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.
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.
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.
I also needed time to Instagram an outfit picture, obviously.
The race started at the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, which reminded me of trips to watch football games my freshman year of college.
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.
I found these two clowns.
And a snack box with hummus and pretzels, carrots and an apple. I needed salt desperately, so I housed the pretzels immediately.
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!
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.
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?)