Author: Stein Langlie
It was a perfect morning to race the Annapolis Running Classic Half Marathon. I had been anticipating this race for a couple months, and everything seemed ideal. The air was crisp, the sky was clear, and there was music in the air – or soon would be.
Parking was easy and traffic was light. Having heard there may be lines and not knowing where to park, I arrived at 5 AM and parked among the first dozen cars in the huge parking lot. I ambled over to the Start/Finish tent and went to the registration table where I was used as an example to train one of the awesome volunteers – so let’s just say there was no line at 5:10 AM. The tent was well appointed with a stage, food vendors (for after the race) and what looked like a stocked running shop (just like at a bigger race expo). I went back to the car and slept until 6:30, at which point a porta-stop seemed smart. Even with 50+ little portable bathrooms the line took a bit too long and as the final countdown was happening I had to run back to the car to deposit jeans/jacket.
My nine-week training plan was solid in a spreadsheet, but execution was spotty after the first week. I didn’t want to beat myself up with a goal time and generally wanted to keep stress out of my personal running time (as opposed to family time or work time, etc) – so it was a conscious decision to make the spreadsheet a simple activity log instead of a more rigorous instruction book. I ran between 1 and 4 times a week, plus some occasional body weight exercises. Daily runs were 3-5 miles (25-45 min) and a few longer runs were 7-12 miles (less than 2 hours). My neighborhood is hilly, which is good. I arrived at race day with just enough training to grind it out.
I squeezed through the metal chute for the runners and joined the throng just after the gun went off. I wore my trusty Skechers GoRun 4 and it was chilly, in the 30’s. My fingertips were numb for the first 2 miles and toes were numb for probably 4 miles, giving me the ghost-sock / crazy-insole feeling – winter must be coming. While I wore a singlet and shorts, many folks seemed to be overdressed with layers. As the sun shone and hills started coming I felt perfectly dressed.
The terrain started tame around the neighborhood of the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, eventually coasting into the Annapolis harbor. Initially I had to catch up with the 2:10 and 2:00 pace groups, and that’s where I stayed. In the harbor area there is nice smooth brickwork with no pot holes which makes running by the harbor fun. Then the work starts around mile 6. A big out and back starts with the Severn River Bridge, officially known as the Pearl Harbor Memorial Bridge, and that bridge is a beast! Miles 7 – 12 were a long out-and-back hill climb/descent with three out-and-back “fingers” at the top of the hill. It is a fun course, and did I mention hilly? There were plenty of water stops. I stopped for about a minute at mile 7 water stop and had a free GU and a couple cups of water, otherwise I kept moving.
The half marathon started 5 or 10 minutes before the 10K and the course diverged at some point – so that sprightly lad flying by you at mile 3 might be running the 10K. I tried not to look at my watch much, and as the race progressed I saw the 1:50 and 2:00 groups on all of turnarounds – which was helpful for keeping a barometer of pace. Final chip time was 1:56:47 and gun time was 1:57:50.
Post-race, runners walked through a gauntlet of race medals, bananas, bagels, water, tomato soup or broth, and race premium (a nice moisture wicking pullover). And after all that, The Timmie Metz Band rocked out for not one but two sets (the other band had a medical issue). The band was well-rehearsed and covered Steve Miller, Stevie Wonder, Peter Gabriel and a bunch more.
There was decent complimentary beer with Fordham Copperhead and Gypsy Lager, Michelob Ultra, Bold Rock Cider (beer/cider hybrid?) and Old Dominion Root Beer. There were also complimentary oysters. I saw hot dogs and burgers for sale and a cash bar as well. You might over-indulge at this event.
The event was well organized from beginning to end, and the location is both interesting and accessible. Runners and crowd alike seemed to have a lot of fun! There were numerous photographers on the course, and both pictures and videos were available within a week.
On my Garmin the course measured 13.52 miles, similar to a friend’s watch. I could have just ditched the GPS on race day and would never have been the wiser but I suspect the course was long.
I would definitely recommend the Annapolis Running Classic Half Marathon. Maybe next year I’ll see you there!