Tag Archives: Annapolis Classic

Annapolis Running Classic Recap

3rd Times A Charm.  Start of the Annapolis Classic Running Half Marathon.  Navy Marine Corps Stadium in the beautiful downtown Annapolis, Maryland. 

img_9414

Navy Marine Corp Stadium

 

Familiarity.  I feel that there are advantages to running the same race course multiple times.  Aside from slight changes that the race director might make to the course each year, the course is pretty much the same.  You become familiar with the roads, the ups and downs of the course; you’re able to anticipate and strategize when to push the pace and when to hold back.  Each mile of the race, every hill is memorized and you develop this confidence for knowing the course and what to expect.  Each year, I keep coming back to this race, filled with a determination to  conquer hills, that in the past held me back.

The Numbers.  Third Times a Charm.  Half Marathon Number 10.  In 2012, I ran this race for the first time.  It was a freezing morning in Annapolis.  I was feeling excited though, because this was my 2nd half marathon that I had ever run in my entire life!  Back in August of that same year, I had run my very first half marathon in Virginia Beach. {Time of 2:10:05}   It was so hot and humid.  I knew right away that running half marathons in hot, humid weather was not for me!

So, in 2012, on  a freezing cold morning in Annapolis, I ran my second half marathon in a time of 1:57:45.  I loved the scenic race course and chilly December 1st weather!!  The race course started and finished at the Annapolis Naval Academy Stadium.  The first five to six miles of the race take runners out and around towards historic downtown Annapolis.  The second half of the race is over the Naval Academy bridge and out  towards some side roads, before heading back across the Naval Academy Bridge.  A few turn arounds and hills through these side streets.  It may seem weird, but I love the challenge and the up and down flow of hills.  I absolutely fell in love with this race and the post-race festivities which include live band, fresh raw oysters and hot tomato soup, along with yummy crisp beer!

2015 Annapolis Half Marathon Certification Map - resized

Photo Credit: HalfMarathons.net

In 2015, I returned to this same race! This has become my late season, last HURRAH, half marathon!   The date had been moved from the first weekend of December, to the weekend in November just before Thanksgiving.  Race morning was clear and crisp, but not as freezing cold as that morning in December.  That year, I ran part of the 13.1 miles with Colleen  The first few miles flew by, but once again I knew the hills looming from mile 6 to 13.1!  Once again, I had goals for starting strong, holding a steady pace, tackling the hills and finishing fast.  I always feel confident and in control until I hit the BRIDGE, then I seem to hit a wall.  I have to shuffle jog, walk/jog up and over that Darn Bridge!  I regain my breathing and pace as the course continues out towards several more hilly roads, before heading back over the bridge to the slightly uphill finish at the Naval Academy Stadium.  This is where the advantages of a familiar course come in handy, but also where it can be your mental enemy.  You know what lies ahead and that there are hills to tackle that will leave your lungs burning and your quads stinging. Once again, the hills on the back end of this course and heading towards the finish were tough and I struggled through some miles.  I finished with a time of 1:56:48.  

**On an interesting note, I ran this same course back in June of 2015-Zooma Run Half Marathon, in a time of 2:10 and change.  I definitely run better on this course in cooler, to colder weather.  

image

Me and LiveFreeRun! Gorgeous autumn colors! 2015

So. . . 3rd times a charm, right?!  Looking back on this past running season, I knew I had approached my training a bit differently, than in previous seasons.  Weekly long runs were always 10+ miles, I was tackling hilly routes and had several half marathons already completed in this particular training cycle.  Leading up to the Annapolis Classic Half marathon, I had run a half in July, early September and one in the beginning of October.  I had trained hard each week in between these races, focusing on tempo runs and powering through the hills.  I felt really ready, after the hilly half marathon in early October in Vermont.  I was excited to see what would happen at the Annapolis Classic Half on November 19th, 2016. 

img_9436

Another year of running with this awesome friend! November 2016

Annapolis Classic Half Marathon-2016 Time Goal- To be honest, I really wanted to just run my best half of the training season.  “My best” being that I knew I could tackle hills and maintain a better overall pace than in previous years.  I didn’t want to get too caught up with a specific number, but at the same time, I had a range in mind.  I knew I definitely wanted a course PR.  I knew this course pretty well by now and was confident that I could conquer some previous hills that I had left me exhausted in the past.

It was a cool, clear morning.  I have learned not to “over dress” and so I was a bit chilly at the start, but knew I would warm up quickly.  Once again, my wonderful friend and running buddy, Colleen  and her husband Jim were here to run as well.  Well, Jim was running the 10k and Colleen had just run a full marathon about three weeks prior, so she was happy to run/pace me for a bit.  We met up at the start area and mingled for a bit with other runners.  Pictures were take in front of the Navy Jet Plane with all the 2016 Annapolis Classic Ambassadors   I had the opportunity to be an ambassador this year!!

annapolis

2016 Annapolis Classic Ambassadors

Fueling and Hydrating-a big difference this year!  One big important change in this training and racing cycle was hydration and fueling.  I had realized through previous races and conversations with other running friends, that I wasn’t fueling enough before and during my half marathons.  This was definitely one of the reasons, I always felt like I just “sputtered out” at mile 10 each race.  Back in early October, in Vermont I was talking with Sandra Organic Runner Mom about my issues and she encouraged me to focus on better fueling during the race.

Before and during the race fuel- Skratch Lab Fruit Drops for carbs.  I also ate a bowl of oatmeal with a bagel and banana prior to the race.  On the race course. I ate the fruit drops at miles 6 and 10.  On course, I drank water and Nuun hydration.  I walked/jogged through two water/Nuun stops along the course.

Running the Miles-  Go time and the start of the race.  Colleen and I started off together after the runners were given the go!  We cruised along through the first 5-6 miles together.  I appreciated having Colleen by my side, she always encourages me to keep my pace quick and steady.  We also caught up with Courtney (EatPrayRunDC) who was running the 10k and hoping for a strong tempo run!  She ended up nailing it and “running away” with a huge 10k PR!!

Miles 1-6-Strong, quick and steady

  • 8:27
  • 8:09
  • 8:15
  • 8:21
  • 8:20
  • 8:19

Then the Bridge, I dug down deep and reminded myself of how badly I wanted to “beat” the bridge this time.  I focused on one step at a time, kept telling myself-“you can do this, your strong, and it will only hurt till you get to the top”  At this point in the race, Colleen was ahead of me now, she was running strong and quick.  I could see her ahead of me, but the distance between us was growing.  I was once again, feeling a bit defeated, but tried to shoo away those negative feelings.  As I climbed the bridge and finally got to the top, I felt different from the previous two times I had run this race.  Yes, my mile pace had slipped, but I recovered faster and got back into a quicker pace again.  I kept pushing on, determined to maintain speed through the next several miles and few remaining hills.

Miles 7-10

  • 9:31
  • 8:57
  • 9:37
  • 8:38

There were more hills, a walk through the next water stop and a few moments of doubt and wondering “why I do this”  Then, I regained my focus, determination and sheer will to succeed.  To prove to myself that -“I am strong and capable”.  Looking back now on my mile splits, I can see where I still have more work to do, but I see hard work and mental toughness winning.

One More Time-Up and Over that Bridge-  It these moments in a race that shape our souls, remind us of why we race-because we want to constantly improve and challenge ourselves to reach our full potential.  I saw that bridge looming once again in the distance, I knew that I had to gather up all my strength and determination to  climb the hill one more time and  finish the race.  I kept thinking, “Don’t let yourself down”.

“Remove the Fear of Failure and the Impossible Becomes Possible”

Miles 10-13.1

  • 9:07
  • 8:58
  • 8:11
  • (.17) 7:40

Heart beating heavy, lungs burning and “willing” my legs to quicken the pace.  I wanted to finish fast and strong.  Power through to the end.  The finish line was within sight and  I could hear Colleen and Jim screaming for me.  I could see the time on the finish line clock.  And I could hear the words of my high school track and cross country coach, “Run Tuff”.

img_9657

The Finish Line- Those final steps, a struggle,a hard and fast effort; crossing that finish line brings a rush of adrenaline and pride.  It shows us that we can be more than we imagined we could be. 

3rd Times a Charm- Annapolis Running Classic Half Marathon- finish time 1:54:07

A two minute + Course PR

Final Thoughts- I am excited and proud of myself for tackling this course for the 3rd time.  But more importantly, looking back over this entire training cycle, I see so many strengths, lessons learned and so much accomplished. This training cycle brought so much emotional and physical growth, not just in running, but in life.  I am super happy with this course PR.  It’s my second fastest half marathon time ever.  With that being said, I now want to set new goals for this distance in the spring.  I know there is more work to do and I am ready for the challenge.

Have you ever run the same race more than two times?  

13.1-The Journey and Wrapping Up Fall Races

We don’t receive wisdom; we must discover it for ourselves after a journey that no one can take for us or spare us.

– Proust –

img_9081

Fall Foliage Covered Road in Scarborough, Maine

Every mile is part of the journey.  Covering distance, with every step, mindful of the imperfect roads.  Life and running are perfectly imperfect and a journey of self-discovery.  As I wrap up my fall racing, I reflect on the last five months of training and life.

13.1 Miles-is half of nothing.  This has been my distance to conquer, to test my limits and strengthen my body and soul.  Last June, I decided that this would be the season of running half marathons.  I love this distance because it is a mixture of strength, stamina, endurance and speed.

The build up to this distance occurred over the last five months.  Weekly training was a combination of strength, endurance and speed.  I focused on building a solid base of weekly mileage – 25-30 miles a week.  Running typically happened five times a week out of a seven day cycle.  I included tempo runs, race specific speed workouts and the long runs into this training cycle. I increased my “short” weekdays runs from 4 to 6 miles.  Every Saturday or Sunday I was managing to hit double digit long runs.  Ten miles seems to be my lucky 10!

My constant struggle during any training cycle is “fitting in” the strength training.  Strength training is a huge piece of the puzzle when it comes to staying injury free by maintaining good running form and keeping the hips and calves “strong and happy”!! 

There is an incredibly satisfying feeling when training hard through the summer months for fall racing.  You suck it up and get out there in the heat and humidity. My running mantra -#SuckitUpButterCup! For me, it was also a good time to add some races to my summer training.  I like to use some races as preparation for my big goal race.  The magic number, for me, was 13.1 miles this season!  I raced a few 10ks, but have had my eye on the Annapolis Classic Half Marathon which is now in three weeks!!

The Journey to Racing  13.1 

I used three half marathons this season as training runs, in preparation for my late fall goal race.  In July I ran the Portland Maine Shipyard Half Marathon, then I went on to run the Navy Air Force Half Marathon in September, followed by the The Leaf Peeper Half Marathon in Vermont on October 4th  The Annapolis Classic Half Marathon will bring me to a total of ten half marathons since I started road racing four years ago.  Running 13.1 miles over and over again, allows or me to build on what works with pacing and knowing where I need to put in more work.

 Overcoming the Mental Game

I feel like upping my shorter weekly runs to six miles and some nights even 7 miles, during the week, really put me in a good position mentally.  Then, when it came time for my Saturday/Sunday longer runs, those double digit 10 milers seemed so much more manageable.  10 miles no longer seems like a long and challenging task.  I have become more comfortable, both physically and mentally with lengthening the miles during my tempo runs. I have built strength, endurance and speed into my double digit runs, which I feel is key to racing half marathons.

Of course, as my body adapted both mentally and physically to consistent higher mileage, I then needed to add in more speed work and eventually increase my long runs to 11-12 miles every week.  Increasing some of my long runs on weekends was doable because I picked two half marathons between the months of September and October.

The key piece of advice for myself this training season has been-building routines and consistency.  Sticking to my 7 day training schedule and being consistent with a balance if hard tempos, easy long runs and speed work.  Allowing my body and mind to adapt and then pushing myself further, reaching outside of my comfort zone.

 

Three Weeks till Goal Race and Then. . . 

In the last three weeks leading up to the Annapolis Classic Half Marathon, my focus is staying injury free.  I tend to feel a few “squeaky wheels” as I near the end of a training cycle that has been “high mileage” for me.  So, I will foam roll, fill up on fish and legumes for protein, focus on eating complex carbs and start to taper a week and a half out from the race.  I want to nail one more long run workout this weekend!  It will be a tough workout-Allie from Vitatrain4life did this workout.  I will adjust the paces to fit me.

The Plan-

2 mile warm up

3 miles @mp pace

3 miles @hmp

3 miles @10kpace

1 mile @mp

and a 1 mile cool down

 

Goals for Annapolis-allow myself to settle in to a good pace, trust my training, and not be afraid to “leave it all out there” on the course.  I don’t want any regrets about this race and I know that as long as I just “run my race” it will all fall into place.  I feel good about where I have come this year with half marathons.  This is definitely a distance that allows me the opportunity to keep “chipping away” at my time.

This is a late season race, but after November I will take some time off from heavy mileage, let myself just enjoy some easy miles and then start building a base back up in January for spring races.  I’ve enjoyed the journey.  As with anything in life and running, nothing is perfect, the plans don’t always go off effortlessly each week, but the lessons learned along the road to any race build wisdom and strength.

img_9128

“Everyone must take the time to sit and watch the leaves turn.”- Elizabeth Lawrence

Any late fall races on your schedule?  What’s next?