Monday, January 20, 2014

Race #11, State #11 MD

Race #11, State #11 MD

November 23, 2013--Annapolis, MD

I really didn’t plan on running this race this year at all, but the flight voucher I had from my Naples half marathon trip needed to be used before the end of the year, so this race fit the criteria: I state I hadn’t run yet, not too far away, direct flight on Southwest from CT. The other thing that attracted me to the TCS Annapolis Running Classic Half Marathon was its proximity in and around the Naval Academy in Annapolis. In my mind, this race would be a tribute to my dad who served in the Navy when he was young. 

I flew in to BWI, got my rental car and made it to my hotel easily and in less time than I expected. I decided to drive to the Navy Stadium to familiarize myself with the next morning’s commute. It was an overcast day but not too cold. A few raindrops were coming and going throughout the day, but nothing like the originally forecasted 50% rain that was predicted earlier in the week. Thank goodness for that. Navy Stadium was impressive, with blue and yellow colors everywhere and a jet fighter plane parked out in front. I could just imagine the festive Army-Navy rival football matches here on game day. I was officially excited for the race.
I grabbed my obligatory pre-race pasta dinner at a fun little place near the hotel called Squisito. It was sort of like a fast food place, but with really fresh homemade pasta dishes and two funny flirty Italian guys working the order line and register. They clearly are trying to charm everyone who passes through. I had a great arugula salad and big plate of spaghetti and meatballs. It was just what I wanted, and it was yummy! I then headed back to the hotel to get my gear in order for the next morning. Then I settled in to read for a while before getting to sleep early. 
I was pleasantly surprised when I woke up and checked the weather app on my phone which indicated that it was 52 degrees in Annapolis. Perfect! Or so I thought. I watched the local weather report on tv that kept indicating how cold and windy it was going to be, but I was skeptical, figuring that folks in Maryland must just be used to warmer temps most of the time. I decided not to wear my running tights, instead opting for my running skort and a long sleeved race t-shirt. I brought my outerwear pull over just in case. I decided to wear my baseball cap rather than my knit cap, thinking I’d be too warm. 
Upon arriving at Navy Stadium, things were a bit different. It was wildly windy, and the wind chill was making things pretty cold. I stayed in the car for a good half hour, leaving only for a couple of trips to the porta-potties. I also made a group of anxious runners very happy when I shared my package of baby wipes with them after one of the potties ran out of toilet paper!  Good karma for the day. :)

The race started exactly at 7:00 am...the most punctual race ever! That was fine with me, as it was way too cold to be standing around shivering. Once I got running, I warmed right up. The first part of the race looped around the stadium neighborhood streets, then branched out in to the very quaint, colonial downtown Annapolis area. We crossed a small river bridge entering in to the downtown area and all through the Naval Academy area. It was so lovely. We entered the Main Street shopping area and looped around and back through another quaint neighborhood on our way out to the Naval Academy Bridge. 
Holy Bridge! That was the only thought that crossed my mind as we approached the serious hill of the very tall bridge. It was one hill after another from the bridge on out to the turn around at mile 8. Not an easy run, but I pressed on as best as I could. Somewhere around mile 6, a young boy, probably around 10 years old, passed by me. This always blows me away. I wish I had started this kind of running earlier. Good for him!
Of course, once we hit the turn around, it was back through all the hills and back over the huge bridge. Killer. After that, the worst was over, but the streets back to the stadium had a few smaller undulating hills that seemed really tough at that point. The final hurdle was a sizable hill up to the finish line at the stadium. I felt like I was running in cement up that hill. Ugh! But once I was back on flat land, I gave it all I had to finish in 1:49:46. I was disappointed that I didn’t break 1:49. This was my 4th 1:49 finish in a row, and I was hoping for better. 
I texted my husband as I made my way to the finish line party and food/water tent to let him know I was done. He texted me back in seconds to tell me my official time and that I had finished 14th in my age category! Instantly, I went from bummed to thrilled! Funny how a quick shift in perspective changes everything. And clearly everyone was challenged by the cold, wind and hills. 

The after party was lively, with an Irish band called Dublin 5. it was fun to stretch out and listen to them. Next it was back to the hotel to shower up, then I headed back in to Annapolis for a crab cake at a gem of a place called Chick & Ruth’s Delly. What crazy, crowded, neat little legendary food stop. I had a great lunch there sitting at the counter next to a man and his teenaged son who were visiting the Naval Academy on a college visit. We had a nice chat before all heading out on our respective journeys. 
Maryland was a great place to run. I loved the colonial feel and austerity of the Naval Academy area. The shopping district was quaint, but seemed to be lively. I had fun there, and I know my dad was watching over me as I tackled the streets of Annapolis.

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