Monday, November 21, 2016

Race Recap: Annapolis Running Classic 10K

Annual Funapalooza weekend is over and done, which is always a fun weekend with friends... but first - we run!

Recap - did this race the first time I visited the DC/Annapolis area in 2014. I had just met Mark at IMWI and was visiting the east coast - met tons of people that, unbeknownst to me, would later become some of my close and dear friends. Thank you Mark, for quite honestly, changing the trajectory of my life with one little note. I think that is one huge reason I hold this weekend so close to my heart.

Anyway, dry your eyes and lets move on.

I intended on going to Annapolis after work on Friday; friend Caroline was in town visiting and I wanted to hang out with her, Mark, and Holli - but it ended up being a busy afternoon at work and traffic was horrendous on the way home. I felt my eyelids getting heavy while sitting in traffic and decided to stay in and go to sleep early. Made my last Hello Fresh meal (salmon with fresh pesto, green beans, and potatoes) and headed to bed shortly after.

Up at 4:15 am with nothing to eat for breakfast. I had forgotten my usual Thomas blueberry bagel - for some reason it didn't even cross my mind to pick some up - so I made a toasted peanut butter and honey sandwich on wheat bread. I lacked coffee as well. Clearly, I was prepared. Headed to Annapolis with Jazz, got to Marks around 5:45 am, attempted coffee and failed again. NO COFFEE?! Since when does Mark not have coffee? The four of us got our stuff together and Caroline and I drove over to the stadium while Mark and Holli ran over. A little warm-up would've been nice, but I wanted a car for after the race - not to mention that I was completely illegally parked on Mark's street.

The worst shirt in the world.

Stadium was near full, runners were everywhere and dressed in anything from tanks and shorts to sweatpants, hats, and gloves. I smiled because based on what the runners were wearing, it was anywhere from 25 to 70 degrees outside. I settled on neon orange Nike spandex shorts, grey NB tech shirt, BASE arm warmers, and the BASE Kona hat that I love. A little chilly to begin with, but ended up being perfect for the upper 40's/low 50's weather once the sun came out. Portapotty stop. Then Caroline and I met up with Holli and Ellen and nudged our way to the front of the pack. Saw Pat and Michaela at the start and exchanged hugs and hellos while the announcer counted our way down to the 7:00 am start time.

(In my head, I figured I was capable of pulling a 7:30 pace - at least thats the target I've been training for. Based on how this year (and last) went running, I thought 7:30 might even be a little ambitious. In workouts, I've been running pretty well, but only for the past handful of weeks. Its been more working on getting to that happy running place in my brain than anything else. Anyway - that was my mindset.)


Ellen and Holli took off. I waved goodbye to Michaela and started my watch. Within a couple tenths of a mile, I was up next to Holli. "This is too fast!" she said. I looked down and saw 6:40 pace on my watch - yep, definitely too fast. I could see Ellen's yellow hat about 50 feet ahead and wondered if it would be possible to stay up with her. She's fast as shit and just qualified for Boston... and is going to Kona next year along with Holli. Jesus, I have talented friends.

I inched away from Holli in the first 1/2 mile and was keeping a steady, consistent space from Ellen. I felt like I was running easy and I settled into a 6:50 or so pace - still too fast in my head, but what did I have to lose? I began to gain some ground on Ellen until finally I was damn near on her heels in the first couple miles. She seemed to ease back ever so slightly - so I did too. Mentally, I was saving that smidge of energy that I'd hopefully be able to call on in the last mile when I would be hurting. I wasn't really looking at my watch a whole lot and every so often I'd glance at my heart rate. Mid 160's - seemed good to me? Mile marker 3 took place somewhere near the boats in Annapolis near the naval academy.

I checked on my watch again - 5K time was 21 something - fastest 5K to date. I reassessed the situation - Ellen had gotten a little bit away on the downhill, but I was feeling really good and thought - I could maybe do that again for the 2nd half of the run?

Approached an uphill and I caught back up with Ellen and this chick in blue that I'd been watching awhile. At mile 4, watch was reading 28 something - running under 45 was a definite possibility. Between 4-5 miles is a turnaround and as we both turned to head for the stadium, I began to see my friends and they called out to us. I groaned and smiled simultaneously as I realized my friend and pace leader would probably realize I had been running on her heels. Time to move. I nosed forward and said, "hey girl, good morning!" - to which she didn't reply (headphones). She then did a double take when i was a foot or so ahead and said something like "hey you!" and I waved and we kept running.

The sun was coming up behind us and I was watching the shadows of our running selves in front of me. I never looked back. I just tried to maintain the pace and approached a very pretty downhill around mile 5. I cruised down the hill and then up and into the split for the 10K and half. I turned left to run to the stadium (I could finally see it!) and realized I was now almost alone except for 2 guys just ahead of me. We ran into the parking lot and I picked it up just a tad. At that point, I did glance behind me and didn't see anyone with less than 1/2 a mile to go.

All of a sudden, there were no volunteers. Or directive signs. Or cones. um. so. where to go? I took a gamble (the wrong gamble it turns out) and followed the guys in between some cars to a sidewalk and we skirted the stadium. I recognized where my car was parked - which happened to be on the opposite end of the stadium from where the course should have been. oh well. took a hard right and ran through the parking lot - past the finish line along the barricade - in between parked cars - and then a sharp 180 degree right turn to run under the finish arch. With less than 20 feet to go, a guy and a girl SPRINTED past and finished 2 seconds ahead of me. It happened too quickly for me to do anything about it - by the time they ran past, I was crossing the line.

I looked down - 6.38 miles in 44:50. finally - a run to be happy about! I turned around to see Ellen finish, and then Holli just behind her. Pat had already finished and one by one, we watched our friends come across the line. And Caroline - who was going to "run slow" - kicked ass! I think all of us were pretty thankful we weren't running the half; it was time for beer, oysters, music, and friends. So thankful for these people. Friends that I met two years ago at this race. Friends that I train with, sweat with, hurt with - the kind that push you past your limits - physical, emotional, mental. and new friends! However we all came to be here - I'm grateful and thankful for every single one of you. And thank you Ellen and Holli - just... thank you. You guys are amazing women and athletes.

The Coeur ladies.

By my watch, my pace says 7:02 - since the course (with detour) was a little long. Ended up running about 30 seconds per mile faster than I was mentally capable of. 4th OA (turns out the sprinter girl was 3rd OA). 1st AG. Little victories. Hell, big victories even. I know its just a 10K - but busting down those mental walls that I have been putting up
feels. so. good.

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