Race Recap: Zooma Annapolis 2017

It’s been a few weeks, but I can’t not share the experience that was the Zooma Annapolis Half Marathon. Last year I ran the 10K, and decided to challenge myself and move up to the half this year. Aside from the trail half marathon earlier this year, it was my hardest half yet.


As with many local races, I spent the night with my friend, Beth, and her aunt and uncle. Beth was able to get our packets in Annapolis on Friday, which was a huge help and stress reliever. Our pre-race nights consist of a good meal and some wine, always. I feel so relaxed after a night of socializing. Typically I go to the race with them, but as I was running the longer distance, I decided to drive myself in case they didn’t want to wait for me after the race. Later than planned, I set out my “Flat Sam” and headed to bed.

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Basically the same outfit as last year.

I was up around 5:15 and out the door by 5:45 to drive to Annapolis. I met up my friend Erin, who was running the 10K, and her boyfriend (one of my best friends from college) before meeting up for the ambassador picture. I conversed with a couple of ambassadors, which I didn’t really do last year. It was such a great group of strong runner women!

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credit: Cynthia 

After the picture we all headed towards the porta johns. Last year, the lines moved quickly. This time, not so much. I waited for 20 minutes and had to sprint to make the start of the race. Not. Fun. Whether there were more people or less porta johns, something was wrong. It led to a very anxious start our races.

 

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I knew this race was going to be hard, as Beth and I had run the hills on the back half of the course a few weeks prior. Pair hills with a warm, sunny day, and it’s not a recipe for a “fast” day. I was ready for a challenge. I set out saying I’d be happy with a sub 2:20, but I ended up being happy to finish.

Miles 1-5: The first few miles were very similar to last year’s 10K, as well as the Annapolis Running Classic 10K. There are some small hills, but they are managable. While I knew I could run fast for these miles, I stayed at an easier pace to save myself, with 90:30 intervals. I found a great spot around my friend Erin, and I paced myself just behind her until the half split off from the 10Kers. At about mile 5 we started crossing the Naval Academy Bridge for the first time. I stayed with my intervals most of the way up, then walked a little extra to save myself.  (Erin looked strong coming down the bridge towards her finish!) Splits: 10:57, :49, 11:03, :03, :04.

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Going away from the finish – the “easier” side.

Miles 6-10: The bridge is where the hills start, and they don’t stop for the rest of the race. While in most races I’d want to speed up at this point, I was hoping to stay steady through the hills. I felt strong until the out-and-backs started, around mile 8. By then, the heat started to get to me. I had trouble taking in fuel and also felt a bit over-hydrated. I also was dumb and put sunscreen on my forehead, which meant I had sunscreen and sweat running into my eyes (should have worn a hat!). I struggled through 90:30 intervals from mile 8 until about mile 10, where I felt like I was just slogging. I was managing to make it through my intervals, but was very out of breath, so I knocked them back to 75:30. At mile 10, I reached the top of a hill where I could see the Naval Academy Bridge once more, one of the last big hills. Splits: 11:19, 10:53, 11:29, :50, :42.

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LOLOL

Miles 11-13.1 (.32) – If the slowing paces and shorter intervals didn’t clue you in, I was struggling for the last 5K. I couldn’t take fuel without feeling like I was going to puke, so I started to “bottom out”. And frankly, my legs were just dead from the hills. I try to run some hills each week, but only on shorter runs (which I should improve on). People passed me left and right, and I walked more than I would like to admit. When I realized that this was going to be my slowest half ever, I just focused on finishing in one piece, uninjured. Splits: 12:09, :29, :49, 3:54 (last .32).

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Final time: 2:33:27

Despite running my slowest half ever, I still felt very accomplished. I knew this was a hard course – the old me would have run the 10K, but I wanted the challenge. This is NOT an easy course, and no half is going to be easy during June in Maryland. I found pride in running very steady for the first half of the race, and making it through 4 miles of hills before I started to really struggle. While it wouldn’t have made any speed records, I think the last few miles would have gone better if my fueling had been better.

Post race: I know my fueling and hydration was off, because I felt horrible after I finished. Almost “med-tent” horrible. I sat with water, gatorade, and some chips. I was so relieved when Beth said that her and her aunt were still around. While they got massages and shopped, I had 4 more cups of gatorade and another bag of chips while sitting in the shade. I haven’t felt so poorly after a race since my first few long races (cough cough Chuck 12 2014).  I didn’t even partake in the wine – shocker. After a few pictures, I headed home and had a feast of Taco Bell (my first in YEARS!). After a nap and another plate of nachos, I was feeling much better and was ready for a night at the ballpark.

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Beth had a solid race and her Aunt Kate finally hit a big goal of a sub-60 10K! I was very happy for them both! Despite my slow time, this race lit a fire under me to do more hard races in order to truly challenge myself a bit more.

Before I forget – the SWAG. I was disappointed with it last year, but this year the swag was improved. The t-shirt was a grey, tech-cotton short with a simple design. It is very comfy. The half-marathoners got a running hat, which I love and was great during my recent Las Vegas trip. It came in a “lululemon” style bag, which I always like to have around! The medal featured a sail boat, was pretty, and was of a nice quality!

All in all, the Zooma Annapolis 13.1 is not for the faint of heart, or for someone who expects a fast time at every race. It is a challenging course and is typically hot and humid. The race atmosphere is positive and the post race party is fun. If you like to run with a pack, run the 10K – which is the biggest race out of all three distances offered.

I was a bit bummed about the food spread. Even though I was a “late” finisher and some food may have run out (not an excuse), I only saw potato chips, bananas, and some trail mix. I love a good post-race spread, and it didn’t live up to last year’s Pirate Booty. Seriously, I’m now addicted to that stuff. However, as much as I enjoyed this year and last year’s races, I won’t be back next year. The Baltimore 10 Miler is always the same day, and I’m ready to take on that course again as part of the King Crab Challenge. But I will be back in time!

DisclaimerI received a complimentary entry for Zooma Annapolis as an ambassador. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

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4 on the 4th (MD) Race Recap

The date + weather: July 4, 2016 at 8:30 a.m. 68 degrees with 98% humidity.

The night before: I spent the night before at a party with some (sorority) friends from college. While they were all drinking, I was super responsible and drank a whole six-pack…of LaCroix and had a hamburger with some pasta salad. I was bored (being the only sober one) so I headed home early to set out my clothes and hit the hay.

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The gear: Skirt Sports Lionness skirt, Balega Hidden Contour socks, New Balance Vazee Pace shoes, Danskin tank, Garmin Forerunner 235, Momentum Jewelry bracelet, sweaty band (switched out for my lobster one), Nathan hand held bottle …(don’t mind the socks)

Pre-race: I got up at about 6:30 the morning of –> don’t you just love close races? After getting dressed and stalling I grabbed a banana and headed out the door. It was about 10 minutes from my house to the parking garage to the start, where packet pickup was a breeze. My best friend and I waited around for about 45 minutes and then were ready to run!

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Miles 1-2: The gun went off a couple of minutes early and we were off. Unlike what’s recommended, I flew off for the first mile, knowing it was the only flat/downhill mile in the race. I was running 2:00/30 intervals (I’ve been training using Galloway style intervals) and kept that up the whole race – it worked well for me. For the first mile and a half I was running my intervals between a 7:30-8:30 pace. A long good downhill brought us to the end of the first mile (8:43). Miles 2 and 3 were on my college campus so I knew to just hold on as long as possible in the hills that awaited me. Mile 2 was largely a gradual uphill, gradual downhills, and a very steep uphill. (9:43)

Miles 3-4: Mile three was the second half of running through campus (more hills, if you couldn’t guess). While I started to struggle and lag speed-wise, I just kept telling myself to go as hard as possible during my run intervals. After mile 2, no one passed me, which was a big confidence booster. I came out of campus at the end of mile 3 (10:23) and knew I had a big climb waiting for me.

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At the end of the second to last hill – so dead!

After I passed Ben with about a half a mile to go, I knew the people who had almost caught me on the hill weren’t going to prevail. After I turned the corner to do a lap “around the block” I was ready to just go. Despite one short walk break I ran in the high 8’s/low 9’s to the finish and passed a couple of people right ahead of me. Despite a slow last mile (10:47) I was truly happy with how I finished with all I had left in the tank.

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Results: 39:51 (1:00 off of PR), 9/25 in AG, 43/152 femaleFor most of the race, a PR felt attainable and I truly gave all I had, even when I knew it was out of reach. On a course with hills, I know it would have been possible.

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In its inaugural year, this race was pretty good. They offered two colors of shirts (cool touch, even if they were cotton T’s), had free Chick-Fil-A and ice cold towels at the finish, and had nice quality medals. The course is a good challenge, winding through the Towson University campus. Anyone who is familiar with the area should have known to expect the hills. While it’s not a PR course, I would definitely do it again next year!

Most importantly….these post race donuts from the Fractured Prune. They were better than they look, I swear!

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Are you a lover or hater of hilly races?

Favorite post-race treat?

It’s All About That Base (5/23-5/29/16)

As I was expecting, the Maryland heat showed up this week and slapped me right in the face. I’m glad it happened because it’s time to get acclimated to it, but it definitely added a level of difficulty to this week’s runs.

I took about 5 weeks off for my injury, and then spent a few weeks running when I could and when it felt good. I am happy to say I ran this week feeling great, and I’m focusing about getting my base mileage back up into the 20’s range before marathon training starts.

Monday: Rest

Tuesday: 3.1 miles. I ran this route 4:45 faster than I did just 12 days prior. I didn’t have to walk and truly just felt more comfortable running in my new neighborhood.

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Wednesday: 2.18 miles at November Project. It was PR day and the running miles were half running, half going up and down stairs. Add in 30 burpees and that was my morning. I feel like I could have done better, as I was experiencing some tummy troubles that morning. It was hard but I loved it and can’t wait to improve next month!

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Since when do I look this happy running before 7 am?

Thursday: 4.03 miles of hills! I didn’t have to go into work until noon, so I drove down to Towson to run a hilly route. It made me so happy to run through my favorite place. I hope to do this route every couple of weeks and hopefully see some improvement.

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Friday/Saturday: Rest.

Sunday: 6.2 miles for the longest I’ve ran (not counting run/walk last week) since the last half marathon. My legs felt great except for a little ITB tightness and I only shortly walked twice, one being to take an unexpected Gu. I was glad I brought it “just in case” because the heat/sun drained me faster than expected. My best friend who is running MCM with me came to run with me and it was great to have such wonderful company!

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On Sunday I used my run as my miles to earn my Incredible Virtual Run medal from Level Up runs. I love the medal’s Disney/Pixar theme and it is stunning!! The fact that I was earning my medal helped me keep going when the heat was tough. It was a great run before Zooma Annapolis this upcoming weekend!

WeeklyWrap

Today I’m linking up with Tricia at Miss Sippy Piddlinand Holly at HoHo Runs for the Weekly Wrap, and Megan at Run Megan Run for the Weekly Workout Recap. Head over to their pages to check out some other great posts! Thanks for hosting, Ladies!

Did you have a good run or race this Memorial Day weekend? How are you doing with acclimating to the heat?