The recap is here!! About 3 weeks ago I ran my 22nd half marathon at the St. Michaels Running Festival. I actually signed up for this race in 2013, but forgot it was the same weekend as my sister’s college graduation (I went to the graduation of course and DNS the race).
I was excited to have this half on my schedule because my friend Emily said this was a flat, fast course (it holds her current PR, which stands today). When she ran the half marathon two years ago, the course was basically an out and back on the main road with little to no shade. After much feedback, the race organizers introduced a new course this year.
St. Michaels, Maryland is a small town located on the eastern shore of Maryland. It is on the Chesapeake Bay side, so it is only a 90-100 minute drive from DC proper. St. Michaels is known as the “town that fooled the British”. During the War of 1812 the town placed candles and lanterns beyond their city confines. The British aimed their cannons towards the light and missed firing at the actual town. St. Michaels is also home to the Inn at Perry Cabin, which is where the movie Wedding Crashers was filmed.
Because this was on a Saturday race, my mom and I decided to leave mid-day Friday to beat rush hour and bridge traffic (once warmer weather hits, people head to the beaches on the eastern shore). It took about two hours to arrive at our hotel in Easton, Maryland. Easton is another small town about 20 minutes from St. Michaels (with lower hotel rates).
Packet Pickup / Expo
Packet pickup was held at the St. Michaels Community Center. We arrived around 3:00PM and parking was easy (and free).
Cute mosaic pieces in front of the community center.
The expo was pretty small with a few food vendors and small running stores. I ended up purchasing some inexpensive sunglasses ($10/each) with a crab print and Maryland flag print.
We walked towards the end of the expo and made a left into a building for our bibs, it was not crowded at all. My number was tucked nicely in a small envelope (which had pre-race instructions and race-day schedule printed on it, just like Across the Bay 10K). We were directed outside for shirt pickup. To be honest, I was really disappointed with the shirt. I was not a fan of the color, design or the material of the shirt (I cannot even describe it… very thick tech tee). It looked like any shirt from any race – no indication of the area we were in (something with a crab or sailboat would have been neat). The 5K/10K shirts were a baby blue color, so much nicer.
After picking up our bib/shirt we walked around the main street (not that long).
There were St. Michaels Running Festival (SMRF) stickers on the windows.
Stopped by a
few every story.
If you are looking for anything crab related…this is the place to go.
Charming homes and bed and breakfasts.
Can I live here please? Love the two story porch and ivy on the side.
Waterfront views are were nice.
I loved the Snuggery sign – the man is tipping his hat to the lady, what a gentleman!
We had an early dinner at a restaurant called Harbourside. It was good, but nothing special.
Race Goals (“A” least probable and “C” most probable)
One of my goals this year is to break 2:30:00 in the half marathon. After battling some foot issues this past winter, I knew a couple more months of training after Shamrock would put me in good place to PR at St. Michaels.
- A – Break 2:30:00 (11:27 min/mile)
- B – Break 2:35:00 (11:49 min/mile) – Current PR 2:32:25 from the 2015 Philadelphia LOVE Run Half Marathon
- C – Break 2:40:00 (12:12 min/mile)
Heading into the race I was feeling confident – my training runs were in the 11:00-11:20 range and I was in much better shape. Unfortunately, I was still experiencing calf tightness days ahead of the race.
St. Michaels Half Marathon
There is one major road that leads you in/out of St. Michaels. Race organizers advised participants to arrive on the earlier side to avoid the traffic. My mom and I woke up at 5:00AM, got dressed and went downstairs to pick up some food from the breakfast bar (Hampton Inn FTW…they opened it early). I had wheat bread + banana + peanut butter….yum! We left the hotel at 5:30AM and arrived at the local high school right before 6:00AM. After this fun selfie (wearing my new crab glasses), I took an hour nap.
I got up, drank some water and went straight to the porta potties (plenty). I really should have gone again. We heard Dave McGillivray give a short speech (he is the B.A.A race director).
The 10K started first, followed by the half marathoners, followed by the 5K. The half marathoners were scheduled to start at 7:40AM, but it was closer to 8:00AM.
The new course was very flat, but there were several hair pin turns throughout the race.
I lined up with in the 11-12 minute section and we were off. I am glad I wore my Flyte shorts because it was already humid out. Ten minutes into the race I knew this would not be a fun one. My calves were still super tight and I had to go to the bathroom (ughhh….already).
For the first 2 miles I scoped out nearby trees and bushes, but I really did not want to go that route. As we approached Mile 2 we entered the tree lined Chance Hope Farm neighborhood and ran past the golf course. It was nice and shaded. Finally there were two porta potties with a longgg line (probably 10-15 people deep). I waited for about 15 minutes before I got to use the bathroom. At that time, I saw my mom power walk by and I was close to last when I started up again.
The homes in the Change Hope Farm community were beautiful. Several of them overlooked the water. Since my time was a bust at that point, I decided to (1) turn off my watch (2) try to catch up with my mom. I am glad I went to the bathroom when I did, because I did not see another porta potty until Mile 4.5.
Around Mile 5.5 I caught up and past my mom. I thought it would be fun to finish with her, but I knew running at her walking pace (which is fast) would kill my calves even more. I decided to walk/run around Mile 6 or 7 and that would still keep me close to her. We ran back towards the town and made a right onto the Mt. Pleasant Landing community. At that point it was heating up and there times we had to share the road with vehicles. When I exited the neighborhood, I knew I only had a mile to go. I passed a guy who was holding a red-soaked shirt… I was hoping it was a Gatorade spill….but I think it was something else (shudder…wish I had bandaids for him). I ran to Mile 13 and stopped to wait for my mom (I knew she wasn’t too far behind.. maybe 5-10 minutes).
I saw her power through and the clock ticket towards 3:01:00.. I told my mom “lets run…you can break 3:01”. As you can see from the race photo below, I was laughing because she said “I don’t like running”.
We crossed the line at 3:01:02, which was okay because that was the gun time (I guess we didn’t have to run hehe). Our official chip time was 2:58:06, which was an 8 minute PR for my mom! Her first half was the 2008 Baltimore Half Marathon and she finished with a time of 3:28:00, a 30 minute improvement in 7 years. As for me, it was fun running in with my mom and I was actually surprised at the time given my breaks. After the race we walked about a mile back to the car and drove back to our hotel. We had a late checkout (12:00PM), but only had time to wipe our face and pack up.
We drove towards the Bay Bridge and had lunch at Bridges Restaurant <— soo good!
It was the perfect setting for post race pics!
The medal shot (you all know how I feel about this).
- Race organizers offered race day packet pickup, which is always nice.
- I enjoy Saturday races, because you still have the whole rest of Saturday and Sunday “free”
- The course is flat, but there are several turns along route.
- May is unpredictable in terms of temperature.. it was hot and humid…but there was a nice breeze since we were close to the water.
- I am glad they changed the course to include the Chance Farm neighborhood, it would not be fun to run on a major roadway.
- I wish there were more porta potties along the course (lesson learned – go again).
- St. Michaels is a cute town and so close to the DC Metro area. Even though we spent one night there, it would make for a nice long weekend. Crabcakes anyone?
- It is nice when running festivals offers multiple distances – they had a 5K, 10K and half.
- Packet pickup was a breeze.
- The half is on the small size with 1,500 runners.
- I did not notice a bag drop at the start, I forgot if the race instructions mentioned anything about it. We left our gear in the car.
- I was not a fan of the shirt or the medal – I thought it was a bit generic.
- There were plenty of water stops and volunteers. I may have missed it, but I only had Gatorade at the later water stops. I should have brought my own bottle.
- If you stay in Easton and finish in the 2.5-3 hour range, you may want to request a late checkout or check out the morning of the race (if you do not mind showering).
- On the way home we passed the outlets, which always makes for a fun afternoon.
I would run this race again, although not every year. It is close to DC and makes for a nice weekend away. I just hope the swag design is a little more creative next year hehe.