After my still can't believe it time in the Chocolate Mile three weeks ago, I started to get really fired up about long race season. Until I heard the weather forecast for possible snow showers, or much worse, cold rain. Then I wasn't so fired up about it. I made the drive to the hotel nonetheless; I was not leaving at 5-5:30 to drive nearly 50 miles that morning knowing that I still needed to pickup my race packet and the Beltway is always questionable. No drama there, hotel had a microwave, I found a Wawa with bananas for the morning, I was good to go.
After a great (especially for hotel) night's sleep, I was off to Severna Park (MD) High School for the first half marathon of the season. I was all jacked up, although very cold once I got out of the car at the school. So I went into pre-race routine mode, the race number and chip were all set, a brief run and stretch, followed by fixing my watch so I could track my chip time. I was good to go at the starting gun.
I didn't really know what to expect from this race as it was my first long race in winter conditions, or my second race of longer than one mile in winter conditions; the 4 miler on New Years Eve was fun but not really a race. I had a goal of finishing under 2 hours, with 1:55 the "get under that and I'll be thrilled" line. 1:50:39 I ran in Richmond? Not happening, too big of a difference in conditions and on top of that, while I have gone on several long runs on the weekends, I had a lot more races under my "recently run belt" when I ran Richmond.
The course was just about all on the Baltimore & Annapolis Trail, which does not go all the way to Baltimore but I digress. After running through a middle school parking lot, the course proceeded to the paved trail. The trail was open to cyclists or other runners during the race, but I only saw three other runners and no cyclists since it was 7:30-8 AM on a crappy Sunday morning. Nice running surface, not chopped gravel, a couple slick footbridges but heck it snowed a bit the night before so it goes with the territory.
I'm running, staying hydrated, settling in when I came to the one hill at the turnaround, up and down, all under US 50. That was a bit tough but after that my pace per mile kept on getting slightly faster. I didn't look at my watch all that often during this race, pretty much just at the mile markers. I started to notice I was getting close to the 8:30 mile pace. Cool! I knew that 1:51:21 was 8:30 for a half marathon but didn't think I was running that fast. But I kept on keeping on, taking advantage of the water stops, using my own water belt (4 tiny bottles attached to a belt) to help with hydration...and....started to hurt a bit around mile 12.
But I dug in and finished with a chip time of 1:51:09, exactly 30 seconds slower than the Richmond race. I am VERY HAPPY with this, especially given the conditions. I'm so glad I went now, a new experience, chatted with a few people, and verified that my time last year wasn't a fluke. I recommend races put on the Annapolis Striders. The race premium was a light zip jacket that helps with wind prevention, that's a great bonus but both races I've run with them were very well organized (the most important thing by far). I can't wait for the 10 Miler in August!!!
Finally, it looks like I will be making my yoga debut on Saturday at Pure Prana. I'm sure my super duper sized audience is greatly awaiting news of that.