In case you missed it, here is my recap of the ZOOMA Florida Fitness Expo and Honest Tea Mocktail Party.
On Saturday morning, my alarm started going off at 6 AM. As I started getting ready for the ZOOMA Florida Half Marathon, I realized just how much I appreciated the late race start. I mean the weekend before I was waking up at 2:45 for a 5:30 start time! I felt like I was really well rested and that I could totally rock this race. Even my bruised toenail seemed to be cooperating this morning.
Around 6:45, I grabbed a banana to eat just before the race and headed down to the lobby of The Ritz-Carlton Amelia Island. The shuttles were leaving at 7 AM and I didn’t want to miss them otherwise I would be running the 5k race. While I was waiting, Caitlin, Julie and Mary came down. The four of us chatted for a little bit until Tricia came in to tell everyone that the shuttles were ready. We hoped on one of the white school buses and headed to downtown Fernandina Beach.
2013 ZOOMA Florida Half Marathon
The weather for this race couldn’t have been more opposite from the marathon I ran the weekend before. Seriously! It was cold, windy and overcast. People were looking at me a little strange because I was wearing a short sleeve shirt. I was cold but not freezing and I knew that I would warm up once I started running.
While we were waiting near the staring line, we found some of the other race ambassadors (Michelle, Lorraine, Renee and Amanda). Michelle and I decided to the run the race together since we both had a goal of finishing in less than 3 hours (Spoiler Alert: That didn’t happen …). Right at 8 AM, the race was officially started!
Miles 1 to 3: Fernandina Beach
- Mile 1: 10:37 min/mile
- Mile 2: 13:04 min/mile
- Mile 3: 14:44 min/mile
The first mile of the course was through downtown Fernandina Beach. Michelle and I kept saying how beautiful and quaint the area was. The city wasn’t quite awake yet so there were hardly any spectators.
Sorry Michelle! I couldn’t resist posting this awesome picture of you.
Michelle really set an awesome pace for the first mile. My body was still stiff but I was able to keep up without too much difficulty. Since this was my first run after my marathon, I was really impressed with my average pace.
The second mile took us out of the downtown area and through a hilly section. It wasn’t too bad but we decided to start talking walk breaks as we needed them. Of course, the added walk breaks caused our pace to slow down quite a bit. The third mile continued along the same road. We ran past a cemetery and then up and over a bridge. Michelle said that we were getting close to Fort Clinch State Park.
After the bridge, we turned and then entered the state park. The park was gorgeous! It reminded me of some the historic Southern towns I have traveled to many times before.
Miles 4 to 8: Fort Clinch State Park
- Mile 4: 16:29 min/mile
- Mile 5: 15:13 min/mile
- Mile 6: 14:55 min/mile
- Mile 7: 17:56 min/mile
- Mile 8: 16:01 min/mile
At the Mile 3 Marker, Michelle needed to make a pit stop. When we started running again, we both decided that our legs were exactly happy about our decision to run the half marathon. Our walk breaks became longer and our running pace became slower. Regardless of how our bodies felt, we were having fun.
The course wound along the roads through the state park. Along the course, there were inspirational messages from the ZOOMA ladies. Michelle and I loved reading them.
By the time we made it to Mile 6, we were ready for a change of scenery. We loved the park but it felt like we were running through it forever. Just before we saw the Mile 8 Marker, we saw the end of our adventures through the park. My legs had finally loosened up and I was ready to really run. Unfortunately, Michelle didn’t think she would be able to run anymore. She told me to go on without her.
Miles 9 to 13.1: Amelia Island
- Mile 9: 11:39 min/mile
- Mile 10: 13:59 min/mile
- Mile 11: 14:19 min/mile
- Mile 12: 14:39 min/mile
- Mile 13: 14:00 min/mile
As I turned onto A1A, I did some quick math and realized that I would not finish before my 3 hour time goal. I was disappointed with myself but I also knew that I wouldn’t have traded a moment of my time running with Michelle for a faster finish time. I turned my run-walk-run timer and started following my 3:1 ratio.
The course continued along A1A for what seemed like forever. For the next 4.5 miles (approximately), I ran along the shoulder of the road. The houses along the beach were all shapes and sizes. Some of them appeared to be newer (and larger) than others. I grew up near beach houses along the Gulf of Mexico so I enjoyed seeing the ones on the Atlantic Ocean.
Eventually, I started seeing the outline of the resort. I knew that I would be making a turn off of A1A and onto the beach very soon. I didn’t really ask too many questions about the course but I had assumed that there would be a boardwalk or something for us to run on.
I assumed wrong. The last half mile of the race was on the beach. I may live near the beach but I never actually run on the sand. I loved hearing the crash of the waves and smelly the salty sea air. I didn’t really enjoy the sand in my shoes though or the difficulty I was having with running on the soft sand.
Before I knew it, I was coming up on the finish chute. A huge smile spread across my face as I realized that I had done the impossible. I ran a half marathon the weekend after my first full marathon. I didn’t finish in the time I was hoping for but I did it and that is good enough for me!
Official Finish Time: 13.1 miles in 3:11:21 (14:36 min/mile avg. pace)
Instead of a finisher’s medal, ZOOMA finishers are given a beautiful necklace. While I can’t put it on my medal hanger, I can wear it every single day. I love the meaning behind the symbols of the necklace.
2013 ZOOMA Florida Race After Party
After I crossed the finish line, I found my boyfriend waiting for me. I grabbed a couple of bananas and a bottle of water before heading to the After Party. The race ambassadors were supposed to be meeting at 11 AM for pictures and I knew I was running a little late. It didn’t take me long to find the others and was relieved to find out they hadn’t taken any pictures yet.
[Renee, Presley, Mary, Caitlin, Julie, Amanda, Lynda, Me and Lorraine]
After we took a couple of regular shots, someone suggested that we take a goofy photo. A suggestion was made that we all lift our left leg. I think we were a little overzealous with that idea because none of us could keep our legs up for more than 30 seconds or so.
I am pretty sure that is the best post race picture ever!!!
Once we were finished with the pictures, I headed over to the breakfast area. The hunger was starting to set in and I really wanted some coffee.
After I grabbed some delicious food to eat, I spotted Michelle coming towards the food area. She looked happy to be finished with the race. She told me about the last five miles of her race. I was really happy for her when she said she ran across the finish line! Since she missed the group photos, she and I took some of our own. (I still had crazy, wind hair going on!)
Before heading back up to the room, I wandered around to see what else was going on that the after party. The ZOOMA ladies really did think of everything when it comes to what runners want after crossing the finish line. There was a live music for those that wanted to dance, an area for yoga for those that wanted to stretch and massage therapists for those that needed knots worked out.
I really think that this race was very well organized. The course was flat, beautiful and great for someone looking to PR. The portion on the sand was a little rough though. I felt like the Expo had a good variety of vendors considering the race size and that the after party was a lot of fun. I wish I would have had a little more left in so I could have participated one of the yoga classes but I really wanted a shower! I would absolutely run this race next year, even if it is the weekend after the WDW marathon again.
Disclosure: As part of being a ZOOMA Race Ambassador, I was provided with a free race entry. I paid for all other food and travel expenses.