June 1, 2015

ZOOMA Annapolis Women's Racing Half Marathon 2015 Recap

Disclosure: As a 2015 ZOOMA race ambassador I received complimentary entry into the race. As always, all thoughts & opinions are my own. 

If I had to describe this past weekend's race it would be the 3 H's-hot, humid, and HILLY.


Nonetheless, ZOOMA put on an awesome race event in Annapolis and I'm so happy to have been an ambassador for the race. 
Check out all of their race events here and an awesome set of pre/post-race recipes from the Annapolis ambassadors with a promo code for future ZOOMA races here!

This is a longer race recap, but I just had so much to say and so many photos!


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Packet Pick-up/Expo: After a Crossfit class on Thursday I popped into Charm City Run to use a coupon before it expired and stumbled upon the ZOOMA packet pickup so I grabbed my bag & bib.  Apparently Sean Astin had picked up his bib a little bit before-SO awesome that he was in Baltimore and was running this race!


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We got a nice women's sized race shirt, ZOOMA branded journal, and a pair of my favorite running socks-Feetures! It was nice to know I already had everything I needed for the race with me, even though I planned on checking out the expo the next day in Annapolis. 

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The race host hotel was the Loews Annapolis, but their special race rate had already sold out by March so I ended up booking a night at the historic Maryland Inn. I got there in the afternoon on Friday and was really happy with the room. It's old and the rooms are smaller, but staying in a place with so much history was great. The bed was really comfortable so that's the most important thing in my book!


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My boyfriend and I grabbed dinner in downtown Annapolis and then I headed over to the Loews where the expo was taking place for an ambassador happy hour. It was great to see all the other ladies and chat running. I even got to get some great advice on marathon training from the race's announcer, Creigh Kelley.  Thanks so much to Stella Valle for the beautiful bracelets as well! I had a really terrible headache for most of the evening so after meeting up with my boyfriend at the bar down the street and grabbing a late night pizza bagel, I laid out my Flat Lauren gear and went to bed. 


Pre-Race: I couldn't fall asleep until just after midnight so when I got an accidental wake up call at 5 AM I was not feeling great.  I ended up getting out of bed at 5:45, getting dressed quickly, inhaling a Honey Stinger waffle with peanut butter and some Nuun, and heading out the door. I was super anxious about forgetting something and literally thought I had forgot my sunglasses until I found them on my head as I got to the start area. My legs were still feeling sore from squats at Crossfit on Thursday so I quickly tried to stretch out before the race.  Also due to the Navy/government concerns, this race has no gear check. I stashed my phone in the back pocket of those Oiselle shorts, which surprisingly didn't piss me off during the race. 


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My hotel was around a mile from the Navy Memorial Stadium so I decided to walk. I was a bit anxious about getting there so next time I would have my boyfriend drop me off since there was ample free parking at the stadium and no traffic. The weather was already warm as forecasted right before the 7 AM race start so I was glad I hydrated a lot the day before.  This race is smaller than ones I've been running lately so there were no crowds to deal with along with a great view of the stadium at the start. After a quick ambassador photo, I headed up to the start line which was just on the side of the stadium. It was a smaller field so there were signs with paces and everyone just self-seeded themselves. 

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In the beginning of the race you loop around near the stadium and then run towards downtown.  I was wary of my pacing due to the hot & humid conditions and the hills I knew were coming but wanted to stay sub-8.  It was supposed to get up to 90 in DC, so it would be maybe 5 degrees cooler in Annapolis. 

Race: 

Miles 1-4: After looping away from the stadium, the race course took you through downtown Annapolis which is super picturesque with lots of beautiful views of the water.  I was carrying watermelon Nuun in a handheld bottle but made sure to take a swig of water or Gatorade at every water stop. It was already really warm and humid so I wanted to stay hydrated. Around mile 4 my friend Kelley found me and we ended up running the rest of the race together.  

Miles 5-8: For the most part I wasn't running with many people besides my friend-it was really spread out. I saw a bunch of fellow ambassadors when I was passing in the opposite direction. Around Mile 5 you start to head towards the big Naval Academy Bridge everyone talks about. Okay, so it actually is a bit of a hill. I was already drenched with sweat at this point and climbing the hill up half of the bridge was tough. I kept telling myself that what goes up must come down.  The 10K turn around was in the middle of the bridge, and at that point I totally wanted to turn around and run another 1.2 miles and be done with a 10K.  After mile 6 & the bridge, I ate a salted caramel Gu, praying it would magically make me feel awesome. 

 After the bridge the race course is completely different. There was only a handful of spectators. It's kind of in the middle of woods with some residential areas. There was some shade on this part of the course, thank goodness, as we ran along paved roads with lots of trees.  I was having trouble keeping a steady pace with all of the rolling hills. It would have also been easy to start walking or to slow down a lot more during these parts with little spectators or runners so I was thankful to have a friend to run with. 

Miles 9-11: Around Mile 9 was the turn-around back towards the stadium. A big thanks to Kelley for helping me keep up because there were multiple times I felt discouraged and her pushing through motivated me to keep up. I was really feeling the humidity and the hills, especially as we had to cross the Naval Academy Bridge again at Mile 10. I think that's a big part of the course that people find challenging in the half, running over that bridge twice.  Neither of us were talking during these miles, but without my friend trying to keep the pace and finish strong, I would have totally had a slower race.  My legs were feeling sluggish, and I had totally finished my handheld of Nuun so I continued to sip some fluids at each water stop there was. Side note, I loved how they used little cups which had just enough water or Gatorade for me to get a big mouthful so I could just gulp and run.  The hills were definitely taking a toll on my already sore legs. 

Miles 12-13: I just wanted to finish at this point. The course came back through part of the way downtown we had come.  I passed a lot of 10Kers and walkers but did not see many half marathoners. At this point my friend was just slightly ahead of me, and I tried to keep pushing through.  I kept looking at my Momentum bracelet which said "Just breathe" as a reminder.  There were a couple small loops before heading up the road to the finish. The last mile you come up a kind of sidewalk in front of the Navy stadium. Miles 10-13 felt really really long to me. The miles went by so slowly. The last 0.1 mile is a little hill up to the finish line. I tried to give it whatever I had left in the tank.  

Thanks to fellow ambassador Aundra for snapping this photo  & cheering as I powered through the finish. I didn't see mine yet, but there are FREE race photos. It was nice to hear my name called by the announcer as I crossed the finish line (perks of a smaller race!).  My legs felt pretty trashed when I finished (thanks hills!). 

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Post-race: I immediately chugged a bottle of water and cup of Gatorade at the finish after getting my medal. That smile below is because I'm done with the race and in line for wine.  As you can see from that glisten, I was drenched in sweat.  The finish area was really simple and nice. 

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After an initial glass of wine I headed to the food tent where they had boxes with choices like hummus or chicken salad. I love the ease of boxed race food and really enjoyed the hummus and pretzels.  My stomach was feeling really off so I wasn't super hungry yet like I usually am post-run. 

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I didn't even look at my time when I finished until I looked up my results at the post-race party. I finished in 1:44:29 and to my surprise, ended up getting 2nd in my age group and 7th overall in the half marathon. Clearly not a super fast time, but I still feel pretty awesome about based on the conditions, course and the small field.  
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I loved that they had a big pavilion & bathrooms since it was right at the stadium so I stood under there with another glass of wine as I tried to cool down.  Barefoot had pourings of numerous types of wines which were delicious. The post-race party had some great vendors with cute running gear and jewelry.  They even had free massages and a yoga class going on. 

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Eventually I met up with the boyfriend and snapped a few finisher photos. 

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The location of the finish right by the stadium was beautiful, and the weather felt really great sitting in the shade of the trees. We sat down on the grass for a while and hung out as I recovered and ate my post-race snacks.  It's really relaxing to go to a smaller race which still has big race amenities. I got everything I wanted but didn't have to fight crowds and could actually relax post-race.  

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It was also really cool to see the Blue Angels plane on display up close as we left the stadium area. Afterwards I slowly and awkwardly (tight legs!)  walked back to downtown Annapolis. 

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After heading back to the hotel to shower and pack up, it was time to actually eat. Nothing sounded better to me than bottomless mimosas and roasted peach bourbon french toast sticks at Baroak, the restaurant in the Loews hotel. 

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It was really relaxing to just spend time with my boyfriend, enjoy a mimosa or 3, and then explore Annapolis for the rest of the afternoon. I truly liked having a fun city to spend part of the weekend in after racing.  

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Overall: Again, THANK YOU SO MUCH to ZOOMA for allowing me to be an ambassador and help promote such an awesome event and race series.  While the actual race was pretty challenging and not my best, the whole event was fabulous. Packet pickup and the start were both easy and organized. They put a lot of attention into detail, care about their runners, and also be sure to include female-focused companies into their events.  

This race definitely is a challenging course but is also scenic and provides a beautiful chance for a weekend getaway.  I recommend any of the ZOOMA races!

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How do you deal with hot & humid temperatures? Do you have a mantra you use when the going gets tough during a workout or race?

41 comments:

  1. Congrats on your race despite the conditions and hills! You did wonderful!

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    1. Thanks so much-it was definitely tougher than I expected!

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  2. great work - i've raced in annapolis 3 times (2 times w/zooma) and it ain't easy at all. plus given that saturday was crazy hot that just makes it harder.

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    1. Yikes I didn't know it would be so harder or hilly besides the bridge.

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  3. Congrats on a speedy time! It was so hot & humid this weekend I couldn't imagine how it felt racing! I don't think my body's acclimated to the weather yet because most if my recent runs have been shorter and I've still felt nauseous during them. Trying to remind myself to drink more water than I normally do! I've never raced in Annapolis but I've been there for a weekend away and it's lovely.

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    1. Thanks, it was definitely not optimal conditions and yes, my body hasn't gotten used to it either. Annapolis was a lovely pre & post-race place to explore as well.

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  4. Great job, and this looks like such a fun race! I feel like most Maryland runs between May and September can be described as hot, humid, and hilly:) I love Annapolis! I did the Annapolis running classic a couple years ago and that was a great race (plus it was in November so cooler weather). Great job despite the tough conditions!

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    1. Ugh, I know. It's better than summer though! I was thinking of doing that but might have another race that wknd. Or might want to hibernate for the winter lol.

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  5. Way to go on your finish time in the heat and humidity! Loved seeing you, so glad to be Ambassadors together!

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    1. Ditto! I'm sure I'll see you at more area events and races!

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  6. Congratulations o placing 2nd in your age group. I placed second in a 10kbut don't think I could in a half. Way to go! I have heard so many great thugs about the Zooma race series. I need to run one! Glad to hear that this race went well. Even though you were drenched in sweat at the end I'm sure it felt better than being wet and cold the last race your ran. And free massages, how awesome!

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    1. Thanks so much! ZOOMA is awesome. I literally thought of that I as I was running-I kept saying this is better than being wet and cold!

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  7. Congrats on your time! (Seriously, that's amazing!). I'm training for my first half this fall and I really aspire to finish in under 2 hours! Your post gave me a lot of reassurance. It sounded tough, but fun!

    Alessandra Hechanova | The PumpUp Blog

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    1. Thank you!! I love hearing that! You are going to do awesome. I have a bunch of other posts about half marathons if you search plus lots of race recaps. Just stick to your training, stay hydrated & fueled, and don't go out too fast-you'll do great!

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  8. Umm, amazing! Your time in general is awesome, but in the heat, humidity and hills? Awesome!! Congrats!

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    1. Thanks so much-I really can't believe it!

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  9. What a great race in some awfully tough conditions, Lauren - woo hoo!! GAH! I was feeling anxious just reading this; you did great. What a treat to have your friend run with you; it's amazing how having someone there (even when there is no talking) really makes a difference, sometimes. Congratulations on your race!! I hope you are recovering well!

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    1. Thanks so much :) The race definitely made me take it easy for a few days. I'm so grateful for the surprise of a running buddy!

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  10. Congrats on finishing in those tough conditions and finishing second in the AG. Thanks for creating the linkup, I hope to sign up for 2016!

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    1. Thanks so much! It's a great event to do, especially if you bring some friends along. Hopefully it's slightly less humid next year!

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  11. congrats on second in your age group! and that box of food looks so good! any post race food that is more than bagels and bananas makes me happy (:

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    1. Thanks so much! I agree that I'm always excited but great post-race food!

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  12. Sounds like a very fun event! Congrats on your AG and overall finishes. Really awesome!

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    1. Thanks so much! I love that the series is run by women, for women!

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  13. Wow, AWESOME job and congrats on 2nd in your AG, that is amazing! I had signed up to run a Zooma race in Cape Cod but it ended up conflicting with the Ragnar Relay (stupid planning on my part). I haven't been able to transfer the bibs yet but I do hope to run a Zooma race soon- they look like so much fun!

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  14. Awesome job girl!! Looks like it was a hot, hot race!

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    1. So hot and humid, which definitely adds in another factor of the race!

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  15. NIce job on the 2nd place in your age group!!! That's awesome! I love the zooma tech top you posted from packet pickup.

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    1. Thanks so much! The shirt is a great color and is women's sizing, which I love!

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  16. Congratulations on your race, placing 2nd in your age group, and that's a great time for a half marathon, especially with the hills. This looks like a great race series, I like that the shirt is nice, you get socks with the registration, and they have little food boxes like that at the finish. I wish we had a Zooma race near me, I would probably opt to run it.

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    1. Thanks so much! It definitely had special perks and I always appreciate a nice post-race party!

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  17. Congratulations!! You did a fantastic job on the half - that is a tough course! I have to find out about where to find these free race photos...I didn't see a photographer anywhere lol!

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    1. Tougher than I expected for sure! I just found my race photo last night-it's a finish line photo. If you go here: http://zoomarun.com/annapolis/annapolis-results/ and type in your name to find your results you can click on photos!

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  18. wow! Awesome finish time!!!!! I hope to do a ZOOMA race someday :-) (I wish they'd come to Iowa!)

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    1. Thanks so much! I know they are always trying new locations-it's such a fun race series!

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  19. Great job! I ran Zooma Chicago last year; had my worst half time ever but had a great race, thanks to my friends. I don't think they're having a Zooma Chicago race this year, which is a shame.

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    1. Sometimes friends make everything better! Thanks for stopping by!

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  20. I loved reading your recap, and even though you were way ahead of me, it sounds like we found some of the same challenges. Congrats on your AG place and finishing 7th overall! I'm sure I saw you running back toward me at some point.

    I wish I'd buddied up with someone who could have pulled me through the last couple of miles. I completely gave up during the last mile and that cost me an age group win (being older has its benefits!).

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    1. Thanks so much :) It was a much smaller field than I realized so I definitely saw some people I knew on those long parts where runners passed each other. I was so grateful for my friend or I definitely would have slowed down!

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  21. Hey Lauren! Great recap. Thanks for hosting #TuesdayTales and linking up!

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