• Dylan Roche

Preparing for the Annapolis 10-Miler

As I’ve gone through this latest transition in my life — y’know, leaving my full-time job to pursue freelancing full time — it has come with a lot of emotions, a lot of excitement, a lot of nervousness. There are times when I feel really proud of myself, and times where I’m full of self-doubt.

The only cure for all of that, as far as I know, is to do something totally badass. I mean, right?

So I guess it was a little serendipitous that I recently remembered I registered for the Annapolis 10-Miler waaay back in May and completely shoved it to the back of my brain until I got the email the other day.

I’ve been wanting to do this race for a long time just because most of the runners (and even a few non-runners) in the Annapolis area tell me how great it is and that I just have to do it at some point. I keep putting it off and putting it off. For whatever reason, I had the instinct to do it this year.

Here’s the thing: 10 miles isn’t that big a deal for me. Yes, for many people, it’s a long distance and a huge accomplishment — and please let me be clear that I am not trying to belittle that by any means. We all have different strengths and weaknesses. I just happened to have a some weirdly strong cardiovascular system and freakish endurance, so I’m conditioned for long distances. I usually run a greater distance than 10 miles on a normal day.

And if I’m being totally honest, I have a love-hate relationship with races. I mean, they’re fun and exciting, and they’re a good excuse to be social, but one of the things that I really love about running is that I’m able to get away from the world and be by myself for a couple of hours. Paying a ton of money to be surrounded by other runners can be either fun or it can be totally stressful.

Then there’s the timing of it. It’s in late August. In Maryland. Along a hilly route. I’m feeling sweaty and gross just thinking about it. Yes, I run every day no matter what the weather, so that doesn’t really deter to me. But if I’m going to participate in a race, I want the weather to be nice. And the weather this time of year is rarely nice.

So, with all of that said, you would never think I’d be insanely excited for this run.

But I am. I’m trying to make sense of why, but I am excited.

Running is empowering, and that’s one of the reasons I have to do it every morning before I even think about starting my day. I need to collect my thoughts, get my blood flowing, break a sweat — but I also need to demonstrate to myself exactly what I’m capable of. That’s what this race represents to me on Saturday.

I’m already watching the weather forecast and it looks as if it’s going to be perfect. It will dip into the 60s the night before, and it will reach the high 70s later that afternoon. Instead of the usual oppressive humidity of August in Maryland, we’re going to have the best running weather ever.

And look at the route. We get to do a nice little tour through downtown Annapolis, over the Naval Academy Bridge (one of my favorite places to run because the view is excellent) and through St. Margaret’s. I’m familiar with this route to some extent because I’ll occasionally break away from my routine on the B&A Bike Trail and take Boulters Way to the bridge and into downtown Annapolis. It’s a nice route and one that will be especially nice on a summer morning. I expect it will be slightly different with a huge crowd of people and the rush of adrenaline that comes with racing.

I guess I’ll soon find out just what’s so special about the Annapolis 10-Miler. There’s obviously something right about it: It’s been going on for more than 40 years, there are about 4,000 people who participate in it annually, and Runner’s World named it one of the top 10 10-mile races in the country. To be honest, I’m glad that my first (and maybe only) time running it will be this time, when it represents something really special to me.

Wish me luck! I’ll check back in and let everyone know how it goes.


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