The Annapolis 10-Miler will always hold a special place in my heart. It was the first race I ever ran. I remember being so nervous that I’d get picked up by the race vehicle for going too slowly and wouldn’t get my finisher’s shirt.
Annapolis is where I realized I loved running races. We didn’t sign up last year due to calendar conflicts, the year before we ran it in a thunderstorm (yeah maybe not too safe…) and the year before it was cancelled for a tropical storm. The weather can be pretty crazy at the end of August around DC/MD. Matt, Mike and I decided to sign up this year mainly because the premium looked awesome — a jacket!
Mike and I decided to just pick up our packets the morning of rather than driving to Annapolis on Saturday, the day before. We woke up at 4:40 am and were on the road at 5:20 am. I ate a Picky Bar and drank water and coffee on the drive to Annapolis. By leaving so early, we avoided a bulk of the traffic getting to the Naval Academy. We also scored an amazing parking space right near the start/finish. But all the parking is fairly close to the start/finish so a bag check isn’t needed if you drive.
Picking up our packets was fast and easy. It seemed like many other people had the same idea but there were plenty of volunteers and lines moved quickly. We got our free running hat and our bibs. The race offers a free hat every year with different colors. And the hats from the previous year are usually sold at the expo for next to nothing. We used the often overlooked bathrooms (nicer than portapotties) in the football stadium and had no lines!
We went back to the car to drop off our hats and get water bottles, sunglasses, etc. Matt was texting that he was stuck in traffic and wasn’t sure he’d make the start. We headed over to the start line around 6:50 am. Since this race is fairly small there isn’t a wave start. We got stuck pretty far back since runners started lining up pretty early. We ran into Matt as he was entering the start area – he made it just in time.
The first few miles of the race were very congested with several turns, and because we were pretty far back in the start area, our pace was not very fast. Although Mike was running for time, I didn’t care that much. I hadn’t run much the week before since we were out of town. So Matt and I ran together for the first half of the race and just chatted and caught up on our trip and Matt’s week. We realized that we can easily hold a conversation running 8:20 or slower, anything faster is tough.
Annapolis Striders includes this warning on its website:
Notice: This is not a race you are likely to set a personal record. It is a tough race with a hilly course run in the heat and humidity of a Chesapeake August. Temperatures can be 80 degrees at the start, with high humidity. Please be sure you are properly trained.
Since we didn’t plan to PR, we treated it as a training run and took our time. The first 3 miles were fairly flat and scenic. Around mile 2 we ran by the State House and then down the historic, cobbled main street to the harbor. Spectators were out bright and early! At mile 4, we ran across the Naval Academy Bridge and had beautiful views. Although it wass hot in the direct sunlight, the next few miles were all in the shade. But that’s also when the serious hills started.
Miles 5, 6 and 7 were pretty hilly, and where Matt and I started picking up the pace, not necessarily running together. Although the route through the neighborhoods was shaded, it was still pretty hot and muggy. I love the community support for this race! Residents would stand on their front lawns with hoses or set up sprinklers for runners to cool off in. Some residents set up speakers to play music and others handed out oranges and bananas.
At mile 8, we headed across the bridge again, back to the Naval Academy. The finish always feels so close at this point! As we approached the stadium, we were directed to a grassy area to run up the hill connecting to a paved path to the finish line. You’ve really got to watch your footing here on the uneven terrain, especially when you’re tired at the end of the race. Spectators lined the way to the finish line. I picked up the pace and sprinted to the finish. I love the feeling of giving it one final push and passing people right at the end.
It definitely was not my fastest but that’s okay. Every race doesn’t have to be a PR. I’m glad I was able to get in negative splits and feel comfortable and strong during the race.
Cold towels again like the Baltimore 10-miler. These were fancy and branded with “Annapolis 10 Miler 2014” and, luckily, I was given 2! I must have looked really hot. I had drank my entire 22 oz Nathan water bottle during the race. The cold towels on the back of my neck felt amazing. I saw Mike right away and Matt finished soon after me. We got water and picked up our awesome finisher jackets that convert to vests! The tables were organized and well staffed with volunteers. They even let me exchange mine for a different size.
We went back to the car to drop off our jackets, etc. I took two Immodium pills immediately after I finished the race. I started feeling some stomach cramping at the car so ate pretzels, drank nuun and leaned over the trunk area of our SUV. Pressure usually helps my stomach cramping. I was happy it quickly subsided and I had no more stomach issues for the rest of the day!
The finishers’ area had some tents set up from the expo the day before so we browsed those while eating our popsicles. I love that recent summertime races we’ve run have offered popsicles!
There were also the to-be-expected bagels and bananas. The highlight of the post-race food was the Kona Ice Truck giving out samples of plain ice. Then you could add your own flavor from the dispensers featuring an array of flavors on the side of the truck. Delicious!
We relaxed in the parking lot area by the band and beer truck. This year there seemed to be unlimited beer. Nothing was noted on or ripped off our bibs like after other runs with beer trucks. The Michelob Ultra tasted delicious at 9 am. The live band set up under a small tent played covers of recent and older songs, appealing to a wide range of runners.
Rest of Day:
We walked around Annapolis afterwards, stopping in the cute shops and eating breakfast at an historic tavern. Crab eggs benedict hit the spot! Another pro to this race – you can make a whole afternoon of it by exploring the cute town of Annapolis and eating lots of crab.
Overall a great race with some pros and cons:
+ Post-race party with popsicles, other snacks, beer and band
+ Finisher’s premium and hat
+ Fairly shaded course
+ Lots of volunteers and course support
+ Parking by start/finish
+ Free low and med res photo downloads from CBMT
– No wave start leads to a few miles of congestion
– Can be hot at the end of August in Annapolis