Mar 31, 2015

Race Report: Zooma Texas Half Marathon

I can't think of a better way to celebrate my 30th birthday than by taking a road trip with my friend Kathryn for a racecation in Austin--especially when that race is the Zooma Half-Marathon!  Ever since I first came upon an advertisement for the Zooma women's race series in a running magazine back when I first started running, I've wanted to run a Zooma race.  This trip I got to accomplish that very thing.

We woke up bright and early race day morning to make it to the race shuttles with enough time to situate ourselves...and use the restroom...before the race start.  Since we got into Austin so late the night before, we decided to just hit the expo following the race.  After carefully selecting my race outfit at least a week in advance to ensure I'll be cute and coordinated, my prerace preparation ritual consists of  sunscreen and bug spray application, ample amounts of body glide, final playlist review, selection of Gu flavors, GPS watch set-up, and chugging a preworkout drink.  Kathryn was so patient with me as I completed my prep.  After quickly applying Chapstick, I was ready to run!
Eagerly anticipating the race on the shuttle.

Kathryn and I made our way to the starting line.  When we signed up for this race, I told her that I wanted to stay with her the entire race.  She had a foot injury and hadn't been able to really run that much the past month so she was worried about finishing.  I was determined to make sure she crossed the finish line.  This race was going to be more about friendship and sisterhood than about getting a new personal record (PR).  The energy was high in the corrals with all these wonderful women gathered together in eager anticipation of the athletic feat upon which we all were about to embark.  There is a special spirit about a group of women set upon improving themselves and testing their mental and physical fortitude.  It's a powerful bond of sisterhood.

At the starting line
Soon enough it was time to run!  Zooma Texas was hosted at the Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort just south of Austin.  The entire area was gorgeous with trees lining the course, grass and ponds and green vegetation all over the grounds, and plenty of rolling hills.  Granted, coming from a very flat area of the high pains, those hills proved challenging when it came to actually running over them.  Still, even as we pushed ourselves up those hills we appreciated the beauty we encountered as we ran.

The course was challenging.  I made it very clear to Kathryn that I was going to stick by her side the entire time, no matter what.  With the hills, we took frequent walk breaks.  Even though we weren't holding a fast pace by any means, we were still moving along.  The great thing about running with a friend is all the time you have for conversation.  Run-talk is the most honest conversation you'll get, and I always find myself becoming closer to the people I run with and finding that I love them more with every mile.  So we ran, we hiked, we chatted, we panted, and we kept going.

Jazz hands!

With about three miles left the course turned and took us back to the hotel area and onto the trails of the perfectly manicured golf course.  We encountered all sorts of motivational signs posted along our path.  I read them out-loud to the runners around us and that gave us all a good laugh.  We pushed on and on and on...why is it that the last 5K always is the hardest part of any race?  Finally, I saw that were only half a mile to the finish.  I pushed Kathryn to go faster knowing that she would be glad she finished strong.  A phrase came to my mind, one that a friend of mine used as motivation, "Imagine you are shooting stars out of your fists propelling you forward!"  Although a bit goofy, it worked and together Kathryn and I crossed the finish line at a sprint!  We earned that awesome medal!  And the Gatorade and water shortly thereafter.

We slowly limped to the post-race expo where there was live music, dancing, food, and most importantly--shopping!  The merchandise from the Zooma race was absolutely adorable!  Kathryn got a couple shirts and I finally found the perfect running hat.  I was pleased to find an Another Mother Runner booth!  I love the Run Like a Mother books, and since they have a new one out (Tales from Another Mother Runner), I decided to buy it.  To my surprise, Sarah Bowen Shea, the author, was there!  She signed my book and even let me get a picture with her!   Seriously awesome day!!!  We spent another half hour browsing the rest of the booths which offered all sorts of running apparel, jewelry, and samples.  There was even a place for post-race yoga and free massages!

The medal was fabulous, the expo full of all sorts of things I wanted to buy, the course gorgeous, and the overall race was well organized and well managed!  Zooma even offered live-race tracking.  At the start, mile five, mile ten, and the finish were video cameras and chip timers that post to social media your progress and a video of you running.  What a cool idea!  This is one of the best races I've run.  My only suggestion would be to have photographers on hand throughout the race.  The only place I saw a photographer was at the finish line, and I would've loved to have pictures throughout the race.  Unfortunately, neither Kathryn or myself are fans of the mid-run selfies.

Sporting our medals as we rest after our race

We had to leave pretty quickly after the expo so that we could make it to the San Antonio LDS temple before it closed (it was closing early for the Women's session of General Conference--which was incredibly inspirational I might add!), so we hopped onto the bus and headed back to the car for some deep post-run stretching.  Although we were exhausted and sore, it was a great race and a memorable weekend.
Serving in the temple was the best thing we did after the race.

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