I will start right out by saying I was not a fan of this race. There were other local bloggers who actually enjoyed it, but I’m sad to say that this was one of my least favorite races, and I will not be running it again…
We got back in town from Charleston on Friday night, had dinner and packed for the weekend. Saturday morning we made our way to Annapolis and the expo at the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, before checking in to our hotel.
The expo was packed — not with other Zooma runners, but there was a charity walk that day starting from the stadium, and everything was happening around the same place, it was confusing and there were tons of people everywhere, making it hard to get around. We got a pretty cool reusable grocery bag (I love this idea!) and the New Balance Zooma shirt, which was a disappointing bland gray — Karl didn’t want to sign up for this race to “get a pink t-shirt” and turns out there was nothing girly about our race shirt… I was looking forward to a pink t-shirt! I had ordered the medium size, and was commenting to Karl how large the shirt was, even though it was women’s specific sizing, and was surprised to see later at the hotel that they had given me the small size! If the small was large for me — I can’t even imagine how it fit the truly small-sized runners!
The expo itself didn’t have much going on — there were 4 or 5 booths there, definitely on the smaller size of things, but I wasn’t expecting much since this wasn’t a big race.
Now for the race…
We got to the stadium a bit late after dealing with traffic to get to the lot — they weren’t moving traffic into the stadium too quickly, but we still got there with enough time before the race started. The lines for the porta-potties were ridiculously long, but to the regular bathroom wasn’t nearly as bad, so that was a plus! There were mostly women running the race, so the girls took over the guys bathrooms as well.
The only person I knew running the half marathon was Sherry, but a couple of days earlier, I received an email through the running group from Jess, who wanted to meet up with us. Jess was a lot of fun! Since we were all around the same pace, we decided to stick together throughout the run. This was a super hard race, so I’m glad I had company!
The race started on time and it was HOT. At 7am the weather was already in the upper 80′s and it was incredibly humid. The first part of the race was pretty scenic, and it was fun running through the old town part of Annapolis!
Jess and Sherry still looking good around mile 2!
Look at how sweaty I already was, and it was only the second mile!
My biggest beef with the race wasn’t so much the course that kicked our ass, but the water stops. Our first water stop was at mile 1.8, but the second wasn’t until after mile 4, when we had already tackled a few hills. By the time we got there, I was thirsty in a scary way.
We ran over the Naval Academy Bridge, right after the water stop, but by then it was too late. I started getting the chills, and once the uphill got too strenuous, I had to walk. I was starting to feel sick. That doesn’t mean I didn’t try to distract myself by taking pictures along the way…
Right before having to walk. I’m hot, I’m red, I’m sweaty, and I’m totally faking that smile…
Soon after I started walking, and the girls convinced me to pick it back up, both Sherry and Jess also started feeling the chills, so we walked for a bit. There was not one bit of shade, as we kept running up and downhill. This race didn’t have one flat surface to show for it, you were either going up or down, the whole freaking time.
Finally, we entered a shaded trail… The trail was way too narrow to get around people, specially once we had the water stops, but we were loving the shade, so we didn’t complain!
This was also the part that the race organizers made a mistake — there were TOO MANY water stops. About four times the number of stops that it shows on their race map… As we were already feeling sick, we stopped at every single one of them and kept grabbing two cups, one to drink one to throw over our heads. The Gu stop was a nice touch too! I’ve been in other races with Gu, but they ALWAYS run out long before my slow ass shows up there, on this race they had plenty of Gu, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they had leftovers at the end. They were also giving the Roctane Gu, which I have always wanted to try, but didn’t want to spend the money on it!
I don’t eat Gu anymore, since they always mess up my stomach, but couldn’t resist trying the Roctane, and my stomach did perfectly fine, only having issues well after the end of the race.
The Gu was certainly a big help and kept us moving. All the water we drank, however, was making us feel a bit sick, this time because of too much sloshing on our stomachs! But we pushed it through and ran through most of the shaded areas of the trail, but once we were back on the sun, the heat got to us again. We had to take TONS of walk breaks every time we started feeling dizzy. It’s so frustrating that after being perfectly trained for it, you get bad weather and a tough course to undo all the good. At this point, none of us were feeling bad by having to walk, since it got to the point that it was between passing out or not.
Jess and Sherry super happy that we somehow made it this far, as we walked yet again around mile 11 — see the lack of shade?
My hat was totally smooshing my ears and I didn’t even notice. Behind me, are other defeated runners walking with less than two miles left…
We told ourselves that once we passed the mile marker 12, that we would run the 1.1 miles to the finish line. Unfortunately, we had nothing left on us. Sherry had to walk as she was too dizzy and thought she was going to faint (she looked green!) and I would start running only to realize my body had long given up on me. Jess did keep up her word and jogged to the end. I would run, catch up with her, walk, have her pass me, and run again. I couldn’t believe that the finish line was so close and I was walking. I have never done this before, but it was too hot, and having the race finish uphill didn’t freaking help. It would have been nice to have another water stop before the end — it was way too hot and I wish the organizers had adapted accordingly, with proper water stops on the sunny spots, not a bunch on the shaded areas!
I promised myself that I’d sprint to the finish at mile 13, and basically ran to the end from there, but barely able to keep it up. Karl was waiting for me a few yards in front of the finish line, and even seeing him didn’t brighten up my spirits!
Almost at the finish line, before noticing Karl — Sherry’s boyfriend took this great picture of me, and Jess! As you can tell, we were struggling — our sprint looks more like a brisk walk…
A few minutes after crossing the finish line, finally DONE. I don’t think any of us liked this race…
My Garmin had me finishing at 2:38, but I forgot to stop it until after I saw Jess at the finish line stopping hers. The official race time has me finishing at 2:40:46 (a 12:17 pace). I don’t get how all our timers came out lower than the official net time of the race. Quite frustrating! So it seems I’ll never know my true time at this race.
Instead of a medal, we got a necklace at the finish line. A good idea in theory, but I do prefer getting a medal instead. I’ll never wear the necklace, and it doesn’t even say “half-marathon” or “13.1″ in it…
We had lunch coupons with our bib, but after seeing the lunch box of a fellow runner (half a dry bagel, celery stick and potato salad), I decided to skip it and gave away my coupon.
This was a really really hard race. I recommend it if you have masochist tendencies and are looking for a challenge. If you want a race that is tough but you’ll still enjoy it, this is not it.