This is the third year I have been lucky enough to be a race Ambassador for ZOOMA.
The first year, I was pregnant and uncomfortable — oh, and ran my slowest race ever.
But look how adorable my hair looked! And those boobs!
The second year, I ended up having to skip out at the last minute because Dan had to work. Lame.
And this year, I finally got my shit together and actually finished in time for the group photo.
Seriously, this was a group of some really amazing ladies – not that you can see any of their faces in this picture.
I left work “early” on Friday (I was supposed to leave at 2 and I’m lucky that I left by 3:30) and drove up to Jacksonville to pick up Devon. We were shacking up for the night, so we decided that it would a good game plan to avoid any added costs and to drive together to Amelia Island. Traffic was a little hairy leaving Orlando (as always), but it was smooth sailing once I got past Daytona Beach — until I hit downtown Jax. Oh, that was fun. We were SUPPOSED to be there 6 to enough a champagne cocktail hour hosted by Feetures, but we didn’t end up arriving until closer to 7. Oops.
We immediately (and painlessly) picked up our bibs…
After a little freshening up, headed to the Mocktail hour that we were hosting – along with the rest of our ambassadors.
After the event, Devon and I were STARVING (seriously, I ate a sleeve of crackers for lunch because I didn’t have time for anything else) so we ate at the world’s most expensive sports bar and ate $18 hamburgers (and fries). Only at the Ritz.
At they also gave us the world’s cutest condiments, so I guess it was worth it?
After the most hilarious dinner (and a few beers), we stocked up on “breakfast food” (Devon and I BOTH forgot to bring our traditional pre-race Clif Bars because we are apparently special) and then headed to bed. Yes, bed. Even thought I requested a Double room, we ended up with a King bed. Nothing like sleeping together on the first date.
The next day we were up and at ’em at 6:15 — which is really late for a race, but was still painful. We were in the lobby by 6:50, which still felt really early.
Kristen kindly volunteered to drive us to the start, so we skipped the buses. Now, I took a bus my first year and it was great — but traveling together in a car? That was so much better.
About 10 minutes before the race started we finally all got out of the car and headed over to the start (a mere 100 feet away #roughlife). It was probably hovering between 40-45 degrees (maybe even colder with the wind), so at that point I was ready to start.
For some reason, I thought I would need to run in my jacket the whole time — which in retrospect was dumb, but I went with it and I regretted it when I was super hot at mile 5. Sometimes you never learn.
Char (my new Orlando friend!) and I pushed our way up closer to the front as we were hoping to run fast. I was aiming for 1:05 12K. Ha. If I had continued at the same pace I ran the first mile – it would have been obtainable, but yeah, that didn’t happen. I also haven’t run much lately (that’s now changing!), so that was pretty much a pipe dream.
So onto the course itself! It was different than the half in that it cut out all of the Fort Clinch State Park. Instead you run up (and up) a road towards AIA for about 2 miles – and then run the same last 5ish miles of the half marathon – including the beach finish, which is pretty much my least favorite part (but at least the views are pretty).
I ended up finishing in 1:09:03 — to an instant PR! Admittedly, I’m not psyched about the overall pace (9:12ish), but it just gives me room to build my endurance again — and hopefully quickly.
All in all, this race was very much like the last time I ran it. Small, well organized, and fun. There were less aid stations than I’m used to on a course, but it didn’t necessarily bother me as I wasn’t doing the half marathon (the best decision I could ever make!).
As far as the after party went — it was definitely one of my favorites! First off there was wine. So much wine.
Then, there was an amazing band and party atmosphere.
It’s shocking that the views from the Ritz Carlton Amelia Island are just soooooo ugly, right? Just kidding. I want to live there.
And lastly – subs from Publix (at least they tasted like Publix subs).
How can you go wrong?
It was a teeeeeeny bit chilly (especially after the race where my sweaty jacket turned into a natural air conditioner) — AND I had to minimize the wine consumption so that I could drive back home — but those are minor complaints. I mean, I got to hang out with a bunch of awesome women, drink bubbly, and wrap myself in a tablecloth for warmth, how is that not winning?
I will say that the WORST part of the entire weekend was not being able to share it with two of my favorite runners — Paula and Tyler. Those two need to get their act together next year – because I plan on coming back.