We threw it back to 1979 at the Mike Sterling 10K

Crisfield was filled with runners in short shorts, sweatbands and tube socks on Saturday.

I was dressed in a race shirt from 1979 that I found on Etsy, some of my shorter shorts and tube socks. I also wore my hair in a ponytail rather than my usual bun. I’d looked at photos online and while I didn’t think my hair would necessarily look “70s,” I did want to do something different than what I usually do. I also wore my sweatband that I received for being one of the first 100 people to sign up.

We were celebrating the 40th annual Mike Sterling 10K, named after Crisfield’s fastest runner, who continues to participate in the race.

This race is an annual tradition for me. My first year at the race, in 2012, I ended up in the hospital with heat stroke. I was impressed by the amazing community and came back the next year — and every year after that.

The Eastern Shore Running Club represented at the Mike Sterling 10K!

I now am more in touch with listening to my body, and the race has grown over the years. One year, I was actually the first female finisher at this race, but those days are now gone — which is really a good thing, because it shows the growth of the race. We had a large group out from the Eastern Shore Running Club in addition to the other runners that came out.

I had hoped to come in around a 9:00-9:15 pace, but I realized around the first mile that that probably wasn’t going to happen. I’d seen that the weather was going to be in the 70s and thought it might feel cooler, but it still felt hot and humid, and the sun was shining brightly. My first mile was 9:20.

I stopped at all the water stops and walked a little at those, but other than that, I ran. I didn’t feel like I had a whole lot of energy. Who knows if this was actually an excuse, but I can’t imagine wearing the cotton shirt from 1979 helped. I remember thinking that runners must have been hot in the ’70s if they were wearing race shirts like the one I was.

During the race, I adjusted my goal, hoping to come in under one hour. But my legs just felt like bricks.

Runners take off in their 1979 outfits (Veronica James photo)

The course has an out and back with waterfront views before continuing into neighborhoods and then a last mile on the main road into Crisfield.

I saw someone pass me around the Mile 5 marker that looked like she was in my age group, and I knew I should try to go after her, but I just didn’t have any energy. The last mile is a straightaway, all on one road, and I tried to push with what I did have. Mile 6 did end up being my second-fastest mile.

Near the end, I was passed by two running club friends, Nicole and Lauren (Lauren had been ahead of me for most of the race). Nicole was doing a run-walk. I’m making a note of this because I feel like sometimes run-walk gets a bad rap, but I think it can be a helpful strategy and it clearly worked in this case. I didn’t have any energy to speed up any more than I did at the end of the race.

I finished at the crab pot arch with a time of 1:01:14 on my watch/1:01:23 on the results, which was a 9:48 pace on my watch and 9:53 on the results. And yes, I was about 40 seconds behind the woman I’d seen who looked like she was in my age group — she earned second in the female 20-29 age group, and there were prizes for first and second. I was third, so I guess I’ll just have to run faster next year.

My friend Trent got a photo of me at the first water stop. I’m laughing because I just started running for the photo after I walked as I got some water. (Trent Swanson photo)

Unfortunately, it was my slowest 10K race. However, I had just listened to a call with Endure Strong Coach Jared Ward, and he’d talked about thinking about three positives after a race performance that didn’t go the way you wanted.

Here’s another photo of me on the course. (Larissa Luck photo)

No. 1 for me is always not ending up in the hospital, so that was a clear win. I was also pleased to have run a pace that started with a “9.” And I did have fun running in my 1979 outfit — if that did take a minute or a few seconds off (and I’m not sure if it did), it was worth it.

Overall winners got painted watermen’s boots, and first and second place in each age group got crab pot medals. I also think it’s cool that this race has an award for the fastest Crisfielder at the race, the Lank Parks Award.

There was also a 1979 costume contest, which was judged by applause and cheering. The winner, Matt, received a disco ball. It was a lot of fun to see my friends in their retro outfits.

My ponytail swishes as I make my way toward the finish line. While it may look like I’m passing a lot of people, there was also a walk as part of the event. (Veronica James photo)

There were also random prizes including a Smith Island cake, a pound of crab meat (which I won one year) and coupons for free pairs of shoes from VP Shoes. I didn’t win any of these, either, but I appreciate this, and it’s a great way for any participant to be in the running to win something — even if we aren’t the speediest runners.

1979 was 11 years before I was born, but I really enjoyed throwing it back. This race is also a great value — just $25 in advance.

See you next year in Crisfield for the 41st annual Mike Sterling 10K!

Read my previous recaps about this race: 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015


Mile 1: 9:20
Mile 2: 9:44
Mile 3: 9:48
Mile 4: 10:31
Mile 5: 10:03
Mile 6: 9:37
Last part (watch had .25): 2:08 (8:38 pace)

Time: 1:01:14/9:48 pace on watch, 1:01:23/9:53 pace on results

1979 swag: A retro shirt, a sweatband (for the first 100 registered runners) and a lava lamp bib.

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