27 July 2014

Two for one: Unexpected things

My alarm sounded at 0545 and again at 0550; I was definitely a little groggy as I trudged to splash cold water on my face. I drew the curtain back and checked the sky; it was overcast, the clouds layered so the rising sun produced a watercolor of dappled grey sky. Coffee time.

I arrived at Quiet Waters Park, the race site, at 0700, and dropped my gear at the start/finish lot before parking a bit further on. I set up my chair, cooler and pulled out the essentials that I knew I would want during the race: IcyHot roll-on, extra socks, extra running shoes and a few towels. I realized I had forgotten my First Aid kit, my duck(t?) tape and my kinesio tape. Hmm.....

Race prep complete, bib and timing chip attached, I heeded the call for the pre-race brief. The Race Director, Mosi Smith, also a Marine veteran, had graciously invited me to run this race and address the racers prior to the start. Once my comments were over, we paused for the National Anthem and then it was off to the start line. (Throughout the race, as I passed racers or was passed, I had many tell me they appreciated my speech and that it gave them a new perspective on what injured Marines go through in their recovery. In addition, there were multiple runners/volunteers supporting the Semper Fi Fund.)
Other SFF runners with Mosi Smith, race director, on the far left.
The course was a 4.1+ loop on soft asphalt, looping over itself in two places, with several decently sharp climbs and descents. The sky remained benevolently cloudy, the temperature at the start was in the low-70s, with humidity hovering in the 60-65% range - a far cry from the 85+ temps and 90% humidity over the last few weeks of my training.

I started off slowly, not having any desire to blow up halfway through and as seems par for my first few races, feeling under-trained. I purposely did not wear a Garmin, only using my Timex to keep overall time. My plan was to stop every two laps, get food/Gatorade/iced tea, use the roller on my legs and then continue on. I had company for the first four laps, during which the lack of my First Aid kit came into play. On the third lap, I felt a rub, then a raw rubbing on the inside ball of my left foot. I glanced down and saw blood seeping out of my shoe. My first thought? "Hmm, well, that was unexpected." I debated stopping and fixing it, but once the initial rubbing subsided, the area didn't bother me, and we continued straight into lap four.
Lap 2 or 3, before the blister... but already totally sweaty
~2:40 into the race, right after fixing the blister.
No, not glistening, totally sweating. 
I took a longer break than intended after lap four, 16.4 miles in, almost 12 minutes lost, because of the broken blister. My fault entirely as I first had to get Band-Aids, then find someone who had duck tape and then dress my foot. As I slid my foot back into my shoe, I realized I hadn't tightened my laces down under the section where my chip attached, hence the slight back and forth which caused the blister. Lesson learned.

If you've ever run, stopped for a period, then started again, you know how I felt heading back out, especially after having had to sit. Lap five was slow, but the funny thing about all these races is that I have been really unconcerned about how fast I am going. I'm seriously and truly simply happy being there, start to finish. I continued on, stopping after lap six again (and the race staff were great, they took my hand held H2O bottle each time I stopped, uncapped it, refilled it and laid it on the table for pick-up, while also checking if I needed a cold cloth on my neck or ice or food).

The clouds had fled by now, the sun was directly overhead and the temperature hit the mid-80s.

I calculated, based on how I was feeling, that I if I could complete two more laps in around 50 minutes per lap, I would have about five minutes left. Once you pass the five-hour mark, the decision becomes, do I take my flag in case I don't make it around all the way? I completed lap seven with 55 minutes left in the race and I steadfastly refused the offer of my flag. I saw Karen F., with whom I had traded places several times during the laps six and seven, just ahead and called to her, asking if she wanted company on the last lap. She asked me why I didn't have my flag. "Because I'm going to make it around with time left," I replied. "You have more faith than I," she said.

We pushed on, calculating when to pick it up, when to ease it off, and keeping an eye on the clock. We crossed the last water stop, and had almost 20 minutes to get back to the start. We pressed, now in the shaded and winding part of the course. Three bridges left, then two, then the last one and then up the hill to the start/finish. The race staff were calling out numbers as we ascended, so flags could be handed. Karen already had hers, I got mine. I paused to take a walk break, to gather my breath; she kept going. I watched her shuffle ahead and got my final legs underneath me and made it another 3/4 of a mile before the horns sounded. I stuck my flag in the grass, and made my way back with the other flag-stickers to the finish.
No, really, see? Thumbs up, I'm really done.
Karen F. and I at the finish. 
My staging area after the finish -
see my stash of gathered Band-Aids in the hat?
What did my effort today get me? A nice blister and additional perspective on my physical capabilities. 33.54 miles. Hmmm, that was unexpected. Who knew? (Added bonus was my finish, if you're interested: you can see full race results here and or just my stats on the Races & Results page).

Thank you again to the Annapolis Striders for a well-executed and fun race! (Full photo gallery from the race is here.)


  1. Great to have met and chatted with you that first loop!
    Hope to see you at a race again soon!

    1. C - Definitely, and congrats to you on your race! You got this....!