Note: I received complimentary entry into this race through my ambassadorship for ZOOMA. All thoughts are my own. Ain't nobody got time for lyin'!
As race day for the ZOOMA Half Marathon on the Cape approached, my mind silently plotted a time goal. Normally I am quite vocal about what I am aiming for during a race, but this one I wanted to keep under wraps.
I'm really not sure. It isn't out of the ordinary for me to set at least 3 levels of race goals so that I can accomplish at least one of them and feel pleased with the outcome of the race - whatever that may be.
But it had been awhile since I had set a time goal for a half marathon.
Well my current PR of 1:44 (set Sept 2013) was about to expire. Let me explain. For Disney races, you need to submit a proof of time from a race within the last two years. Well this meant my PR from 2013 would be expiring soon. Since September 2013, I hadn't had a 1:4X half. If I want to get into the first corral at Disney, I need one - even then corral A isn't guaranteed. But it helps.
So a goal of 1:4X was on my mind and silently set as a goal for ZOOMA. My last 1:4X actually happened at ZOOMA Cape Cod in 2013 (my first year as an ambassador). I had a 1:47:35. If it happened once, I knew it could happen again.
The wife and I headed to the Cape Thursday night after work. She had Friday off and I would be doing my morning Weight Watchers Personal Coaching calls from my parents' trailer. Once those were done, I would be heading over to fellow ambassador and friend Nancy's house. It is our yearly tradition. We go to the expo, the race mocktail, dinner and I sleep in her guest room. :)
After hanging out with Nancy's family - I won over her daughter Aubrey with my Run Disney pics - we headed over to the Expo. The Expo, which is at the Sea Crest Hotel, is tiny (maybe eight booths), but I was excited to see who was going to be there. Hi friends!
Before Nancy and I hit up the photo spot, it was time for me to give away a sweet Sparkly Soul headband. The lovely ladies of Sparkly Soul surprised each ambassador with a Dream Catcher headband. Since I already had that one, I opted to pay it forward. I sent out a tweet asking one person at the ZOOMA Expo to find me and share with me what dream they are working towards. The first to find me won the headband.
Congrats Patty! Patty was at the race to celebrate her 28th birthday with a half marathon PR (hopefully). Her dream? To run her first marathon! YAY! Way to sparkle Patty. :)
Once we secured our bib (I got to pick my number - 838) and swag (race t-shirt and a pair of Feetures socks), we were off to the mocktail. The mocktail featured HINT water and some apps. I opted to go to the real bar for a real cocktail to enjoy which chatting with the other race ambassadors.
After a gorgeous sunset, Nancy and I grabbed a quick dinner before heading back to her house to crash. I did a quick stretching session, put on my compression and called it a night. We were heading out by 6am to get to the race in plenty of time to get a good ambassador photo before the race.
We met up with Page and hid out inside as long as we could before the race. It was a brisk New England Fall morning. Great for running - not so great for hanging around pre-race. ;)
Prior to the race, a random headache sprung. But it wasn't just that. My balance felt off. I was trying to walk to the front desk to ask for scissors to cut the KT Tape and had a hard time walking over there. I could see that my walking was normal, but I felt "off." It was a little scary. I let Page and Nancy know so we decided if I was feeling off once the race started I would stop and walk.
When we lined up to start, we heard the 1:45 pacer say she was a nurse. Sweet! We would be trying to stay close enough to her in case anything happened.
The 10k folks walked up the street about 1/4 or so to their start, while the half started right at the Sea Crest hotel. We headed out just after 7:30am.
The crisp Fall air was a treat after a hot and humid month in New England. It has been a couple of weeks since Page and I had gotten a good run and catch-up session in and we quickly made up for lost time. We were right into an easy conversation and our stride fell in line.
Apparently I had imagined that the course was pancake flat until Mile 10. Incorrect. Haha. There were some inclines/declines. Nothing to worry about, but you could see them if you looked close enough.
Mile 1: 8:05
Mile 2: 7:56
Mile 3: 7:56
It was after Mile 3, that I actually looked at my watch when it beeped and realized that Page and I had to bring the pace on back. Haha. This was not a 5k, but a half marathon. Plus I remembered the bigger hills were saved for the final 3 miles. :P
I checked in with my body and the headache was gone. I felt okay running. Apparently running is my medicine?
Mile 4: 8:08
Mile 5: 8:37
The water stops were well managed with excited volunteers. There were a smattering of spectators along the course. Mainly those looking out for their loved ones, but still cheering on the other runners, which is always appreciated.
Each mile had a marker, but some were on a higher stand than eye sight so we didn't notice them all. This meant we all of a sudden looked up and realized we were at Mile 6. Both Page and I were shocked and pleased. Haha. It's great to be in such a good conversation and pace that it doesn't feel like you are straining.
This did however mean we missed our usual fueling spot, which is around Mile 5. Oops! Since I am the one of the pair that wears a Garmin, I say that error falls on me. But it's okay. We were ready to take a snack break at Mile 8.
Mile 6: 8:14
Mile 7: 8:12
We spent some time on the Rail Trail, which passed by the cranberry bogs. While the path limited the spectator spottings, it did give us a reprieve from running on the open roads. There weren't police offers or volunteers at every corner of the road so there were some dodging of cars occurring. For me, I am more used to it, but I know it can be unnerving for newbies. Even though I am used to it, it doesn't mean I like it. When someone pays $100+ for a half marathon, you would hope the streets are closed or at least a police presence when having to cross a major intersection,
At Mile 8, we opted to stop, walk and fuel. Page with her Gu and me with my mini luna bar. It was a much-needed break for both of us. I wish the race had a fueling station like many halves, but I know that isn't something guaranteed.
Mile 8: 8:59
Mile 9: 8:18
As we took the turn past Mile 9, I prepped Page for the hill and on cue there it was. Ha. Again, it isn't like it is a mountain, but it has enough elevation to make you work. We both dug deep and powered up. Okay one down and some number of them left. ;) I really couldn't remember the exact number from the previous races, but I knew the one at Mile 12 would be the toughest.
Mile 10: 8:24
As we approached Mile 11, we noticed that a couple of women ahead of us turned left while we saw another runner with a bib running straight. Hmmm... this caused us some concern. We ran on and spotted a small left arrow. Phew! We would be turning left. The gentleman with the bib came running towards us. He had missed the sign and continued running straight when he should've turned left. Oof! He was NOT a happy camper. I wouldn't be either. There definitely should've been a volunteer at that spot to make sure everyone knew which way to go.
The final couple of miles weaved through a small neighborhood near the Sea Crest hotel. It isn't the most scenic end to a race, but again it kept you off a major street and out of traffic's way.
We checked in with each other and both were feeling great. We were a little tired and I think that was from our mis-fuel earlier in the race, but a water stop gave us the second wind we needed.
I turned to Page: "Okay 2 miles to go. We can run 2 miles in our sleep." A blatant lie, but a boost/laugh we both needed. :) Oh and a selfie!
Mile 11: 8:26
Mile 12/13 featured the biggest incline of the race. Why not put it right at the end? Right. As I chugged up the hill with a feeling of wanting to puke, I just kept saying: Wine... Wine... Wine... Wine... Wine!! THAT was pushing me up the hill to the best of my ability. I forgot there was a slight downhill to the Finish! Yay!
I wanted to really enjoy the heck out of the downhill, but the road was on such a horizontal incline that it was an uncomfortable run. My left side was much higher than my right, putting my leg/foot at an odd angle. Not that comfortable for trying to pick up the pace.
I tried to distract both of us by switching to the TMI topic of sports bra chafing! Sexy, right? ;)
Mile 12: 8:12
Mile 13: 7:52
We took the turn into the Finish chute outside the Sea Crest and we were beaming! Yes! The 1:4X was ours - even though Page still didn't know that is what we were shooting for.
FINAL: 1:47:58 (8:15 min/mile pace)
WAHOO!!!! How about that for a spot on Garmin distance for a race? It never happens.
After grabbing a medal and water, Page and I headed straight back through the hotel to the beach. I was ready to use the ocean as an ice bath with some Barefoot wine in hand. Of course.
I passed on the post-race massage (line was too long), post-race food (it was a fancy sandwich with goat cheese, which I don't eat) and the beach yoga. I missed the foam rollers on the beach from last year. Those were a huge help to get aid those right post-race muscles. The massages are a great idea, but the line was pretty long (from the 10kers finishing before the half marathoners) when I finished. It would be great if there were more masseuses and lines for 10k and half.
Since I didn't eat the post-race food and there weren't any bagels, the crew (once we all assembled on the beach) headed to the LUNA booth to get some food.
I'm wicked proud of what Page and I accomplished. It was also reassuring that we both finished feeling like we had stuff left in the tank! Yes! Maybe I have another 1:45 or less in my future. I would love to beat my current PR (1:44:12) if possible.
Overall the race morning was awesome. I had great company and perfect racing weather. I do wish there were additional volunteers or police on the course for protection from cars/direction help. I appreciated ZOOMA offering free pictures, but there weren't any photogs on the course. There was one at the Finish Line and that was it. :/ Thank goodness I take mid-race photos myself. I would love to see something like bagels with the bananas at the Finish Line especially for those with sensitive post-race stomachs or pickier eaters (like me). I did see many women loving the food they did offer. I would've loved to see the foam rollers back - that was disappointing.
Did you run ZOOMA 10k or half? What did you think of the race?