The Longest “13.1” Ever: Annapolis Half Recap

November and December are usually “off” months for me. Eight chill(y) weeks where I can ease up on my training, relax during my daily run, and occasionally leave my (almost broken) Garmin at home.

However, this year, I thought I’d extend my fall running season. My thought process was that a longer fall season would (hopefully) lead to a better spring 2014 season…and maybe a BQ. I’ll trade four weeks of my off-season for 20 minutes off my marathon PR in a heartbeat. So I signed up for the Annapolis Half Marathon thinking a race would keep me motivated.

This plan would’ve worked out just fine, except I forgot about one important thing: fall = crazy, mind-melting schedule madness in the world of me.

Between celebrating our first wedding anniversary, attending family member’s nuptials, getting ready for the holidays, the craziness that is owning/running a business and having to fly across the country for work, I barely had time to sleep…let alone get in a decent run.

Oh, well. What can you do…except line up at the starting line and make the best of it.

So, that’s just what I did yesterday on a very chilly November morning in Annapolis.

I knew this wasn’t going to be my finest race given that my longest run since Akron was seven miles. Friends, Dave and Anthony, were running the race, too, so I thought I’d try to keep up with one of them for a bit. That definitely didn’t happen. I couldn’t even find them at the start…and they both ended up being way too fast for me anyhow. Bummer.

Fortunately, about a half mile into the race, I spotted a girl wearing a pink Oiselle Flyte shirt. She was about 100 meters in front of me, so I sped up to catch her. (Anyone with that kind of (fly) style is worth the extra effort!) The well-dressed runner’s name is Teresa, and it turns out she’s a major Oiselle fan, runner extraordinaire and a new Marylander. (Hey, Kristin Metcalf, I’m sending her your way!) She was great company for a few miles…until my stomach very rudely interrupted us. I knew I had to slow down a bit or risk an intestinal upheaval, so I bid my new friend goodbye and good luck.

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Yeah for new running friends!

The tummy hung in there from miles five to nine. But just as I was about to go back over the Severn River Bridge, with no port-a-potty in sight, it decided it had enough. The panic that ensued is one I wouldn’t wish on my worse enemy. But it’s one I’m familiar with. I’m sure you are, too, especially if you’re a distance runner. So I’ll spare you the icky details.

The running/potty gods must’ve been smiling on me, though.

As I was contemplating several messy/embarrassing scenarios that could unfold on the bridge, I noticed a park and what looked like a restroom at the bottom of a hill near the base of the bridge. I made it down to the little building, and the restroom doors were fortunately unlocked. Joy. Relief. No new embarrassing story to tell. Phew.

The pitstop cost me 15 minutes. And I knew there was no hope for a decent time, so I tried to just enjoy the final four miles. But those four miles were longer than expected.

Earlier in the race I’d heard a few people talking about how the miles seemed too short or too long. However, I’d been so focused on keeping my insides together that I didn’t bother checking my Garmin. (Plus, the old Garmin is on its last leg, so it’s not exactly the best gauge of accuracy.) Yet, in the final miles of a race I was ready to be done with, I started paying attention to my Garmin. Sure enough, a lot of the miles were longer than 5,280 feet.

I was not psyched.

When I saw my husband with (supposedly) two miles left, I was not in the best mood. But I was so happy to see him that I put on a smiley face and pushed through it.

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Only smiling because of that shadow/my husband.

As I neared the finish line, right outside the Navy’s football stadium, I decided to stop being grumpy. I know not every race is going to be a PR. But between my tummy troubles and the long course, I definitely got discourage. Add to that the fact that my good intentions of extending my fall season had backfired, and it made for not my finest racing moment. However, I’ve DNFed a race before and that was much worse than this. So, in the final stretch, I chose to just be happy to have finished another race…with my Oiselle distance running shorts intact.

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With Anthony & Dave at the finish.

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Trailkill

Long run are not my favorite thing. Don’t get me wrong, I love to run. But outside of races, I prefer not do more than 10 miles during a training run. That said, I’ve learned to suffer through an extended number of training miles for the sake of not suffering during races. All of this is somewhat relevant because I had to do a long training run this weekend. I wasn’t particularly excited about it. I already had a lot of miles on my legs for the week, but I went out anyway. To run the time I want at the Akron Marathon in a few weeks, I needed to cover a lot of distance in one (long) shot. So I found myself traversing the paths through the park on Saturday — before most people were out of bed.

The morning was cool and slightly overcast and it felt more like fall than August. Perfect for running. The first couple miles went by quickly, but as I approached the end of the third mile, I saw something in the middle of the path ahead. From a distance, it looked a bit like a beat up basketball. As I got closer, I realized it wasn’t a ball, but a deer. Actually half a deer to be exact. I’m originally from Ohio, so I’ve seen my fair share of roadkill. However, this poor little creature had met another type of foul ending. Her hindquarters were completely missing. I thought she’d been hit by a car, but given that no blood trail or hind legs were in sight — not that I looked all that hard for them — it’s more likely that something else wild got her. Bears are not native to these parts, so maybe it was a coyote. They are pretty scarce, though. So what got her? I spent the rest of my long run on the lookout for whatever was lurking in those woods. Hopefully I never find it.