The race is over. The thrill is gone. And I’m still full of so many emotions…
Last weekend I ran the Annapolis Classic Half Marathon. After months of training, this was my last big race of the year. If only I could say that I’m happy with the way it turned out…
I’m also linking up at Wild Workout Wednesday with Annmarie at The Fit Foodie Mama, Angelena Marie at Angelena Marie: Happy, Healthy & Balanced, Michelle at Fruition Fitness, and Nicole at Fitful Focus! Check out their blogs for some great workouts!Finally sharing my recap of the Annapolis Classic Half Marathon! #napclassichalf #totr Click To Tweet
A few days have passed, and now I finally feel ready to talk about my full experience at the Annapolis Classic Half Marathon.
Like someone going through grief, I’ve gone through several stages:
Please let me point out that I realize that not having a great race does NOT compare to losing a loved one. Let me tell you all about it so you can understand where I’m coming from.
Before I knew it, it was the day before the big race. I had Friday off so I was looking forward to getting lunch with coworkers and driving down to Laurel, Maryland to spend the weekend with my sister.
I woke up on Friday morning with a pounding headache and a sore throat. You have GOT to be kidding me.
I had no indication that I would be getting sick, so this really threw me off. I didn’t take any meds but grabbed a few cough drops
Still, I had a nice lunch – delicious French toast from La Colombe. Then it was time to hit the road.
When I got to Maryland, all I did was hang out with my sister, drink lots of tea, eat spaghetti for dinner, lay out my race clothes, and hit the hay around 9:00 pm. We had an early start to the day.
I set my alarm for 4 am to have my routine pre-race meal: toast with grape jelly. We were out the door sometime between 5 and 5:15 and I realized I left my car in my sister’s complex overnight. As we headed out, my car was GONE – it was towed. Needless to say, I was pretty upset about that, but there was nothing I could do about it then.
The drive to Annapolis was straightforward and we arrived around 6 am with dozens of others heading to the Naval Stadium parking lot. We were directed to a spot pretty far from the stadium and I made my way to the porta-potties, which were clean and plentiful.
It was FREEZING outside, but there was a tent where you could keep warm before lining up for the race. Since the fall has been so mild, I really wasn’t used to running in the low 40’s. This worried me a little bit, but I know that I warm up quickly when I run. Lots of people were overdressed.
Pretty soon it was time to line up for the race. What surprised me was that there were no corrals. “Fast people in the front, and you know who you are, slower people in the back…” I guess Zooma Annapolis was the same way, but since I only ran the 10K I didn’t care.
So I had no idea where to line up! I did consider lining up near the 2:10 pace group, but it wasn’t advertised where they would be. Funnily enough, if you see my picture below at the start line, I was actually behind the 2:20 group! I guess it didn’t really matter.
Since I couldn’t worry about that, I lined up and we were off, heading out of the stadium and onto the streets of Annapolis.
It’s always tough starting out a race because you have to keep your pace in control. Having random people running at various paces around you doesn’t help either, and the cold weather makes you want to hurry so that you can warm up quickly.
Coach Kristy told me to start my first 5 miles at a 10:10 pace. As we started, I was fumbling with my Pandora app on my phone since it did NOT want to work. Thankfully it started to kick in. Then, less than a mile into the race my right shoelace untied. I appreciated the two people who let me know about it…eventually I did have to stop sometime after mile 3.
When I checked the first mile my mouth dropped: 9 minutes?! I really couldn’t believe it! The course was very familiar to me since I ran Zooma in June, so I felt very much at ease while running. It was really scenic going over bridges and winding around roads and the support was great along the way. And I felt really good. I knew I needed to rein it in, but I wanted to enjoy how effortless I felt…for a few miles. Once I got past the third mile, I knew I needed to slow down.
Splits: 9:02, 8:53, 9:27, 9:54, 9:41
The first 5 miles were great, but as I approached the Naval Academy Bridge, things began to change. I ran halfway up this bridge at Zooma, so I knew what I was up against. But the fact that I did no hill training for this race really bit me in the butt. The bridge seemed MUCH tougher than it did a few months ago. And this time, I didn’t have JoAnn to distract me as we made the climb. It seemed to take an eternity to get over that bridge.
The other thing that made the race tough was that I hadn’t seen a single mile marker until mile 6. Yet when I reached mile 6 at the top of the bridge, my clock was around 6.3 miles. I always make sure to take the tangents, so I knew that the marker had to be inaccurate. Mentally, it’s not very helpful when you can’t even be sure how far you’ve gone. It doesn’t help with fueling, either…
But then things got even worse!! I knew that Annapolis was hilly, and I knew about the bridges…but I really did not know that I would have to climb hill after hill after hill! And they were all various levels of steep! What made it worse was that every time you made a turn, you had to go over a hill, and then you had to turn around and go back over that same hill! We had to do that at least 4 times! It was miserable.
Somewhere between miles 8 and 9, I saw Courtney from Eat Pray Run DC. How could I miss her with her Oiselle top and cheerful spirit? I got a short boost from seeing her, and I wondered if/when she would catch up with me. But then I had another hill to climb, so I focused on that. I really started to feel myself drag and slowed down to walk and take my gels. Then Courtney was there…and she would NOT let me walk any further. She said either I’m running with her or I’m running ahead of her, not behind her! She was TOUGH. And I listened!
Splits: 9:57, 10:46, 10:17, 11:13, 10:32
Courtney talked to/coached me the whole way. She told me to focus on my breathing and my form. She reminded me of how hard I trained, and said that I wasn’t going to give up when I was so close to being finished.
I have to admit that I felt absolutely ashamed of myself. I have always had mental toughness when it comes to running. I can run in 10-degree or 90-degree weather, in the wind, rain, or snow. I’ve run with rocks in my shoes, with a full bladder, with laces so tight that they hurt…but I needed Courtney to effectively bail me out of this race because I couldn’t handle all the hills.
Courtney pushed me to make it over the Naval bridge one final time…I mean, she really pushed me. There were points where I almost felt like I was hyperventilating, and there were so many times where I wanted to quit…and I’m NOT a quitter. But she calmed me down each time and I kept pushing.
Somehow we got to mile 12, and I got to the point where I needed to talk about ANYTHING besides the fact that we were still running and the finish line was not in sight! So we talked about How to Get Away With Murder and The Hunger Games! And apparently I need to read the Divergent book series…
Around this time, I finally saw my sister on the course with her sign for me. I saw her before she saw me. Again, it was another boost, but I wish I had seen her a few more times. I really needed to see those words…”Finish Strong”.
When we made it to the stadium, I thought we were near the end. I remember for the Zooma 10K that we had to go up a hill and then turn to get to the finish…not so on this course. Someone behind me said we had to run all the way around the stadium to get to the finish and I almost completely lost it, almost bursting into tears…
But thankfully, I made it, and somehow found a little left in the tank to push it to the finish line. Courtney cheered me on as I “surged” ahead. The race was OVER!
Splits: 9:53, 10:37, 10:16, 4:22
My finish time was 2:15:36…or 2:14:48, by my watch. The goal was 2:10-2:13, so I did fall short.
More than anything, I was relieved that this damn race was finally over.
I wasn’t really disappointed with the time; how could I be? This is my 2nd fastest half marathon out of the 6 that I’ve completed! My fastest half marathon was my first ever, back in 2011. But how I got there made it feel like I was lucky to have made it. Isn’t that crazy?
I got my medal, a bottle of water, and a heat sheet. I hugged Courtney at least twice. I was just so relieved that I got it done.
Jennifer made it to me and took a few pictures of me wrapped up in my heat sheet. She met Courtney and her friend and then we headed to the post-race tent so I could get my food and my half-zip finisher top.
What makes the Annapolis Classic Half Marathon unique is that they not only offer beer, bagels and bananas, but they have tomato soup and oysters after the race! And they were delicious! There was also a live band that people really seemed to enjoy. I was just glad that the tent was heated!
Once we left the race and headed home, I did a lot of stretching, finally took a shower, and relaxed a bit before having pizza and wings for lunch, getting in a nap, and going to see The Hunger Games Mocking Jay: Part 2 in the evening. We loved the movie – it was pretty accurate to the book, which is always appreciated.
The Annapolis Classic Half Marathon is a really tough race that is definitely not recommended for a first-timer. I’m glad that I challenged myself to complete this race, but I’d be lying if I said I was happy with the outcome.
I thought I’d have tears of joy about this race, not of hopelessness.
I keep thinking about what went wrong. I never really thought that I could PR on this course. I didn’t go into the race with the right attitude. I was always worried about how I could possibly sustain and exceed a pace over 13 miles that I had only run a maximum 2 miles at a time when training.
My paces were unbelievably inconsistent during the race…but I’m not surprised about that because my easy training runs have been the same way for the past few weeks.
And those hills…I did the best I could, but my body wasn’t prepared for it. If I did more hill-specific training, I think that would have helped my confidence.
With all that said, I will most likely have to give this race “one and done” status. The half marathon is miserable, but I think that the 10K would be a much better time with a more scenic view.
I really appreciate everyone who made the Annapolis Classic Half Marathon possible – race organizers, volunteers, ambassadors, photographers! While I personally didn’t have my best race, I think everyone did a great job!
With all of the complaining I’ve done about this race, I want it to be known that I am so GRATEFUL to everyone who helped and supported me on this journey.
Thanks to Coach Kristy for training me for this challenging race. It wasn’t easy, and I had my doubts along the way, but I did get it done, and I ran this race 20 minutes faster than the 1/2 Sauer 1/2 Kraut Half Marathon back in June.
Bret is always great. We had several runs together and he understands how running means so much to me and can take up so much of my time.
Of course, I have so much appreciation for Courtney – if she didn’t find me on the course, I would not have been able to finish as well as I did. I’ll never forget it.
My sister Jennifer was my cheerleader and my support system. She picked up my bib, even as they kept changing drop off locations. She made a sign for me during the race. I really appreciate all of the hospitality and the quality time.
And last, thank you to everyone who has been reading along the past several weeks as I trained for the half. You all encouraged me!
Even though the numbers look good on paper, the process of getting to the finish made this the most challenging and unpleasant race I’ve ever had. What a humbling experience. I’m glad that it’s over!
Note: I’ve also posted my review of this race on bibrave.com – it’s a free site 100% dedicated to race reviews. I’m a BibRave Pro Ambassador for 2016, and I’d love if you considered joining the site!
Have you ever had a disappointing race? What did you do to get over it?