I was on my way up the Chesapeake Bay Bridge when I saw 10:40 as my current pace on my watch. I was hoping to run the race in somewhere around a 9:00 pace — even though I knew that was probably a stretch — so it was disappointing to see 10:40.
I’d decided before the race, the Across the Bay 10K on Sunday, Nov. 4, that if I was running slower than I wanted to, I’d stop to take a couple photos. So, that’s what I did.
Then, I decided to pick it up in the second half, and see if I’d be able to come in under one hour. I ended up with a time of 1:00:01.4 — one hour and less than two seconds. But I still had a fun time and enjoyed running on such a unique course — the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, which is closed to pedestrian traffic aside from this race. I was not disappointed with my time, as it was still a faster average pace than I’ve been running recently and because of my few short stops.
Race weekend had started the previous day, when I picked up my friend Veronica and we headed to the expo at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis. Picking up our bibs and shirts was easy, although the women’s shirts seemed smaller than last year’s — I think it was a different brand. I got my race shirt and realized right away that there was a spelling error on the front of the shirt — it said “Queen Ann’s” County instead of what it should be, “Queen Anne’s.”
I couldn’t believe it, and this was actually pretty distracting to me while I was at the expo. I kept thinking about how this was printed on thousands of shirts, and how nobody had caught it. Since I was a child, I have been catching errors on things — from shirts to signs to billboards — and these mistakes just jump out at me. It was disappointing and a little surprising that nobody had caught this one before the shirts were printed.
After the expo, we checked into our usual hotel for this race, the Best Western in Kent Island, and went across the street to our usual dinner spot, Fisherman’s Inn.
I hadn’t been feeling my best — I started feeling off the previous weekend and had different symptoms since then. First, I had no appetite. Then, I had a sore throat. Around the time of the race, I had a cough. However, even despite these symptoms, I never felt too bad. I figured I’d still try to run a strong race.
I was disappointed that the 10-miler I’d planned to do for my birthday the previous weekend was canceled, and the only other race that I’m signed up for this year — the Rehoboth Beach Seashore Half Marathon — I am pacing. So, this was basically my last opportunity for the year to see what kind of speed I was capable of.
We headed to the nearby parking lot before 6 a.m. on race morning and boarded the bus. We got a parking spot easily, although one thing I don’t love about this race is that if you want to park in the parking lots for the required shuttles to get to the start line, you have to pay for a parking pass. The pass for this parking lot was $20, which certainly seems excessive to me, when the race isn’t cheap to begin with — I got an early rate, which I believe was $60.
It was not exactly warm on Sunday morning, but I knew that I would be comfortable running in a short-sleeved shirt and shorts, so that’s what I wore. I usually don’t need throwaway clothes.
One thing that is nice about this race is that there are always tons of portable toilets at the beginning. I used the bathroom and was ready to run. Before we got started, we saw fellow Eastern Shore Running Club members Daniel and Robert, who we would also meet up with after the race.
After a few photos, it was time for the race to begin. There are thousands of people in this race, but the waves are spread out by 15 minutes, so the whole crowd doesn’t start all at once. The results showed that there were more than 16,000 participants.
The race starts on the western shore, by Northrop Grumman. There’s only a short period of time — about 0.3 miles or so, if I’m remembering correctly — before you get onto the bridge and start heading up. It’s a long, gradual hill, and it doesn’t feel terrible, but it did feel worse once I got to the second mile. However, it wasn’t anything like the hills I ran at Freedom’s Run last month.
I started to feel pain on the sides of my shins — nothing too bad, but it wasn’t comfortable — and around that time, I saw the 10:40 pace on my watch. I decided to walk for a little bit and take a photo. Taking a photo probably took longer than necessary, because I took my phone out of my SPIbelt and wanted to make sure my car key did not fall out on the bridge. (It was worth the extra time to make sure I didn’t lose my car key.)
I got a picture of people running on the bridge and continued on my way. I stopped to take another photo with a “No Stopping On Bridge” sign. After that, I felt rejuvenated. I was probably at about Mile 2.5, and I decided to pick up the pace. I decided I was going to see if I could come in under an hour.
According to the results, I crossed the halfway point in 31:10, a 10:01/mile pace. There was also a clock on the bridge, and I tried to do some mental math regarding how fast I’d need to go to finish under an hour.
The downhill helped, and I was able to keep up a faster pace in the second half of the race. My last full mile was 9:17, and the last 0.2 — my watch had 0.25 — was run in a 7:29 pace — something I had not seen in a while. I had picked someone to try to pass at the end, but I didn’t quite make it. Either way, I’m pleased I was able to have such a strong finish. I did stop very briefly pretty close to the end — probably within the last half-mile or so — to pick up a quarter on the course. It turned out to be a Maryland quarter, which I thought was cool.
My second-half 5K split was 28:52, a 9:17 average pace. Even though it was the second half of a 10K, it was actually faster than the last two 5Ks I ran, which were both in pretty extreme heat. The weather was perfect for running on Sunday.
After the race, I couldn’t stop coughing, and I felt (and got) sick later in the day. I may have felt sick later anyway, but I probably pushed myself too hard on a day when I had a cold.
I received my finisher medal from a volunteer and noticed that it had a notch on both sides. The first five years were supposed to make a complete puzzle — the puzzle wasn’t supposed to continue indefinitely. As runners, we didn’t know what would happen next — I figured maybe there would be a new puzzle for years six through 10.
It seems disingenuous to lead runners to believe we would have a complete puzzle — even showing a picture of a medal with a flat edge when runners were asked to vote — and then providing a medal with another notch with no explanation. Runners were all over the Facebook page after the race to comment on the medal with the extra notch.
I got a couple bottles of water — I asked for two because I was coughing so much and because I like to have water after — and a couple snacks. I wasn’t a huge fan of most of the available snacks, but I got a banana and also grabbed a bag of pretzels in case Veronica wanted it. There were no space blankets at the end of the race, but since there weren’t any last year, either, Veronica brought one, and we both sat on it, along with Daniel and Robert. There are food vendors at the end of the race, and she bought us some fries.
Although not everything went perfectly, it was still a fun weekend. As I am hoping to cut back my race schedule a little bit next year, I’m not sure whether I’ll be there next year or not yet, but it is a well-organized race, runs smoothly for its size and definitely offers a unique course that you can’t just run anytime.
Mile 1: 9:28
Mile 2: 10:48
Mile 3: 9:49
Mile 4: 9:23
Mile 5: 9:28
Mile 6: 9:17
Last part (watch had 0.25): 7:29
Total: 1:00:03, 9:37 average pace (results time: 1:00:01)