Late Friday evening, my 3 closest girlfriends and I arrived at The Ritz Carton Amelisa Island for the Zooma Florida Half Marthon and 5K! This was the start to a much-anticipated, much planned for and much-needed girls weekend. After checking in at the front desk, we headed to the race expo and packet pickup.
Since we were arriving at 7:30 p.m. – the expo was pretty empty which meant packet pickup took a mere 2 minutes and we were able to talk longer to each of the vendors. The Zooma races are designed to have a “girl’s getaway” feel which carried over to the expo. The expo was small but had a great boutique vibe. We loaded up our swag bags with samples of Muscle Milks, Hint Fizz sparkling water, and enjoyed chatting with the girls from Handful Bras .
Once we were done at the expo, we headed up to our room, dropped our bags and headed back out for food. We opted to keep things quick, easy, and simple. Our decision lead us to Zaxby’s were I had a grilled chicken salad. A quick run to Wal-Mart followed dinner, then we were back at the hotel. While we our snuggled into bed early (10:00 p.m.) we stayed up chatting and laughing until nearly midnight.
The alarm came far too early at 6:00 a.m. With 4 girls who all had to get ready (yes, we are the girls who put on makeup before a race) we needed the nearly 2.5 hours before the 5K started. As we got ready, we decided to open the door to our balcony. We thought that a gentle sea breeze would wake us up a bit more. HA! There were no gentle sea breezes blowing – instead the winds were over 20 mph and bitterly cold. Not the conditions we expected – but we all agreed that this race was just for fun. Once we were all geared up – it was photo time.
Amy and I were nearly twins and it was totally unplanned. One of the things I loved most about our gear were the shirts we had printed to wear. They have our group name (Country Bumpkin Runners) and nicknames on the heart crest and our favorite bible verse on the back. We got lots of compliments on them during the race.
Around 8:00 we started making our way down to the course. The 5K course as an out and back right on the beach. We intended to jog for a bit to warm up but with the wind blowing so hard, we were getting blasted with sand. So instead we huddled up and tried to stay warm.
Promptly at 8:30 the race got underway. My knee felt good, my legs were loose, and for a few minutes I thought I might PR. But about the mile mark, my chest started burning and my energy levels bottomed out. I should mention that for the first half of the 5K, we were running directly into the wind. I kept running but mentally I wanted to quit. It hurt to breathe and my pace was slowing with every step. As the turnaround point came into view, I saw my girl Marcy. She too was struggling. We walked for a bit and decided that we’d run 3/1 intervals on the way back. We jogged to the turn around and suddenly we felt like we were flying. We ran our intervals and slowly began to pass other runners. In seemingly no time the finish line came into view, and just like that we crossed. Marcy with a time of 39:30 and me with a time of 39:45.
Amy and Lane finished a few minutes later. And we all complained about running in the wind as we sipped our post-race water and nibbled our post-race bananas. We stood on the beach watching a few more runners come in and then headed up to the post-race party. We stretched out on yoga mats from Muscle Milk, sampled Barefoot Wines, and enjoyed a lovely brunch on the lawn behind the Ritz Carlton. There was a band playing, recovery yoga happening, and free post-race massages from the Spa at the Ritz Carlton.
The atmosphere at the Zooma Florida 5K and Half Marathon was nothing short of amazing. All I ever saw were smiles, all I ever heard were words of encouragement and support, and everyone seemed to be having the time of their lives.
So the Zooma Florida 5K was not my fastest race ever but I’d have to say it was definitely the funniest!
Have you ever ran in unexpected conditions on a race day? Anybody ever run into 20+mph winds?