Sunday, June 2, 2013

Zooma Annapolis Race Recap

Super long post. You may want to read in spurts.

Well, it's done. Yesterday was Zooma Annapolis Half Marathon day. It was not the experience I anticipated. Why? Oh...let me tell you.

Hubby and I left the house about 12:20 p.m., which was a little later than we anticipated, but not too bad. On our way down though, there was a truck in the lane next to us that caught on fire. We had NO idea how to tell the person. We were on a highway, how do you get someone's attention going 75 mph? Several people tried too, but couldn't. Eventually, the truck pulled over and all three people got out. There was a pretty high fireball, but it didn't explode. It was scary. I don't think my heart beat calmed down til we hit Annapolis.

We got to the hotel for packet pick-up about 2:20 p.m. We pulled into the Lowes, which I have stayed at before and parked. We were charged $5 to park in their lot, which wasn't great, but I'm sure a public lot would have been much more. We headed in and got in line for bib/swag. The lines took forever because people we picking up for others...not just one other, but multiple people. I saw someone walk out with 7 bags. Ugh. I got mine, which included my shirt, bag, and bib. I wondered why I didn't get the yoga mat and water bottle they promised. This upset me a bit.

I then wandered the expo and picked up a few things. I grabbed a Zooma 3/4 zip jacket and a purple shirt that I had seen before and wanted. Pricey. But, what isn't at an expo?

I also grabbed a shirt, card, and flower at Fellow Flowers, a great inspirational company that I've been told has been up a year and doing amazingly well! Their stuff was very reasonable. I also wore the flower in my hair the next morning. I liked the people at the booth and they had some really nice stuff.

After the expo, we wandered a bit to find a bite to eat. We hadn't eaten since breakfast and wanted something. Stopped at Fado's and had a yummy cider and this:

A yummy cheese dip with boxy chips! They were amazing! When the waitress saw we had more cheese, but no chips? She brought us out a whole new plate of chips! Yum!

We headed back to the Lowe's to get our car so we could check into our hotel. It was uneventful trip, other than Garmin getting us lost (what's new? Garmin doesn't like us.). Check in was quick. We got into the room, I laid out my gear for Saturday morning, and we watched A Knight's Tale for a bit.

Loved this shirt!

We got ourselves cleaned up and changed, then headed back to the Lowe's for the Honest Tea Mocktail Party. I'll be honest, I was disappointed here. They asked for you to RSVP to the event, which I thought that was because there would be drinks (Honest Tea), snacks, etc. they had to account for numbers. When we got there, the Honest Tea people had changed their table around so to make drinks mixing their different products, but that was it. No snacks. No separate room. No checking RSVP. I'm not saying they should have turned people away if they didn't RSVP, but what was the point of doing so in the first place? We had one drink and left. There was nothing making this worth our time of driving back down town. Complete waste of time.

We tried to get a table at a place down the street for dinner, but without reservations it was an hour wait. No. Thanks. I've got 13.1 miles to run in the morning. Gotta get to bed at some point. So, we went back to the Lowe's and got a table at West. We waited about 20 minutes for an inside table. Grabbed a drink at the bar and watched the O's. When we were seated, our table faced the TV's. Hubby was happy. :)

Dinner was tasty. We started by sharing a pizza. The waiter said it was just barely big enough as an appetizer for two, more like a personal pizza for one. It was much larger than we anticipated, so we added a shared mac 'n cheese and we each had a salad.

Cell phone pic, sorry for the blurriness
After dinner, we headed back to the hotel. Since everything was laid out, didn't have much to do. Put the ole jammies on, got our wake-up call, and hit the sack. That 5:00 a.m. wake up call would come pretty quick!
And it did! LOL! I'm not a morning person, so anything before 8:00 - 8:30 a.m. is early to me (no, I don't not have children). Got up and got ready. It was quick since everything was laid out and ready. Yea! We were ready to leave almost on time. There were lots of racers in our hotel. We saw all sorts of people heading to their cars, which made it easy to find Navy Stadium. LOL! Follow all the cars. 

We arrived on time, parked our car (really close to start/finish. Yea!), then headed to the port-a-potties. Figured night as well. Then did some stretching before the race.

Pre-race with Navy Stadium in the back
Hubby being creative with the camera and sun flare
The start was a little confusing. I didn't know which direction to go to get in line. There were no corrals or times. Hubby and I both went in because there was room on the side for spectators to sit. We chatted, then hubby decided to go outside against the fencing to watch. 
Here's where I'll be honest. As soon as I saw the weather was going to be in the low-to-mid 70s at the start, I'd been freaking out. I don't do well in the heat. I hate running in it. I hate doing lots of things in it. I even worried about that when I signed up initially that it could be really hot come race day. And as I stood there waiting for the race to start, I struggled not to cry. Which I had trying to hold back for the past 24 hours. I just knew this was not going to be a good race. I knew I would struggle. I knew that it would be miserable.

And we're off! We ran through the big Zooma inflatable start/finish and meandered through the Navy Stadium parking lot before heading into the streets of Annapolis.

Had a little difficulty at the start when my Nano didn't want to work. Honestly, had I not gotten it to work, I would quit right there. I was already doubting what the hell I was doing. But, it finally started playing and kept going. Maybe a mistake?

There were lots of little hills throughout the first part of the race around the stadium. Not too bad, but there. When we came back to Taylor Street, I saw hubby! He came to the one side of the street to cheer me on. We were just over a mile into the race.

It really was good to see him. I was disappointed on the other three sides of the stadium where people lined up to cheer. It surprised me how upset I was getting not seeing him. But, there he was. He saw me first and called my name. Then took some pics. From here, I was one my own...along with all the other racers of course. ;-)

We headed from here into downtown Annapolis. We crossed a pretty stone bridge into the city and around the pretty architecture of the city. It really is a gorgeous city! There were lots of hills here and basically that's all Annapolis is...hills. I'm not kidding. We went around town, down through downtown (I say this because it was a steep downhill), then past the Naval Academy. Slightly disappointed we didn't run through it, but what can you do?

Lots of hills and to this point, I'm running pretty strong. I'm running the hills and I'm thinking this isn't too bad. My times are keeping with that I need for a PR, even running a little ahead of schedule. I was ok with this, figuring the hills later in the race would slow me down and this will be my cushion. Had I known that there was so little flatness to the course...

We came through the city to the Navy Bridge and oh my good Lord. You want me to run that??? Twice??

It's hard to tell from this photo, but it's steep and it's not pleasant doing it twice. As we get to the top of this portion of the race, the 10k peeps get to turn back. Lucky bastards runners. At this point, I honestly considered making the turn and just doing the 10k rather than the half, but that would have been one pricey 10k, so I kept going. Over the bridge and into some weird race course. We ran along a highway for a bit, then turned onto a side road. It was disheartening because you never really knew what was going on. It just seemed to go on forever. And constant hills, very little flat ground to let you catch your breath.

When I got to the turn around point, there were three ladies there to cheer you on. They were amazing! They cheered, high-fived, and generally made you happy to have reached them. I have to give it to Annapolis, they had some great volunteers at this race. Many had the Black Girls Run shirts on and man, I want to join them! They were awesome! Cheering each other on when they saw each other on the course, keeping a positive attitude, volunteering, being fantastic to those who were running by. They embodied the running community to me yesterday. I seriously wonder if they'd take this white girl?

After turning around normally, it makes me happy because I know I have less to run than I ran. This time it didn't matter. I saw the 9 mile sign and texted hubby "Coming up to mile nine. Walking. Can't run." I wanted him to know since I had so hoped to finish under 3 hours. At this point, I knew it wasn't going to happen. I knew I was going to be lucky to finish below 3:10:00. Oh what a joke.

From that point forward I walked. There was an occasional downhill that I jogged, but the quads were unhappy and didn't want me to use them at all. They wanted me to sit down on the side of the road and never move again. Mentally, I can't say I wasn't with them on that. I walked. I tried estimating my finish time and came to about 3:05:00. That wouldn't be horrible, just 3 minutes slower than Shamrock in March and 4 minutes faster than AC from October. Ok.

On my way back over the hill, a poor girl was on the side sitting when the medical personal golf cart came up to her. I came up and asked if she was ok. Apparently she had just thrown up. Medical staff were giving her cold water. I'm not sure what happened from there, but I was a little scared. This girl was fit, she was thin and looked healthy. If she got sick, what about me? I was already nervous because I wasn't sweating the way I was early on. I was thinking I might be a bit overheated with heat dehydration. I contemplated stopping at a police officer and asking for medical personnel. I didn't. Mistake? Maybe.

As I'm on my way back to the stadium, there is a side street with people walking up it with bibs on. There is no course marshal or anything and the two people in front of me crossed the street and kept going. I asked the traffic person who said the race actually continues down the side street. Wha??? Good Lord. So, I turn left and I am the only person I see going my way. I have no idea where I'm going, but I keep plodding long. And this is where I felt completely lost. There were NO course directors out there. I finally caught up to someone so I could follow them, but wow. There was no one helping us back of the packers figure out what to do. This part of the race was just randomness for miles. There was a water station on both sides of the street, which was nice, but other than that, this part sucked! Hit the turn around from this part and started back. On my way, the gentleman who was my "guide" was on the sidewalk getting sick with two medics. Poor man.

I kept going. As I walked, I told those behind me where to go. I know I felt lost as I walked with no one ahead of me, so I tried helping those behind me. I got back to the main street and make a left towards the stadium. Up a hill (surprised?), make a left to a bit of a downhill (which I ran), then make one more right and wow...the stadium. The finish was close! So close that I actually said that. And the woman next to me asked what? I told her, "See that gray building? That's the stadium. We're almost done." She yelled out in surprised and thanked me. Apparently, she was feeling it too. She got ahead of me, lucky girl! But, I kept going. I got to the stadium, allowed an ambulance out of the stadium, and walked to just under a tenth of a mile, then started running to the finish.

And thank the good Lord, I am finished! I honestly didn't think it would ever happen. Yes, that clock said 3:23:17. It's not 100% accurate because that's gun time, but...

I crossed the line and waited for hubby to come around. A nice woman I saw on the course, spritzed me with water. When hubby arrived, we headed to water/food. On the way, I picked up my yoga mat, water bottle, and necklace. There would be no medal for me this day. We walked through the entire expo area and could not find water. Nothing. I stayed under a nice awning while hubby went back seeking water. Apparently, it was at the finish line in a black bucket that wasn't marked and no one there to give it to you. Thanks Zooma for caring about the back of the packers in 84 degree temps. I took my sneakers off and put on my brand new Nike cushioned flip flops. Love them!

I felt like crap, so I wanted out. No wine. No food. No expo. Though, the expo was basically the same people from the night before. I didn't see anything different. We walked to the car and the best thing ever was the air conditioning. I finally started feeling better. Hubby said we got late check-out at the hotel, thank God! I was able to head back to shower rather than just pack. A shower never felt so nice...minus out the a not so pleasant place.

Changed and we headed to Pusser's for lunch. It was really the one thing I wanted to do. We had to wait for a table (not surprised!), so we sat on the deck enjoying a celebratory drink.

The reason I like this place is for the view. The food is good. The drinks are good. But the view? Amazing!

I had a yummy salad and sweet potato fries. Not typical post-race food (of which I got nothing from Zooma itself), but I was still overheated and wanted nothing hot. The salad was great and the sweet potato fries were sweet. Perfect! We hung around there until about 3:00 p.m., then headed home. It had been a long day.


  1. I did this race a few years ago, but it seems they changed the course a little bit. We started at the Navy stadium but finished at a park, as far as I remember. We then had to take a bus back to the stadium. Sorry to hear there was no race support to guide you back,that's pretty bad, especially since you finished within the cut off time.

  2. Interesting about the course change. I wonder if the bus didn't go over well? I liked that it started and ended at the same place. That was a positive. I've never run a large race that didn't end where it started or near where it started.

    As much as it sucked, I learned I really am not a warm weather runner. As we get further away from the race, I can see what it taught me better. I know better now. Just gotta stick to those cold weather races. Though hard to find...