Fellow Adventurers, rarely do I say that I am happy to have given up on something, but boy am I glad that I gave up on the idea of a time goal for Across the Bay. As I’m sure you have noticed by my lack of training posts, I just didn’t really train.
By the middle of the fall, I was so busy with the kids sports and activity schedules, along with a project I was working on for the Big Adventurers’ school, that I just had to squeeze in running when I could, which was about once a week.
I honestly had doubts about whether I’d even be able to finish the race. So, I decided that I would take away all the pressure. If I needed to walk, I would. And I ended up having a great time!
As I’ve mentioned before, the Across the Bay 10k is the fifth largest 10k in the United States. Its route goes across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, which is only closed to traffic one time per year. (The eastbound span is closed and the westbound span takes on two lane traffic.) This is a bucket list race for many. Here is my race experience, in case you want to add it to yours!
Registering for the Race
When you sign up for the race, you can purchase a parking pass for one of several locations, where a shuttle will take you to the start. You will also be assigned to a wave with a specific start time. I was assigned to wave 9, and thought that meant that you had to go when your wave was called. (In my case, 9:00 AM.) Newbie mistake.
On the day of the race, I left home at about 7. This left me plenty of time to get ready in the morning, and I definitely got there well before 9, as there was little traffic and the race is so well organized. After parking the car, I was easily able to hop aboard a shuttle, no waiting!
The start is in the parking lot of a corporate campus, and because each wave that begins every 15 minutes, there was plenty of time to get water, stretch, and take a selfie or two!
After taking about 16,000 selfies, I paused to look around. I noticed that people with different wave numbers were getting into the starting corral, even though it was only time for wave 7. I am a rule follower, and for a few minutes, I debated what to do before I finally went over and asked someone whether I could join any wave.
I know, I know, most people would have just jumped right in, but I’m a teacher pleaser, and I wanted to make sure I was doing it “right”! 😉
As soon as I figured out that my wave number was merely a suggestion, I went right to the starting corral. We waited. And waited. And waited. It seemed to take forever to get started. We would move up a few feet and then wait some more.
All of this waiting made for some excellent people watching. The awesome thing about this race is that runners of all levels particpate. Hardcore runners, families with their kids, older people. Some wore costumes, others were simply there to walk for this once a year event.
When at last we started, we ran over the highway and onto the bridge. The first mile or so was uphill. I say first mile or so because this was the first race I’ve been in that didn’t have mile markers, and I wasn’t using my Nike+Running App because I was trying to conserve my phone battery.
In a way this was good because it caused me to concentrate on enjoying my run, the view, and people watching. It did cause me some anxiety, however, because I was unable to figure out how far I’d gone and how much of the race was left.
As we got to the midpoint of the bridge, there were tons of people taking selfies, and even stopping to get other people to take their pictures and admire the awesome view. I usually do not stop during a race, but this time I thought, “Why not? How often am I going to be on the Bay Bridge on foot?” So I stopped for just a few pics. 🙂
One of the most important things to realize about this race is that once you are over the bridge, you are not finished. No. The bridge itself is only a little over 4 miles long. I knew this, but again, I wasn’t using my app and there were no mile marker signs.
Suddenly, I started to feel hungry. I had eaten my normal peanut butter toast and a banana before the race, the same thing I’d eaten before every race, even before a 10 miler earlier this year. Apparently, though, I burned through that fuel pretty quickly. As I got to the end of the bridge, I was starting to get hangry. Ask Mr. Adventure, it is not a pretty sight when I get hangry.
I kept thinking, “How much farther can it be? Can I ask someone how much farther it is? I’ve already run 6 miles, surely. It cannot possibly be that much farther. Do they have chips at the end? Wait. This is not the end?”
At this point, we were off the bridge and had crossed over onto the Eastern shore. Cruelly for me, we passed several delicious looking restaurants with signs promoting their brunch menus. I seriously was done. I wanted coffee, and a bagel, and bacon and eggs. I contemplated my brunch options several times, and actually began running faster because I was so incredibly done.
After the restaurant area, the last part of the race was uphill. (“Really?” I actually said out loud.) As I was trotting along, I heard a guy behind me say to his friend, “OK, so it’s this traffic light, the next traffic light, and then one more light and then we’re there. I almost cried.
Finally, we crossed into the park where the finish line was. I was so relieved, friends. First, as you recall, I was hungry. Second, back when I started running four years ago, I would never have believed that I would enjoy running, much less run six miles with minimal training. (And I didn’t have to walk after all!) Third, check out the awesome finisher’s medal; it’s a puzzle piece, and each medal fits into the previous year’s medal!
After crossing the finish line, I got the above super sweet medal, a bottle of water, and a much needed bagel or two. They do have an after party that includes adult beverages, but I was totally ready to go home, so I got in line to get on the bus.
The only mishap from my race experience was that our poor bus driver did not know how to get back to the place where we had parked. By that I mean she was totally clueless. Some of the passengers had to pull up GPS on their phones to help her out!
This is a fantastic race with a super cool t-shirt and excellent race hardware. I ran it alone, but it would be a great one to do with friends!
Tips for Running the Across the Bay 10k:
- Go as early as you can. This is a very popular race, (the race Facebook page said that there were 20,000 runners!) and traffic can be heavy. A friend informed me that if you leave too late, you will get stuck in traffic and could end up in the very last wave behind the walkers. Knowing that the first wave begins at 7 AM, I will definitely be going earlier next time!
- There will be walkers and many selfie takers at this race, and the start is congested. You will be unlikely to PR at this race.
- The night before the race, rain was predicted. If it rains, they cannot safely handle two lane traffic on the westbound side, and will cancel the race. Race registrations will not be refunded.
- This is a cupless race. Water stations are available, but to avoid paper cups in the Chesapeake Bay, you must bring your own refillable water bottle. I didn’t and just sipped from the water station like a fountain.
Have you ever run the Across the Bay 10k?
Tell us about your experience in the comments!