This post is long overdue but better late than never, right? The week leading up to my race I ran Monday morning and Wednesday night. I decided to skip my Thursday night fun run to give my legs a little break. I wasn't nervous but I ended up having some pre-race nightmares! I don't remember the details but they weren't anything crazy. This is the first time I've ever experienced this though. I always get pre-race jitters, even for a 5K, but this was new!
Anyways, we headed up to Annapolis Friday morning and took Jack to Sandy Point State Park where they have a beach. I figured we'd make a little vacation out of it and Jack had never been to a beach before. It was fun and he loved playing in the water. It was very dirty though and a lot of dead fish were either floating in the water or had washed up onto the beach. Gross! We didn't stay too long and were able to check in early to our hotel.
We headed over to the hotel where packet pick-up was taking place and I got my swag. Muscle Milk was a major sponsor of the race and they were there handing out bottles. I had previously tried the Muscle Milk light chocolate and didn't care for it too much, so my hopes weren't very high. I took a cookies n' cream one and let me tell you...it is amazing! They handed out bottles after the race as well and I grabbed another to take home. Sidney tried the banana one and he really liked it. Give them a try!
This was my first time in Annapolis and they have a beautiful downtown area. I really wanted us to eat dinner there and I found a pizza/pasta restaurant that I figured would have a good pre-race meal. I made the wrong choice getting chicken parmesan. It was very heavy and way too much food and I immediately regretted not going for the lighter dish I had been contemplating. Lesson learned! It didn't seem to affect my race though, which was my main concern.
Here's a quick pic of the downtown area, though this picture does not do it justice!
We had a king size bed which we all shared, and I ended up falling asleep with Jack. I woke up a few times throughout the night and that 5:30am wake-up call came quick! Jack slept right through it and this is what we woke up to:
He took up a lot of space for such a small person! Sidney slept by his feet and I was by his head. Sorry for the poor quality...I used my phone and didn't want to wake him with a flash.
The hotel's complimentary breakfast started at 6 and I quickly made some toast with peanut butter, while grabbing a muffin for Jack. We were able to extend our check-out time so we didn't have to worry about packing up and checking out before leaving. We made good time and got there with a few minutes to spare. Soon after we parked, I heard them calling for runners to start lining up in the corrals. I had hoped to make a quick stop at the port-a-potties, but didn't want to wait in line and end up rushing to the start. I headed straight for the 12-minute pace corral.
I started out fairly slow, wanting to reserve some energy for the end. Mostly I just wanted to make sure I'd finish without having to walk at all. The first 5 miles were pretty easy. Every port-a-potty I saw had lines that were longer than I was willing to wait in. I didn't want to lose too much time and I didn't really need to go. Coming up on mile 5 though, there was only one person waiting so I decided to get in line. I only spent maybe 5 minutes total and I felt much better afterwards! Which was good because I was coming up on the bridge.
This bridge was steep. The good thing about it was once you reached the top, you had a nice downhill to recover. Both the mile 5 and mile 10 markers were on this bridge.
I wish I had gotten better pictures, but I didn't want to stop or spend too much time fiddling with my phone. I took both of these pictures while running and I'm surprised they turned out so well! At the bottom of the bridge there was a turnaround for the runners doing the 10K course. Those are the runners you see on the left side, running in the other direction. At first I thought, how could anyone already be hitting mile 10 when I'm only at mile 5? I did see the leaders of the half run by me around mile 6 though (their mile 9).
The mile 7 and 8 markers were on the Baltimore/Annapolis trail which we were on for about 2 miles. It was very shady and I was actually cold! All I could think about was getting off the trail, back into the sun, and heading to mile 9. As I was going up a hill in the open sun, knowing the bridge was about to rear it's ugly head for the second time, I was thinking I should be careful what I wish for!
It was on the trail that I passed a few groups of runners for the last time. These are the runners who were doing a walk/run. They'd walk for 4 minutes and I'd run by them, then they'd start running again and pass me. I was getting very tired of this and was happy to finally be rid of them once and for all. There were quite a few too! I see nothing wrong with walking if that is part of your plan, but I had no plans to walk myself and I was in a better place mentally once I had finally pulled away from them.
Seeing the mile 10 marker on the bridge was awesome. Then the mile 11 marker was just ahead and it seemed like it was too soon. I didn't think another mile could have possible gone by. I said out loud, "Oh my god is that mile 11?" A girl in front of me turned around to look at me and she said, "Still 2 more miles." I couldn't believe she would say that. Still 2 more miles?? We only had 2 miles left!! I was ecstatic! I said, "I've never run more than 11 miles!" She said, not too sincerely, "Good for you." I didn't care...I was smiling big and only had 2 miles left! I was running farther than I ever had before and I felt great!
My feet were definitely sore and the next mile seemed a little long. I was still able to push myself and pick up some speed. Once I saw the mile 12 marker, I picked up even more speed. Only one mile to go! Then I saw the mile 6 marker up ahead. Mile 6, you might ask? Yes, it was for the 10K course. Which meant the end was only about a quarter mile away. I picked up my pace even more, looking desperately for mile 13. Finally I saw it and I bolted! I was surprised how little people there were at the finish line. I expected bigger crowds. I saw Sidney and Jack on the side and heard Jack say, "Good job running, Rene!" Despite him using my first name, it was really cute and I gave it all I had and sprinted across that finish with my arms up! It was awesome!
My main goal was to run the whole way. My secondary goal was to finish in under 3 hours. I accomplished both and finished in 2:43:25.
I was thrilled and when I confirmed my results on one of the computers they had set up, I did a celebratory dance! I was a bit disappointed with the after party though. Of course they had bananas and we got free bottles of Muscle Milk. I also got a "snack box" which was the only food provided besides the bananas. In it was a bag of carrots, an apple, and some pita bread with dip. Seriously??!! I just ran 13.1 miles and you're giving me carrots and pita bread? I enjoyed a banana and the bread and dip were actually really good. But I would've liked something a bit more substantial.
This was a beautiful race. I enjoyed running through downtown Annapolis, seeing the sights, the water, and starting and finishing at the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. But I was really hoping for more entertainment along the way and bigger crowds. There were a lot of runners, but not a lot of spectators. If I decide to do this again next year, I'll probably leave Jack at home and leave early that morning. It was great having Sidney and Jack there but they waited for me for 3 hours with nothing to do.
All in all, I'm very happy with this race and even happier with my performance. I am confident that I'll be able to finish a half in under 2:30. It might not be until next year, but I'll get there! I'm hoping to run the D.C. Rock n' Roll Half next March. As for now, I'm still running 3-4 times a week, have a few shorter races scheduled, and I'm working on getting back up to a 10 mile long run. My longest run since the half has been 5 miles. My goal is to run the Millennium Trail (10.6 miles) once a month. I'll keep you posted! :)