Zooma Annapolis Half Marathon Race Recap

by katie

Well, y’all, I did it.  I ran my first half marathon last Saturday and didn’t die.  Not only that, I finished only two minutes over my kind of aggressive (for me) goal time of 2:30.  WIN.  The race was hard because, in addition to being the furthest distance I’ve ever run, the course was super hilly.  I knew that going in, so I was able to come up with a strategy in advance.  The strategy was to walk up the hills.  Ha!

My friend Karen ran the race with me (we ran the 10K together last year, as well).  Last year the course was poorly managed and ended up being short for both the half marathon and 10K distances.  Zooma fixed that this year, sort of, but the course was still a little confusing at points.  There was at least one time when the half marathoners had to cross over the 10K runners.  Chaos.  Also, my Garmin said the course was actually a little LONG this year.  When I crossed the finish, my watch read 13.28, not 13.1.  I’m not sure what’s up with that.

We got to the start in plenty of time to use the porta potties.  There was no line because there were about a million of them.

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Porta potty central, dead ahead.

Once that was taken care of, we wandered around for a minute and then got into our corral.  Since this was our first half, and we knew the course was challenging, we decided to line up behind the 2:30 pacer for survival, and the maximum chance for a respectable finish.

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We were in the corral in plenty of time.  It got more crowded as start time approached.

The race started right on time at 7:00 am.  It’s not a huge race so we crossed the starting line pretty quickly.  The weather was great, so we were feeling really positive.  Except for the moment before the start when I questioned my decision:

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The first few miles went just fine.  There was a mixture of sun and shade, and no major hills.  The first big incline came around mile 6.  Here we are at the top of the Naval Academy bridge.

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We were feeling pretty good at this point.  Unfortunately, there was another HUGE hill right after the bridge.  Womp womp.

We hiked up the bridge as planned.  I used the time to eat a salted caramel GU and drink some water.  Then we ran down the bridge.  Straight into another epic hill.  Sigh.  We walked up that one too, and then resumed running.  At that point, the race course entered a neighborhood with lots of trees and shrubbery.  That meant lots of shade, but also lots of pollen.  Karen had to slow down a little bit at that point due to a mild allergy situation.  I kept going, and got a second wind somewhere around mile 8.  Then I made the turn and had to go back across that dang bridge.

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Not so smiley on the return trip across the bridge.  More barf-y.

It was starting to get hot at that point, but it still wasn’t too bad.  I ate my second salted caramel GU around mile 10 or 11, which seemed to help.  Mile 12 was tough.  You’re so close, yet so far away.  I had to walk a little bit, but I don’t feel bad about it.  The race course ends on an uphill (RUDE), and that little bit of walking helped me finish strong.

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The half marathon finisher’s medal is pretty awesome.  It has glitter on it and a little life preserver charm.  So Annapolis!

I finished in 2:32:08.  I was 656 out of 910 overall, 619 out of 867 in the female group, and 121 out of 168 in my age group. The numbers don’t look that impressive, but since it was my first half marathon, I’m satisfied with them.  I passed the 2:30 pacer a couple of miles before the finish, and couldn’t even see her behind me by the end.  People who were following that pacer definitely finished over 2:30.  If I had relied on the pacer rather than my garmin, I would have been kind of mad.

I would definitely run a half again, although maybe not the Annapolis Zooma half.  The hilly course is something I really only need to do once!