I probably had no business actually running this half marathon, but I’m stubborn, so I ran it. For the past 17 months, I have run at least 1 half marathon a month. I certainly didn’t want to give up that streak because I’ve not been 100% and have not really been training. I had given it much thought to drop to the 10k, but I knew I would be pissed at myself if I didn’t at least try. I knew from running this race last year that I could get to about mile 4.5 and if I was really struggling, I could drop and just finish the 10k versus continuing on. The thought on race day did cross my mind, but obviously I pushed it out and ended up finishing my 41st half marathon and my second Zooma race.
The race weekend started as I scooted into Annapolis late Friday evening to pick up my race bib. I was looking forward to participating in the ambassador meet up that evening, but I couldn’t get into town that early. Instead, I quickly grabbed my race bib, my ambassador tank and new Bondi Headband. Since this was their 10th anniversary, they had some cool swag! Each runner got a small bag and a pair of Feetures socks. If you were running the half you got a hat (somehow I didn’t get one though) and then your bib was suppose to have a sticker for every Zooma race you’ve done (I also somehow missed that). Lastly, they had some cool pins for those who have done 5+ Zooma races! Since the race start was at 7am, I decided to call it a pretty early night. I was exhausted and knew it Saturday would be a long day, so I wanted to grab as much sleep as I could. Unfortunately, that didn’t end up being a lot. Maybe 5 hours? I just couldn’t seem to get to sleep and stay asleep. That 5:30am alarm went off and all I wanted to do was crawl under the sheets and turn all of the alarms off.
Even though the race started at 7am, we had an ambassador photo planned for 6:30am. I wanted to make sure I was there in time for that and to say hello to my fellow ambassadors. I also wanted to see some of my Washington College Class of 2007 classmates who were also running the half that morning! Just like Zooma who was celebrating their 10th birthday, we were going to be celebrating our 10th reunion that evening over in Chestertown. Some others were suppose to join, but they ended up opting out and doing some extra celebrating our reunion. After our quick ambassador photo, I hit the bathroom lines. The lines were pretty long, but luckily they went pretty quickly. I was at the start line with about 5 minutes to spare.
I knew from running this course the year before that the first 5 miles were the easiest. It was once you hit the Naval Academy Bridge that the course took a different turn and that turn involved all hills. Going into this race, I had no expectations. I didn’t know if I would even be able to finish this half between my right hip and left hamstring issues. I told myself to start slow and just do what I could.
The first few miles take you through downtown Annapolis and to the waterfront. I really love this part of the race and wish that more miles were run through downtown or closer to downtown. If they cut off the entire back half of the race, I would not be upset. My favorite mile is probably the second one. It starts near the circle, heads down Main Street and down toward the water. It’s pretty barren in the sense that not many spectators are out there for this race. That’s for the entire course really. However, there were 3 spectators out on Main Street giving away gummy bears. If it wasn’t mile 2, I would have considered grabbing them. However, I was still feeling pretty good at this point and did not want to ruin anything.
Around mile 3.5 and just before the half/10k turn off, my left hamstring really started screaming. I could have easily gone on the 10k route, but I figured I would do the extra half marathon loop on the back side of St. John’s College and if I still wasn’t feeling a finish, I could still take the 10k course, but I’d just run a long one. I really was considering it, but knew at the end of the day, I would regret not trying. I think in my mind, a DNF is probably more acceptable than a cop out to a 10k. We passed the front side of St. John’s College and the Naval Boathouse on the right, just before we turned onto 450. This is where the course gets interesting. Up until this point, it’s pretty flat, with even with some downhill on Main Street. When the hills came, I walked and had no issues with it. That bridge though? It’s worse than you think, but going down is always nice.
Once I got to mile 6 on the other side of the bridge, I knew it was going to be a pretty long couple of miles. Essentially the race does a 2.5 miles out and back around some neighborhood roads and Route 450. Just as I happened to pass mile 6 though, the lead runner was coming up. I certainly was hoping to see her a little bit further in. Before we do a few miles in some random neighborhood roads. The one cool thing about running this part of the race is running along Ritchie Highway.Just as I was coming to the mile 10 marker (I was still running toward mile 7 though), I saw Megan coming at me. It was really great to see others out there that I knew. I cheered her on and kept going. Not too far after that, I saw Jeanne as she was coming back onto Ritchie Highway and I was going into miles 7-9. We exchanged high fives and off I went.
These miles are some of the worst in my opinion. While the hills aren’t big, they are frequent. I felt that I was going up, up and up with very little down. I know most of mile 7, or so I felt, was all uphill. This is also where I saw Aundra coming down rocking her fabulous TuTu! It was also about this time that I really got off my run/walk as well. I also just felt the struggle bus was here to stay and walk when I needed and run as much as I could. I did have a few moments there I did a good solid 5-7 minutes of running as I tried to take advantage of some good flat and downhill sections.
I was pretty happy to see the mile 10 marker as I knew most of the hills were past me. I only had about another mile of some up and down before the bridge. Even though I was starting to really slow down and I was pretty miserable, I tried to stay smiling. I actually passed a few police officers and tried to bribe them to take my bib and finish for me. They just laughed and told me I wouldn’t want them running for me. That gave me a laugh because they all looked very fit and capable of running the last few miles. Sometimes you have to just laugh and have some fun. My hamstring by this point was just killing me and so I had to do anything I could to take my mind off that pain.
I’m not sure how, but finally I got to mile 11. This meant that I was back to the bridge and had the one last uphill and downhill left. Sure there were some baby rollers in the last 2 miles, but nothing like the previous miles I had just finished. I tried my best to get up the bridge running as much as I could, but that really didn’t last very long. A bunch of us were just trudging up as best as we could. I certainly could understand their pain and I am sure they understood mine. The nice thing about walking up is that I could enjoy the view a little more. It truly is a great view of the Severn River up there.
Once I got to the top though, I enjoyed that way down! I really tried my best to get through the last 2 miles in the most efficient way possible, but that meant a lot of walking. Instead of going for timed intervals, I would pick a cone and run for it. I really, truly wanted to be done with this race. The worst part about starting mile 12 is that we have a small out and back that really could go away. At that point of the race, I’d love to come off of the bridge and head right towards the stadium.
Finally though, once I was done with the out and back, I had maybe 5 more turns until the finish line. I was all by myself at this point and as I crossed Rowe Blvd toward the stadium, it was sort of Eerie. There were no spectators, no police, no other runners and just me running across the middle of a 4 lane highway. Not your typical scene for a race. Finally I got to the small path that took you around the stadium and to the finish line. One guy was there cheering and it meant a lot since by the time I trudge my way through the last quarter mile to the finish line, there was no one cheering. My name did get called out by the announcer as I crossed the finish line, but there was no one cheering you in.
Luckily, even though it took me forever to finish, I ended up finding Aundra and Kathryn still hanging out after the race. I grabbed some pictures and then took some finish pictures over by the Blue Angels plane and headed back to shower. I actually had big plans later that day to celebrate my 10th college reunion. It was crazy to talk to some classmates who I had not seen in years about what I had been up to in past years. When I told a few classmates how I had gotten into running, if you would have asked me 10 years ago if I saw myself running, I would have laughed in your face. I was the furtherest thing from a runner. It’s pretty crazy though how big it is in my life and even when I probably shouldn’t be running a half or no matter how bad it is, I’ve learned how to fight for the finish every time. This race certainly proved that.
Official Finish Time:
54/61, Female 30-34
**Disclaimer: As a Zooma Ambassador, I did receive a free entry into this race, but thoughts, opinions and race results are my own.**