Ahh! I cannot believe the ZOOMA Great Lakes Half Marathon and 5K weekend has come and gone! It seemed so far away when I applied to be an ambassador in June (as an ambassador, I received a free race entry for promoting the race). Then, as some bloggers starting planning the race as as weekend getaway, the race still seemed so far away, because I was so excited about it! But now that it’s passed, I think it is time to plan another destination race with my girlies!
The ZOOMA Half Marathon is a point-to-point course that starts in Lake Geneva, WI and ends in Fontana, WI. Since I live somewhat close to the course, originally, Maggie and Amy were going to stay at my house and we were going to drive up race morning for the 7:30 am start. But then Kelly (the Culinarian, back row, above) had the BRILLIANT idea that we get a rental house for the weekend and see how many people we could get to sign up to split the cost of the house. As you can see from the photo above, we did not have a hard time getting people to be interested! So, we soon had group emails, a Facebook page, and spreadsheets to plan our weekend getaway. The house that Kelly found was beautiful and slept 14+ people! Thank you Kelly, for finding the house!
On to the race… I knew going in to it that it was hilly (and the bus ride out to the start confirmed it!). Bobbi and I had planned to run together and just have fun. We were successful! We enjoyed the beautiful course and seeing the impressive homes along it and managed the hills well.
Until mile 11. Mile 11 had a monster 100 foot hill in just .2 miles of distance. That is not much for other people, but it was a lot for us! And the 5K course was the last 3.1 miles of the half. Yikes. I felt bad those 5Kers had to deal with the hill too.
But overall, I was very impressed with how we did. We were having so much fun that the miles just seemed to be ticking by! I love it when that happens during a race! We ran a bit with fellow ZOOMA ambassador Laima around mile 4, and ran in to Kelly (the Culinarian) at mile 10 and finished the race with her!
And the course was beautiful. Hardly any spectators, but that was okay. We really loved seeing the “If this was easy, your husband would be doing it!” sign.
And this was mostly an all women’s race. Hardly any men were running it (only a few). It was interesting to experience an all women’s race! Mostly, it just seemed that everyone was really encouraging, especially on the monster hill (since that was the only out and back portion, the people flying down the downhill encouraged those going up) – not that people are not encouraging at other races as well.
And when you do an all women’s race… you can use a necklace instead of a medal!
Here is what ZOOMA says about their races on their about page, and it could not be any truer:
run. laugh. celebrate.
Imagine a powerful sea of women on the move–encouraging fellow runners, creating unforgettable moments, and celebrating personal running triumphs. Picture a post-race party and expo all wrapped up in one memorable “after-party expo” where these strong goal-oriented women come together for well-deserved celebration.
Until the past few years, I would not have been able to say I had a group of women I wanted to run a race with and definitely not spend a weekend with! I didn’t have close (in relationship and in person) female friends until I met Erin in June of 2009. Then I started meeting more and more local bloggers, and more people in my running club (when I joined in the end of 2010), and now I feel like I have a huge network of pals! And some of us are really close! I never would have thought I would spend a weekend with a house full of women as a grown-up – I thought that was something that I missed in college. But I didn’t! It makes me so happy to have such a wonderful group of caring friends, all with different talents, backgrounds, and interests. What an amazing weekend! I am so happy the ZOOMA race brought us all together for this!*
Do you feel like you have a group of friends with whom you would want to do a weekend getaway?
I probably won’t say much else about that part of the weekend – it was an amazing time of games, food, and lots of chatting! And lots of creation of inside jokes (my fave). We stayed at the house until Sunday morning, when we all sadly departed back to the real world.
I DO have some things to say about the race itself, though! A few pros and cons, if you will:
- Beautiful course
- Decent on course support (water, sports drink, GUs)
- Easy to find location
- Shuttle in the am (from finish-to-start)
- Fun expo
- Nice SkirtSports top in swag bag
- They announced our names as we finished
- “Celebrities” (from top to bottom, Sara Hall, Sarah Bowen Shea and Dimity McDowell (authors of Run Like a Mother) and Skinny Runner.
- There were too few porta potties at the half start – 7 for 400 women? Get real.
- We had to run on the right side of the road for much of the course. It was a bit counter-intuitive.
- At mile 10 we passed right by the finish to do the last 3.1. Kind of a petty complaint, but… I do not want to run by the finish that close to the end.
- There was no salty food at the finish (bananas and water, plus a lunch box with a wrap, apple and pasta). I needed salt. My left hand was super swollen (Bobbi actually gave me a salt pack on course and at the finish).
- The necklace design is so-so, in my opinion.
And just for fun… this will be the last time I wear a white shirt to a race. Ha! That is no one’s fault but mine!!!
*I had met everyone in the house before, except Sierra, and the three women who stayed with us who were not bloggers.