Zooma Cape Cod Half Marathon

I generally don’t love reading “race recaps”, so let me start by saying it’s okay if you don’t read mine! But this one sounds a bit like a Grinch-Stole-Zooma children’s book because it ends with me having balloon nightmares for at least the next week…

To take it back a few weeks, my running friends Crystal, Janell and Jamie kinda got me a little “itchy”, shall we say, about the whole idea of running a half-marathon in under two hours. My first thought was that it probably wasn’t in the cards for me while I’m focusing all of my goals on the upcoming marathon. Then Monday of THIS week, I ran 18 miles at a 9 minute pace. Well HEL-lo! Maybe I could join this fancy club?

Having not really kept track of my running and races in the past, I took a guess that the best I ever ran a half marathon was in 2007 with my husband and his brother, two competitive 6-foot tall dudes, at the Fairfield Half Marathon. I looked up my time and it was 2:01:16.

Actually, before I figured out how to search back that far, I had already told Zooma that my best was 1:58, a total guess. Zooma has an awesome PR program where runners only get an actual race medal if they beat their PR at the Zooma race! So I had essentially – mistakenly – set my goal to even two minutes faster than planned. I found this out at the expo last night. Oopsie.

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I arrived at the start of the race around 6:30am this morning, on Old Silver Beach in North Falmouth. The sun was just coming up over the beach and it was beautiful! I knew no one… it was lonely. I’m not sure I’ve ever run a road race by myself.

Throughout that hour before start time, I figured out that there were going to be pacers – actual runners with big yellow balloons and a number on their back/balloon that indicated the finishing time they would pace us out to. Brilliant! I’d never seen this before! (I’d never cared before)

I ran my half-mile warm-up, since I was ultimately due to run 14 miles in my marathon training schedule, and got in place at the start. I picked a happy spot to stretch among the 9-minute milers, and then boom – off we were on the 13.1 mile course along the Buzzards Bay coastline!

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I was moving along for about 3/4 of a mile before I saw three 1:50 balloons come upon me! The pacers! And 1:50 wasn’t that far off from my goal of 1:58, or at least that’s what I was rationalizing in my head anyway. I should stay with them, I thought! So I did. For way… too… long.

The pace was too fast, but there was a real and mighty fear in my head that MORE balloons would come up behind me – and those wouldn’t be very good balloons! The next ones were 2:00… I couldn’t let them catch me!

Yep, turns out pacers might have been more damaging to me than anything, as well as the idea of chasing any certain number. The best pace is your own pace. I’ll remember that now!

I think it was almost Mile 5 when I realized I would die out there alone, give myself up to the seagulls on the beach. So I dropped back, and talked myself into enjoying this darn thing while still reaching my goals. Or not – by Mile 7 I had just as easily talked myself into giving up on any goals just to finish.

»Insert Mom!« My biggest fan in life was there with a huge sign right around Mile 7.5! Would she give me a ride home? Nah, just kidding… I was just really happy to have her support and cheering!

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I had my second Gu snack around Mile 8, which is pretty quick for me for both of them, and I usually wouldn’t even have two. We were into a hillier neighborhood section at this point, but one I had explored only a few days earlier on a run with Crystal. I was more than half-way through, so I figured I was done trying to ditch/cheat/lay down. It was then around Mile 9 when I realized I could run the final four miles at a 10 minute pace and still finish at 1:56. Phew.

Then it was Mile 11. Who the heck was in charge of Mile 11? Flat, boring, and extremely sunny… I decided again that I didn’t really need to finish this race. I could always try again at the Harwich Cranberry Half next Sunday, right? SERIOUSLY people… this was my thought process during Mile 11 of this 13 mile race. Oh, the joys of being a runner ;-)

Mommy! My dearest mom was there again on the sidelines of the Mile 12 marker… again, just when I needed her! I had one more mile to go, and I remembered from the drive in that morning that this would be largely downhill to the finish. No turning back. As much as I fought it, I was going to finish this half-marathon anyway.

I finished with an official time of 1:54:35! Most likely the first time I’ve ever come in under two hours, and definitely lower than my imaginary PR too! I got the sparkliest Zooma medal ever. Literally, the word Zooma is filled with glitter.

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I walked into the world’s most natural ice bath afterward, all the way over my thighs. It was nice to see a few women from my local running group (who I had almost never met) immediately at the finish, but we went our separate ways and I was back to being lonely at such a festive occasion. There was wine, sandwiches, steel drums playing, and a gorgeous warm sunshine on the beach. But I just stood in the ocean, holding all my stuff above water because the seagulls wanted it back on land, and chuckled to myself about the mental rollercoaster I had just completed. All told, it was a low mileage day. But my head went for quite a workout!

I never did see those yellow balloons again.

  • Overall: 79th out of 401
  • Female: 75th out of 394 (what? there were 7 men total??)
  • Age Group: 12th out of 75

And since I had to get my 18 miler in on Monday, my total closes at 51 miles for the week! Here’s looking at a couple days of R&R ahead before my final push to a 20-miler next weekend.

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Stay tuned for Part II for a few little girly details of my day as well… (the hair, the pampering, etc.)

Did you race this weekend? Any Personal Records out there this month?

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