My Favorite race of 2012, the Annapolis Half Marathon.

Because today is the first day of 2013, I find it quite necessary to recap my favorite race of 2012, The Annapolis Half Marathon.  On this day, a month ago, I ran my fastest half marathon. I have been meaning to write this post for a couple weeks now, but I have decided to save it for the first of the New Year, which is the perfect day to look back on some of the highlights of 2012.

The Annapolis Half Marathon was not the first race I have ever run in Maryland, but it was by far the best! I’m going to start out by telling you a little bit about my past races I have run in Maryland. Because I have a bit of history when it comes to running races in that state.

In June of 2008, I ran my first half marathon, the Zooma Annapolis Half Marathon. I remember thinking – I needed to slow down because it was hot and hilly. At the end, I had enough energy to sprint to the finish line, finishing in 2:09:38.37742_772558339986_8135770_n

In 2009, in part of my marathon training I ran a 21 mile training run in Baltimore and then a week later ran the Baltimore Half Marathon. I remember thinking – this is not a race, this is a training run in preparation for The Marine Corps Marathon. Although, cooler, it was still very hilly. The best part of this race was running the last mile downhill to the finish line. I finished this race in 2:03:36.

In August of 2012, I ran the Annapolis 10 miler. It was576866_10100747687225856_912276774_n-3 rolling hills the whole way, and Hurricane Isaac swept through brining us strong winds and torrential downpours. It was one of the worst 10 milers I have ever run, finishing in 1:33:23.

So when my sister said the only free weekend she had available to run a half marathon was the weekend of December 1st, and the only local race was The Annapolis Half, I had mixed feelings about registering.

PROS and CONS

I was a little disappointed because we had already run a race in Annapolis this year, only a month before. Would this be boring? Would we have bad weather again, maybe not another hurricane, but a blizzard could be a possibility. These were some of the thoughts that were running through out my mind. But because the Annapolis 10 miler had been one of the more challenging races I have run, I decided that this would be my second chance to try to conquer the rolling hills of Annapolis, Maryland. I also thought it would be interesting to run a half marathon in the winter – the cold winter weather might be an advantage for me. Plus I would have the opportunity to train for a race in the fall time, which is my favorite season to run in. These ideas made me pumped to register for this race, train, and then run the dang thing.

TRAINING

If you have been following my blog, you most¬†definitely have read all of my training run posts, so I will only touch briefly on my training ¬†for my new readers. I have been running in the Newton shoe since April/May. This shoe is a natural running shoe. It is super light weight and has a 2mm-3mm heel to toe drop. I run in both the Distance U and the Gravity. With this transition, I have worked very hard on my running form. I finally feel very comfortable, with a short quick bouncy running stride, striking my forefoot/midfoot instead of my heels. This race was the ultimate test, to see if all this hard work has paid off… and let me tell ya… it totally did.

RACE 

One of the fabulous pros about this race was that the race was scheduled for a Saturday. This may not matter for people, but it does for me because my days off form work is Friday and Saturday.

So on Friday, I made a pasta dinner for my sister and I. She came over right after she got off work. We ate and then hit the road. Another fun thing about this race was that I rented a Fiat for the drive up! I love that car!29358_10100867389666206_1964257829_n

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When we arrived to the hotel, we prepared for the race by laying out our race outfit and set our alarm for 4:45 am. My race night ritual is laying out my race clothes and everything I need for race day.

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We woke up from the sound of the alarm, not thunder like the previous race we ran in Annapolis (Annapolis 10 miler). This race started at 7:00 am and they advised us to get to the Naval Academy parking lot no later than 6:00 am, because of road closures.

When we arrived, we stayed warm in the car until 6:15 and then we headed over to the start. I found L in the line for the bathroom. Thank goodness. At the Annapolis 10 miler there were no corrals so we ended up missing each other at the start. But we found each other this time, and although it was 40 degrees out we stripped down and ditched our long sleeves. I always want to keep my long sleeves on but I always later get too hot and regret it. I was cold for the first mile but eventually I warmed up and felt perfect.

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At 7:00 am the gun went off and The Annapolis Half Marathon officially began. It was super foggy. I was barely able to see what was ahead. For the first few minutes it was a tad squishy, but I stayed to the outside and found space. For the first 3 miles or so I was flying, running 7:30 minute miles. Then I continued doing an 8 minute mile. I refueled at the mile six mile water station. I was feeling so good and couldn’t believe that I was already half way through. Mile six already… I thought.

The course was rolling hills, and some of those hills were really steep, while others were gradual but never ending. However, because of the fog you couldn’t really see what was ahead, but I knew the hills were there. I felt pretty prepared though, because I had included tons of hill work during my training. But while I was running I realized I don’t hate hills. I am actually really good at hills. Mentally, I started to break the race up by hills. I ran with control going up hill, then I used momentum to pick up speed without wasting energy while going down hill. We got to run over the really big bridge, which was one of the foggiest and prettiest parts of the race.

I continued to keep my pace in check. I looked down and saw 9 minute mile so I picked up the pace again and made sure I was running no slower than 8:45 and no faster than 7:50. When I hit the 10 mile marker I was shocked. I looked down at my watch and saw a 10 miler PR 1:23:00. Could this be true? I felt good, strong, fast. I was excited because I knew I was going to PR! My goal in this race was to finally break 2:00:00, there was no doubt in my mind… I was doing that.

Around mile 12 I felt like I was slowing down a bit so I pulled out my trick. When I feel like I am slowing down I always imagine myself running over hot coals. I kept telling myself, “hot coals, hot coals.” This kept me light on my feet, bouncy and quick. I ended up having enough energy to sprint to the finish line. I got there with a big smile on my face with an official time of 1:51:21.

 

running annapolis

run pics AnnapolisI wanted to post these running pics because I think it is important to evaluate my running form. Trust me no one looks sexy, in their race photos, so keep in mind these aren’t the most beautiful photos of me, however, my running form is right on. And after all that hard work transitioning my stride into a natural runner, I not only ran my fastest half marathon, but I am very proud that I accomplished good running form.

Good Running Form

  • Short strides, trying to land under your center body mass (do not over stride)
  • forefoot/mid-foot striking (do not heel strike)
  • cadence of 180 or higher – tip: imagine your running over hot coals
  • light, quick, bouncy
  • leaning slightly forward, (lean from your ankles, not your waist or hips)
  • head and chin up, always look forward. (do not look down)
  • engage core strength
  • keep shoulders relaxed and arms at a 90 degree angle

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There I am after the race, see what I mean about the fog. The end of the race party was really fun. They had beer, pulled pork bbq, a raw oyster bar. They also gave us a medal, a really high tech long sleeve running shirt, and a hat. Lets just say, “they hooked us up with some awesome swag.”

32322_10100867993780556_2072329249_n-1We spent the rest of the day shopping around along the waterfront of Annapolis.

29566_10100868125017556_206629310_nWe also went to lunch. Of corse I had a crab cake sandwich. Maryland bay crabs are the best, but crab season was over so I went for the crab cake. It was tasty, but the bloody mary was the best part.

16195_10100868127258066_144749273_nNext time you have a bloody mary try it with Absolute Pepper Vodka!

So that was my favorite race of 2012. As of now, for 2013, I am registered for three races in April. I am super excited for all of them but mostly the Nike Women Half Marathon scheduled for April 28th.

Happy New Year and Happy Running!

Questions for you…

  1. What was your favorite race of 2012?
  2. Do you like hilly races?

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