Lessons Learned from Zooma Florida 2014

A little over a year ago, my 3 girlfriends and I were nervously awaiting the start of the Inagural Zooma Florida 5K. The blustery conditions made the run trying but the entire weekend was fun.  The four of us vowed that this would become a yearly tradition – a girl’s weekend of fun!

Four months ago, I found out that we were expecting our 2nd child. While the fatigue and morning sickness subdued my training for the 2014 Zooma Florida, I was still running 3 times a week and looking forward to getting a new PR in the race.

Then on the day before Thanksgiving I went to the bathroom and saw bright red blood. Soon I was cramping, and I was convinced that I was having a misscarriage.  An emergency trip to the doctor and a quick ultrasound revealed that baby was safe, but I had a small bleed at the sight of the placenta.  Bed rest would be my prescription for the next month.

December came – and with it the news that my bleed was gone and I could resume limited exercise.  My doctor told me that walking, low impact aerobics, and light weights would be fine.  But no running!  And with her words, my thoughts of a PR at Zooma died.

I seriously considered bowing out of the race, using my pregnancy as an excuse not to attend. Because the truth was, a 15 pound first trimester weight gain, had me feeling uncomfortable and unhappy in my body.  However, my girlfriends convinced me to go – reminding me of the fun after party and the trip to the spa that we’d booked. I recultantly agreed to go.

And I am so glad I did.

On Friday night, during the expo, I snapped a “bump pic” in front of the Zooma backdrop.  Everyone stopped to congratulate me on the pregnancy and give me props for doing the race pregnant. Nobody cared that I would be walking, or that I was a good 20 pounds heavier than the year before.

Lesson 1:  Celebrate what you can do instead of focusing on what you can’t do!

Saturday morning came and brought with it bright blue skies, a gentle sea breeze, and lots of excitement as we took our place at the starting line.  I gave my friends hugs and told them to run their best race – and took my spot at the back with the other walkers. Soon the race was underway, I found myself strolling briskly along the shoreline, noticing the foamy waves, the birds flying thru the air, and smiling and waving at the runners going by on the return route.  I felt happy, content – better than I had felt at the 2013 Zooma 5K.

Lesson 2:  Sometimes you have to slow down and appreciate the world around you!

50 minutes and 19 seconds went by and I found myself crossing the finish line, just a few minutes ahead of the first Half-Marathon finisher. Instead of feeling bad that she’d covered nearly 4 times the distance I had, in about the same amount of time, I was clapping and cheering for her as she crossed the finish line.

Lesson 3:  Comparing yourself to others is the thief of joy!  Rejoice with others when they triumph.

My girlfriends and I headed up to the after party, then to our rooms to get ready for our spa day.  As I donned my swimsuit and hit the steam longue, I realized that I wasn’t sucking in my stomach or worrying about the size of my thighs.  I was content in my skin – something that I hadn’t been long before pregnancy.

Lesson 4: My body is amazing – no matter the number on the scale.

I shared with my girlfriends all that I had learned during our Zooma Florida weekend. I told them that I looked forward to next year’s race – partially because I am eager to run again, but moreover because I love everything that this fantastic weekend teaches me each year.



Zooma Florida 5K Recap

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?