Sunday, June 5, 2011, I ran the ZOOMA Half Marathon in Annapolis, MD. It was my third half marathon and I had high hopes of setting a new PR. The race was only 3 weeks after the MD Half Marathon so I was feeling well-prepared for the distance. However, I did not feel all that prepared for the course because I was unfamiliar with the area so I didn’t know what I was in for and I was in for a tough race!
For the MD Half Marathon, we had a huge advantage because it started in our neighborhood. We didn’t have to wake up super early to head somewhere far away for the race. Getting everything prepared to head to a race can be a stressful task and even more so when there’s little one involved. Z was sleeping so peacefully when I had to wake him. Thankfully, he wasn’t too mad at me for getting him up so early.
We were running a little behind schedule, but my hubby assured me we’d get there on time. I made it to the starting line with a few minutes to spare before the race started. I was nervous. Hubby wasn’t running the race with me and I missed his company already. I lined myself up between the 9 and 10 minute per mile pace groups. Before I knew it, the runners in the starting corral were given the go ahead and we were off! As we headed away from the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, I heard hubby call my name and saw he and Z had come around to watch us as we came close to the first mile marker.
The course was pretty much one long out and back – my least favorite kind of course because it’s repetitive. Thankfully, it was mostly a nice scenic course. We ran down Main Street in Annapolis just before mile 3. As we approach the water, it started pouring rain. Thankfully, it only lasted for about 5 minutes – just long enough to get us soaked!
I had read that one of the hardest parts of the race was the bridge over the Severn River. Because I wasn’t familiar with the area, after we crossed over one bridge, I thought to myself, “Was that the bridge they were talking about? Pssh, that was nothing!” Unfortunately, that wasn’t the bridge. The actual Severn River bridge was a killer. And the best part was – they made us run over it twice! I managed to snap a picture of it as I approached it on the way back. I swear it’s steeper than it looks!
Because I was running alone for this race, I was able to speed up my pace a bit. My average pace was 9:49 per mile. My goal throughout the race was to keep my pace under 10 minutes which I mostly was able to do, with the exception of mile 10 and mile 13 which were 10:03 and 10:05 respectively. The last 3 miles of the race felt like they were longer than the first 10 miles. I completely ran out of steam. My legs were dead and it took every ounce of will power in me not to stop and walk. I knew I wanted to beat my MD Half Marathon time of 2:15:38 and that meant I had to keep trucking. I also kept thinking about Z and how I couldn’t wait to see him so the faster my legs moved, the quicker I’d get to him!
There was a decent amount of spectator support along the way. Surprisingly not as much as the MD Half Marathon though, which went through more rural areas. One thing spectators love to tell the runners is that “it’s all downhill from here.” Let me tell you, they are LYING! Sure, there might be a slight downhill after you pass them, but I guarantee, you’ll be headed back uphill right after that. I know they mean well, but it’s such a tease! The course was very hilly so we heard that line a lot along the way, but I knew better than to believe it :). Which brings me to my next point – there was a hill in the last little bit of the course leading to the finish line. Why do race directors love to force us uphill when we’ve got nothing left in us? It’s so mean, but it seems like that’s the norm since I’ve encountered it in most races.
I trudged up that last hill; the only thing keeping me going was knowing that I’d see hubby and Z waiting for me at the finish line. I usually get one last surge of energy to sprint to the finish at the end of a race, but I didn’t have that in me until I saw hubby and Z cheering me on about 50 feet before the finish line.
As I crossed the finish line and the announcer said my name, I felt such a sense of accomplishment. I set out to create a new PR and I did it. I finished in 2:08:33! I knocked 7 minutes off my half marathon time from 3 weeks ago. Now, I have my sights set on a 2 hour finish.
After making my way through the finisher’s shoot and collecting my finisher’s necklace, I found hubby and Z. Z was so excited to see me and after I picked him up, he wouldn’t let me put him down. He must have been afraid I’d run away again :).
We checked out all the tables that were set up and I had the pleasure of meeting the author of a book that I’ve really been wanting to read. The book is called Run Like a Mother by Dimity McDowell and Sarah Bowen Shea and Dimity was at the race! I had a chance to chat with her a bit about the importance of running as a mom and she signed a book for me. I’m glad I hadn’t bought it yet because now I have a my very own autographed copy!
I’m so happy I ran the ZOOMA Half Marathon. It was a tough race but I worked hard and accomplished my goal. The best part is my finisher’s necklace is a “Z” so it can also stand for Zain – my perfect little running partner!
- Race Recap: Baltimore Women’s Classic 5K (the-running-mom.com)