Have you run the Annapolis 10-mile race before? Runner’s World rated it one of the top six 10-milers to run in the country. This year was the 34th annual event which is put on by the Annapolis Striders who hosted something like 5,300 runners and managed an enormous number of amazing volunteers who were integral to running a smooth event.
The A10 started for me in the Fleet Feet Annapolis booth representing gracie’s gear. I got a serious kick out of the entire experience. There were about a dozen great vendors at the Expo and I honestly didn’t even have a chance to see what anyone else was selling but I do know that gracie’s gear caught a lot of women’s (and some men’s!) eyes which gave me a chance to talk to lots of runners, which was my hope all along! By the end of the day I was once again motivated and inspired–I truly do love runners. Just a few of the cool things from the day (to me anyway):
Running Mothers–One day I will have children and the closer that day gets, the more I wonder about running while pregnant and running post-birth. I talked to several women who were at the Expo with their babies and was completely reassured by their experiences. One woman had her 11-month old little girl and was already well under way with marathon training. Another mother told me about doing spin class the morning she gave birth and that 4 weeks after giving birth she was running again. And then there is the inspiring story of Gracie Updyke herself who is training for the Chicago Marathon after having given birth to her son in July.
Coaches and Trainers–I got to meet Coach Christine Hinton who is local to Annapolis but whose running experience is definitely nationwide. We’ve been corresponding and it was great to put a face with a name. Ron Bowman is another local Annapolitan running coach and race organizer and it was fun to see the number of runners he ran into who were all swapping recent training and race stories. I also had a chance to see some Girls on the Run coaches which is always fun and motivating for my own role as a head coach this fall.
Triathletes–Having just gotten into triathlons I am constantly interested in talking to other triathletes. Lots of runners arrived to the Expo via bike and it was fun to think about where everyone was in their training. The topics of cross-training, duathlons, the use of aerobars, 70.3 events, and full ironmans were ones I got to discuss with several people and it was encouraging to hear different experiences and ideas.
The Runners–Have I said how much I love runners? Met and talked to: ultramarathoners, Back on My Feet runners, a runner from Minnesota, first timers, injured runners (ITBS and hamstring pulls and we discussed the disappointment of them but also the recovery), nervous runners, competitive runners, high school runners, casual runners, groups of friends running together. The best part about all the runners is that they’re anyone and everyone. I couldn’t put a runner in a box if I tried.
I was not supposed to run the A10, but at the last minute a window of opportunity presented itself and I took it. I love the Annapolis 10-miler and was excited to be able to run. I’ve done the run only three times before and each time had a different experience from start to finish, which is all part of the fun. The one thing I did not want to deal with was a parking nightmare so I set out to be at the Navy Stadium by 6:45 a.m. and ended up getting a great parking spot that worked in my favor at the end of the day. It also allowed me to meet four great gentlemen from South County, MD, who have been running together for years and who have run the A10 a lot.
Start time was set for 7:45 a.m. so I had plenty of time to get ready, stretch, use the porta-pots, and take in some water. At the Ben Moore Memorial Half Marathon earlier this month I did a couple warm-up laps before the race, something I’d never done before. I could feel that my legs were not at all warmed up on Sunday so I did a full lap around the stadium which ended up being just over a mile and the warm-up I needed. Back at my car I slabbed on some sunscreen, downed my water bottle, and made the decision to run in just my gracie’s gear purple sports top. I never thought I’d run shirtless but I knew the day was going to be hot and I decided to give it a whirl. In hindsight, it was a great idea!
By the time we were all lined up and ready to start I was yet again excited by runners and running. The people who are doing a race for the first time excite me just as much as the veterans. Listening to everyone’s story waiting for the gun to go off was pure entertainment. Finally the first runners crossed the line and the swarm of us behind them slowly but surely shuffled to the mats and we were off!
At mile one my pace was 9:31 and I was extremely frustrated with that but knew it was a result of the packs not having yet thinned out. Dodging runners and walkers I worked to pick up my pace and by the time I was through downtown and had rounded by the Naval Academy I was just under my 9-minute pace and feeling very happy. Going over the 450 bridge for the first time it was clear that my hill training is paying off. Despite my intentions to keep a steady pace going up hills (and there are quite a few in the A10) I found myself surging every time, stretching my legs longer, pumping my arms harder. Something about race day definitely puts me into another gear that I seem to have no control over. Even though I know I should slow down at certain points, and I try, my adrenalin allows me to keep a pace that I don’t always have while training.
As always, the St. Margaret’s area of the route was awesome. Neighbors with hoses and sprinklers out, shaded streets, tables of oranges (which I don’t eat but which I still think is cool of the neighbors to do), music blaring from a speaker on a roof, flocks of spectators, and of course, more hills. I really couldn’t decide how I would do on the return trip over the 450 bridge. I was maintaining a pace below 9-minute miles and wondered if my energy would sustain for the bridge. Somehow, it did. But it was at mile nine that I finally felt myself start to drain. I worked on the mental aspect of running and told myself that it was just one more mile and that I could do it. There is a slight uphill grade to the finish and I was bummed that I just didn’t have it in me to go as strongly as I would have liked up that last stretch. I finished hard but not sprinting the way I would have preferred. My finish time, however, was 1:27:45 and I was very happy with that.
After I crossed I was handed one of the wonderfully freezing cold and wet A10 towels by an incredible volunteer and walked my way through the after-race area. Naval Bagel bagels, bananas, Bear Naked granola, waters, massages, the Michelob Ultra beer truck, runners everywhere, and music going strong in celebration. After a banana and some stretching I made my way back to my car, chatted with my new South County running friends some more and made my way home.
Every race has its perks. This year, the A10 perk for me was that I got to run it.