Short Race = Short Race Report!
Adam and I signed up for this race in July 2013, yes, 18 months ago thinking that it would be neat to run across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. The Bay Bridge connects Maryland to the Eastern Shore of Maryland over the Chesapeake Bay. Per Wikipedia, the sources of all “official” things: The original span opened in 1952 and, at the time, with a length of 4.3 miles (6.9 km), it was the world’s longest continuous over-water steel structure. The parallel span that was added in 1973. The race takes place on the older, east bound span.
After so much lag time between race registration and race day my enthusiasm for this race was waning. My excitement for running across the Bay Bridge was not encouraged by the uncountable number of emails from the race director, the need to purchase parking passes, pay for beer and finish line food and travel to the start and finish in shuttle buses. With a 4:30am wake up call, a Saturday night dinner and concert on H Street and flash backs of the 2012 Hot Chocolate 15k disaster (massive traffic jams, a late start, a course that was too crowded and then ran into itself, etc.), we were thinking about just sleeping in and enjoying a nice Sunday at home, but when the alarm went off on Sunday morning, we got out of bed, grabbed our clothes and headed off to Annapolis with plan to run a casual race and enjoy a jog across the bridge.
We got there way too early. The instructions indicated that we needed to be on the shuttle before 6:15am for our 7:15am Wave 1 start time, so we arrived at 5:45. I think we may have been the 15th car in the parking lot, oops! We shivered, waiting in a line to get onto idling, warm buses as the dread and fear started to increase, doh! We did, however, get onto a bus, chatted with some other racers and headed to the start. There were some misdirection from the security officers and a missed turn by the bus driver, but we made it to the start with enough time for a picture with the bridge in the background (I couldn’t find these photos of us on the website, although there are plenty of photos that are too dark to see anyone, smh).
RACE START to MILE 2
As we made our way to the start for the first corral, we ran into friend and ultrarunner, Donnie Chapman. He had his game face on as he worked towards the front. I said I was planning on taking it easy and we would catch up at the finish line. The race got started a few minutes early and given how chilly it was, I was happy to start running. As we headed out of Northrup Grumman and onto the bridge it was crowded but not overwhelming, hitting the first mile in 7:25min, perfect. I was breathing easy, chatting and enjoying the view. My HR monitor had other ideas, I am not sure what is going on with that thing, but it was giving me alerts that my HR was too high, over 200bpm. Now, I am no expert but I am pretty sure that 1. that is above my max HR, 2. mere mortals, like me, cannot talk with HRs that high. I am pretty sure that this is a malfunctioning strap but I am disappointed not to have accurate HR data for this race, oh well. We hit mile 2 in 7:17min, again right on the money. We were enjoying the perfect weather and awesome views from the Bridge.
Somewhere after mile 2, as we cheered for the Wingmen and their runners from Athletes Serving Athletes, one of the women let me know I was currently 15th woman. WHAT?! I was taking this run easy and fun, no racing. Now with 5 women visible in front of me, my competitive spirit took over as I dropped my pace down. As I began passing women and fantasizing about a top 10 in a road race with 20,000 people registered, I looked down at my watch- 5:45min/mi, I am pretty sure that is sustainable for me, especially 1 week out from MMTR! I hit mile 3 in 6:07min, trying to decide how long I could hold that pace, I caught up to Donnie and he let me know that the 9th place woman was just in front of us, a running friend of his,Linda-Lou. I continued on, Adam sticking to the pace, as we moved though the thinning crowd. Mile 4 in 6:09min, I guess I could hold it. As we headed off the bridge and the downhill portion ended I slowed my pace a little, really having no idea what kind of pace I would be able to maintain for another 2 miles. After getting off the bridge and through some tightish turns we could start to hear the finish line. As we came into the last mile, I was trying to catch one last women but I still have no idea how much I can push and how long I can hold a given pace (I think this means I need to do more speed work, which might be the equivalent of throwing a cat in the pool for an ultrarunner!).
Adam has finishing speed and can certainly sprint much faster than I can, as I rounded the last turn into the finish line, I could hear him coming up behind me. We kicked it in and crossed the line together with an official time of 40:46. I knew that I had crossed the finish line in the top 10, but given that there were wave starts going until 9:30am I had no expectation that my finish place would hold. I was not going to worry about it, I had enjoyed a morning run with Adam, successfully picked up my pace and accomplished the mid-race goal I had set, not much more to ask for. We met up with Donnie, Linda-Lou and some other Howard County Striders at the finish line and we caught up about up coming race, Stone Mill 50miler this weekend (Donnie running, me captaining an aid station), road racing for ultra runners and an inaugural race. Turns out the guys we chatted with on the bus are running buddies of Donnie’s, small world! We waiting around for 45min trying to see fellow WUSsies Kerry and Doug finish, but with the temperatures dropping and the fear of getting back to our cars via shuttle looming, Adam and I decided to head home. With one more wrong turn by the bus drivers, we made it back to our car!
I am glad that I got my butt out of bed and decided to run across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. While I am not a fan of charging for food and beer at the finish line, not having a gear check at a race in November, or lack of race day or mail packet pickup, I recognize how difficult the logistics are for a point to point race 4 miles across a body of water! This race had the potential to turn into a epic failure, but it was a lovely day with perfect weather and a top 10 finish for me without wanting to vomit! It helps me feel like a sub 40min 10k is doable, which would feel great, maybe one day I’ll decide to run another 10k.
Strava Link (ignore the HR data)