This year I decided I would officially register for the event and use it as a training run. My plan was to get in 20 miles of training in preparation for Mexico City Marathon. Scot also decided to register. So, yesterday we drove to Annapolis early Saturday morning and made it to Quiet Waters Park before the park opened. We were able to get a much closer parking space than last year, and we set up our "camp" with chairs and a cooler filled with cold drinks and frozen juice pops.
The weather was hot and muggy and there was a chance of storms after noon. The six hour event started at 7:30 AM, so we were hoping to beat the rain. We were never going to stay dry though; the humidity was 95% at the start, so everyone was a little moist before we even started.
We met up with several friends, some of whom had run last year. I was planning to run with Karen. She needed to do a 14 mile training run. Scot was planning to go for marathon distance. Everyone had their own goals, and none of us were happy about the weather.
|Alan, Donna, Scot, Sandy, Paul, Lisa, Karen (not pictured: friends Cathy, Drew and Jeremy)|
|Karen and I are ready to get some miles in|
The Star Spangled Banner was performed by two girls, one on violin and one on trumpet. It was a very unique way to hear the national anthem, and everyone applauded. Then we all walked a short distance on the trail to the starting mat. We were on a standard bike/multi-use trail, so the runners went back quite a ways. Karen and I started toward the back so we could let the faster runners go first and wait for the crowd to thin out.
|Runners getting ready to start - hi Alan and Scot!|
|The girls playing the national anthem|
And then we were off, staring in the woods where the air was thick and humid, but it was a pretty setting. The loop was the same as last year: just over 4 miles long. It had a few hills including one steep one. Most of the course was shaded but there were a couple spots that weren't. The sun came out a couple times, but otherwise it was overcast.
I made the mistake of not visiting the bathroom before the start. As other runners know, sometimes you don't need to go until you start running and the impact and jostling around do their thing. Finally, we came upon bathrooms toward the end of the first loop. I could run much more comfortably after that, but never fast. The plan of sticking with 4:1 run/walk intervals didn't pan out. I don't know about Karen, but I was feeling sluggish and had to walk a lot. She graciously walked with me whenever I needed to. I don't think she was too upset about that.
|The only photo I took during the run was of these brightly colored orange mushrooms along the trail|
Between each loop we took a break at the "camp" and partook of the popsicles or items from the aid station, refilled water bottles and added ice. We saw other runners we knew on our breaks and chatted. Then we set out for another loop. After three loops we were on our break and Scot came in from his fourth loop. He was feeling sick from the heat and decided he should stop. He needed to cool down and then replenish his body with fluids and food. So, he got in just over 16 miles and I got just over 12. I was OK with stopping. I wasn't sure if I would do my full 20 miles anyway. But this made it not my decision, and that was a relief.
We headed home early to begin our heat recovery. When we were almost home a downpour started. Karen told me, via Facebook message, that the rain started just as the runners were walking over to the picnic shelter for the post-race meal and awards ceremony. Lucky that the rain held off as long as it did. Most of my friends didn't meet their goals on this day. Endless Summer had an early end for some of us, or reduced distance for the others. And that's OK. It's what happens in this kind of heat and humidity. You need to listen to your body. You need to run by effort and not strictly by pace. And you need to be smart enough to stop before risking a medical emergency. This was a well organized event by the Annapolis Striders. I was pleased to see that as we departed, the race director was checking on people who looked over-heated and made sure people were doing OK. I hope no one had a heat related emergency.