December 23, 2014

Hot Buttered Run 10k Race Recap

This past weekend I ran in my last race of 2014, the Hot Buttered Run 10k.

Full disclosure: I only signed up for this race because a few months ago I was looking at the sidebar of my blog (where I list upcoming races and races completed) and noticed I had a race every month this year except for December.  Yes, I participated in at least one event each month (whether a run-only, bike-only, swim-only, or triathlon) and December was blank. I've never had a year where I raced each month, and while it was totally accidental that it worked out that way, I couldn't leave December blank.  I didn't want to do a half marathon, or a 5k....and this 10k worked beautifully into my schedule.  They also had a kid's 1k race that day, so I registered my 8 year old daughter, A

Three weeks ago, I was talking to my 10 year old son, D, about his running goals. He's been running 5ks with me for a few years now, and is quite good at them (much faster than me!). I asked him if he wanted to bump up to a 10k....and was excited when he agreed!  At first we were looking at a 10k next March, but then I thought of this race, which I was already signed up for.  He agreed to try.  So two weeks ago I took him to Miramar Lake, a local lake with a 5 mile loop.  He ran it with me, and liked it, so when we got home I registered him for the 10k.  After all, as I told him, if he could run 5, he could run 6.2.

Fast forward to race weekend. This past weekend was CRAZY!  A was in the Nutcracker (a feat that deserves its own post) on Saturday and I had no time to get the race packets. My husband was kind enough to go down to Road Runner Sports to get all three of our packets---just a bib and the race shirts, but the 10k shirts were long-sleeved tech--score!  A's 1k shirt was cotton, but adorable.  Sunday morning came all too quickly, but since the race didn't start until 10 (!!) we got to sleep in.  We left the house at 9, drove to Paradise Point in Mission Bay, and easily found parking. I had enough time to wait for the port-o-potties, then D and I made our way to the start line.  There were 3 corrals, and we chose the last one, which was for 10 minute or more milers.  A stayed with my husband to wait for us.  By the way, they also had a kid's zone there, a place you could leave your child in a daycare-type situation while the parent ran the race. I didn't need to use that, but I'm sure a lot of people did.

tree-lined finish line

So, D and I lined up.  Finally it was time for our corral to start (they released all 3 corrals separately).  We started with my 2 minute run/30 second walk ratio, which helps me tremendously with my sciatic pain.  I told D he could run on ahead if he wanted, but wisely he stuck with me, knowing that if he went out on his own he'd burn out too quickly.  It was getting warm, and I was glad I had brought Gatorade for the two of us to drink in my Fuel Belt.  They did have two aid stations on the course, but with a race that long and a day that warm, I needed more.

start line

The course was gorgeous----circling all around the Mission Bay area.  The sun, the water, and everyone dressed in their holiday gear made for great things to look at. I hadn't brought my iPod with me, as I was running with D, but had so much to look at to keep me occupied.  Oh---I dressed up too!  I got us each a headband with a present on it, jingle bell bracelets, and Christmas light necklaces that actually lit up.  D ditched the headband, but the jingle bell bracelets made a nice festive noise the whole run.

view of Mission Bay

The first four miles were great.  At around mile 4 D started to tire and want more walk breaks, so I reduced our ratio to 90 seconds run/30 seconds walk.  Soon he was complaining that his ankle hurt.  He said it was a 6 (out of 10) on the pain scale, which worried me.  We were only at mile 4.5 at that point.  We actually stopped so I could take his shoe off and look at it.  His ankle looked fine to me----no swelling, no discoloration, etc----but I told him we could walk the rest of the way, or I could carry him, or we could call for a pickup (not finish).  He wanted to finish, and in fact decided to run faster so he could finish quicker!  At mile 5 I  told him I wasn't going to do any more set intervals--that the last mile was his, and I'd run when he ran, and walked when he walked, at his discretion.  And run he did!  He is much faster than me, and the next half mile I was chasing after him at a 9:35 pace (by contrast, my usual run pace is about 10:45 [minus walk breaks]).  Half a mile later, I thought I was going to burst a lung. He didn't need a walk break, but I did after that sprint, so I told him to go ahead and finish.  I watched him fade in the distance, and then met him at the finish line, where they called my name.

 D finished 45 seconds faster than me. I was so impressed--not only was this his first 10k, but he hadn't really trained for it, save for that one 5 mile run two weeks ago. I'd love to see his time if he trains, and doesn't have ankle pain. As for me, it wasn't a PR, but I was only 2 minutes off my 10k PR, which is great considering I stopped in the middle of the race to look at his ankle, and slowed down my ratio. 

After the race, we found my husband and daughter.  There were no medals for the 10k runners, which was a bummer. I didn't really care too much for me, although I do enjoy them to remember the race by, but my son was sad, especially as he just got a medal rack for Hanukkah!  Oh well.  They had nice snacks after, and hot drinks---hot buttered rum for the adults, and hot chocolate for those under 21. I tried the rum drink, but personally didn't like it at all, and ended up tossing it.

hot buttered rum

When the last 10k runner crossed the finish line, it was time for the kids' races.  First they changed the sign at the start line---a nice touch!  They had a mini race for kids 8 and under---it literally just went to a nearby parking lot and back, and those runners were back in about a minute!  Then it was the 1k runner's turn.  Most kids ran alone, but I ran with A, as I didn't want her to get lost or trampled.  The cutest part of this race (just an out-and-back to another parking lot) was when A turned to me and said, "I'm doing great!".  The kids got a medal when they crossed, and an opportunity to receive a candy cane from Santa Claus, which A refused. 

kids' sign is up

All in all, a great race. It was fun to run with both my son and my daughter.  And to see my son complete his first 10k---all I can say is, WOW!!  We're thinking ahead a few years to when he's a teen...that may be a good time to do his first half marathon. In the meantime, we've officially bumped him up to 10ks!  And I'm proud of my daughter. While I'm not sure she's ready to start training for a 5k anytime soon (although, who knows?) she did great on the 1k!  I would definitely recommend this fun, festive race as a great end-of-the-year event.

December 9, 2014

Annapolis Running Classic Half Marathon Recap

Boy, am I late getting this recap up! I ran it two weeks ago, on November 22, and while I couldn't recap it while I was away (no computer access) I meant to write this up when I got home last week.  Alas, life has gotten in the way again.

Several months ago, we decided to visit J's family in Maryland for Thanksgiving.  We hadn't been back East to visit my in-laws since 2010, so we were way overdue.  When considering the trip, one of my first questions was "is there a half marathon I can run?"  You see, I have a lofty goal of running a half marathon in all 50 states. I've only done 3 states (California, obviously, since I live here, but also Nevada and Oregon).  I was hoping for an opportunity to check Maryland off the list.  Amazingly enough, there was a half marathon in Annapolis the weekend before Thanksgiving, the Annapolis Running Classic.  With it only about 45 minutes away from my in-law's home, I had to sign up.  We ended up flying in early, the Thursday before Thanksgiving, in order for me to do this.  It really worked out well, because we didn't hit too much holiday chaos going this early (or coming back, which was the day after Thanksgiving).

While I have been to Maryland countless times over the years with my husband, I'd never been to Annapolis.  All I knew was that it was a Navy town, with the Academy there.  My friend Ted was a physician in the Navy years ago, and he lent me a Navy baseball cap to wear; I wanted to get into the Navy spirit!  While this race offered packet pickup in various sports stores around town, I opted for them to mail me my bib, which worked out perfectly; we got in late Thursday night, and went sight-seeing in Washington, DC on Friday, so I wouldn't have had time.  The week before the race I got an envelope in the mail with my bib and safety pins.  The finisher's shirt would be given to me upon crossing the finish line. One thing I was in a tizzy about was what to wear!  Living in San Diego, I'm not used to cold weather, and the forecast showed that at 6:00 a.m. (when the race started) it would be 28 degrees, and by 8:00 a.m. (when I'd be only an hour into the race) it'd be 32 degrees.  What do you wear? I asked on dailymile and twitter, and was told to wear capris, a short-sleeved shirt and arm warmers, along with a throw-away jacket. At the last minute while packing, I tossed in long running pants, a long-sleeved tech shirt, and also throw-away gloves. I figured even if I didn't wear them on race day, I'd be running other days while on vacation so I'd wear them.  After desperate emails to my cold-weather-expert-friend Barb, I was glad I'd packed the warmer things!

So what did I end up wearing?  My long running pants, a long-sleeved tech shirt, my arm warmers under the shirt, a throw-away jacket, throw-away gloves, a skullcap, and the Navy cap over that. It ended up being perfect.

Go Navy!
Race morning I was up very early. The race started at 7, and they advised getting there by 6:30 to avoid road closures.  I had read a few recaps from previous years that said traffic was a nightmare, as there's apparently only one highway going into the area (the same recaps also talked about how hilly the course was....uh oh!).  With my in-law's house 45 minutes away, and me not knowing where I was going, as I never drive in Maryland, I was up at 4:30 and out the door by 5.  Luckily the Garmin in the car didn't lead me wrong, and I breezed over to Annapolis with no traffic whatsoever.  I mean, NO traffic. I was glad I avoided that!  I entered the parking lot at the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium before 6:00...which was great, except that now I had a lot of waiting to do.  In the car.  Which was freezing.  I kept turning the car on to get some heat going, then turning it off, then turning it back on.  Finally I braved the elements to run to the port-o-potties (I wanted to go before the lines started, which eventually formed) and then ran back to the car.

Pre-race in the tent. These people know how to throw an after-party!

Getting set up for their oyster festival

pre-race. do I look freezing? I am.

more pre-race
at the stadium


At about 6:40, I headed over to the big tent, which was supposed to be heated.  I'm not going to sugar-coat it---it was COLD!!!!  No more than 30 degrees, which I guess is literally freezing.  I wandered around the tent for a bit, which was warm not only from the heat lamps but all the people!  Different booths were getting set up for the finish line festival, which would feature an oyster festival.  People were in a good mood, although I heard a few people grumbling that it wasn't this cold in previous years (indeed, the website itself says that the average temperature for November 22 is 59, with a low of 39. It was 30 or lower, definitely not what they expected!)  Eventually we were herded out of the tent to the start line.  I lined myself up in the back, not knowing how to pace.  As usual, I've been injured (this time with capsilitis) and while I have my doctor's blessing to run, I'd taken some time off to try, in vain, to heal.  And having never run in such cold weather, I didn't know how it would affect me---I'd heard it can be hard to breathe, etc.  I shivered my way to the start line, pulling a second pair of gloves on so that my hands were double-gloved---and my poor fingers were still frozen!  A few announcements, the singing of the National Anthem, and we were off!

I'm pretty sure that's the capital building

The first few miles ran us around the stadium, then heading into their downtown area by the harbor.  By mile 3 I was sufficiently warmed up enough to feel comfortable tossing my throw-away jacket at an aid station. I also took off one of the pairs of gloves. I was amazed by how warm I felt in literally freezing weather!  The downtown area was very cute.  Cobblestone streets, little shops, boutiques and restaurants...the kind of place I'd like to come back to explore one day.  We ran by the boats docked in the harbor.  The views were spectacular!

look how quaint this downtown is!

One thing that was funny for me was the first aid station.  Usually when there's an aid station, there's lots of water all over the ground from the discarded cups.  There was a volunteer at the table yelling a warning for everyone to watch the ice!  That was a new one for me---because it was freezing out, the water had frozen into ice!  I was glad for the warning, as it definitely looked slippery.  Also my Gatorade in my Fuel Belt was ice cold the entire run, even though it had never been refrigerated.


A logistical problem seemed to happen when we exited the downtown area.  It seems like we had to cross paths with the slower runners/walkers who were going the other way---we had to intersect their line. It wasn't a problem for me, as there was a big gap, but if it truly was an intersection (maybe I was mis-seeing it) it could have been an issue for other people.

After exiting the downtown area, we headed to the latter part of the run.  First we had to cross  big bridge, the Severn River Bridge. It was easily the biggest hill on the course, forming an arch shape that had us running uphill and then downhill---and, since this part was an out-and-back, we'd have to do it twice. Until this point, I was doing great maintaining my 2 minute run/30 second walk ratio, but at the bridge I ended up walking up most of it. I was suddenly spent, as I'd been doing a quicker than normal pace.  I was also getting very warm (weird in freezing weather!) and I ended up tossing my throw-away gloves at another aid station by the bridge (knowing I had a backup pair in my Amphipod Belt).  After the bridge we ran a few miles up a road (mostly a slight uphill) that was very pretty and wooded.  There was a turn-around point a few miles in here, then back down the road, to the bridge, and back.
The Severn Bridge looming ahead

gorgeous view from the bridge!

For a while I thought I might actually PR the race, but I blew up a bit in the second half.  The cold weather made me run faster, which I'm not used to. By the end, I just wanted to finish.  Finally I crossed the finish line in about 2:35---5 minutes off a PR, but still a great time for me, especially as I hadn't even considered "racing" this, only running it to cross a state off my list! I had taken some time to take pictures (as you can see) and had to stop to tie my shoe four times before I finally thought to just knot them, but even without those stops, a PR wouldn't have been in the cards for me.

As soon as I finished, I was freezing. Shivering.  I got my medal and hobbled down toward the tent where I was to get my finisher's shirt. And what a shirt it was!  A half-zip pullover with thumb holes. I love it, and have been wearing it all the time since I got back.  (They did run small, and I ended up exchanging my medium for a large).  While I was looking for some food, I saw someone with a cup of soup.  Soup!  Hot soup! I found where a big kettle of soup was steaming, and gratefully got a cup (it was vegetarian tomato!! Score!).  After relaxing with my soup for a bit, I shivered my way back to the car, cranked the heat up, and went home.

shirt and bling

Proud--and shivering---finisher

All in all, I am THRILLED I got to do this race. I can't say enough good things about it. I feel great that I was able to run so well, in unfamiliar weather.  I also enjoyed seeing all the Navy landmarks.  I wish I lived closer, because if I did I'd definitely do this race again.  It was scenic, well-organized and had a small-town feel. Not a lot of course support (ie no bands/entertainment, not a lot of spectators) but that also could have been a factor of the weather. Regardless, it was not needed---the views were entertainment enough.  Well done, Annapolis Running Classic!