Sunday, August 27, 2023

Annapolis 10 Miler 2023


A10 2023

Gosh I need to look up how many Annapolis races I’ve done.  It’s been at least since 2005 because I know I did it when Phoebe was 3 months old!  It’s been a small lifetime:)

Annapolis is a tough race- notoriously HOT AND HUMID.  Yes, I historically have bookended my summers with notorious hot and humid conditions:  Eagleman in June to begin and then A10 at the end of August. 

Last year- 2022- may have been the MOST humid (or maybe I was the least prepared?) but it was bad.  Today was only slightly better.  Or maybe I ended up handling it better.. Either way, here we go:

I knew I was trained to do the 10.  I know that I am not, nor never will be, as trained as I Used to be.  I got my 10 mile PR here somehow – under 70 minutes.  I’ll have to look up the year and exact time. I am still FLOORED that ME- a girl who couldn’t run- was able to go under 7 minute pace in this race with the hills. Anyway, back to today.  My goal was to run “strong”.  To push, but not necessarily “race”- meaning to go strong, but not over the line of what would be okay for my hips/back/calf whatever ailments my body decided to feel today.  Whatever the pace of that was, I would be okay with- it was the FEELING of pushing, running strong, and ENJOYING being in the race.  6 months ago, I often couldn’t run more than ¼ mile because of hips, etc.  So, I am always reminding myself to be thankful for every mile.

I felt a little bit nervous at the start line, but just reminded myself- don’t be nervous- the goals are to do what you can do and enjoy.  I still felt unsettled and a bit nervous. The first mile:  I am always like IN LOVE with this race because the first ¼ mile goes downhill- it is just such a nice way to begin moving. (yes we go UP that at the end- not as nice) but I’d prefer this anyway.  The first mile is flat. It’s of course a bit bunched up- a few thousand runners do this race, so the whole mile stays pretty tight.  At the 1 mile mark, I was already worried about my dang calf.  This week it has been playing games with me and I could feel it and was trying to be careful with form, not step on any edges, etc.  I also thought, hmmm my legs kinda don’t feel too sharp.  Mile 2, OK already I’m oozing sweat.  Now my calf is definitely speaking and I’m worried that it will cause me to have to stop somewhere on the course and I won’t be able to get back.  I tell myself to continue and the goal now is to stay relaxed because my head wasn’t feeling happy.  This wasn’t as enjoyable as I wanted😊 Mentally I said- get to 5 with goal of “easy/under the radar effort” staying UNDER the level where my intensity would start to make my heat blow up.  By the end of mile 2 I was already like SHIT THE HUMIDITY. Mile 3 was through the town of Annapolis- down the brick street (horrible footing) but with the AMAZING VIEW of the water- I was like THIS HERE!!! Is why I do this race!  I was so happy and when we turned by the water, there was maybe a little breeze or some effect that made me feel less like heat death.  Some super cute houses that we run by right there by the village… I always think (and never do) that I should go back and just spend a day in Annapolis. It’s so cute.  So yea, the hills though. We got into the back neighborhoods where the bones of this hilly course is.  There is one part of the neighborhood with these amazing houses and the gardens!  I tried to enjoy as much as possible. I had skipped a water stop at mile 3 thinking, ahhh, I’m carrying my own, I don’t need it yet and then less than ½ mile later thought I will not make that mistake again- even if I just roll it down my shoulders or back of head to cool off a bit, it will help.  During this 3-5 mile I was really worried, but self talking myself to just make it through step by step, staying smooth, not overdoing effort.  When we began this out and back section where I knew runners were starting to come back this was between 6-7.5 ish of the out and back…. I was like, okay “this is a segment” just be in it.  I was starting to feel calmer with my ability to not think forward and worry, but just be where I was and be at the appropriate pace.  I was like, it’s taken me over 5 miles to “practice” being in a race again- maybe I need to do more races!?!  I was also taking in calories with UCAN pineapple gel (which is new to me this year), as well as water from my flask I was carrying.  Every water station I would drip some water into my mouth and then over my body.  The hills were hard and I knew I was slowing, but I reminded myself that slowing doesn’t mean giving up, so to not make a story out of it.  On the way BACK from that section, it is a big uphill, and again I tried to keep my shoulders with full ease/ no tension and just run calm. During some of these hard sections I also told myself, OH MY GOSH SHARON- this is the first A10 that you didn’t have to use the port o pot by the 7 mile mark!  (typically I’ve had trouble amplified by the humidity at A10).  I also didn’t have any GI issues in my triathlon last week (luray) so yesterday and this week for the most part I kind of copied what I did last week hoping that the universe would bring me a smooth stomach this morning.  I had no idea if it would hold for 10 miles but was hopeful. 

At A10 after the out and back, you turn on a neighborhood road and it goes down a hill until you get out to this highway to bring you back to Annapolis! So this is the ending part from 7.5-10!  I was now kinda feeling actually better than I did at 2-3 miles in?!  (I had also poured so much water that it had sloshed in my sports bra until I like pushed the water out of it and I could also hear my shoes squeaking, very irritating but I told myself to not hear that).  So, this road back, is still hilly, but also I just felt better.  Still suffering, but in a way I thought oh I think I can do this!  And the steel drum band that is always at mile 8 was there, GOSH I WISH I WAS IN THE CARRIBEAN!!!

We have to go back over this bridge that people talk about as the worst hills- yes it is hard and yes I suffered but actually I’m not sure it’s worse than any of the others? Maybe because it was over water I felt it was easier because there was maybe some air circulation there?  And then: we had a mile left.  Yes my legs were now “tired” but not like “done” or dead.  So that was a good thing.  I finished my entire gel during this race (yes I realize some people go through 3 in a race like this, but this is a huge landmark for me to be able to finish one, so I was proud).  I stayed strong to the end, made it up the hill to the finish … the last ½ mile my stomach was actually speaking to me….. I wasn’t sure what but I thought well, I can at least make it…. And I did.  I crossed the line 1:17:30! So that was very happy for me because I held on to this race through some mental challenges and physical as well.  I ended up 3rd in my age group which is a huge surprise to me because I felt like I was so far back I was just going for finishing, but… ahhhh…. Nearing the ½ century mark will get you there😊  I’m proud of my self for staying “with myself” during this race, self talking it through.  It wasn’t perfect, I had negative stories that I had to overcome, but I did.

So, I finished the race, left and could not believe I Hadn’t had to die in a port o pot, I thought WHAT HAVE I CHANGED?  And I really couldn’t think of anything.  Then I realized- I have been making myself drink water bottles of NUUN electrolytes because I sweat so much in the summer.  And several people have mentioned to me that their electrolytes have been off causing them GI distress and, so I am WONDERING???? If this is a possibility!?

HOWEVER… I got home and.. I don’t want to end this on a bad note.  But… ummm… the GI distress did come.  Sweet Jesus, I am so glad that didn’t happen during the race because I may have been on a bus ride back, I wouldn’t have been able to run.  So, it was just like 1.5 hours post race that I had issues… interesting.

I thought from like mile 1-3 in this race, maybe I shouldn’t do Annapolis every year any more.

And now I am full throttle IN.  Every year- I should try to do Annapolis because

1.       It makes me fitter over the summer if I am training for a KNOWN hot and humid race.  It is what it is.

2.       So many people out there- I felt like this was the “essence” of running---- like all abilities, so spread out, sucha  great supported race.  It’s like a family reunion, a check in, a celebration of doing hard things. (and for the sake of your car- please pack a dry change of clothes so you don’t kill your seats).

3.       Typically I used to high- tail it with my family to Rehoboth after this race.  Due to stupid school calendar changes, now the kids are in school so there is no vacation after this.  Last year I took myself to the beach for a day and a night though after A10- it’s so close.  This year I hadn’t planned on it and… shame on me.  I think finishing this race deserves a post race jump in the waves of the ocean…. There is always next year😊