|A group of us pre-race - already soaked|
This race is the race that I've done most consistently, having done it every year since 2006 without missing a year (I count 2011 as having finished....). With its 12 minute per mile time limit and its huge hills and sweltering August heat, it's one of the most challenging races around - and you have to FINISH to get the premium - they are given out that the finish line, not the expo.
Todd and I had spent the night in Annapolis like we always do. Race start was at 7:45 and we were planning to leave my mom's house at around 6:45. Well, at around 5am, I was laying in bed, listening to pouring rain and thunder. Oh no.
I mean, it's bad enough that I'm still fighting Plantar Fasciitis, but now I have to fight a thunderstorm also? Part of me was relieved at the possibility of not running - since I had DNF'd at Hadassah, I had lost my confidence in running. That being said, I'd completed a 14 mile run the weekend before, so that was great.
We got up and got ready, and headed to the starting line, even though phone calls were coming in from others who were heading down from Baltimore and had decided to turn it around. No one was certain if the race was going to happen or not. We walked to the start in the rain, with thunder and lightning all around.
And then... it stopped. At start time, there was no rain at all. In past years, I've complained about the starting area of the A-10, and this year was the same. See my race report from 2010, where I complain about the crowded start with no corrals. This year, I decided to take a different approach. I stood aside. My group stood with me, and we all stood and watched as hundreds of people crossed the finish line before us. We started about 3 minutes later than in years past, and as a result the first couple of miles were so much more comfortable than before. Usually, I would have to hop off the course into the yards of the houses there and take my walk breaks that way. I knew that wasn't going to be such a possibility this year because of the puddles and rain. I was able to take my walk breaks on the course and it was awesome.
My friend Elizabeth started with me, and we were only, oh, about a quarter mile in before BOOM - the sky OPENED UP. I mean, a downpour that makes it impossible to even SEE. Ok, it sucked, but who doesn't feel like a badass running a race in the pouring rain? To make matters worse, less than a mile in, my strap on my sports bra came undone. Elizabeth stopped for a second to help me (she is awesome), and we headed on again - only for me to find that my shoe had come untied because I'd only haphazardly tied my chip on to it.
I stopped again, and I took the chip off entirely and put it into my belt that I was carrying. We started again. Not even 5 minutes later - the bra was unsnapped again. I managed to fix it on a walk break without stopping, but it was a frustrating first few miles. Thankfully, as we were just finishing up Main Street (about mile 3), the rain stopped and we finished the race with sunshine.
The Annapolis Capital has some pretty awesome photos of the race in the downpour (don't look for me in them, I was probably still back at the starting line when these fast folks were out there!)
We crossed over the Severn River Bridge, and I just couldn't keep up with Elizabeth. Her training has been better than mine (I'm just happy to be running at all!), so I decided not to try and keep up.
After the bridge, the course was different than in previous years due to some arguments between the Annapolis Striders and the Naval Academy. Instead of heading into neighborhoods, we did a huge out and back in what I thought was a hillier area, but it's tough to really say. The out and back was annoying, but I didn't hate it. I think I'm happy with either course. Right at the turn around point, I noticed that my chip didn't beep on the mat, so I had to pull off my belt and put it down lower to get it to beep. Hence, my finish line photo would show me doing the same thing...
It was on my way back to the bridge, about mile 7, that I finally started thinking about a goal. I was doing surprisingly well. My foot was hurting some, but I was just plain ignoring it. I was keeping a good pace. I could almost have PR'd, but it would have required more effort than I thought I had for miles 9 and 10 - which are the hardest on the course for me. My PR was around 2 hours, and I thought I could make 2:05, so I made that my goal.
I was literally on cloud 9 for those last two miles - my goal was totally doable, I was RUNNING and not getting another DNF, and I didn't have to push for a PR. I was talking to others, the sun was shining and I was having just a GREAT time. Lo and behold, I crossed that finish line in 2:03:24, not my worst, not my best, but definitely a great race.
Afterwards, I was HURTING. My foot was bad for a few days, but it was worth it. :)
More updates soon, I promise.
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