Race Recap: Zooma Annapolis Half Marathon

The Good

  • Road-tripping to the race with a friend

(I’m in white)

I had reserved a hotel room, but canceled the reservation as other weekend family plans developed. We both agreed that we made the right decision. We’ve gotten up early for our sons’ lacrosse games–might as well set that o’dark-thirty alarm for ourselves!

  • Pre-Race Breakfast Cookies


I saw this recipe for Dark Chocolate Reese’s Cookies on Emily’ blog a while ago, and bookmarked it for future reference.  I made them yesterday and took a few in the car for our pre-race fueling.  They were delicious, but how can you go wrong with chocolate and peanut butter?  (Next time I will refrigerate the Reese’s first–they were a bit melty–and add 3 chunks per cookie.)

  • Cloudy skies

My Weather Channel App gave this reading

Right Now in Annapolis, MD (21401)

It’s 71°F, Fair

But it was fully overcast for the entire race–it even rained for a few minutes.

  • My Finish Time

I had made 2:00 a “whisper” goal, and was easily on track for that until a weird cramp hit after mile 6.  Once I figured out that I would still finish, I reset my goal to 2:05 and nailed it!

  • The Zooma Finisher Necklace

The inscription is the Zooma slogan: Run Laugh Celebrate. It also has “2011” on the back.

The Bad

  • Last-minute equipment change

Camelbak Fairfax Hydration

Nathan Triangle Hydration Pack HydrationI made a last-minute equipment change decision and opted for my Camelbak instead of my Nathan waistbelt so I could take my phone with me.  (Dear Nathan, why are all of the pockets on your gear just a smidge too small for an iPhone? Could you not spare a few more square centimeters of fabric??)

I’ve had the Camelbak for ages, but don’t use it much. I did use it on my 12 mile training run, and it was fine. Today it drove me crazy. I basically had to hold on to the straps the entire time to keep it from sliding off. Ugh! I’m pretty sure that affected my pace, since I couldn’t swing my arms freely.  It definitely impacted my perceived level of exertion, which was high for most of the course.

  • The hills

Remember how worried I was about this bridge?

I laughed at my worry when I saw the hill after the bridge. The entire route was hilly.  There were a few flat segments, but mostly it was a rolling course. I was really glad to have all my high-tech compression gear, but I definitely could have used some more hill training.

  • The cramp

Soon after mile 6, I got a painful cramp in between the lowest section of my ribcage. I tried to keep running, but knowing that I wasn’t even half way done yet, I decided that a walk break was in order.  It was hard to breathe, and I was afraid that my goal of finishing–let alone finish strong–was in jeopardy. I started running again before I felt completely better, and was able to maintain a 9:30-ish pace. I had missed the Ultima drink at mile 4, and think that had something to do with it. At the next water station, I took a cup of Ultima and walked to drink it. After that I felt much better, but I was afraid to push my pace because I didn’t want to end up with another cramp.

  • The last two miles

Mile 11 was a short way after the second pass across the bridge (at the end of another, smaller bridge), and it was so discouraging to see more steep hills ahead. The 2:00 pace runner passed me on the bridge, and was getting further ahead, but I didn’t have enough energy left to care. By this time, I was telling myself that “I just have to keep running.”

Mile 11-12 was an out-and-back segment, so any enjoyment of a downhill stretch was tempered by the knowledge that I would be running back up soon. I felt no relief or excitement at mile 12. I hadn’t been able to figure out the course finish, so I couldn’t judge how much further I had to go.  I just focused on keeping my legs going. 

I finally recognized the stadium parking lot, and was bummed when we had to run over a stretch of rutted grass and then keep going, up one last short incline to the finish line.

It’s hard to capture how steep this is, but when I went back to cheer on finishers, a few runners dropped the F-bomb when they saw it!

I had no energy whatsoever for any kind of sprint to the finish, and even (uncharacteristically!) let a few women pass me. I was just glad to be crossing the finish line running. When I saw my finish time on my Garmin (there was no race clock there or anywhere else on the course) I was happy that I was only a few minutes off my ambitious goal.

The Ugly

OK, the post-race breakfast wasn’t ugly, just disappointing.  

It was a bagged meal, so I took it sight unseen. I really prefer a banana after a race, and if I’m going to eat a bagel it’s got to be more enticing than this!

Once I got home, I was grateful that I didn’t eat anything after the race. My stomach totally rebelled from my efforts. After my ice bath (bless my husband for having 2 bags of ice at the ready for me!) and hot shower, I crawled in bed for a few hours–napping between several emergency trips to the bathroom.

Now that my stomach has settled and accepted some soup, a few PopChips and a cookie, I’m feeling human again. For now, I’m glad my next big race is the Army 10 Miler (October 9) and not the Wilson Bridge Half Marathon (October 2), although registration is still open for that Half . . . .

Garmin Data
8:32, 8:25, 8:39, 8:51, 9:18, 9:07, 10:33 (walk break), 9:23, 9:08, 9:37, 9:26, 9:41, 9:54
Notes: Yes, in retrospect, I see I started out too fast. The pace felt good at the time, and I didn’t know about the hills!

Do you have any tips for avoiding or curing post-race tummy troubles?

Have you seen a water bottle holder that fits an iPhone?

What has been your best/worst post-race food? 

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24 Responses to Race Recap: Zooma Annapolis Half Marathon

  1. David H. says:

    Nice recap and nice race. Don't focus on what you have several months from now — celebrate this accomplishment! Just curious – what's so important about having your iPhone with you for a race?

    • Coco says:

      On the phone, I had some friends running also and wanted to be able to meet up with them before and after. Phones make that so much easier . . . .

    • Coco says:

      On the fall races, around here you do have to decide early, because everything fills up so quickly. Remind me when it's time to sign up for the Shamrock Half!

      On Sun, Jun 5, 2011 at 8:36 PM, Coco wrote:

      > On the phone, I had some friends running also and wanted to be able to meet > up with them before and after. Phones make that so much easier . . . . >

      • David H. says:

        Shamrock Half sign-ups are going on now. Registration opens the day after the race. It usually fills up in mid-December.

  2. David H. says:

    As far as your stomach issues go, that can happen on any given distance. The fact you did a half marathon doesn't make it too much different than your 10 miler, or any other distance. Also, it's very possible your stomach is battling something else — perhaps a minor bug or it didn't like something you ate before today. On race day, don't do anything you do differently for a long run or anything you haven't tried before. For me, I typically have a bagel with peanut butter on one half, honey on the other. Carbs short-term energy, sugar and protein all at once. I know I said this in a previous comment, just like along the lines of the Camelbak, but it's so true. Race day is about all the things you've done in rehearsal (aka your long runs) coming together.

  3. Carly D. @ CarlyBana says:

    Congrats on your half! You were almost dead on with your timing even though your stomach was bugging you – great job!!
    I keep my iPhone in a Spibelt and then carry either my handheld bottle or Camelbak. Even if I wear the pack I keep the phone in my Spibelt so if there's an emergency I'll be able to get to it easier 🙂

  4. Colleen says:

    First of all Great job on the hilly hot race!!! Amazing!!!!

    I agree with David its best to repeat your long run days. The tummy troubles could have come from the pre race cookies? I have tummy issues when I do distance runs and if I stray from my tried and tested usual things then i have the same problems you had.

    The fuel belt I got at a race last weekend fits my thurderbolt! so I know it would fit your iphone 😉

    post race i never rely on what they offer i always pack some fresh fruit and a bar lately been a vixi bar. pre race i wake up 4 hours before start time and have my oatmeal and a cup of coffee. i have tried a lot of other things but thats all that works for me.

  5. Tina @ Faith Fitness says:

    GREAT job pushing through all those hills and the cramps and all. Finishing anywhere around 2:00 is super impressive in my book.

    And yes – bagels, donuts, etc have to be good quality to be worth it. I would have said the same thing.

  6. FindingMyHappyPace says:

    I don't remember if you were around for my banana in my pocket post, but the same strategy works for my phone. Basically, I safety pin a sock on the inside of my run shorts and put my phone in there. I did that for Chicago Marathon, it's a perfect solution. Otherwise Nathan makes a a plain belt that I use to put my phone in.
    Yea, but congratulations! You had a good race!

  7. CONGRATS!!! You had a great race overcoming a lot of hurdles. No advice on back to back weekends, I think if you listen to your body, you'll make the right choices.

    I use a Spibelt for my iPhone and then a Fuel Belt for fluid and I put any nutrition and my ID in the pocket on the Fuel Belt. I'm rather weighed down, but it works for me.

    Congrats again!!! You're a Half-Marathoner!!!!!

  8. Deb Dunbar says:

    Congrats Coco! You did very well with such a tough hilly course.
    I can't offer much in the way of tummy cramps. I used to down eggs and bacon before my marathons, so I must have the iron stomach. I do sometimes get side stitches when I go out too fast, or toward the end of a race where I'm fatigued and my posture is falling apart. When I'm slumping slightly, that's when the stitch seems to come.
    I have a Nathan waist belt like was previously mentioned that fits my Droid, so I'm sure it would fit your IPhone. I don't normally carry water, but when I do I tend to like the handheld strap myself.
    Are your arms sore from holding the straps of your camelbak? When I was in Seattle, I did a 10 mile brisk walk with my sling camera bag and found myself holding the straps the whole time. I could barely move my arms the next morning.
    Congrats again!

  9. Jeannie says:

    Great job again Coco! Next time you will go under 2 hrs for sure!

    As far as the iPhone, I keep my phone and ID in a racing pouch with a belt & then use a handheld water bottle. I can't imagine racing with a camel bak. Ultras are one thing where you are running much slower but seems to cumbersome for a faster pace race.

    The GI system can be upset easily when taxing the body with hard workouts but I agree that what you eat before and during the race can greatly affect this. Like someone else suggested, the cookies could have been a problem. Chocolate can really upset that tummy if consumed before a race. Also, they may have been to heavy in fat with all the butter and PB. The electrolyte fluid does help settle the tummy a bit.

    Post-race, I usually like an orange & either yogurt or a bagel with PB. I often bring my own supplies just in case they don't have anything good.

  10. Sheri says:

    Great job Coco for finishing your race!

  11. Coco says:

    Thanks for all of the ideas. I only had one cookie, so I don't think that was the culprit, but I did have 2+ cups of coffee and I don't usually have any before I run. That could be a culprit, but I can't imagine getting up at 4:00 for a race at 7:00 and not having coffee! I will consider having just one cup before my 10K this weekend–at least there is a Starbucks at the finish!

  12. I'm not a runner and am reading this utterly impressed:) Bummer about the cramp.

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  14. Great job Coco! I'm sorry that I didn't get to see you at the race. Zooma was a great course and even though I had a heads up about the hills before the race, I was still amazed at the number of hills and the intensity at the end. I'm looking forward to running it again next year. I think my hydration belt is a Camelback. I'll look at it and will get back to you. It will definitely fit your iPhone as it fits my Droid. Nathan also makes one with the waistpack in the front and the bottle in the back. It has much more room in it than the version that you have. Hope to see you soon. Maybe on July 4 at that 8K you mentioned. 🙂

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