Sunday, November 23, 2014

2014 Annapolis 1/2 Marathon Race Report

Every year I tell myself I'll run a flat-ish 1/2 marathon course and really see what I can do...and somehow every time I end up running up and down hills!  I signed up for Annapolis without knowing much about it except it was cheaper than Philly, closer than Philly, and our good friend Mark lives less than a mile from the race start.  When I registered I was pretty sure it would be flat, being a coastal town and all.  After reading some race reports and hearing stories of this race from friends I knew I'd be in for some hills.  At least the hills have a way of keeping it interesting.

Some race reports and stories that I'd heard didn't have much good things to say about the course.  Long, hilly, windy, never running this race again, etc.  I decided I needed to check it out for myself.  I started the 2014 season off with a 1/2 marathon at Rock n'Roll DC (also not really flat) and wanted to close it out with one as well.  All in all this race wasn't bad.

Adam and I headed up to our friend, Mark's house on Friday afternoon.  I made a quick stop for some homeopathic cold remedies as I'd felt a tickle in my throat all day at work.  Zicam, Airborne, sore throat lozenges, etc...I was avoiding the 'good' stuff until post race as to not wreck havoc on my heart rate.  I'm pretty good at rating my RPE, but heart rate really keeps me honest during a race, especially from going out too fast, so wanted my HR to be as reliable as possible for the race.  I probably had the most expensive urine at the race on Saturday morning from the pure amount of vitamin C I took in on Friday.

After hanging out a bit with Mark, Donner, and Heather we all went out to meet up with more DC folk for dinner.  Mark lives close to just about everything, so we walked the 2 blocks to dinner...and it was super cold out.  I started my night with some hot tea to clear the sinuses and keep warm.  I knew the forecasted low of 37 for race morning was likely too good to be true.  Dinner was great and of course entertaining with the crew that accompanied us.  Adam and I headed back to the house after dinner so I could attempt to sleep some this cold bug off.

Race Morning
With a 7am race start I woke up about 2 hours before to get in a decent breakfast and slam some more immune system boosters!  I checked the weather hoping that it would be mid-30's (or warmer! ha) and found 27 degrees.  Oi, not ideal, but at least I'd been running in some colder weather to figure out if my lungs would cooperate and not go into full bronchospasm/exercise-induced asthma mode.  We were able to leave the house at 6:30 and do our warm up jog to race start, check our jackets/extra clothes, and jump in the start corral leaving us with only 3 (actually 7) minutes to wait for the starting gun.  I lined up with Mindy, said a quick hello & good luck to Katie T, and sent Adam off to the front with a good luck kiss before the starting gun.

Float Phase! Thanks for a great pic, Lee!

The Race
My hands were freezing during the first 2 miles, but as the sun came up and my body warmed up I felt great by mile 3.  The course started out fairly flat and I was able to work into my race effort.  I was really also really appreciating the ability to take a full deep breath while I was running -- in the cold!  I'm not sure this is something I've ever been able to do, until recently.  If you missed my post 'The Cold Never Bothered Me Anyway' check it out.  The course does have a very interesting intersection during mile 5 in which runner's cross over each other's paths as the volunteer's jump to the side and say 'find a way through, you can do it'!  Very interesting, it really only take a simple change of direction for the out and back/loop runners to mitigate this course issue (maybe other issues then arise).  Seems like something you'd figure out as you design the course and get athlete feed back year after year.  Once past that small obstacle we headed for the Naval Academy Bridge and the land of hills that exists beyond it.  I will say it was more hilly over there than I ever would have expected.  Once we came back across the bridge it flattened out for the last 1.5 miles back to the stadium.  Thank goodness Lee was at mile 11/12...he was probably singing Eric Church songs but I didn't stick around long enough to listen.  I felt great pretty much the entire time (yes, in spite of this illness I'm trying to kick!).  My legs were feeling it by the end, but being able to breathe makes a huge difference.  I decided to carry a small handheld bottle with me and I'm glad I did.  The aid stations had cups full of ice water and iced Gatorade, all the while ice was forming on the roads where water was spilt!  I wanted nothing cold, so my room temperature Osmo Active was perfect.  The finish is a bit anti-climactic as you run through a large parking lot for about a quarter mile before you come around to the side of the finish line and cheering fans.  I chased our friend Caroline into the finisher's chute and was happy to see I'd be finishing with a 4 minute 1/2 marathon PR.  Not too shabby for 27 degrees and sick.  I didn't look at my pace or time once during the race.  I used HR and RPE to guide my effort level, which all and all worked out pretty well.

Disregard the first 2 spikes! Static electricity!

The multiple out and back designs offered ample chances to cheer for friends, which was great.  The race course itself was gorgeous, we got to run through the quaint downtown of Annapolis, around the hills of Annapolis and into the sunshine as it came up over the water.  The course was almost spot on distance wise - maybe a tad long, but nothing like the years before where it was 13.4 miles.  I didn't love the hills while I was running up them, but they really weren't that bad.
Myself, Mindy and Caroline post race

This race is somewhat known for its post race festivities.  Finishers all get a nice half-zip (complete with thumb holes!).  There is hot tomato bisque soup, all you can eat oysters, and all you can drink beer,  along with some staples like bananas and bagels.  There was a great folk band playing, Dublin Five, and the tent was heated!  We hung out for a little while as all of our friends met up and enjoyed the band for a bit before heading back to the house to get cleaned up for a day on the town.  Annapolis was great because there are plenty of local brunch/lunch places and once the sun was shining it was pretty nice to walk around outside during our brief tour of The Academy a la Mark.

DC Tri Crew and Friends!

So...would I do this race again?  Yes, it's convenient, cheaper than most 1/2's and Annapolis is a great town to spend the day in (probably better when you're not sick).  The drive from DC on race day also isn't bad at all, so it doesn't require an overnight stay.

First off thank you to Mark and Donner for being awesome hosts.  Thank you to the DC Tri group and friends (Caroline, Andy, Heather) who made the weekend even better.  Thank you to sponsors Snapple/DC Tri, Osmo Nutrition, RosePT and Louis Garneau that kept me moving instead of freezing! Thank you and congrats to Adam for always being supportive and super fast!


  1. Great race! So fun to see you. Now, time for some off season fun. :-)

  2. Wow, so awesome!! I love how you write and share your experiences !

  3. Awesome! Great job! Where'd you guys eat? Galway Bay? McGarvey's? Middleton Tavern? I love Naptown!

    1. Ha we ate at Red Wine Bar, Federal House, Iron Rooster and there was a stop at McGarvey's!