Race recap: ZOOMA Great Lakes Half Marathon

25 Sep

I was fortunate enough to serve as an ambassador for the ZOOMA Great Lakes Half Marathon on Sept. 15, in Delavan, Wis. It was my first ZOOMA event, my first women-only race, and my first half marathon in more than a year.

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This summer, the weather has been brutal in terms of heat and humidity, and even into the middle of September, it continued to be brutal. A beautiful sunrise over the lake gave way to race-start temperatures in the low 70s.

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I approached the starting line relaxed. I didn’t intend to “race” this half marathon. I planned to run comfortably (saving my racing legs for the marathon) and to enjoy the course and the experience.

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We left Lake Lawn Resort and headed southwest around Delavan Lake, an area that 10 years ago was quite familiar to me, but whose rolling hills had escaped my memory. The pace groups thinned pretty quickly, many ladies undoubtedly holding back because of the the hills and humidity. I ran as much as possible, slowing up hills when necessary, otherwise slowing only through water stations.

We ran along township and county roads, past beautiful lakefront homes. We spent about more than a half-mile (in Mile 7) along a channel that feeds into the lake, where on either side of the channel folks have small boats tied to private docks. It was so quaint!

We chugged uphill a fair amount in Mile 8 and Mile 9, as we headed northeast around the lake. I maintained my steady 9:30-ish pace, until I saw my family right around the marker for Mile 10, where I stopped to kiss the girls and grouse about the hills.

The route around the lake continued onto Highway 50, which by that time was busy with weekend traffic. We ran on the gravel shoulder, past whizzing vehicles, in full sunshine. I was so warm; I could feel my face was red and probably slightly sunburned.

Finally, for the last 1.1 miles, we turned back into the resort, running first on a gravel road around part of the gold course and then on a paved walkway right along the lake. I had lost my reliable signal after about 3 miles, so I had run most of the race without music. I finally took my headphones out of my ears and my phone out of my belt as the finish line approached, and I just soaked in the sounds of cheering — my favorite being “Yay Mama!” from Anna and Elise.

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I ran through the finish with my arms up in celebration, a smile on my face. I had pulled out a really great half marathon, missing my personal best (from 2016) by only 22 seconds! I was proud.

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After a bit of relaxing and refueling (and imbibing with Lake Lawn Punch, aka vodka and pink lemonade), we watched Anna and Elise in the kids’ race.

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They ran really well and earned their very own medals, of which they are–not surprisingly–very, very proud!

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My heart was very full by the end of the morning.

The ladies behind the ZOOMA race series did a really wonderful job resurrecting this race, and I was honored to be a part of it. The whole experience was so positive and supportive. It reinforced why I am so proud to be a part of the running community.

Distance: 13.1 miles
Duration: 2:05:28
Average pace: 9:35 per mile

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