Disclaimer: As a ZOOMA Ambassador I received a complimentary race entry. As always, all opinions are my own.
Last year I had a blast at ZOOMA Annapolis. It is such a fun, women’s focused, race weekend, but what really makes this race weekend what it is are the ladies who run this race every year. So when I had the opportunity to register for this year’s race, I jumped at the opportunity, excited about the fun that I anticipated having. Spoiler alert: I had just as much fun, if not more fun, than I did during last year’s race weekend.
Race weekend started off with a quick visit to the expo. ZOOMA expos are no thrills, and there were only two or three vendors in the hotel ballroom where packet pickup was set up. I was in and out in less than five minutes. Since we opted to stay at the host hotel, Loews Annapolis, picking up my race packet was a very convenient and fast process. I think I spent no more than 15 minutes away from the hotel room, and that included my walk to and from the elevator from our room.
Since one of my best friends from college recently moved to Annapolis, we had dinner that evening with her and her daughter. Upon return to the hotel, I helped get little man ready for bed, and then joined my fellow ZOOMA ambassadors out on the hotel patio for a fun evening of drinks and conversation. Most of them also ate dinner, but since I was stuffed from our dinner, I opted to only enjoy some wine. Around 9:30 we decided to call it an evening, and I headed back upstairs and immediately went to bed.
My alarm went off Saturday morning at 5:00. I quickly showered, got dressed, and ate my usual pre-race breakfast of a peanut butter sandwich and a banana. I met up with several other ambassadors in the hotel lobby just after 6 a.m., and we headed out for the short walk from our hotel to the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, where the start and finish line of the race was. After meeting up with even more ambassadors, and taking the obligatory pre-race photo, I headed straight for the porta potties. The lines were long, and I made it to the start line with about 60 seconds to spare before the race started.
Having run this race last year, I knew what to expect in terms of the hilly course. I hadn’t trained specifically for this race, in fact, in the weeks leading up to this race I only ran twice a week in order to give myself a mental and physical break prior to the start of marathon training. (I started marathon training only two days after running this race.) Since I hadn’t trained, I had planned on running this race purely for fun. While I could have signed up for the 10k, I wanted to get in one last double digit run before starting my marathon training.
The first mile of the race circled the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, and then the course headed towards the Annapolis waterfront. After a brief tour of the waterfront, the half marathon course made a loop around the downtown state government buildings before runners headed towards the Naval Academy Bridge. I felt strong during the first five miles of the race, and made a couple of brief stops to take some scenic photos. As I approached the bridge, I felt ready for the challenge.
Splits for Miles 1-5:
9:44, 9:50, 9:54, 9:42, 10:19
As I started my climb up the bridge, I said goodbye to sub 10 minute mile splits for this race. The further I ran up the bridge, the more that I felt the impact of running hills while also managing early June weather. I remember noting that the humidity was much lower than it had been in 2016, but the hills and warm air still made for a challenging race. I was thankful that I was wearing my Camelbak and didn’t have to rely solely on the water stops, though I did still stop at most of the stops so that I could get some Gatorade.
After crossing the bridge, and parting ways from the 10k runners, the course was an out and back route for miles 6 through 11. Since the majority of runners ran the 10k race instead of the half marathon, there was a very noticeable drop in the number of runners out on the course. It made it easier to try and run the tangents of the race.
The further that I ran, the more that the hills impacted me, and the more that I felt my lack of specifically training for this race. My pace continued to slow the further that I ran, but I didn’t care. Other ladies and I continuously encouraged one another on the course, and most importantly, I had fun.
Splits for Miles 6-11:
10:39, 10:28, 10:47, 10:41, 10:18, 10:47
I hit the mile 11 marker during my initial climb back over the Naval Academy Bridge. This time while crossing the bridge, I had to walk most of the uphill. My legs were just beat from all of the hills. Mile 12 was my slowest split of the entire race, thanks to the bridge.
After running off of the bridge, I gave what was left of the race all that I had. I texted Preston to update him on my status, since he and little man had planned to meet me at the finish line. The closer that I got to the finish line, the more that I knew that my chances of having a course PR were sliding away from me. This hadn’t been a goal going into this race until I had run such a strong first five miles of the race and thought that it might be possible.
Splits for Miles 12-13.35:
11:54, 10:30, 3:31 (last 0.35)
I crossed the finish line at 2:19:07 (10:38 pace), which was a one second course PR. For not having trained for this race, I’m pretty happy with that outcome.
After crossing the finish line I briefly met up with Cynthia, who had also run the half marathon. I celebrated the morning with a glass of wine, and then took the obligatory post-race photos in front of the stadium. On our way back to the hotel, I ran into Chelsea, and we briefly celebrated our accomplishments for the day.
It was another great year at ZOOMA Annapolis, and I can’t wait to return again in 2018!
QOTD: Have you ever run a race that you didn’t train for? How did you do?