I love Cape Cod in the Fall. It is a beautiful time to see the blue ocean against the trees that are starting to change colors. Sounds pretty right?
Well it is.
And I was able to run through it.
On Friday, September 27th, I hopped in my car and took the just under 2 hour drive to Falmouth (part of Cape Cod) to participate in the ZOOMA Women's Series Half Marathon. I was actually honored to be a ZOOMA Ambassador for the Cape Cod race so I received free entry and a discount code to offer 10% off the race entry to anyone that used it.
Since I got to Falmouth early, I decided to make a pit stop at the Cape Cod Beer Brewery. I mean I was there I had to do it. ;)
They have a lovely free tasting area right INSIDE the brewery. Cool!! You can then buy a pint of whichever brews they are pouring for $5 and browse the gift shop or sit out at the picnic benches.
After doing a quick change in their bathroom into non-comfy clothes ;) I was off to Nancy's house. Nancy, my fellow Ambassador and friend through social media, allowed me to use her guest bed for the night. Thanks Lady!! I didn't have the funds to pay for a hotel room. We jumped in the car and headed over to the Expo.
We were asked to do a ZOOMA Ambassador Q&A, but no one asked a Q. :P But, we still look spiffy.
Thanks for the pic Nancy.
Oh and I am not a Giant, I was just wearing wedges. :P
We grabbed our bibs (which also came with a ZOOMA water bottle and a YOGA mat) and headed out near the pool for the Mocktail party hosted by Honest Tea.
How amazing was our view?
Since it was a tad chilly and I failed to dress appropriately, Nancy and I headed inside for dinner and were joined by Amy (RunningEscapade.com) and her husband Chris.
It was great catching up with these folks that I sort of forgot we had to get up to actually run the next day. Whoops.
I did my nightly ritual of using my foot foam roller, my Stick and my regular foam roller and called it a night. One benefit of driving was that I could haul all my rolling tools with me. No worry of security taking them away as possible weapons.
I jumped out of bed as my alarm wailed at 5:30am. Yay early races.
Nancy and I prepped, I snacked on my KIND Bar and headed out the door to the race.
The race actually had ample parking lots which was nice so getting the car situated was easier than I expected. We met with Nancy's friend Jill, another blogger, and all headed to the Start area.
Okay I talk a lot about port-o-potties because well they are at every race. BUT, the ones at ZOOMA were fancy. They were pretty, clean, had a lever you could hit with your foot to flush and lots of hand sanitizer. I've really never seen ones like it before.
And yes I am easily impressed.
We met up with the other Ambassadors to snap a quick pre-race photo.
Thanks Nancy for the pic!
And I of course headed back to the bathroom. This time I opted to go inside the Sea Crest Beach Hotel to see if the lines were shorter. Well I went to the women's room and the line was out the door. Duh Dani! This is a race geared towards women.
So I walked myself into the men's room to use their facilities. In and out in less than a minute. Score!
I head back outside to hang with the crew until the race started.
ZOOMA offers a 10k and Half Marathon option. The 10kers were off at 7:30am followed by the Half Marathon at 7:35am.
Once the 10kers headed out, we lined up. I had never been so close to the Start Line before. The shot fired and we were off.
Again, I have never been so close to the front of the pack. It was cool to be near the front people at the beginning.
But of course after about a mile they started speeding up, which was fine by me.
For portions of the race, both 10kers and Half Marathoners were on the same course - which was neat. It was great seeing so many women out running or walking or wogging their first race.
There were even some men out there - many who were husbands, boyfriends or friends of ladies - helping and encouraging them through the race.
It was absolutely beautiful at the Start. We ran along the ocean. The sky was blue. The weather was perfect.
I dealt with some headphone issues which resulted in wrapping them around my bun with 1 of my two Sparkly Soul headbands. Hey it worked! ;)
I wish I had my phone out at the beginning of the race, where I missed all the great Cape Cod "shots."
We winded our way through the streets, which were open to traffic. We did our best to stay to the right and out of harms way.
There was a great out-and-back turnaround spot (Mile 2/3ish) where I caught a glimpse of the Leader. It was amazing to see one woman so far ahead of the pack. So as I turned around I was able to cheer for the friends I knew. I LOVE high-fiving and cheering on familiar and unfamiliar faces during a race.
When not on the open streets, we were on the Shining Sea Bike Path, which was great. It was nicely paved and made me feel safe.
I definitely enjoyed the views.
The volunteers and spectators along the course were awesome! I want to give a special Thank You to the police officers and volunteers on the open road doing the best they could do keep cars at bay. While not many adhered, I didn't hear of any runners getting injured by vehicle traffic.
My body was feeling great. I kept an eye on my pace to keep myself in check. I had a half marathon the following day so I needed to NOT burn out in this race. I wanted to let my legs fly free, but I tried to keep myself between 8 and 8:30 min/mile pace.
When did that become normal pace for me? Not sure, but I was loving it.
For some reason I was under the impression this was a flat course - not sure where I got this - but it was definitely rolling hills. It kept you on your toes for sure.
During Miles 10-12, we were going through some Falmouth neighborhoods. Not many spectators out, but the few that were I would ask them: "This way to the wine?" Some thought it was comical and some gave me blank stares. ;)
I do need to give major credit to a pair of spectators that I saw not once, but four times along the course. I even had to say something the final time. I just let them know how awesome they were and how lucky their runner was to have them. Their response: "No YOUR awesome for running." Made me smile.
As I turned to head back on the Main street, this was about 12.5 or so, there it was. The major hill at the end. Now it wasn't like it was straight up, but it was definitely nasty! ESPECIALLY at the end of a race.
I squated down a little in my form and powered up the hill. I love to thin about Spinning during hills and just power myself up as best I can.
I did it. I was at the top of the hill and ready for the final .2 or so to the Finish Line.
I had no real idea how I had done, but I was pleased to be pain free as I had been dealing with a sore foot all week long.
I finished in 1:47:35. No PR, which meant no medal. ZOOMA only gives medals to those where the race was 1) their first 10k or Half or 2) it was a PR.
But I every Finisher did get a beautiful necklace as a medal. :)
I love the message.
The race had laptops at the Finish where racers could check their results. It was then I found out...
I had finished 4th in my division. Ahhh I could've gotten a prize had I just pushed a little. DARN I missed 3rd my 14 seconds. Had I known. Oohhh well. Next time. :P
After seeing Amy (who was injured and volunteering at the PR medal table), meeting a fellow Weight Watchers Leader (who I spotted by her Activelink) and grabbing some water, I headed to the beach to meet up with Nancy and Jill.
Another stolen pic from Nancy!
Oh yes, the post-race party was on the beach: foam rollers, massages, snacks and wine. Unfortunately the lines were all so long that I missed all that fun, but I still soaked up some sun as I stretched.
Plus it was nice to put my feet in the sand after a race ... and I was able to run into a fellow Tedy's Team member Liza! Woo!
And you couldn't beat the view...
We had to scoot as I had still have to drive to Providence after, but it looked like the festivities were going strong when we left.
Overall, the race seemed well-organized and the participants seemed happy. Lots of smiles and laughs on the beach.
One of the race directors asked my thoughts on the race, which I appreciated and was happy to share:
1) I love the offering of a 10k and Half. So many races have done away with the 10k option and it is such a great bridge as people grow from the 5k to the Half.
2) I wish the course was reversed. I would've loved to see the gorgeous ocean shots at the end rather than houses in a neighborhood. Plus that would move that hill from the Finish. ;)
3) Streets blocked off more. I know that there is more to that with city/police/race officials/etc but it would've been nice and we ended up bobbing and weaving across streets. Since I am not from Falmouth, I was honestly just following the runners in front of me and doing what they did when it came to crossing streets, etc. But I think as the race grows, the city will be more open to blocking off streets for the racers.
4) I loved the portions on the Shining Sea Bike Path, which is a known hotspot on the Cape.
5) More massage tables if possible. The line was full of 10k racers that anyone doing the half would be waiting quite a while to take part in the service. But that is more in the hands of the company offering the service.
6) I liked the special props to women completing their first race or hitting a PR. I love welcoming new racers to the sport so giving them an extra boost with something special is a great idea.
7) The overall vibe. This was a supportive community. I couldn't stop smiling during the whole race seeing women pushing themselves, cheering for others and out there enjoying moving. It is a great energy to bottle up and keep with me on those days I just don't want to run.
So thank you ZOOMA for giving me the opportunity to experience this event, to see my blogging friends and to meet new smiling faces.
Have you ever participated in a ZOOMA Women's Series race?