Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Zooma Women's Race Series - Annapolis

My friend, Sharon, and I decided to run the Zooma Annapolis Women's Half together.  I registered for it some time ago.  Since then, I feel like I have been a bit "burned out" on running.  My last long run was the last half marathon I did - Ocean City at the end of March.  I have been running shorter distances but feel as if I need walking breaks for distances as short as 3 miles.  My head was not in this race, and I didn't feel prepared - physically or mentally.  However, I committed to doing it and didn't want to let my friend down . . . or waste the expensive $95 entry fee.  

So, Sharon picked me up on Saturday morning of June 4 and we drove to Annapolis.  We visited packet pickup and the "Expo".  I am used to larger races and this Expo was a disappointment.  Luckily, there was a Cheesecake Factory and a mall across the street to make me feel better.  We had a good time exploring the Towne Centre area that night and even caught "Hangover 2".  Good times!

The next morning, we woke up at 5am to get ready.  We got dressed . . . 

and Sharon got her morning coffee (I don't touch the stuff).

I am wearing a "repeat" outfit.  I wore this at the Philly Rock n Roll.  This goes against every grain of my racing being, but I didn't like the way the shirt I intended to wear felt around the pits area.  Since I was already in a bad race mood, I decided to go with comfort and wore the alternative emergency shirt.  

 We arrived at Navy Stadium in no time!

And the race started on time at 7am.

Although it wasn't pretty (see course description below), we finished.  

To call this course "hilly" is a gross understatement.  I believe I read somewhere that it was mostly flat - that is just a gross lie.  Training in the, flat as a pancake, Delaware Beach area would never prepare us for what we experienced.  Just as you crested one hill and began the descent down the other side, you saw another hill you would have to tackle soon.  The course was challenging, to say the least.  

Zooma's course description sometimes makes light of the hills and sometimes doesn't mention them at all (such as in the descriptions of miles 5-8).  I highlighted some of their mention below.  And - the picture of this bridge does not do this hill justice.  The photographer did an aerial shot with some funky angle, because this was a HILL that we needed to apparently experience out AND back!

Although I did not set a PR (didn't think I would come close), I was happy with my time considering the hills, my preparation, and mental lack of fortitude.

I finished in 2:28:12  - not bad for a humid day.  
Oh, and did I mention the HILLS!?

The Severn River Bridge: a worthwhile (beautiful) challenge on the ZOOMA Course.
The final week is here. You’ve done the training, and you’ve coordinated your cute race day outfit (right?). There’s one more piece of the puzzle to get you across the finish line as quickly and happily as possible: the detailed course description of the Annapolis ZOOMA Half-marathon.
Mile 0-1: You’ll cross the starting line at the Navy-Marine Corps Stadium, where you’ll running around the backside of the stadium through a residential area. It’s shaded and mostly flat, but the best part is that the spectators usually move from the start to line the roads behind the stadium to cheer on the runners. The bonus? The starting-line excitement is carried a little further. The potential drawback? You might be tempted to go out too fast. Remember you still have a mere dozen miles to go.
The electrolytes in Ultima help keep your systems in balance.
Mile 1-2:
 Near mile 1.75, runners turn right onto Rowe Boulevard, then pass by the first water/Ultima Replenisher and port-a-potty station. Rowe, a main street, brings you into downtown historic Annapolis. The street will be lined with spectators, and you will past several historic buildings: the Maryland State House, legislative offices, churches. There’s a dip, then a climb near mile 2.5, but it’s mostly flat through this section.

Miles 2-4: As you head toward the Naval Academy, you’ll pass unique shops, great restaurants—although they may not seem super appetizing as you’re pushing your pace—and more encouraging cheerleaders. Heading toward mile 4 on King George Street, you run past the Naval Academy, St. John’s College, and historical homes. Just after mile 4, there’s another water/toilet station. This stretch of the race, which has a gradual incline, is quiet and fairly residential. As you head toward the base of the Severn River Bridge, there are a few hills—good preparation for the whopper coming up.
Mile 4-5: Time for the challenging Severn River Bridge (a.k.a. Naval Academy Bridge). Sorry to say, but it’s a fairly long climb. Keep your arms pumping and your head up. As you crest the bridge, you will see the turnaround point for the 10K runners, who start heading back just as the bridge meets the shore.
Miles 5-7: There isn’t loads of exciting landscape as you run along 450 but your fellow runners will provide plenty of inspiration—and people-watching entertainment. Until mile 11, the course is out and back, so you get to cheer on runners either heading out or back. Just after crossing over John Hanson Highway, near mile 6.5, there’s another water station. Toast to being halfway done!
Mile 7-8: The turnaround comes at Severn Avenue about 200 yards after mile 7.5. Nicely done: you’re heading home!
Miles 8-10: That said, you’ve still got some work to do. The course has a fair bit of uphill until just past mile 8, but remember that what goes up must come down. Enjoy the serious downhill that follows. (And grab some water or Ultima Replenisher at mile 8.5, where you can also take a pit stop if need be.)
Mile 10-11: Grab a drink just after mile 10, as you’re headed back over the bridge. Chug up a little climb, then as bridge then levels out it, you enjoy the descent toward mile 11, after which you get another water station.
Mile 11-12: At mile 12, you’ll hang a left onto Taylor Avenue; while your legs may be feeling it, your heart will be loving it. There are spectators everywhere now until you reach the finish line. Channel their energy. There’s one last out and back on King George Street. If you’ve got the energy, high-five your fellow runners.
Toast to your accomplishment, post-run.
Mile 12-13.1!: 
After you cross Rowe Boulevard, you are almost home. You’ll cut up a slight hill back to the stadium grounds and head toward the finish, where you will be greeted by all of your adoring fans.

Mile 13.2: Grab your special silver necklace, a light box of breakfast fare and a glass of Barefoot wine (yes, breakfast and wine can go together in special circumstances). Then enjoy some shopping just for the girls—or just hanging out with your girls.