When I was chosen to be an ambassador for the Annapolis Running Classic, I thought it was the perfect amount of time after Newport for me to fully recover and train for a solid half marathon. I also love Annapolis and I’ve always wanted to run this race.
I didn’t recover from Newport as well as I had hoped. I didn’t get injured (thankfully), but I also pushed myself to run before my body was ready. Then I signed up for Rock n Roll Philly which ended up being a PR. After that race, all of the running caught up with me and I had to cut way back on mileage. My hamstring has been bothering me to the point where I just wanted to finish without getting seriously hurt.
Because I knew this wasn’t going to be my race, I didn’t “train” for it. I knew I could finish the distance; it just would likely not be my best time. I also chose a different Charm City Run store for packet pickup (I work in Timonium and my bib was at the downtown location). By the time I realized it, I had to wait until race weekend to pick it up which was not a big deal thanks to a well-organized race. I was in and out of the expo Friday night with my bib and a new pair of arm warmers in less than 5 minutes.
I stayed near Annapolis and woke up around 5:45 to leave by 6. We got to the race around 6:25 and because traffic had started to back up, Tim let me out before parking and I ran the rest of the way to meet up with the other #NapRunATeam ambassadors for a team photo. I was worried the traffic would mean a delayed race start, which wouldn’t be ideal with the cold weather, but the gun went off right at 7:00.
After the ambassador photo, I found a couple of my November Project buddies and we took another picture.
The bathroom line looked long but again, it moved quickly. The race only had about 4,000 runners between the 10k and half marathon, so Tim was able to grab all of my layers right before the gun went off which meant I didn’t have to worry about gear check. I found Lauren and another NP friend and we headed to the corrals. All of the pacers were near the front so we ended up starting behind the 2:20 group. At 7:00 sharp, we were off.
This is the first race in….ever?…. that I didn’t wear a watch. I’ll talk more about it later, but I’m really glad I didn’t for a few reasons. I was hoping it would hold me back from racing at the beginning and allow me to run by feel but I think not knowing my pace made me more anxious. I was already tired by mile 2 from doing a lot of weaving to “make up time” I didn’t need.
The early miles were really enjoyable once we got past the crowds. I loved that the race went down Main Street and through downtown. It’s my favorite part of Annapolis and I wish we had spent more time running along the water. Most of the course was on a highway. The first several miles were winding up and down the smaller roads which I didn’t love. There were a lot of sharp turnarounds that made it difficult.
There were very few mile markers throughout the course (they only had them at miles 2, 6, 8, 9, and 10) which made it hard to gauge how I was doing without a watch. When we finally reached the bridge at mile 6, the hilliest part of the race, I was tired. Luckily I knew I’d be seeing my great uncle around this point so that distracted me momentarily.
The last 7 miles were a struggle mentally and physically. I had wasted so much energy early on that I didn’t have much left in the tank for the second half. The course was also extremely windy on the bridge and near the water.
From miles 7-10 we were off the highway and on back roads with a lot of sharp turnarounds again. I saw a bunch of my November Project friends at this point but I was in a dark place. I just told myself I needed to stay in front of the 1:45 pacer. If I could do that, I’d be okay. I had no idea what my pace was or how many miles I had left.
Right after the mile 10 marker I saw a guy wearing his Garmin and he said his watch read 10.4 miles. This seemed to be the general consensus. I kept pushing through but mentally this race was really hard for me to stay in the moment. I forced myself to stop thinking about how I still had a “whole 5k to go” and instead thought about putting one foot in front of the other. I’m really glad I didn’t have a watch on because knowing the distance was that far off would have really bothered me.
We went over the bridge again and it was even windier. I tried distracting myself as we made our way towards the Stadium by taking mental note of a bagel shop. We wound our way around the stadium parking lot until we turned the corner and saw the finish chute. I didn’t have much in me to kick but I could see the clock and was pleasantly surprised. I saw a 1:43:XX and knew I had started a minute or two back so if I pushed, I’d be in the 1:42 range. I ended up with a time of 1:42:57 which I’m not thrilled with, but not unhappy with either. Everyone I talked to said their watches read about 13.5-13.6 miles which is significantly longer than just running a few tangents. I chatted with my NP friends, threw on clothes, and went to the tent to grab my shirt (you get them after you finish to minimize bags pre-race). As someone who is not a fan of oysters, I did not stay for the after party. Instead, Tim and I grabbed bagels on my way to my aunt and uncle’s house to catch up with them for a few hours. Overall, this was a well-organized race and I’m glad I finally had the chance to run it. I do wish the course was measured correctly and that there were fewer sharp out and back turnarounds to take advantage of how scenic Annapolis can be, but I’d definitely consider doing it again.
Disclaimer: I received a complimentary bib for this race in exchange for a review and promotion via social media. All opinions are my own.
Have you ever run a race that was long?