After a three hour drive, I arrived in scenic Lake Geneva on Friday afternoon. As a Wisconsin native, I was familiar with this ritzy vacation area, but never actually stayed here. The Abbey Resort was my home for the evening, host hotel for the event. The resort was huge and I nearly got lost trying to find my room.
|My gorgeous home for an evening|
I hurried off to the race expo to pick up my packet, but more importantly, to
|Dimity McDowell, me, and Sarah Bowen Shea|
They were much taller than I expected, but who isn't standing next to me?
|I absent-mindedly forgot my books at home (duh?), so the AMR's signed my race bib for me.|
The expo was perfect sized, not real big but plenty of interesting booths to stop at. I walked away with a new pair of running shoes and a coffee mug. Trek Women spoiled me rotten with a whole bag full of goodies. I scored a cool wine stopper at the Barefoot Wine booth (love their sweet red), and oh'ed and ah'ed over the apparel at Skirt Sports and WHOOHA Gear. A great selection of companies considering it was a race of only 600 runners.
Dimity and Sarah gave a casual, yet entertaining, "Race Tips" presentation at 5pm, followed by a course talk from the event organizers. (Just a note, the ZOOMA series is conducted by three women and it shows. If you're someone who appreciates the little details in a race event, you will like ZOOMA races. No offense to the male race directors, but women are just super organized and better at making an event warm and welcoming.)
Whew! What a fun time so far (for this mother on the loose) and it's not even race day yet!
Race morning came early and I was surprisingly calm. I had no expectations for this race. I was using it as a training run. I knew it would be hilly but wanted to test out my pacing for the marathon. My goal was to run the entire 13.1 as evenly as possible around the 9:45 min/mile mark. At that pace, I wanted to feel like I could "run forever" near the end and have good energy left for the finish. That was the goal.
The ZOOMA course was a point-to-point route from Lake Geneva to Fontana. We loaded up school buses to take us to the start. Our school bus driver was fun and shared some stories of landmarks along the course to look for. It was a chilly fall morning, but exactly how I prefer it. I brought a throwaway sweatshirt and actually tossed it before we even began.
This was our starting line...
The course lived up to its reputation. This is no chick course. It's a "I am Woman; Hear Me Roar" kind of course. The hills started inside mile 1 and rolled and rolled without end. There was little flat in between. It felt like we were either going up or down at every point. I ran side by side with my friend Cassie, who was doing her first half. I focused on keeping my breathing steady and the pace comfortable... which proved challenging with the constant elevation changes. My splits were all over the place, more uneven than I like...
|Geesh, the only photo I got on the course...|
Mile 2 - 9:05
Mile 3 - 9:53
Mile 4 - 9:20
Mile 5 - 9:38
Mile 6 - 9:45
Mile 7 - 9:47
Mile 8 - 9:35
Mile 9 - 9:45
Mile 10 - 9:40
At mile 9, I slowed to a walk to take in some GU and water. Cassie cruised ahead, but after a mile, I caught back up to her. As we entered into Fontana, there were a bunch of spectators near the mile 10 turn. I was happy at this point with how the run was feeling on my body. Not sure if it was the "run forever" feeling, but I was in a good place for 10 miles in.
We ran past the finish line and headed out the 5K course. This part of the race was
Mile 11 - 10:07
Mile 12 - 11:03
Mile 13 - 9:18
Mile 0.2 - 1:35
This was by far the most challenging course I've ever run. Yet at the finish, I felt great pride in overcoming the obstacles... and extremely happy with my pacing and final time.
Remember how I wanted a 9:45 pace? You don't get any closer than that folks!
The post-race party on the lakeside lawn of the Abbey Resort was really fun. It was a perfect autumn day to just hang outside and rehash the course with girlfriends. There was more shopping, music and food. Muscle Milk had a large tent setup where you could stretch, foam roll and grab a massage. I met up with the other ZOOMA Ambassadors there for a post-race photo...
|So excited to see many of the Chicago Running Bloggers!|
Yeah, definitely a run celeb filled weekend!
Finally, I found the wine with my running partner Cassie...