Earlier this month I ran the inaugural Across the Bay 10K- A 10K that covers the 4.3 mile span of the Chesapeake Bay bridge in Annapolis, MD. Years ago, there had been walks across the bridge. I remember being little, and my grandmother would tell me about them. I used to think “That’s so cool! I want to do that one day!” The Bay Bridge walks were discontinued after 2006 due to construction and conservation activities in and around the area. This was the inaugural run of the brand new 10K!
I signed up a year ago when I first saw organizers were holding the event. They were holding an early bird pre-sale with a $50 entry fee. I decided it was one I wanted to do and snapped up the early registration deal. When the regular registration opened, people had to get on a list to have the ability to register at certain times. The race was a complete sell out, but many charities were popping up with entries (including my old friend TNT.)
I wasn’t sure if I would be able to run this race. I was having foot problems after the BRF and MCM10K. The PT I saw was very on the fence about it, but in the end recommended that I skip it, citing that it was not a momentous race for me.. and that I probably should just focus on healing and getting back to training. At the time, I agreed, but I also kept it on the back burner.. thinking I could (maybe) do it if I was feeling better.
The whole week before the race, I was still on the fence. I had no real soreness.. but my foot felt off from time to time. I did a couple of short easy runs that week and they were ok. I had ordered new shoes (Adrenaline GTS 14’s) that were the next step up in support from my Ravenna 5’s. But I was still unsure. I was feeling great before MCM10K too, and the pain still came back. Thursday before the race, my husband was talking to me about it and said he’d been chatting with his co-worker about it too.. both had agreed that I should just do it and walk if I had to. He knew that I had wanted to do a bridge walk since I was a kid and now I had the opportunity.. and it was going to be a nice day.. so I should just go and take it easy. I decided he was right and that I wanted and felt like I could do it.
Saturday I drove down to Annapolis to the Navy-Marine Corp stadium, for packet pick-up and expo. I had a few complaints regarding the race, and this was one of them. I REALLY wish there had been either satellite or race day packet pick up, because I live an hour away from Annapolis. Sadly, there was only Friday/Saturday pick up at the expo at the stadium. I was down there for MAYBE half an hour total. It was a complete inconvenience to drive an hour out of my way and an hour back, only to return the next day and drive another two hours to/from Annapolis. Not only did it suck for my gas tank.. I also had to take tunnel tolls into account. 4 tolls at $4 each is not exactly cheap my friends. I would have preferred to drive down only once. Maybe there will be a number of complaints about this and they will change it for the future.
I stated that I spent maybe half an hour at the expo.. which is another complaint I had. Packet pick up and the expo were held outside. In November. In Maryland. Yep. It was one of those days where it was sunny, so it felt warm in the car, but it was chilly outside. It was kind of windy too, but of course, I didn’t realize this until I was there. Parking at the expo was fine- no issues, plenty of spaces, and very easy to get to the stadium and the lots. I left my big heavy winter coat I had brought in the car.. thinking I should have brought a lighter weight one with me.. and I would be hot inside the expo, and would have to carry the bulky thing around. I walked all the way up to the stadium, got inside, and realized that packet pickup was being held right there on the main concourse. If you’ve ever been to a stadium, then you know that the main concourse is shaded, but outside. Well the shade, plus the cold, plus the wind, made it very uncomfortable to be out there.
I picked up my packet without issue, and headed in the direction of everyone else looking for the expo. I found the line for the parking passes and decided to buy one. Complaint #3: paying for parking. The parking for the race was very well organized (at least from my experience. There were several satellite parking lots to choose from, with buses to shuttle you from the parking lot to the race start. HOWEVER, to park in one of these lots, you had to pay $10 for a parking pass. It doesn’t sound like a big deal.. but it just rubbed me the wrong way. Why not absorb the costs in the race fee instead of nickle and diming people? I don’t know the area well, and I don’t want to park in someone’s neighborhood to avoid paying for the lots (which I saw people doing, and if I were a resident, I’d be really mad about it.) I’ve been to so many races.. even Baltimore City has free parking on race day. Anyways, I begrudgingly bought one, because I really didn’t know the area, and I wasn’t about to get lost trying to find parking.
I continued on around the stadium. On the field below, they were holding a kids race.. which was cute. As I walked along, I kept silently wishing/hoping that the expo part would be indoors. False hope. I picked up my shirt and entered the expo. I kind of did a quick walk through, keeping an eye out for the official race merchandise booth (which was way over-priced and didn’t see anything worthwhile anyways) and a booth selling the Amphipod hydration belt (of which my husband is really interested in.) I didn’t see the hydration belt.. but I did ALMOST buy a jacket from the Charm City Run booth. I tried it on and everything.. it was so much warmer with it on! The price tag was $150 (ouch!) and they were offering a 20% discount (still ouch.) I joked with them and asked if I could borrow it for a little while.. but in the end I sadly decided not to buy it. I just couldn’t justify the price tag when I could go to Marshall’s and probably get almost the same thing 70% cheaper. (Which btw, I did end up doing :-p but that’s not part of this story.) I browsed my way through the rest of the expo, not really wanting to delve into anything else because I was cold. I did pick up a free sample of some Greek yogurt dip and carrots, which was yummy. I decided to leave and hit up Wawa for some coffee to warm me up and a sandwich for lunch before heading back home.
On the way home, I decided to stop at another local running store, Holabird Sports, to see if they had the Amphipod belt. They didn’t, but I say they had a hand held phone case. I had been looking for something like this, because A- I like to take pictures on the courses I run, and it’s annoying to keep putting it in and out of my belt on the go. And B- I have a pair of Bluetooth headphones that don’t work very well when my phone is waist level (I don’t think the signal can cut through the body very well when you are running) So I usually end up holding my phone as I run anyways. i had been looking at this model on amazon.. and it looked like the only one with a camera opening. I pulled it out of the package and tried it out.. and besides the weak Velcro at the bottom (which could be reinforced) I thought it was perfect, and decided to buy it.
According to my race info, I was assigned to Wave 4 on race day. There was to be 20,000 runners and walkers participating, and the race start would be phased over 10 waves, each starting 15 minutes apart. My race day instructions told me to be on a shuttle bus by 7am for my wave 4 start. I wanted to make sure I was early, So I planned on being down there around 6:30 am… which means I had to leave my house at at 5:30.. which means I was up at 4:30. Yeah me. I didn’t sleep very well. I just kept ruminating over the thought of getting to the parking lot, only to be told it was full and I’d have to find another one.. and in turn, missing my start. The parking lots, while there were a number of them, didn’t have the capacity to hold the amount of people they were expecting for the race. The race information stated the capacity for each lot, but if one was full, you’d have to go find another one. I had decided just to go back to Navy-Marine Corp Stadium, because I knew where that was, it was easy to get to, and it had the most available parking at 3,000 capacity.
As I was approaching the exit ramp from the highway in Annapolis, traffic was lining up in the right the lane to get off. Here’s the traffic.. and so it begins. The line of cars were slow (had to get through a couple of lights on the way) but it moved gradually. I got to a stop light where I had turned on Saturday to get to the stadium parking lot.. no one was turning there! Not even the buses that were clearly the shuttles to the start. All the traffic seemed to be trying to go through the light instead of making the right. I decided to follow a truck in front of me and turn. I wasn’t sure if the access to the lot was closed.. or if the lot itself was full, but I figured I had been that way yesterday, and the worst that could happen is that I’d be diverted or turned away. When I pulled around to the lot entrance it was wide open.. only a few on-coming cars making the turn into the lot. I got flagged into the lot no problems and found a nice, quick parking spot. There must have been a different “main” entrance or something that everyone was trying to get to that I avoided somehow. Sweet!
I was about 15 minutes later than I’d hoped to be (due to the traffic) but followed the stream of people to the shuttle buses and found myself on a bus 5 minutes later. The only way to access the starting line was via the shuttle buses. Runers could not be dropped off or park at the starting line. At first, I thought the whole bus thing would be a nightmare. But there were a TON of buses around. Even when one filled up rather quickly, another 5 were behind it loading people. It was very smooth for an inagural event and I was very impressed by the logistics.
It was about a 10 minute ride to the start area. When we arrived, I hopped off the bus and searched for a bathroom. There were a ton of port-a-pots sitting to the side of the parking lot we were in.. and there was zero line. I figured being there pretty early was the reason. there were also signs up stating there were more bathrooms o the other side of the building, where everyone was walking to the start. At the staging area, you could try out the cup-less water tank systems they were using in the race, and have your picture taken in front of the bridge with the sunrise in the background it was so pretty!
Once I was situated, I headed towards a big banner that said starting line corral. I wandered over as the MC was announcing that it was a few minutes away from starting. But it was around 7:30.. I wasn’t supposed to start until 8. I thought maybe they were talking about the people further up by the start, because I was kind of in the back, but as we started and walked briskly towards the starting line I realized that I was starting the race.
We ran along a little path and around the corner and suddenly, we were on the bridge!
I started with my 4:1 intervals and figured if my foot started to deteriorate, that I would back off and maybe even walk the rest. Lucky for me.. my foot held up well, and I had no foot pain for the duration of the run (I didn’t have pain again until the following Friday, as I described in my Dopey Week 20 post.)
Running the bridge was fantastic. It was one of the most beautiful courses I had ever been on. I got to take some amazing pictures!
At the finish line, they announced my name.. kinda weird to hear it shouted out.. but cool. Finishers were given a baggie of food, a banana, a Mylar blanket, a bottle of water, and of course, our finisher’s medal. I took my stuff and found a place in the field at the celebration festival to sit and recover. I ate a granola bar from my bag and a few bites of a gross, packaged bagel, and drank my water. I texted my husband my finish time- 1:08.. a minute faster than the MC10K two weeks prior. I ended up doing the 4:1’s the whole time. My foot felt tired, but I wouldn’t call it sore. After a while I wandered off to the merchandise tent. I stood in a crazy long line to purchase the coveted “I beat the bridge” shirt- of which was way overpriced ($25 for a T-shirt!?!? Don’t know what came over me!)
Return to the parking lot was smooth. I had to wait a little longer for a bus.. and the trip back took about 20 minutes, but as I said before, it was very well done and executed. The whole race was in fact. It was definitely an experience and I’m so glad I didn’t listen to the PT (and my inner voice of reason) and did it. I only had a couple complaints, most of which had to do with the packet pickup/expo than the race itself. I never felt the race was overcrowded, despite the 20K entries (which actually only ended up being 17K something.) I’m not sure if that’s because I was early, or because it was just really well spaced out. I would do it again. (But maybe only if there’s race-day packet pick up.)
There are more pictures on my Facebook page, feel free to check them out!