Sunday, August 24, 2014

2014 Annapolis 10-Miler Race Report

Disclaimer:  There will be, at times in this report, references to "my throbbing groin."

Go on, get it over with.  

But -- seriously, my groin has been tight, and I can't seem to find the answer.  Rest, stretching, foam rolling, "The Stick"(tm) all aren't really helping as much, or as quickly as I would like.  

But but -- I took a week off, which helped some.  But I can't afford to take a month or something off.  So it isn't really stopping me from running, but it IS stopping me from running fast. 

Follow me? 

Fine, screw you people, doing this race report for ME at this point (which wouldn't surprise me if that's how many readers this blog even has).

Seven years ago, when I would often "Race to Train," instead of "Training to Race," I did this course.  It's VERY hilly, and, because it's in late August, it's often quite hot.  I struggled, and finished with just about my worst 10-mile time of about 1:40, call it 100 minutes.

Out of the blue, I just kind of noticed that this race was there, and was the same day as the Quantico Sprint Tri.  I chose the A-10, for reasons I can't really explain.  Maybe this year is just about getting rid of demons.  But I signed up for it.

This race has a lot of good going for it:

1.  It's cheap for a 10-mile race, $65 if you register early on.

2.  They give GREAT premiums, like a race jacket.  One year I think they gave out watches.

3.  Parking is spacious and easy to reach.

4.  This course is in Annapolis MD, starting out at the Navy-Marine Corps stadium, and winding through Annapolis' bars/restaurant area, as well as some really lovely residential sections, all with residents sitting out to cheer you on, or even spray you with a garden hose (in a kind way, not a "get dafuq outta here" way).

The "bad," isn't much, but again, it's AUGUST in Annapolis, and this is the hill profile:

Those are some SERIOUS climbs.  You go up and over the Naval Academy Bridge TWICE, and also engage in some serious ups and down as you run this thing.  They warn you on the registration page that this is NOT the course where you're going to PR.

I learned the hard way seven years ago.  No need to convince me today!  The hills, along with the sun, aren't to be taken lightly.

Plus, with my training for Fall races, I'd already run 10 miles the day before the race.  So I was determined just to get this thing over with.  The problem was, as with so many things, my groin was tight and I couldn't seem to stretch it out and/or loosen it.

Asking for maturity here . . . .

It's been tight on one side for about a month, and the stuff I mentioned before isn't fixing it as quickly as I'd like.  Still, I'd been forced to miss the MD HEAT race for work, and now this race was looking dicey.  So I made myself a promise -- just finishing this thing would be cause for celebration, and if ANYTHING hurt, I would walk.  I just didn't want to pull out of this race.

Anyway, I woke up at FOUR EFFING O'CLOCK IN THE MORNING to go to this race, so I was damn well going to be careful about how I did it.

I grabbed my stuff, drove to Annapolis, snapped this shot of the sunrise at the stadium, and waited for the start.

HOONK!  The air horn sounded, and off we went.

Miles 0-3:
Herman Cain would love this stretch.  

Each one of these miles took 9 minutes flat:  So:  9, 9, 9.

Ordinarily, I'd expect to go faster for a 10 mile run, but I was seriously-not-kidding doing my best to run without taxing myself very much.  I was actually kinda pleased that my groin wasn't throbbing, so much as just needing a good stretc-SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP.

Mile 3-4:  (9:50)
This was slow, but I walked through a water stop, took a Gu, swallowed a salt tablet, and then (for part of this), we began to approach The Bridge.

This is the Naval Academy Bridge, and, from all appearances if you're a runner, it goes STRAIGHT UP TO THE SKY SERIOUSLY WHERE IS THE TOP OF THIS THING?


This was not fun.  The good news was that I made a little time as I . . . went down.

Mile 4-5:  (9:25)
Not as much time gained as I had lost, but I was still happy -- I hadn't hit 10 minutes per mile yet.  Unfortunately, you never make up the full amount of time that you lost going up.  No biggie.  We headed into some really nice, pretty residential areas of Annapolis.  Many residents stood on their lawns, cheering us on, some even had set up sprinklers for the runners to go through.

Yes, wearing a Washington Nationals shirt in the heart of Maryland.  Sorry, O's fans.

 Miles 5-7: (9:46, 9:47)
These miles were slow, but we were really doing some roller coaster hills, and I wasn't going to worry too much about it.  There was a funny stretch where, starting at mile "late 5" until ALMOST mile 7, we wound our way down a loooooooong gentle downhill, while the whole time faster people climbed up the other way.  

It was the worst preview of things that were going to suck I'd seen since the new Ninja Turtles trailer.  I halfway hoped those people over there were running a different race than us ("Oh hi, A-10 runners!  We're not doing your race, ours is called the half-mile-uphill-suicide-scramble!  Have fun going downhill more!").

Finally, after an excruciatingly long amble down the gentle hill, we turned Up, where I felt every one of my increasing-years.

Uphills give me gas.  Well, so do downhills.  And popcorn.

 It was Not Cool.  My groin was at its Most Annoyed part of the day.

What, my blog?  No argument there.  But the hill did too.
Miles 7-9: (9:35, 9:30)
I looked down at my Garmin as I began mile 7, and realized that if I held a sub-10 minute pace, child's play on any non-throbbing-groin run, I could get a course PR.  Here I was, SEVEN years older, and potentially able to run this thing faster.  My groin was tight, but not painful.  I knew that if I started to open up any amount of speed, I'd (re?)injure myself.  So I just focused on keeping a steady, not fast pace.  Miles 7-8 and 8-9 came in seconds apart.

Note:  This section covered that Naval Academy bridge again, and I had a blast this time.  I kept my stride short, my lean forward, and my mind on beating 10 minutes.

Mile 9-10:  (9:00)

Just like that, my last mile was the same speed as the first three miles.  

The Red Shoes of Doom(tm) still carrying me along!
 I'd done it!  I'd PR'd this monstrosity of a course by less than 5 minutes (which isn't anything to sneeze at for a 10-mile race), and I was walking (mostly) normally.  One of the members of the Annapolis Striders handed me a cold wet towel, and I happily went and got race jacket finishers premium.

I hate you all.  So much.

Sometimes you have a race plan, and the plan is this:

Don't race, just run.  Have fun.  And sometimes, that's enough.  It was today.

Race by the numbers:

Blah.  At last check I was in the top 51% of my AG (ouch, as in, bottom half).  I need to wait for more official numbers when it comes to OA (edit:  looks like I was only in the top 41% of all finishers).  I have to say -- this is a freaking FAST field of runners.  I saw very few people who liked like, well, me.  Damn.  So many thin, fast people.  Meh.  More post-race bagels for me. 

I had about a 70-second positive split (boo!), but considering the hills loaded onto the second half of this course, it really shouldn't be that surprising.

Things I learned:
 1.   I need to massage my groin more often and otherwise take better care of it if I'm going to feel better.  BLOG OVER I'M NOT EVEN LISTENING NOW GO FOR IT.

I'm so not even going to dignify this with a caption.  Besides this one.