I’ve discovered a few things while participating in the Annapolis ZOOMA 10k on May 31st:
- Running skirts are awesome.
- Failing to study the race map beforehand is NOT awesome.
- And I don’t like running a race solely for a personal record. Not one tiny bit.
First, some back-story. See, because a few of my running pals talked me into signing up for Disney’s Wine & Dine Half Marathon, (oh, like that was hard, woman please,) I registered for only two local runs this year–the Baltimore Women’s Classic 5k (this weekend, can’t wait,) and the Baltimore Marathon. I still need a new proof of time for the Glass Slipper Challenge registration in July, though, so I signed up for the Annapolis ZOOMA in hopes of a killer PR. And bonus! The main setting for my current manuscript takes place in downtown Annapolis. Awesome research opportunity! I’ve heard that it’s a hilly race, but eh, my road is full of hills so that didn’t worry me much. (I’ve even named my hills. The biggest is Bertha. Bertha is a bugger.)
Still, I didn’t feel very prepared for the race. My mind had been a jumbled mess after spending all week in the basement editing, restructuring, and trying to fix a manuscript. There’s something not right with the story, something I can’t put my finger on.
And when my writing is not right … I don’t feel right.
The Friday before the race, however, I did get excited when a package from Lululemon arrived! I’ve been eyeing their Pace Setter skirt for over a year now, but … this is bad … I worried about looking too old for it. Don’t get me wrong – I love it when gals of all ages, shapes, and sizes rock running skirts, but I’m often not as kind to myself as I should be. Leg-covering capris have become my comfort zone, but screw it. The ruffles are adorable so I finally bought the sucker and paid rush shipping so it’d be delivered in time. And I’ve also decided to not bother with self tanner this summer because it’s a total pain. Double screw it. I’m pale. In ruffles. It’s all good.
Which brings us to Saturday morning. With Annapolis being an hour away, we planned on leaving at 5:00am so I’d be there in plenty of time, but yeah, that didn’t happen. Being late makes me anxious–especially when running a new race–so I was pretty tense on the drive there. But just like Bob predicted, it was totally fine. We arrived at about 6:20, found a great parking spot, and even had time to snoop around a bit before heading to the start line.
After drinking some water, hitting the port-o-pots, and doing my normal pre-race jitter routine of retying my shoelaces, redoing my ponytail, contemplating over whether or not to wear a visor, bugging Bob with at least three is my race bib even questions, (Lord, that man is patient,) and fighting off Phantom Pee Syndrome, (where your empty bladder messes with your head by swearing it’s full, just for funsies,) I made my way to the start line.
First mistake: Rather than be confident and stand near the beginning of the 9-minute pace group, I went to the front of 10. Second mistake: I stood right by a loudspeaker. A very loud loudspeaker. My eardrums are still ringing.
After some announcements and a playing of the Star Spangled Banner, we were off!
Now. Here’s where I would love to talk about the race course and share photos taken along the way and maybe some insights about my fellow runners, like how one gal had a sign on her back in celebration of her fiftieth race. But besides that tiny tidbit, I got nothing. I was too focused on PR, too obsessed with my Garmin, too worried about time, time, time, rush, rush, rush to pay much attention to my surroundings and gorgeous landmarks. I didn’t ponder about the other runners, wondering what their story was or which goals they were trying to accomplish. I didn’t have fun, which is why I sign up for races to begin with!
Instead, I fretted over my pace. (Well, I did force myself to take in the scenery while running down Main Street, since it was my big goal later to find Uncle Bob’s Fudge Kitchen in hopes it will work for a scene, but that was about it.)
And later, those frets turned into sheer panic over not remembering where the 10k turnaround was. I kind of thought it was at the four-mile mark, so after four came and went … I started to freak out, my mind a flurry of anxious worry. Did I miss it? How could I have missed it? No, surely I didn’t miss it. But what if I did, am I stuck running the whole half marathon? I haven’t trained that far. My time would suck and I needed a good PR. Should I ask the runners near me? No, no, they’ll think I’m stupid. And for the love of God, WHY DIDN’T I STUDY THE MAP???
But then–glory, glory, hallelujah, somewhere near the end of mile five, (at least I think it was, I don’t know, my mind was still in Anxious Worryland,) a guy dressed as a nun was using a megaphone to notify 10k runners of the turnaround mark.
Thank God for nuns.
I turned. I took a deep breath. It was all good, so I told myself to just relax and enjoy the rest of the race.
That lasted for about a minute until I checked my Garmin and PR Laura returned again. (Girlfriend seriously needed to chill.) By that time, my legs were aching and I must have sounded like a wheezing emphysemic cow, but I was determined to finish in 54:00 instead of my initial goal of 57:00. Soon the Navy Stadium came into sight and there was one last curvy hill to battle. (Bertha would not be impressed with that hill, but still, it was a challenge for me by that point.)
(My Garmin showed a longer distance, but I did have to do some bobbing and weaving during mile one.)
Still, despite being happy, I’ve decided that unless I need a specific proof of time for a future registration, I’m not going to run races for PR only. It stresses me out and I have enough stress in my life. Running is my comfort, my safe place, my joy. Joy should not be timed. Instead, I’ll gather PRs during home runs, which might not make them “official,” but it’s fine–my runs, my rules, being happy is always best.
(It was great reading this recap over at You Signed Up For What–she had lots of great pictures of things I missed!)
Anyway, back to the recap. After finishing, it took some hunting to find Bob who was chatting with the guys selling pain cream in the village. (He didn’t think I’d finish that fast.) I grabbed a Tigers Milk, water, and a snack box, (went for the chicken salad–very yummy,) before getting this shot.
We then wandered around the village, checking out the booths and enjoying the atmosphere while listening to the band who were pretty great!
After taking some selfies by the finish line, I did some cleaning up in the car, (there was only so much baby wipes can do,) and we headed for the next part of our adventure: Touring downtown Annapolis.
What an absolutely adorable place!
My mind was going into overdrive, noting everything to use later. And what was this? Chick & Ruth’s Delly, where an episode of Man vs. Food was filmed? Oh my gosh. My entire family loves Adam Richman. (I’m so glad that he’s healthy and happy now. And did you see his cover photo on the British Cosmopolitan? Holy soccer ball!)
Anyway, we sent some pictures to our boys and considering trying the challenge ourselves … for like, only one or two seconds since we’re not insane. Instead, we grabbed some bagel sandwiches at another diner which we later regretted after seeing a restaurant selling crepes. Crepes??? We love crepes!
The Kunta Kinte-Alex Haley Memorial commemorates the place of arrival of Alex Haley’s African ancestor, Kunta Kinte, to the New World, as told in the book Roots. It is located in Annapolis, Maryland at the head of the City’s harbor.
This Memorial is the only memorial in the United States that commemorates the actual name and place of arrival of an enslaved African. It portrays in word and symbol Alex Haley’s vision for national racial reconciliation and healing, and symbolizes in Kunta Kinte and his descendants the triumph of the human spirit in very difficult times. The Memorial includes a sculpture group of a seated Alex Haley reading from a book on his lap to three children of different ethnic backgrounds.
Very lovely! By then, I was ready for a post race celebratory beer, so we did some backtracking to find the entrance of Pusser’s Waterfront Dining … which made us chuckle a bit in confusion before our bartender told us the story of Pusser’s Rum, something neither of us had heard of before.
From there, we watched boats come and go on Ego Alley, but something on the water soon caused all the ladies to ooh and ah, gushing in adoration. Was it a multi-million dollar yacht? One of the shirtless middle-aged men driving said multi-million dollar yacht? No. This happened.
After spending a couple of hours relaxing, chatting, and people watching, we moved on to the next part of my book research quest: Visiting Uncle Bob’s Fudge Kitchen, where my character goes for a caramel apple. It did not disappoint!
They also sold souvenirs, tee-shirts, and other novelty items that gave us quite the giggle. Especially this. I give you … BACON!
My man loves bacon. He nearly cried when we ate breakfast at the Polynesian Resort after the Enchanted 10k and the waitress brought him his own bowl of extra crispy. Look closely. You might see the tears in his eyes.
After another hour or so, we headed home which brings us to the end of my very long recap. All in all, I really enjoyed myself at the Annapolis ZOOMA! It was very well organized with great swag, (shoot, forgot to get a picture of that,) so we plan on going back next year. This time, however, I’m going to do the half marathon and we’ll make it more of a weekend by staying Friday and Saturday night to really enjoy all that downtown Annapolis has to offer.
And I will most likely wear a running skirt.
And if PR Laura returns again, she might just end up in the water.
Happy running! 🙂