On Saturday, I ran my very first 10k. I trained for a couple of months, even doing the unthinkable -- running in the freezing cold! The hard work paid off, and I was very proud of this accomplishment. I'm not a marathon runner (yet) or a Speedy Gonzalez (probably never), but I am super satisfied with myself because I was able to achieve something that I never would have thought I'd be able to. To me, that's more important than the amount of time it took, or the fact that I didn't run the marathon. Setting and achieving personal goals are way more important than comparing yourself to others, which often prepares you for major letdowns and defeat. Learn to celebrate these personal victories, friends!
So, on to the race!
On Friday night, I went to the expo to pick up my bib and to experience my first "regular" race expo ever. Prior to the TCS Annapolis Running Classic, I had never run a large race that didn't have a theme tied to it, so I wasn't sure what to expect.
The expo was super small, but there were some pretty cool things for sale. Since race day was supposed to be one of the coldest days in November, they were smart to have so many things for cold weather. There were hand warmers, hats, and even cotton gloves! I picked up a beanie that was fleece-lined and even had a little hole for your ponytail. I was planning to wear my Asics running hat, but I knew that it wasn't going to be enough to keep my head warm. I grabbed my bib and some little info sheets, and asked the check-in people some parking questions. Then, I was headed home to lay out my race clothes and go to bed early.
For my race day gear, I chose not to really try anything new. Fortunately, I had purchased some cold weather gear over the last couple of months, and had the opportunity to test it out prior to race week. The only new things I was going to be wearing were my new earbuds (because I have no clue where I put my other new pair after my run last weekend -- I bought both pairs for like $10 total, and at the same time. Don't judge.) and my new hat. I planned to wear a lot of dark colors, and had my trusty Under Armour leggings, an UA ColdGear top, my Nike zip-up hoodie, and my Fabletics vest. I laid it all out, snapped a picture for Instagram (of course), and set my alarm clock. I was ready for bed!
I had to wake up super early for the race. Super. Early. I had to be at the stadium, parked, bag checked, and lined up before 6:45 a.m. I live in Downtown Silver Spring, which is about a 40-minute drive to Annapolis. It was not going to be an easy morning.
Fortunately for me, I actually woke up and got there with plenty of time to spare, which was good, because there was quite a bit of traffic getting to the parking lot at the Navy-Marine Memorial Stadium. But, I am so glad I went and picked up my bib the night before, because it was cold. I'm so glad I didn't have to stand out there for too long before the race!
Let me back up a second. On the road leading up to the stadium, I saw people jogging. I'd read about this on other blogs, so I immediately knew what was going on -- they were warming up. I don't blame them, either. It was seriously ridiculously cold. When I pulled up to the stadium, it was 26 degrees Fahrenheit. That's below freezing, for all of you folks who run in Celsius. If only it was 26 degrees Celsius... Whomp whomp.
|Runners lining up at the start line at TCS Annapolis.|
I found the starting area, and was a little confused. You see, all of the 10k runners had yellow bibs, and the half marathon and marathon runners had red bibs. At the starting line, I saw both yellow and red bibs. I guess everyone is starting at the same time, at the same place? I knew the courses were different, but I wouldn't learn quite yet where things split off.
I soon was chatting up a few other runners who would be running alone. We waited for the speed demons who kicked off the race 10 minutes before the rest of us. Then we waited for the next round of quick people. Then, we were ready to get properly lined up to run. It was nice chatting with them, and we each took turns taking pictures of the others, since we knew it was the only way we were going to get pre-race pics. They were so nice! And actually, everyone I interacted with who was running in the race or volunteering for the race were super nice! Yay runners (and volunteers)!
Okay, so we finally started the race! I started at a slow jog, just to gauge the pace of the people around me. I quickly picked up the pace, and felt good. Just over a half mile into the race, I saw people cutting across grass ahead of our turn. Cheaters! I thought. Then, I looked to see where they were running. Oh. Porta Potties. This totally threw me off, because I could not wrap my head around how people could already have to, ya know, go. We just started, people! I guess when you gotta go, you gotta go!
Anyway, I really hit a groove the first couple of miles. Annapolis is way flatter than Downtown Silver Spring, which is where I normally run. My legs felt really good, and I was running at a faster clip than I had run in quite some time. Yay me! Around mile three is when things started getting weird, though.
Like I previously mentioned, it was super cold. My eyes were watering for the first three miles of the race, at least. Around mile 3, we were down by the waterfront in Downtown Annapolis. It was even colder here, obviously, which made things around the water station a little less than ideal. You see, the water that had splashed on the ground was frozen. Frozen, people! It was like a skating rink down there! I grabbed some water, and sipped it as I tiptoed through this part of the race. I cannot stop for water again, I told myself. I'm too clumsy to survive two water stations.
Just before mile 4, I experienced my first unpleasantness with my body. My left foot started to go numb. I shook it out in between steps, and figured I would just keep it going. I mean, who needs to feel their feet when they're running, right? About a quarter mile later, I answered my own question. Duh! Of course you need to feel your feet! Pull over this 'Lexis and let's see what's going on with the tire!
The last quarter mile takes you around one side of the stadium and back to where you started. The crowd is cheering you on, there are announcers, and a photographer awaits you at the end. So exciting! I didn't see my mom and little sister at the finish line, so, after collecting my finisher's pin (only the half marathon and marathon runners received a medal), I went straight to the volunteers handing out heat sheets.
First of all, I had never heard of a heat sheet before this month. Second of all, I was skeptical of its efficacy. When I saw it, I threw it even more side eye. Then, I copied off of everyone else and let them wrap me in it. I was surprised that it actually worked! It was windy, so I struggled to keep it on me, but it worked out! Wrapped up like a stadium hot dog, I headed over to the bag check to pick up my purse. Alright, so the bag check guy was hitting on me for way too long, so I figured I'd get him to take a picture of me in my ridiculous heat sheet.
Once I finally escaped the bag check guy, I decided to see all that the Runner's Village had to offer. Man! I was impressed! TJ Maxx was one of the race sponsors, so they had tote bags that they were handing out to all of the finishers. Then, I made my way to the food. I took a rock-hard bagel (it was much too cold), a couple of bananas, and found my way to the soup. They had this amazing country tomato soup. It was so good! Delicious! I gobbled that down pretty quickly, nearly losing my heat sheet in the process. Next, I was off to the big tent.
Holy guacamole! Talk about a party! They had oyster bars, beer, cider, and a live band, plus heaters! I didn't think I would want oysters at 9 a.m., but I was wrong. I wanted oysters BADLY! I took a couple from one bar, then tried some baked oysters, which were amazing. I washed it down with a cider, and then was off to the University of Maryland for my volleyball tournament. (My dad said, "you did not have beer at 9 a.m...." I replied, "I did, and I earned it!")
TL; DR: I had a blast running this race! Everyone was so nice, and the course was gorgeous! I sort of wish I had continued with the half marathon training after I took some time off, because I think I totally could have done it with some more training. I felt like I probably could have run faster, but I didn't want to kill myself, since I had the volleyball tournament immediately following the race. Nevertheless, I ran a pace that was good for me and for my body, and I'm proud of myself! I will definitely not be playing any volleyball tournaments after running anything more than a 5k, that's for sure!
How do you deal with pace and finish time when you race? What's the last race you ran? What's the most interesting thing you've ever had to eat after a race? Have you ever done back to back competitions?