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Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Zooma Women’s Half Marathon Annapolis- June 1, 2013

I KNOW I totally skipped two race reports. And I will post them, but for now you get this one. Nike Women's Half (April 28th) and Frederick Half (May 5th) will get posted... I promise!

I’m going to start this race report off by tell you the single most important lesson I learned during the race. I. Hate. Running. In. The. Heat! Seriously, hate it. Training at dawn/dusk is great to get me to actually train, but not so great at prepping me for actual race conditions.

This is how the race went-

Due to predicted traffic to park, we arrived there by about 6 (race started at 7). I waited in the car for about 10 minutes then decide to let Mike continue napping while I ran to the bathrooms. On the way back to the car I ran into Heather, a girl from my ASL class who was doing the 10K. I wished her and her sister good luck and headed off to get Mike so we could meet up to take my very first Half Fanatics group picture!!

As you can see, only three of us met, but through the Facebook group after the race I saw that at least three or four others were there as well.

They were both smart and headed to the bathrooms. I decided I didn't need to go since I had just gone a half hour before, so I went to try to find the 2:30 pacer. Then I decided I actually did have to pee, but the line was soooooo long that I decided to head back to the start and forget about it. Mike advised that I shouldn't start the race having to pee (duh!), but I knew I was not going to keep pace with out the pacer. This was the first race I was running with my phone (I use the Nike app to track/pace) in my belt, not on my arm. I knew I was not going to get it out of there to check on progress so starting with the pacer was really important to me whether I had to pee or not. (This would later be revealed not to matter one darn bit)

I got back to the start and started right behind the 2:20 pacer and was really excited to finish this half under 2:30. (Note- my goal was 2:20, but given the heat and humidity I dropped that back race morning) The race started and oddly went through the parking lot of the Naval Academy Stadium for about a quarter mile, but it didn't really bottle neck, which was a nice change for a race start.

How I was hoping the rest of the race would go at worst- I kept up with the 2:20 pace group until about mile 7 then slowed down a bit, took some walking breaks, and finished right behind the 2:30 pacer.

How it actually went- By mile TWO the heat had sucked out my will to live finish this with any speed. By mile 3 the 2:30 pace group had passed me and before mile 4 I had decided there was no way I was running up any more damn hills and I would be walking up those suckers. Oh, also by mile 2 I had decided I was going to only do the 10K.

During the second mile the race ran down Main Street, which I LOVE!!

Since I haven’t been taking pictures during races, I was going to find a beautiful picture of Main St, but I can’t find one that doesn't have a million cars, faces the water, and is during the day… so if you've never been- Google it. Better yet, go!  You’ll love it and never want to leave!

It was beautiful running towards the water past all those wonderful stores and restaurants. Except I was totally thinking “if one of these bars were open I would be quitting now and calling Mike to meet me here.” I was so motivated. Then I saw my absolute favorite diner coming up and literally made my way to the right side of the street, closer to it and contemplated stopping. I had to pee, I wanted a crab omelet and a milkshake, and you can’t make me finish darn it! Hmm… wrong… I kept going. I considered this a very high point in the self-control department.

By the time I saw Mike right around mile 4, right before the dreaded bridge, I was walking up a wimpy hill hating life. I probably looked so pathetic and miserable I would not have blamed him if he had just decided to go home. I wouldn't have been thrilled to see me again after that… also he had to have realized at that point that he could just toss out the paper I had given him with my expected times at each point and expect to wait an eternity for me to finish.  For some reason he did not leave and I he even ran the last ¾ of a mile with me. Best husband ever. J

Elevation chart
 Looking at it before the race thought- “eh, yeah it’s hilly, but nothing too bad.” 
Looking at it after the race thought- “the horror.”
Heat does mean things to you dude!

Anyway, the 10K turnaround point was in the middle of the bridge. As I said, by mile 2 I had decided I was only doing the 10K, so I was getting excited- the end is in sight. Then all of a sudden- bye bye turnaround point, hello second half of bridge. What the what? You missed the turnaround point dumby, TURN YOUR BUTT AROUND!! TURN AROUND!!!

Well apparently a different part of my brain and made the decision that I knew I would be mad at myself for DNFing the race I signed up for and told my body to keep going. All I have to say to that part of my brain is “you are a jackhole and I hate you,” but nonetheless I had passed the turnaround point and was headed down hill on the bridge and was not going back up it at that point.

To compromise between the two parts of my brain I decided that if I was finishing this darn thing I was stopping to use the bathroom at the next aid station. There were fabulously no lines. I waited for one person to get out and then it was my turn. Out of all races I have done over 5K, I had never seen NO line for the port-a-potty. It was magical.

Miles 5ish -9ish were all part of an out and back after the bridge. This was long and through a neighborhood, so not very scenic. You also swore the turnaround was at every corner, but it never was. This was the point where I saw all the pace groups pass going back. I saw something that I had never seen before, each pace group from 1:50-2:30 had walkers. People who looked pissed at the world, wondering when it was ever going end, walkers. Obviously at those paces you totally have runners that walk/run consistently or insert walking breaks every so often, but there were way more walkers than I have seen before. Then obviously the amount of people walking increased as it got closer to the turnaround/closer to the pace I was going.  Aaaand then even more as I reached the out and back between miles 10.5 and 12. By this point I had been sticking to the “walk up hill, run downhill” plan for most of the race (even ground was a tossup), but by mile 9 I was cursing the down hills because well, I just didn't want to run anymore.

By the time I got back to the bridge I was walking so much I actually got to really enjoy the scenery and let me tell you, the view of the Naval Academy coming back over the bridge was beautiful. I had some nightmarish flashbacks of Summer Seminar, but besides that, beautiful.  

The rest of the race basically consisted of hating myself for not running more and hating myself when I was running.  I got to talk to some cool people though, which was nice. Around mile 10.5 two girls who had been in my general vicinity for most of the race did something I found disappointing. They turned around during an out and back cutting off somewhere between a 1.25 and 1.5 miles off their route. Overhearing their conversation about how they just didn't want to do another out and back and how it doesn't make sense to go run that part just to come back to the same place was frustrating. Then to turn and look back and see they had actually turned around was really disappointing. One was wearing a half marathon training group shirt from 2011 and one was wearing a half marathon shirt from 2012. This was not their first race. They were not sick or overheated. They just didn't want to do that portion of the race. Very disappointing to see.

On to better news- somewhere near after mile 12 I saw the love of my life coming towards me and I was both so happy to see him and so sad that he would be seeing me finish this way. I really didn't want to run another step and was fine finishing it by walking. Luckily he was encouraging and helped me run much more of it than I would of on my own.

While talking to Mike during the last leg I told him it was disappointing that this was going to be a PW (personal worst). He said it wouldn't and I would definitely finish under my Richmond time. I didn't believe him, but he checked the time and said I would.

I ended up finishing in 2:59:30, not exactly the 2:20 or 2:30 PR I was looking for, but I honestly did not care at that point, it wasn't a PW. Also, I just wanted my darn necklace and wine. Mainly the wine.

Not wine, but here is the necklace

When I took my phone out of my belt to turn my app off I noticed it only tracked 13 miles. I started the race with a low GPS signal so I thought that was why. Come to find out within the hour that no, the course was actually about a quarter mile short. A cop parked in the wrong place and cut off a small loop. So, there is a good chance that I would have actually had a PW. That also completely explained why the line for PR medals was sooooo long and they ran out of medals.

Note: I have heard great things about this race in the past. The fact that it was so hot this year was unusual (and out of their control). The fact that the course got messed up was disappointing, but things happen. If you look at Zooma's Facebook group you will see some serious overreactions. You will also see some complaints about aid stations not being manned well enough; however, I didn't have a single back experience at an aid station and thought the race support was great.

Two other lessons I learned- 1. I much prefer medals over necklaces and 2. Beer after a race is much more satisfying than wine (even though the wine was good). These are obviously the important lessons here people- changing the world.

So that was little (long) insight into my brain during a half marathon that started at 75⁰ and ended in the 80s. After reading this you are probably thinking “well Sabrina, it sounds like long runs in the heat are not for you and you should probably hang up your shoes and not run again until the fall.” Well, if you thought that you would be partially correct. I do not plan on any more races until the fall, but I have decided that my big race in the fall is going to be the Baltimore Marathon, which means lots of summer running. “But Sabrina, you mean half marathon right?” No, I am actually starting to train for my first full marathon next week!

I do recognize that this falls in the “Sabrina Makes Bad Decisions” category, but I’m ok with that.  I know training is going to take up a lot of time since I’m so slow.  I know that I will probably end up with a lot of long treadmill runs since I obviously do amazing in the heat.  I know the hills in Baltimore are worse than Annapolis. I just feel like this is the time. I know running a full is something I want to do at some point (who am I?!?) and I feel like this is the year.  

I plan on following Hal Higgdon’s Novice 1 training program. If you remember, last time I did a Hal Higgdon program I actually posted about my progress, so lucky you- more posts to come! I would love for you to comment with advice for training for my first full (or reasons why this is a bad idea, I’m fine with either).


  1. Ok,a few comments:
    1) The woman in your half fanatics picture wearing the red shirt is my friend Karen! HI KAREN!
    2) Nice Team T-Rex shirt! You look fly.
    3) I suck at running in the heat too. You know what the best way to get better at it is? Training in the heat. I know you don't want to hear it, but it's true. If you stick to the treadmill all summer and it's warmer than average in Baltimore on race day, you'll be screwed. Do yourself a favor and get out there as much as you can! I'm doing a ton better this summer so far because I've been busting my ass in the heat. It's not fun, but it's paying off.

    1. 1. Haha yeah, she walked by Deborah and I a few times and then stopped and asked if we were the Fanatics meeting for a picture. When we said yes, she said "duh! You have a Fanatic visor on and you're wearing a Team T-Rex shirt. No clue how I missed that!"
      2. DUH!
      3. Ug. I. Know!
      4. Yaaaaaaay! You are at part of be blamed for that!