Todd and I went down to Annapolis Saturday afternoon. We stopped at our dive shop to pick up our new dive computers, and this process took longer than expected (we also switched out some hoses on our regulators). So, we had to go straight down to the Expo. It closed at 5pm, and we rolled in at about 4:55. We picked up our bibs, which had the timing chips on the back of them. The lovely folks at Annapolis Striders also gave away athletic socks with the bibs, which was pretty cool.
We went and had some dinner (Bertucci's, one of my favorite places and I rarely get to go there) and then headed to my mom's house in Annapolis. My mom was actually at the beach, so we had the place to ourselves. We went to bed early, but I never sleep well the first night out of my own bed, so I can't say that I got all that much sleep.
The alarm went off at 6:15 Sunday morning, which was great because my cohorts who didn't stay in the Annapolis area got up closer to 4am! We were dressed and ready quickly and headed to Navy Stadium for the start of the race. Traffic was not as bad this year, so I guess a lot of folks learned their lesson last year and showed up in time to beat the traffic. We met our Fleet Feet friends and then headed to the start of the race.
Temps were about 70 degrees at the start, but it was a nice, sunny, day, which is definitely not ideal. Humidity was 75%, so it was steamy out there. My friends and I started the race off to the side of the starting line, still pretty much inside the stadium. I tried to hold us back some, because I hate the first few miles of the race where people are trying to pass us and it is nearly impossible to take a walk break. I felt like I did better at this than in years past, but still there were just too many people behind us.
For the first time ever, Todd chose to run the race with me. I've run nearly all of my A-10 races alone, so this was a new and different thing. I kept my splits close to 11:40 or so, and then did mile 3 in 11:00, which was pretty quick (as a reference, mile 3 is down Main Street Annapolis, so there is a lot of downhill. Plus, it is the most exciting part of the course). I was feeling good, but it was hot and I was looking forward to getting into the shade past the Severn River Bridge. For those who don't know of this race, the Severn River Bridge in Annapolis is the highlight of the Annapolis 10 Miler, but it is steep and tall.
Once you're across the bridge, the course takes you through rolling hills in a residential area. The Annapolis residents ROCK because they stand outside with sprinklers and hoses, and play music and cheer you on. I couldn't seem to get any of my mile splits below 12 minutes, but the miles were ticking by pretty easily. Todd was up to his usual antics, goofing around and being silly, which is always a nice distraction. My race attitude has been about the same for all races lately - focus. get this done. one foot in front of the other. run. So, that's what I was doing.
I hadn't named a goal for the race, I was pretty much out to just see what I could do. However, when I broke away from my group before we'd even passed mile marker one, I had made a choice that I was going to run this race all out, PR or not. When we reached the Severn River Bridge for our second crossing of the race (mile 9), I knew that I was in sight of getting the goal I'd had in the back of my head - under 2 hours. However, I'd need to pick it up some for the last mile in order to do it.
In the end, I just couldn't do it. Once you're across the bridge, there is a big uphill, and then some flatter / more downhill, but by then I'd used up all of my gas. I picked it up, but not enough. It was hot and the last mile is almost completely in the blazing sun. The last quarter mile or so is all uphill.
So, I ran as best as I could and when I crossed the finish line, my watch said 2:00:58, so I was close to my goal, but not quite there. Still a very awesome time, and this is about a minute faster than my PR. However, the official results haven't been posted (more on that in a second), and so I don't know for sure what my official time is (my watch is sometimes off of chip time).
Overall, a great race, but there were a few things that were off this year and I know Annapolis Striders is going to take some criticism on it. First of all, the premiums. Most people run this race for the spectacular premiums that are offered. In 2006, we got an awesome fleece jacket. In 2008, we got a windbreaker jacket. Every year has been something wonderful, but this years seemed not as good, just from the drawing on the website. Then, on Friday, we got an email from the Striders saying that there was an issue with the premiums and that they would have to be mailed to finishers 4-8 weeks after the race. Boo!! I understand, and that these things happen, but this was not a good thing by any stretch.
The second problem is the race results. We're well over 24 hours after the race, and results should be posted by now. However, the website states that there was a database problem with the results and there would be an unknown amount of time before they are posted. Boo, again!! Once again, I understand that things happen, but this is not what I expect from what is usually such a wonderfully organized race.
Finally, this is a request from me to the Annapolis Striders: The starting line? We've just got to do something about it. The first 2 miles of this race are always a nightmare. I take walk breaks and I am constantly in everyone's way. The problem with this is that I get blamed for it. Let me be clear, faster people, I have NO DESIRE to be in your way. I DO NOT want to start where I start, but there is basically no room at the starting line of this race, and not even at attempt at organizing it into corrals. In fact, I have started the race the last 3 or 4 years from INSIDE THE STADIUM, not even at or in sight of the starting line. I STILL get caught in front of countless people who want to curse at me and run me over. Annaplis Striders, you have GOT to organize your starting line in a way that people can get to it and line themselves up according to expected pace. I WANT to be in the back, but I can't get to it or figure out where it is. As you can see from the image to the right (which was taken yesterday right before the race started), it's a mess there. In that photo, I'm somewhere off to the right, still inside the stadium. It's just frustrating.
To end on a positive note, though, I love the course (as hilly and challenging as it is), I love the city and residents of Annapolis, and I love this race. The water stops were well-stocked and plentiful. The beer, water and watermelon at the end of the race was chilled and available even to us slow folks. I LOVED the fact that the race set aside special bins for recycling and composting, which is GREAT (next year, though, let's try Hydrapouch!). All in all, a wonderful, successful race and I'm happy to have run it five times!
UPDATE: Official results were posted. I did it in 2:00:54, which is a new Personal Record (previous was 2:01:40)
Image Credit: Federal Highway Administration (bridge), Annapolis Striders (race photo)