ZOOMA Florida Half Marathon
I’m so excited to share the events of yesterday’s race with you!
After a long and crazy day, Dave & I made our way up to Amelia Island late Friday evening to meet up with my coworker, Janny, and her husband, Alex, for the ZOOMA race expo. The expo was pretty small and only had a few vendors (it was nothing like the Savannah Rock n Roll Expo) so we didn’t stay too long. It was hosted at the Ritz Carlton though, so it was in a very luxurious location. The Ritz was buzzing with runners and decked out in pink for the girl’s getaway themed weekend.
After checking out the expo, we went to unload our stuff at our condo, which was literally right next to the Ritz Carlton. My family goes to Amelia Island during the summer and we stay at a beautiful condo right on the ocean, so that is where we decided to stay for the race.
Not a bad view, right?
Fast forward through dinner (shrimp and grits) and a rough night’s sleep and it was time to wake up and catch the 7am shuttle to the race. When my alarm went off at 6am, I was not feeling up to 13.1 miles. To be honest, I was actually in a little bit of a mood. I usually wake up on race mornings excited and nervous, but yesterday I was just annoyed that I wasn’t able to stay in bed. I ate half a protein bar, got dressed and assembled all my race gear.
After taking the shuttle from the Ritz to the start of the race (it was a point-to-point course), I began to get a little bit excited. I always find the energy of other runners to be infectious and I was able to meet up with my sister so we snapped some photos and chatted before it was time to head to the start line.
Dave also ran yesterday, so I had him there for some motivation. I guess the ‘girl’s getaway’ weekend scared a lot of the male runners away because only 14 men participated in the half marathon. Dave was a good sport though and laughed along with all the women who were teasing him for being one of the only dudes at the race.
It was a very chilly morning (YAY!) so I was happy when the race started right on time at 8am. I love running in the cold, but I don’t care to stand around and wait in the cold.
I ran with Dave for 2 miles, before he pointed out a pacer who had a balloon tied to her that said 1:50. Dave knew that my goal for this half marathon season was to finish a race in under 1 hour and 50 minutes, which is almost 3 minutes faster than my PR. He took off and left me to hang with the pacer, who was one of those people that made running look easy.
That was basically my view for the next 9 miles. I had never run with a pacer before yesterday and let me tell you…it was an AWESOME experience. This chick was incredible and she did an amazing job at motivating and coaching the runners in her group. Her personal best for a half marathon is a 1:32, so she was able to average an 8:20 pace with us and talk with no problem at all. One thing she said during our time together that stuck with me was this:
“Don’t look down. Look ahead. You’re running forward, not into the ground. Stay focused on what’s ahead of you, not what’s below you.”
I have a tendency to look down when I start to get tired and every time she caught me looking down, she would tell me to look up and she was right. I actually felt better when I was looking forward. I was able to breathe better and I felt stronger mentally when I could see the distance I was covering.
She was also an incredibly smart runner and forced us to speed up on the parts of the course where the wind was at our back and then she allowed us to slow down when we were running against the wind (which was insanely strong at some points during the course). When we were running against the wind she kept telling us not to fight it and to conserve our energy because eventually we would be turning and it would be at our backs again.
In addition to listening to her words of wisdom and encouragement, I also enjoyed listening to the other women running in the group. Some of them were training for marathons and one girl was even training for an Ironman. I found all of their stories to be very inspirational, which fueled me to keep going when I felt like slowing down.
By the time we reached mile 11, I knew a PR was within my reach if I pushed for it. I felt great and I hadn’t even needed to tap into my Gu supply. The pacer told me that my form looked strong and to go ahead and push forward and that is exactly what I did. I turned up my music (I had such a fun playlist – can’t wait to share it with you) and took off to complete the last 2 miles by myself.
The final result?
I did it! I came in at 1:49 and set a new personal record! The last quarter mile of the run finished in the soft sand, so nobody was sprinting to the finish line. It was super tough to run that last leg of the race, but I knew when I saw the clock that I had achieved my goal.
Breaking the 1:50 barrier was actually sort of emotional for me. I remember thinking during my very first half marathon, “I just want to run the whole thing.” Eventually, that goal turned into, “I want to run it in under 2:10.” And that became, “I want to run it in under 2 hours.” See the progression? However, I remember thinking that running anything under 1:50 was unattainable during those first few half marathons…and even a year ago I thought I would never see a 1:4x on a race clock. It just seemed so far out of my reach. But I did it. I pushed myself out of my comfort zone and I achieved something that not too long ago seemed impossible.
I also won 1st place for my age group and got a super cool mug as my award…
I made sure to find my pacer after the race and tell her how much I appreciated her helping me reach my goal.
And I wasn’t the only one who was setting records yesterday! Janny ran her FIRST 5K EVER and did AWESOME!
Janny started doing bootcamp with me a few months ago and when I heard about ZOOMA I encouraged her to sign up. I made her a training plan and then she did the hard part…she actually did the work! She trained, changed up her diet to include more veggies and water and yesterday her hard work paid off. Not only did she run her first 5k, but she felt great when she finished! She even did yoga afterwards with a bunch of other runners on the lawn of the Ritz. Yes, she’s an overachiever.
Dave rocked his race too and finished in 1:47 (only 2 minutes ahead of me, but who is counting…).
After the race, we hung out at the Ritz for a while and enjoyed free wine, pastries, coffee and fruit while listening to a live band.
We finally left the festivities around noon and walked to our condo to shower and go grab some lunch at a local restaurant called The Surf.
I was craving something salty, so I ordered a shrimp wrap and some french fries.
We spent the rest of the afternoon walking around the historic downtown area before going back to the condo to curl up in our pjs and watch movies (Aladdin and Wedding Crashers).
It was a wonderful day filled with exciting accomplishments! Now that I’ve achieved my goal of running a sub 1:50, I’m thinking a sub 1:45 could be next on my list….or maybe I’ll never run again….you know, practice the whole ‘quit while you’re ahead’ thing.
Even though I’m still living on that runner’s high from yesterday, I’m really looking forward to the flexibility of incorporating more cross training and weights into my exercise routine this week.
Question: Have you ever pushed yourself to achieve something that you once thought was impossible?