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.
|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.|
|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|
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!