Zooma Annapolis Half Recap


As I mentioned yesterday, I survived the Zooma Annapolis Half…though barely.

Friday, Anne and I drove the hour-ish from D.C. to Annapolis.

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We dropped our stuff and headed to the expo, and I discovered my new life motto.

The expo was pretty small, but I need more running stuff like I need a hole in my head, so I was okay with that. They had socks, water bottles and gels – all the last-minute stuff you’d need.

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As much as I mocked the “mocktail” party, the drinks were actually pretty good, even if they were missing something. My favorite was this Light Foot Lemon-Limey, made with zero-calorie Honest Tea Lemon-Limey Fizz, cucumbers and lime. (You know, in case you can’t read the sign.) It was really delicious and refreshing.

As I mentioned in my last post, we hit the hotel restaurant for dinner and then went to sleep early so we could be up by 5:30ish for the race start at 7.

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I also needed time to Instagram an outfit picture, obviously.

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The race started at the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, which reminded me of trips to watch football games my freshman year of college.

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Just a little start line.


photo credit: Anne

Given that the race threatened to be as hot as Hades, Anne and I both went with tops that had cutouts in the back/on the sides so we could be as cool as possible.

We’d planned to start the race together, and for the first six miles, we did run together. Our rough plan was to keep around a 9:00ish pace. On a good day, that’s a relatively easy pace for me. This, however, was not a good day. It was hot as hell.

Mile 1: 8:44

Mile 2: 8:41

Mile 3: 8:48

These first few miles didn’t feel as easy as they should have, and I hoped it was just me warming up. Usually I hate the first few miles of any long race as my body wakes up.

Mile 5: 9:09

At this point, we went over a bridge that Anne had previously described as basically the death of her the last time she ran the race.


photo also from Anne, as I have not yet mastered the art of picture-taking and running, nor walking and chewing gum at the same time

That smile? 100% faked for the camera. The bridge was a hilly bitch with no shade. At this point, Anne was throwing out every motivational line she had at me. If I’m running with someone, and someone needs some motivation, I’m usually the one to give it (because I’m a cheeseball like that), so it was hard to be in the position to be getting it from someone else, and it reminded me of the days when every run was hard and everyone was faster than me.

Eventually what went up came down, and then back up again, and I had no fight left at this point. I remember thinking at the time “I can run a race with 100% fight or with zero fight, but why can’t I just muster some fight sometimes?” I felt pretty similar to at mile 24 of a marathon, and my legs were spent, and I stopped to walk. I knew once I did this, I would struggle for the rest of the race, so I tried to fight it off as long as possible, but I finally had to succumb somewhere around mile 5.5 or so – just past the 10K turnaround point. I saw Tina turn around (she’d took some time off from exercise due to her colitis and had dropped down before we started) and was incredibly jealous, but I knew how disappointed I’d be in myself if I dropped out and down.

Pain is temporary and pride is forever, or something.

For the next mile or so, I’d stop a bit to walk and then catch up with Anne, rinse, repeat. At some point, we lost each other at a water station…which was fine by me. It would have been nice to run with someone, but I was terrible company at this point, and my running/walking had no pattern, and I was fine to be alone with my grumpiness. I ran into an old D.C. friend, Rachel, several times in the next few miles, and every time I saw her, I told her how miserable I was, how I never stopped to walk, and how I hated the heat. Awesome company, I was.

Miles 6 to 9 were incredibly rough for me, and I was so happy I’d forgotten my Garmin. I had no desire to know how fast I was(n’t) going. We came back over the bridge around mile 9, and as I went over the bridge, my stomach started to hurt, so I ducked into the Port-a-Potty at the bottom of the bridge. I only saw two Port-a-Potties on the course, so I was convinced this one was a mirage since it appeared right after I needed it.

After that stop, I was determined to make the best of the race. The biggest hills were behind me. My stomach felt better. I’d taken gummi bears from the Lululemon cheer squad on the bridge (p.s. Dear Lulu, please cheer at every race), I’d drenched myself in water at the water stops (thanks Jen, for the reminder) and I’d gotten some fight back. Oh, and my margarita shot bloks had kicked in, albeit slower than usual.

And so I ran those last 4 miles, and saw Anne on one of the many out and backs.


nope, definitely not taking running selfies. Also courtesy of Anne.

When I started running again, I thought about what a victory it was that I’d stopped walking, and how that felt so crazy after running a 1:50 just two months ago, and how I’d never walked as much as I had in this race, not even at my first half.

During this part of the race, I had no idea what mile I was at. The course had lots of out-and-backs and looping on itself, so the mile markers got a bit confusing. I wasn’t really positive what mile I was at until I saw 12 for the second time. Around mile 11.5, there was a really confusing intersection where runners would literally be crossing each other going in different directions. There was nobody there when I went through it, but I remember thinking I’d be pissed if I were running faster or trying to PR.

Somewhere around mile 10 I saw the 2:10 pacer, and that lit the tiniest fire under my ass. I was not finishing over 2:10. I zoomed past her and never saw her again.

I finally crossed the finish line and looked for as much water as I could get my hands on, and then for familiar faces.

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I found these two clowns.

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And a snack box with hummus and pretzels, carrots and an apple. I needed salt desperately, so I housed the pretzels immediately.

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The post-race festival was really cute – they had lots of tents with wine (which even I didn’t want – that’s how you know it was hot!), yoga mats and foam rollers. The race swag was pretty awesome: a yoga mat and a water bottle. I ended up giving mine back to the booth, since I don’t need any more of either!

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Instead of medals, we got this finisher’s necklace, which I think I will just hang on my medal rack anyway.

As I sat around with Anne waiting for Tina, we heard people in line for the PR medals complaining the course was short. It’s one thing for a course to be “long” (which it’s not – it’s not running the tangents absolutely perfectly), but it’s pretty hard to run better than the tangents. It turns out that the course was, in fact 12.75 miles. Again, I’m really glad I wasn’t running this to PR or as my first – I’d be pissed, and I feel bad for those who were trying to PR here.

I emailed Brae, the race founder, to ask if she had any statement/explanation on this, and she pointed me to a statement posted on their website:

Both the ZOOMA Annapolis half marathon and 10K courses are USATF certified (#MD13009JS, MD130109JS). However, due to a miscommunication between City of Annapolis police and race staff, the course run by both the half marathon and 10K participants was approximately .25 mile short on Saturday. At approximately mile 2.75 on the half marathon and 10K courses, runners were not directed to make the turn at Dock Street in downtown Annapolis, effectively cutting off .25 miles of the certified course. The second planned aid station on both the half marathon and 10K courses was positioned on Dock Street at approximately mile 2.75, and, as a result, participants did not meet an aid station between miles 1.5 and 4.5.

Zooma will also be offering a discount to any 2013 or 2014 Zooma event to all Zooma Annapolis participants.

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I ended up finishing in 2:08:41. When I searched my result, the top female finished in 1:37, showing the effect of the heat on the field. Though 1:37 is faster than I’ll ever run a half, that’s not typically a winning half time. (Last year’s winner finished in 1:28.)

Though there were plenty of hiccups with the race, and more than I’d expect for a race not in its first year, none of that affected me as much as the heat did. It will be a long summer of marathon training…
Edited to add: Though it was incredibly hilly, the course was gorgeous and scenic, running through downtown Annapolis and offering plenty of water views.

Zooma provided me with a free bib as one of their blog ambassadors, but all of these opinions are (obviously) my own.

Have you ever run a course that was short? (Or long–as in actual long, not Garmin long?)

22 comments on “Zooma Annapolis Half Recap

  1. Ash Bear

    Oh short races. You want to love them because they are done faster but that 5k in Cincinnati back in April. I HATED the fact that upon completing we realized it wasn’t a 5k. Ugh!

  2. MegG

    You NEED to run the SeaWheeze Half in Vancouver if you love the Lulu cheer squad. It is seriously the best half marathon I’ve ever run (and I’ve loved almost all of the ones I’ve run!) I can’t promise it won’t be warm, it is in August, but it’s great!

  3. Megan

    Congrats on surviving such a brutal race!

    And, thanks for writing this line: “…it reminded me of the days when every run was hard and everyone was faster than me.” I’m still in that phase and I’m glad I’m not the only one who, when first getting into running, feels like every run is hard and there is no such thing as an easy run! Jess keeps saying it will get “easier”…time will tell!

  4. Cindy

    That sounds like a tough race! You should be proud you stuck it out!

    I actually ran a race Sunday that was a 5K. However when I finished, Runkeeper told me it was only 3.66 km. Not quite a 5K!

  5. Pete

    My first half was short… 12.1 miles! It was an out-and-back, and the RD shifted it a half mile to improve the end. Well, the people setting up the turnaround used the previous year’s course map. I knew I was going to run another on later that year, so it wasn’t that big of a deal. But there were people using the race as their last chance to qualify for NYC, and they were pissed.

  6. sarah

    The first year I ran the Jersey City half, it was about .6 miles short. The police leading the race at the beginning looped around too early in the beginning of the race. I hate to say that I was thrilled…but I was. I was dying by the end and happy to be done earlier! On the other hand, it’s really just par for the course with the ineptitude of JC races.

  7. Meghan

    Thanks for your review Theodora. I’m sorry it was such a tough race for you. The heat takes the best out of anybody, and it must have been unexpected. Thanks for sharing your real feelings about the shortened course. I don’t think there’s a way to sugar coat that one. I hope ZOOMA figures out the best way to handle that situation.

  8. Jen

    Wow, I’d be furious if that happened! I’m considering running ZOOMA Chicago but after hearing this… yikes!

    Also, cannot believe you raced in that heat, let alone ran a half-marathon. Love those tops!!

  9. Liz

    I did a sprint triathlon in Annapolis last year and there was a HORRIBLE bridge that we had to bike twice on the bike course (I’m a horrible biker and the bridge just made it that much worse). I’ll bet it was the same one. Love Annapolis but hate that bridge! Apparently the Army 10 miler course was too short in 2003 or 2004. I had a friend that ran it that was really upset.

  10. Courtney

    I ran the same race, but the 10k, and that bridge at mile 5 was HELL! I remember thinking quite clearly that had I been signed up for the 1/2, I would’ve dropped down. Props for you for sticking with it – the heat (and lack of shade) was a killer! However…even with the issues, I’d totally run Zooma again! I loved the atmosphere šŸ™‚

  11. Katie

    I haven’t really experienced a short or long course yet. But I’m sure anyone looking to PR would have been bummed! I had a half on Sunday and was just taking things as they came, I wasn’t super jazzed and I wasn’t super crabby but my friends who had already finished jogged along with me for the last part of mile 12 and that really helped me feel better and finish strong. I’m sure Anne didn’t mind that you weren’t feeling your best, it happens to everyone at some point!

    1. Theodora Post author

      @Katie: Oh I know — when I’m in her position, I just feel bad for my friend and want to know how I can help…but I still don’t like being on the other side of that šŸ™‚

  12. Rob

    I ran a half in April that measured about 12.64 miles (give or take a tenth here or there), the Iron Girl in Columbia MD. It wasn’t a certified course, and I’m fine with courses being off a little, but a half mile is just ridiculous. It matched the course map they posted, and when confronted the race director told my friend “we measured it between 12.64 and 13.3 miles.” Um, what? You know that’s not possible, right dude? I wasn’t going for a PR or anything but a lot of people were really disappointed when they thought they had amazing times only to check their Garmins (if you ran without one you may still be blissfully unaware, they never issued any kind of statement). I think Zooma handled that pretty well.

  13. Beth @ 990 Square

    I’m glad to know I wasn’t the only one zapped by the heat at Zooma Annapolis! That bridge was so brutal, I was SO happy I was running the 10k! I realized fairly early on how short the course was, and that also really killed my motivation. Why kill myself for a race that wouldn’t count?

    I will say that I think Zooma handled the situation well. The other debacle race I was involved in (Hot Chocolate DC) didn’t have RDs that handled the situation well, and it made it MUCH worse.

  14. Gianna @ Run, Lift, Repeat

    All I have to say is hot races are the pits! I’ve done a few races in Miami and have had to adjust my expectations! You just have to change your frame of mind and try to have fun with it (totally harder said than done).
    I am doing a half in Miami at the end of June and probably will hate myself the whole time…

  15. Cait @ Cait Strides

    I ran on Saturday too. My time ended up being just under an hour (which is pretty much on par with the other half marathons I’ve run), and I was wondering how that happened since I felt like I was going so.slow. It all makes sense now!

    Definitely felt a little unorganized and I’m not a huge fan of all the out and backs, but I thought the views were incredible and the swag was pretty cool too!


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