This past Saturday I ran the half marathon of the 3rd Annual Annapolis Running Classic (they also had a 10K distance).
As the name suggests, the Annapolis Running Classic is held in Annapolis, Maryland. Annapolis is the Maryland state capital and approximately 30 miles east of Washington, DC. It is home to the United States Naval Academy, a historic downtown filled with cute stores and restaurants, and sits on the Chesapeake Bay.
This half had one of the most flexible packet pickup options I’ve seen. There were four options runners could choose from (had to be selected during registration):
- Pickup at one of the designated running stores (free)
- Mailing option ($10 fee, only your bib/pin were mailed)
- Race morning (beginning at 5am)
I chose option #1 as I saw my local Pacers Running Store was on the list.
I’ve shopped with Pacers since 2007-they fitted me with my first pair of Brooks Adrenaline GTS. A week before the race, I walked to the Logan Circle Pacers and picked up my bib and running hat (part of the registration fee).
My friends Em and Alyssa were also running the half marathon. Even though Annapolis is only 45-60 minutes away, we decided it would be fun to stay there the night before the race and not worry about waking up super early for the 7:00am start.
Em picked me up after work and it took a little over an hour to get to our hotel (a majority of the traffic was getting out of DC). We stayed at the Westin Annapolis Hotel. By the time we booked the hotel, the runners rate ($129 before taxes) at the host hotel (Loews Annapolis) was already sold out. After some price vs. distance (to/from the start) comparisons we chose the Westin (although it can be pricier, we were splitting the $155 cost by three people). It was .7 miles from the start (a 8-10 minute walk) and the amenities were so nice (heavenly bed and shower, indoor pool). They also accommodated us for a late check out (1:00pm) and even gave us trash bags when we requested them (they did not even give us a strange look when we asked-how professional!)
Prior to dinner we headed towards the expo to:
- Time how long it would take to walk from the hotel to the start
- Pick up some gels
The expo was held in a small tent at the Navy Marine Corp Memorial Stadium parking lot. There were a few vendors and I picked up a running headband with the Maryland flag as the print.
After the expo, Alyssa, Em and I headed to Carpaccio, which was right outside the hotel. It was one of the most delicious Italian restaurants I’ve ever gone to. They had an excellent bread basket (rosemary rolls and a bread-stick with a bruschetta like spread)-I could probably eat those bread-sticks for days. We split the vera mozzarella (think caprese), it was SO GOOD! Apparently the mozzarella is flown in weekly from Italy. I ordered the penne rafalle (pictured below) and we split an almond sponge cake for dessert (also excellent). I would definitely recommend this restaurant!
TSC Annapolis Half Marathon
Half marathon morning was a brisk 40 degrees out. In addition to my usual running attire of tights and tank top, I added a long sleeved shirt, zensahs, headband and throwaway gloves. I also had the trashbag that I used as a makeshift blanket.
Walking towards the starting line (the half marathon and 10K started at the same time).
The 3,800-4000 runners lined up (no corrals) and we started promptly at 7:00am. I ditched my trashbag wrap and off I went!
The race course below-the first half was mainly flat, with the first major incline between miles 5 and 6, rolling hills from 6-9, and then returning to the incline between miles 9 and 10.
The first five miles went through historic downtown Annapolis. It was gorgeous running by St. John’s College, the Naval Academy, and the waterfront. I realized I should visit Annapolis more often!
I felt great, the cold air was crisp, and my splits were better than two weeks ago (between 11:00-12:00mm) for the first 5 miles.
Running through downtown Annapolis.
Then it was time to traverse the Naval Academy Bridge-it was steep! I utilized a 30 second walk and 30 second run combination to the top. I could see the lead runners returning as I was making my way over the bridge-so jealous!
Miles 6-10 included the bridge and rolling hills. For some reason my splits were wayyy off (I was not using a GPS enabled watch, but relied on my Timex to manually capture the splits on my chrono setting). I was thrown off as I typically run consistent splits (I had variances of anywhere between 1-4 minutes per mile, excluding the bridge). I wish I had my Garmin so I could get an accurate picture of where each mile was and my split. The nice part of the out and back race is that I was able to see Em and Alyssa during the course.
A bit flustered with my pace, I adjusted it a bit when I calculated (yes I do math while I run) that I could definitely PR. I may have slowed down too much because when I reached mile 13, I realized I had to sprint to PR! I ended up finishing almost 1 minute faster than two weeks ago at 2:49:11. A bit disappointed and a few “if only…” I reminded myself that I should be happy with this PR, it was a hilly course, and my overall improvement this year (PLUS-I finally…after 6-7 years…finished before the running juggler).
At the finish line with my old college roommate Alyssa. This was her second half marathon and she PR’d as well!
Post brunch (at Miss Shirleys) with one of my oldest friends, Em.
I can’t believe I ran 6 half marathons this year (and 11th overall)! This was my last half of 2013 (so sad, but so excited for 2014).
- I liked the packet pickup options and the flexibility to visit your local running store.
- Net proceeds go towards charitable organizations.
- Annapolis is gorgeous in the fall and it was perfect running weather.
- If you are in it for the race swag-this race is for you! This year we received a hat, long sleeve finishers shirt, medal, and socks all in Maryland colors (Maryland pride!)
- If you are not a fan of steep or rolling hills, you will not like this half (the 10k ends before the bridge).
- Great group of volunteers!
- There was no water for the last 2 or 3 miles of the course-this reminded me that I should be prepared for such scenarios. Luckily it was not hot out, so it did not really impact me.
- There is a post race festival, but I headed back to the hotel so I could have brunch 🙂
As I mentioned earlier, I had an inkling something was off with the markers. According to posters on the TSC Annapolis Facebook Page, several runners had 13.4 as the total mileage from the run. A nice poster named Jim figured out why we all ran .3 miles more! Prior to the race, he studied the turn by turn instructions. During the half he realized runners continued down a road and turned around instead of making a right turn towards the bridge (apparently there were no volunteers and the cones made it seem as if this was the course). This accounted for the additional .3 miles. What an excellent lesson learned-for both runners and the race organizers.
Even though there were some kinks (no race is ever perfect), I enjoyed the TSC Annapolis Running Classic and I would return again (primarily to best my time from this year). I may even consider running the 10K distance too!