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ZOOMA Annapolis Half Marathon Race Recap

Well, my friends, it’s official! Half marathon #7, the ZOOMA Annapolis half marathon, is in the books. Done and done!

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It was hot, hilly, and a little disorganized, but the scenery was gorgeous and I took it easy and had a lot of fun with it. :) After doing so many races, I’ve realized how much of a race (and life, to be honest) is your perspective. I went into this race knowing that it would be hot and hilly but determined to enjoy it anyway, so I did. If I’d gone into it thinking it would suck or let my enthusiasm wane during the race, I think the experience would have been very different.

Views like this along the course helped, too. :)

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The race started at 7 a.m., which was a good thing given the heat. My blog buddies Theodora, Tina, and I arrived at the start around 6:30 and got ready to run!

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Unfortunately the line for the porta potties was way too long for us to make a pre-race pit stop, so we bagged the idea and headed to the start instead, spending the extra time taking photos. ;)

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Normally for half marathons I wear my CamelBak and compression sleeves, but given the heat and the fact that I didn’t mind cooling it on pace and walking through the water stops, I decided to leave both at home. Very good call – I was so much cooler without them! I also wore a visor to keep the sun off my face and splurged on a cute new Lululemon shirt with a nice breezy open back. Theodora had a similar one! :)

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The sports bra is attached/part of the shirt. Really comfy and I think it made all the difference heat-wise! Don’t worry, we were all loaded up with sunscreen, too!

Before too long, we lined up in the corral. There were only about 4,000 people running the race (compared to what I’m used to in DC races – 30,000 people – it seemed very small!) so it was pretty low key.

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We started right by the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. Pretty!

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And then we were off! As I mentioned, my goal for this race was just to enjoy it and not end up with heat stroke. :) My current half marathon PR is 1:43:44 (a 7:54 minute/mile pace) from the Nike Women’s Half Marathon a month ago, and I knew there was no way I’d be beating that this weekend. No worries! Something to work for in the fall.

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Tina dropped down to the 10k option because she’s been having some health issues and wasn’t able to properly train for the half, so she took off ahead of us, and Theodora and I settled in to a casual pace, in it for the long haul. I felt pretty good from the start and the miles went by quickly.

  • Mile 1: 8:44
  • Mile 2: 8:41

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It was fun running this race again, since as you guys know it was my very first half marathon back in 2010! I’m not sure if the course was exactly the same, but I recognized a lot of it so it was fun to see it again with fresh eyes (and better trained legs). I loved all the beautiful scenery!

  • Mile 3: 8:48
  • Mile 4: 9:01

Also, the whole course smelled like honeysuckle since there was a ton of it along the roads we were running on. Heaven. :)

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The course took us through Annapolis itself before heading out over some of the bridges in the area with stunning water views. Annapolis is such a cute town!

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Here’s Theodora around mile 4 or 5, kickin’ it. :)

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I remembered from last time we did this race that the biggest hill was going up and over a bridge around mile 5 and then back again around mile 10. I gave us pep talks as we approached it and told Theodora to tell me to shut up if she needed to. :)

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This girl’s shirt said: “The fast girl your mother warned you about.” Ha!

At the peak of the bridge around mile 5, the 10k-ers did a U-turn and headed back to finish the race and those of us doing the half marathon forged on.

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  • Mile 5: 9:09
  • Mile 6:  9:08

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Ah, sweet downhill!

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Around mile 7 is when I took some of my fuel. Theodora mentioned that she loves the Margarita Shot Bloks for hot summer running – it’s basically a lemon lime flavored chewy with added salt. I impulse purchased a packet at the race expo the day before and was SO glad I did. I’ll be using these on all my marathon training runs this summer for sure! There were 9 aid stations along the half marathon course and I stopped at each of them for water; I ate a couple of these gummies at each water stop starting around mile 6 until about mile 11. I think they helped!

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Theodora was struggling a bit at this point so I tried to keep pep talking and encouraging her. She dropped behind briefly to walk but caught back up, but then I lost her again right before one of the water stops around mile 7. I waited for her at the water stop while I ate my fuel and hydrated but didn’t see her, so I decided to forge on alone. We’d had a talk the day before about how it’s every man for himself during a race (unless you promise to pace someone, of course), so I knew she wouldn’t mind!

  • Mile 7: 10:06 (waiting for Theodora at the water stop)
  • Mile 8: 9:12

I was happy when the course turned and we were all able to enjoy some shade.

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Because there wasn’t much of it during this race! The visor ended up being a REALLY good call.

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Before I knew it, I was looping back to the bridge! Eek!

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My goal was to power through and not walk, even if I was just shuffling. Walking always totally breaks up my mental game! I actually felt pretty good on the hill – probably thanks to all the hilly runs I do around DC. Bridge, you’ve got nothin’ on me!

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  • Mile 9: 9:14
  • Mile 10: 9:16

Around this point, the course got a little confusing. There was a lot of looping out and doubling back, so the mile markers were confusing (the picture below I think I was around mile 9, but the mile 11 marker was there for people looping back – this happened a lot) – I was really glad I had my watch or I would have had no idea where I was on the course.

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This is also the point on the course where a bunch of us reached a spot where it wasn’t obvious where to go. Some people had gone farther down the street but there were some cones that ended, so the person in front of me asked a cop standing there: “Where are we supposed to go?!” His response: “I don’t know, they didn’t tell me! But everyone else was looping back at these cones.” Um, fail. Make sure everyone along the course knows where the runners should go!

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There was also a weird part where we did an X and crossed over through the racers going the other way. Yikes! I don’t remember that from last time. It was all pretty confusing but I just went with the flow.

  • Mile 11: 9:12

I also spotted Theodora around this point during one of the double backs. Hi, Theodora!

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I picked up the pace for the last two miles, though not as much as I normally do. My legs were tired and I was very conscious of not overdoing it in the heat since I’ve had problems with running in the heat before!

  • Mile 12: 8:54
  • Mile 13: 8:40

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Hello, finish line! Enter adrenaline rush. :)

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And done! I knew I was doing about 9 minute miles so you can imagine my surprise when I crossed the finish line at 1:56:01 instead of 1:59 or so. I looked down at my watch and saw it only said 12.77 miles. Um, what?

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Apparently the course was short by a little over a quarter mile! I have no idea how that happened but yikes. Not cool for those doing their first halfs or trying to PR. And weird since it’s not like it’s the first year they’ve done this race! I would have been SO disappointed if I’d thought I’d PR-ed only to find out the course wasn’t complete and it didn’t count. At least I know the stats were accurate since everyone ran the same short race. :)

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Theodora finished about 12 minutes behind me and we enjoyed relaxing and stretching in the shade for a little while before heading to the finisher’s area to find Tina.

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One of the best things about this race is the fun stuff you get at the finish, both food and swag! Finishers all received a cute necklace, a water bottle, and a yoga mat!

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And we were given our choice of a chicken salad or hummus snack box. I went for hummus and literally shrieked with joy when I opened it and found the Sabra hummus + pretzel single serve snack pack! I LOVE these things! There was also a little packet of baby carrots and an apple, which were so refreshing and juicy in the hot weather. Zooma totally wins for best post-race snack in my opinion. :)

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The girls and I walked back to our hotel, cleaned up, and walked back into Annapolis for lunch. Man, what a cute town. I wish we’d had more time to explore it!

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We went to Phillip’s Crab Deck and we all got the same thing – a single seared crab cake with fries. This really hit the spot after a long run. Salty and delicious. The fries were seasoned with Old Bay, too!

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After lunch, we sadly said our farewells and headed home. Looking forward to our next reunion already! I’m pretty sure Theodora and I convinced Tina to get back into running, so we’re thinking a fall half marathon reunion might need to happen. We’ll see!

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Overall, I really enjoyed the race this weekend in Annapolis, even with the heat and disorganization. For those thinking of doing ZOOMA Annapolis next year, do it! But go into the race knowing it’s hilly and will probably be hot. Don’t try to make it a PR race and just have fun with it. The beautiful water views (and the finisher’s swag and food) are worth it and I would definitely do it again for those alone! Hopefully next year ZOOMA will learn from this year and make sure the course is better organized (or at least that the volunteers/cops along the way know where runners should go). I’d also recommend they consider moving the race up to May to avoid the heat. :)

But either way, I’ll leave you with this, which was on the bags we got at the expo on Friday night. So true. :)

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Who else did a race this weekend? How did it go?

Disclaimer: I received a free bib for ZOOMA Annapolis in exchange for sharing my experience with the race. All opinions are my own!

Comments

  1. 1

    Holy sweaty post-race pic!

  2. 2

    I love Annapolis. It’s by far my favorite East Coast town, I love walking up and down the shops by the capital. I had a friend who graduated from the Naval Academy last year and used to do a 7 mile run that included the bridge, for fun, almost everyday.

  3. 4

    I did the VA Wine Half this weekend, and it was just as brutal as yours. I feel like everyone ran about 10-12 minutes short of their half marathon PR times because of it. SO many people walked during the VA Wine Country Half, which is probably smart!

    • 5

      (& my recap of VA Wine is on my blog – sounds similar to yours ;))

    • 6

      I think the key was going into it knowing it wasn’t going to be fast. I didn’t mind going slower and enjoying the views! :)

      • 7

        Totally agree! I KNEW I would be slow and knew I wouldn’t be ashamed to walk!! This was the hottest race I’ve run, so I thought it was good to have realistic expectations!

  4. 8

    LOVE your photos – Annapolis is so charming! You took some great shots while running!

  5. 9

    Great recap! This was my third ZOOMA race, and this was by far the most confusing. It’s usually better marked, no confusing mile markers (like 11 at 9) and has always been 13.1. Not sure what happened this year!!!

    I love running in Annapolis though, so it’s always on my list. Would love to travel to Chicago for the ZOOMA race there, too!

    The Annapolis 10 is in August — think about how hot THAT race is — I’ll be there though!!

  6. 11

    I ran the 10k on Saturday and man – the HEAT! Props to you for rocking the 1/2 and your positive attitude. I completely agree that there are numerous things to improve but overall I loved the atmosphere and the swag. I really enjoyed my hummus treat in the shade while listening to the band. My race recap will be up soon!

  7. 12

    I ran it this weekend as well! It was my first half-marathon and I had the same mentality that you all did-to enjoy it and not try to kill myself with the hills/heat/etc. I was also really confused about the course. I noticed that they didn’t have every mile marked and thought I had missed a few because I saw 2 and then 4 and thought I had somehow ran off the course. Confusing! Oh well, it was still a fun race but HOLY hills!

  8. 14

    Congrats on finishing another half! I almost added this race at the last minute after a disappointing performance at the Nike half and am glad I didn’t – certainly doesn’t sound like a race to try for a PR. I love Annapolis though, so I do hope to do it as a fun race some year!

  9. 15

    Beautiful race photos! Looks like such a nice course to run. That’s disappointing that it was short, but I’m glad you had fun with it – those are the best races! Annapolis looks like such a fun time too.

  10. 16

    Those are some good race photos!!
    My GPS came in at 3.2 when I was done, did they add something to the course when they figured out it was short?
    For my first Half I would def not recommend it. Maybe in a few more years the Girlfriend will want to do it again..

  11. 17

    Did the Race for the Dream 8K in Williamsburg on Saturday. Dripped buckets of sweat but never stopped running and got a PR on that distance. One of the most inspiring races I’ve ever done, full of beautiful views and a great positive spirit. But I was thinking about all you folks doing ZOOMA when I got to stop after 5 miles and knew you all had to plug on for another 8. Congrats on your 7th half!

  12. 19

    Wow girl you are fast! good job! :)

  13. 20

    I love Annapolis! My dad keeps his sailboat just south of Annapolis & my parents just bought a house on the bay. That will get me back to the east coast :)

  14. 21

    I did Dam to Dam, the biggest 20K in the country, this weekend. Considering I’d only run five miles a couple of times since my full marathon six months ago and obviously did not train for this race at all, it went much better than anticipated. The course is gorgeous, and I ran it with my two best girl friends. I already can’t wait for next year — and am planning on actually training this time around. :)

  15. 23
    Anel Perez says:

    That bridge looks intense! I love it! Where can I find that hummus snack pack? It looks delicious. Those are great perks to running that marathon; you can never have enough yoga mats, right? :) I didn’t race this weekend but I did get 13 miles worth of hiking at Zion National Park. It was amazing!!

  16. 25

    That looks like such a cute town! Although yikes on the short course… good thing you weren’t going for a pr this weekend. Glad you got to hang out with blogging buddies, too!

  17. 26

    Well done! Although a crazy course at least it ended on a high with the goodies!!! :)

  18. 27

    I loveddd the post race snack boxes too! I had the chicken salad and it was delish :) I was also so glad the water bottles were ice cold at the end!

  19. 29

    This sounds like a great race! I’ve visited Annapolis once and loved it – such a cute town. You totally have me wanted to try the margarita shot blocks (let’s be honest anything with margarita in the name is worth giving a try!). I’m going to pick some up for my half training this summer!

    • 30

      They were so great in the heat – I normally like espresso hammer or clif shot gels, but those didn’t sound appealing when I was so sweaty!

  20. 31

    Congrats! I’ve heard of the Zooma half before, and the scenery looks amazing, so it may be worth a trip out East next year. I heard about distance/direction problems from a different blogger who ran the 10K – that’s a little disappointing. Hopefully they learn from this and adjust for next year!

  21. 33

    I ran my 1st 5K with a time of 41 minutes. I thought it was going to be an easy run (I was totally kidding myself!) On to training for the next and setting a new PR. :D You did a great job….even with the confusion and heat!

  22. 35

    congrats on the finish! I ran a half in october and it was short too, such a bummer! my friend is moving to annapolis this month and I can’t wait to visit, the town look adorable :)

  23. 36

    Well done on the race! I love your new Lulemon top it is so cute :)

    I’ve never done a half before but I am thinking of doing one later in the year.

  24. 37

    Great Job Anne!! Running in the heat is always a challenge!!

  25. 38

    I’m glad you had a good time, despite the setbacks. And that swag is awesome!
    I can’t even imagine running those hills – there or in DC! I just did my first 5K in Michigan and we had one tiny hill and I thought it was going to kill me. ;-)

  26. 39
    BAMSCAT says:

    I did Run Like A Girl Trail Race at Pocahontas State Park near Richmond on Sunday. Very nice event but start time (9:00) for first wave was too late for June in VA. Congrats on your race. You always do so well! Too bad about the distance and disorganization. I ran Iron Girl Columbia 1/2M (same day as the Nike 1/2M in DC) and it was more than a quarter mile short, too.

  27. 40

    Great race recap! (as always :)) And amazing job pushing through in that heat, it really adds a whole new challenge to completing a half!

  28. 41

    Nice recap! It looks like you got better post-race food and swag than when I did this race in 2011 — but I had a better marked course. ;-) I love those sabra hummus/pretzel things too.

  29. 42

    is the Lulu tank lined? Like do you need to wear a bra under it?

  30. 44

    I ran a 10k earlier this year and they had the 10kers loop back too soon and we ended up running most of the course the WRONG way. My watch ended up telling me we still ran a 10k though they couldn’t confirm it. I had a girl ask me on the course which way the 10kers were supposed to go and I was like “I have NO idea!” It was such a mess!

  31. 46

    I ran Cape Cod last year and will again this year, but now I want to run Annapolis. Assuming they will work out the issues with the course, it looks amazing!

    Loving your Lulu tops ;) Super cute!

  32. 47

    Just found you on the FitFluential FB page!
    I love your honesty about the race and how you stayed positive. It’s just a race, right!?
    Great job finishing with an awesome time all things considered. Looking forward to stalking er reading your blog. Happy running!

  33. 49

    I love Annapolis! I was just there for Memorial Day Weekend and I was wondering why I don’t get over there more often – it’s really not that far from us in DC! Also, I totally appreciate running the hills in DC…there are so many!!

  34. 50

    everytime I go to DC I say I will make it to Annapolis and never do! Looks like a great race location. Congrats on a good race :)

  35. 51

    Great run! The pictures are beautiful! This was my first half and I had no idea what to expect. I wanted to finish somewhere around 2 hours (finished at 1:59:59 ha!) and had the same reaction as you did when I looked down at my watch. 12.7??? Definitely disappointing but the awesome views made up for the disorganization, heat, and hills.

  36. 53

    Great recap. And congrats!

    ‘Course I would think any race day would be a good one since you knew it wouldn’t end in being lost for 4 hours :) Still can’t get over that story!!

  37. 55

    That’s so weird that the miles weren’t accurate. I would totally be mad about that too!! I could see the mile MARKERS being off a bit (mine were in Myrtle last month), but to have the finish length wrong altogether. Boo! Hopefully people let them know so they can be dead on for next year’s!

    • 56

      Apparently we found out what happened was around mile 3 there were some cops that were supposed to direct us down a street for an added loop but there was a miscommunication so we all missed it. Oh, well!

  38. 57

    I did a 5k this weekend after a hiatus from running! (about 8-9 months!! yikes). It was really easy to remember why I fell in love with running so long ago. I was a little frustrated in that I still CrossFit 3-4 times a week, so I figured all will be well with my time. I was wrong…because I haven’t focused on my running as I did before..I was about 3 min off my “normal” time. Frustrated…YES. Empowered to do better…DOUBLE YES!!! Thank you for your continued inspiration! I had a desire to do a half aobut a year ago….maybe I will get the bug again!

  39. 59
    Roadrunner says:

    Wonderful post — and an intelligently run race. Loved the mile-by-mile (just about) pics/description. Looks like it would be a great course in nice weather. Well done!

  40. 60

    Such a pretty course! Love when there is something to look at as you run.

    The new shirt is adorable, too!

  41. 61

    Reading Tina’s blog post and then reading yours is kind of neat to get a different view on the same race.

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