Monday, April 2, 2012

Zooma Texas Half Marathon Race Recap

Like every race, Zooma started VERY early.  Zooma is unique because the race is run solely on the Hyatt Lost Pines Resort's property.  This makes the parking situation pretty unique and you're only allowed on the property if you're a registered guest.  Otherwise, you have to be shuttled from a local high school or from the airport.  We were registered guest of the resort, but not until the night of the race (not the night before).  Therefore, we were a little uneasy if we would, in fact, be let in to park despite being told it "should" be ok.  We did know one thing and that was we had to be on the property by 6:30 a.m. and the drive was at least 45 minutes.  Needless to say, my day began at 4:00 a.m. and I was picked up by just after 5:00 a.m.

We arrived at the resort shortly after 6:00 a.m. and we were let on the property to park with no problem.  (All the worrying for no reason.)   As a matter of a fact, we literally parked less than 100 yards from the start line.  There were absolutely NO lines for the porta potties and for once I was able to line up and start the race with everyone else and not in the porta potty line.   We did our normal pre-race photo shoot with the beautiful Julie (injured-- did not run) as our photographer.  A BIG thank you to Julie for capturing so many moments throughout the race!

Me pretending to be taller than Julie 
 myself, Mary, Chrystal, Bianca, Karla, Kelley 
 Bianca and Julie
 Me, Kelley, Mary 

There was also a pre-race gun show.  It is quite clear who the winner is!  Seriously people, why do I even show up?  

There were a whole group of other ladies in "our" group running as well.  I think there were 12 in all.  Everyone said ahead of time that they were running for fun, but I knew better.  The truth was, I was definitely there for fun.  I knew this course was WAY too hard to PR on and I had no desire to run fast and hard on a tough, hilly course.  I wanted to run with someone and decided to run with Kelley.  I asked her what her goal was and she said she didn't have one.  Yeah right!  After a little poking and prodding I got it out of her that she'd like to beat our Austin Half Marathon time (2:20:50).  I told Kelley you always have to have a goal and a stretch goal.  So we set our sites on 2:20 and if things went our way 2:18.  All we knew is that our finishing time better be less than 2:20.

When the gun went off at the start of the race, things were crowded and the pace started pretty quick.  VERY quickly the other lovely ladies in our group pulled away.  Kelley and I were free to set our own pace.  I hoped Kelley and I would find a good groove around a 10:20 pace, but with the heat, humidity, and all the hills that pace wasn't as easy as I had hoped.  Still the first mile clocked in at 10:28 and the second at 10:21.

At this point we were keeping pace with the 2:10 pacer and I knew she was running WAY behind schedule and needed to pick up her pace.  Soon enough, she pulled away and I knew that the 2:20 pacer wasn't far behind us.  The plan was to keep her BEHIND us no matter what.

The hills throughout this course were definitely nothing to sneeze at.  The came right away and they were tough.  For me, it makes it hard to get in a good groove when you're heart rate keeps going up and you're laboring so hard on the hills (read: need more hill training STAT).  I could tell Kelley's breathing was out of whack as well.  Again, we held our own running a 10:33 and 10:10 for miles three and four, respectively.

Oddly enough my breathing (besides on the hills) was well under control.  I felt so great cardio wise, but I definitely was feeling VERY hot and not well hydrated.  I developed a side stitch under my lower rib that lasted from mile 3 to mile 5.  Even though I had been drinking at each water station, I guess I hadn't been taking in enough.  So with each water station I took TWO cups and I think it helped.  

Mile 5.  Hmmm I wish I could tell you what happened, that there was a big hill (and there might have been), but I honestly have no idea what was going on.  I did a REALLY bad job keeping mental notes about what was going on during this race.  Nevertheless, mile 5 was slow at a 11:13 pace.  There were a couple of times the 2:20 pacers snuck up on us and we'd kick it in as much as we could and try to widen the gap between us.  There was no way we were letting those girls ahead of us!

Look closely those 2:20 bitches are right behind us!  HA! 

I think this is about the time where the course looped backed around and became an out and back.  Have I ever told you how much I HATE out and backs?  I hate watching all the other runners who are miles ahead of you.  To me it's so discouraging.  The only good thing is that I had 10 other friends out there on the course and it was fun to see each one of them and cheer them on.

The hills weren't as bad on this part of the course, but we checked off miles 6 through 9 battling the sun which was now out and blazing, as well as the mental effects of watching all the other runners go speeding by MUCH further ahead than us.   Mile 6:  11:01, Mile 7:  10:46, Mile 8:  10:00 (what?).

I think we widened the gap with the 2:20 pacer on the flatter stretch of the course, but they still snuck up on us with the last REALLY BIG hills of the course that came between miles 9 and 10.  As a matter of a fact we took a teeny tiny walk break on a huge hill and they started to pass us, but we wouldn't let it happen and started running and again.  Mile 9:  10:27.  Mile 10:  11:17

By this time we were back to the main part of the resort and started running on the golf course.  Despite being incredibly pretty, this was the absolute worst part of the course.  You could hear the finish line, but it seemed like you would never get there as we spent 3 miles (YES 3!) winding and turning through the golf course.  The heat was increasing and I was getting VERY tired.  I was ready for this damn race to be over and the winds and turns just never seemed to end.  Once again, you could see all the other people much further ahead of you winding their way through the course 2 miles ahead of you.

Kelley was struggling too and I kept reminding her of our 2:20 goal.  It's so hard to calculate math while running, it really is, but by mile 11 I was unsure if we'd make it and by mile 12, I was certain we wouldn't if we didn't kick it up a notch.  I asked Kelley if she had anything left to give because if she didn't we weren't going to make our 2:20 goal.  She said she honestly didn't think she had anything left.  I tried to keep 2 steps ahead of her and encouraged her to keep moving.  I knew she could do it.  We HAD to do it.   Mile 11:  10:29, Mile 12:   10:31.

After what seemed like an eternity we finally made to it to the 13 mile mark.  I swear to you, miles 11, 12 and 13 were flat, but they were HARD.  It seemed like 100 miles not 3.  It was just NEVER ENDING and I was VERY nervous we weren't going to make our goal.  We clocked our last mile at a 10:35 pace.  

With just the last .1 mile to go, Kelley and I gave it everything we had.  We came down the home stretch smiling but exhausted.

Kelley and I crossed the finish line in 2:19:59 (my official time) and 2:19:58 (Kelley's official time).  We literally didn't not have a second to spare, but we did it and we were thankful to be D.O.N.E. done.

The other ladies of the race ALL finished ahead of us and each had an awesome race.  I'm so proud of each and every one of them for kicking butt on such a tough course, with tough conditions.

I think the premise behind Zooma is awesome and I loved participating in a women's race, but I can't say I loved this course and more importantly, I'm not sure I'd do it again.  I don't regret running this race at all, but I think I can easy just check this one off my list.

We spent the rest of the day enjoying the resort, which really was a gorgeous place.   It's just NOT a gorgeous place to run.  So long Zooma!


G. said...

Tough one! xoxo G.

Pyro Maim Ya said...

Thank you so much for this review! You just helped me decide against this one. :-)

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