Well, my friends, it’s official! Half marathon #7, the ZOOMA Annapolis half marathon, is in the books. Done and done!
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.
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.
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!
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.
We started right by the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. Pretty!
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.
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
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.
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!
Here’s Theodora around mile 4 or 5, kickin’ it.
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.
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.
- Mile 5: 9:09
- Mile 6: 9:08
Ah, sweet downhill!
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!
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.
Because there wasn’t much of it during this race! The visor ended up being a REALLY good call.
Before I knew it, I was looping back to the bridge! Eek!
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!
- 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.
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!
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!
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
Hello, finish line! Enter adrenaline rush.
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?
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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!
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!
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.
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!