been one of my favorite races. It shows off some of the best parts of Baltimore, has such a great atmosphere and typically the weather is great for running. I met my training group beforehand for some pictures and last-minute encouragement from our coach and then we were off. I was fortunate enough to have runners around me (or at least in eyesight) that I know run a similar time to me and it helped me finish in a time that was a solid goal for me. It was really a perfect morning on the harbor. Big thanks to mother nature to helping with perfect running conditions.
Shortly after Sole of the City I sustained an injury which left me worried about what the rest of my year in running looked like. I was sidelined for about 6 weeks and was feeling pretty down. One of the things that injuries (as terrible as they are) can do is to remind you how lucky you are to run and incorporate movement into your life. I still was able to attend some training group events and walk/cross train which kept my sanity in check during this time. By the time official training for the Charles Street 12 got started I was back but not quite at the strength I was when I left off – but I was ready to try to get there!
The Charles Street 12 is the grand finale of the B3 series and such a unique race (I mean how many other times have you run a 12-mile race?) but the point-to-point aspect provides an interesting aspect to the race covering such a historic stretch of our area. Training this summer was pretty rough. I love winter running so the relentless humidity made it a tough go of things. I am so appreciative of the Charles Street 12 Training Group I was a part of through CCR because that really kept me going through the true dog days of summer. Being able to run different routes all throughout the city and county kept things interesting and kept me motivated to push through the tough weather to regain my pre-injury fitness.
Race day was just great – the camaraderie and cheers along the way really help you get through the miles easily. My favorite part of the Charles Street 12 course (aside from the downhills when you enter the city!) is the relay exchange point about halfway through the race. There are so many runners and friendly familiar faces cheering everyone on. It’s just the boost you need at the midpoint of this race. The finish at UnderArmour headquarters is amazing, after coming downhill running a flat span into an exciting finish line – it’s such a great feeling.
This race meant a lot to me this year as I was able to overcome my injury and run well to finish the series. And at this point – it’s just a giant party! Everyone has put in months of training in all kinds of weather to complete a 3-race series. It’s an amazing accomplishment and worthy of the first-class celebration at the finish line. Thank you Charm City Run for putting on such a great race series – it is so much fun! I can’t wait to see everyone at the start (and finish) lines for the B3 races throughout the year in 2023!