My one-word review of the second ZOOMA Annapolis 10K and Half Marathon: Better.
Considering the fact that last year’s inaugural race was enough fun to lure me back this year, “better” is pretty darn good, and speaks to some major upgrades from the race’s inaugural running.
Improvement No. 1: Last year’s race was marred by horrible traffic and parking delays. Race organizers offered discounts on this year’s registration to anyone whose chip time last year started several minutes after the gun time, assuming we’d gotten caught in traffic. They promised to do better this year. I took them up on it, and was pleased to note that traffic control was better this year. We still waited in a long backup on Route 50, but we got through it with plenty of time to start with the crowd.
Improvement No. 2: Last year’s course bypassed the loveliness of downtown Annapolis, veering instead toward the decidedly unlovely (and hilly!) Ritchie Highway. The half-marathoners still had to tackle Ritchie, but we all got to run past the historic State House building, and through adorable historic neighborhoods around it. The course still felt absurdly hilly at points, but we at least had nice scenery to take our minds off it. Full disclosure: The elevation stats don’t look that bad, making me wonder if I’m maybe just wimpy.
The stuff race organizers couldn’t do anything about: It was a hot, muggy day to race, by Maryland-in-June standards. The five runners in my group agreed that this sapped our energy and/or will to live, making even some of the serious marathoners among us consider ditching the half-marathon for the 10K. I ran a perfectly fine 5K, then jogged another pitiful, hot, hilly one to the finish. My official finish time: 54:29, 8:43-minute mile pace. Gaah! My splits are more telling. Mile 1: 8:05. Mile 2: 8:05. Mile 3: 8:28 (biiig hill, but holding it together). Mile 4: 8:43. Mile 5 … well, we don’t need to get into specifics, do we? That was good enough for 105th of 1542 total runners, and 18th of 270 in my age group, suggesting I wasn’t the only one struggling out there today.
The stuff that makes this race worth doing: Like last year, the finish festival was incredible. I got both a table massage and a chair massage, both for free. I didn’t stretch a bit, but the rub-downs left my muscles feeling supple and relaxed. The race promises free wine “tastings,” but the wine table this year offered full glasses. The boxed lunches were tasty and girl-friendly, with hummus and veggies and pita wedges. If there’s something nicer than getting a massage, then bonding with your running buddies over glasses of chilled Barefoot Pinot Grigio while a cover band croons Jack Johnson tunes, I don’t know what is.
Pictures to follow …
Did you run this race? What did you think?