Last weekend a group of friends (and friends of friends) came together for an active girls’ weekend in Austin for the ZOOMA women’s half-marathon. April in Austin hill country is as beautiful as you can imagine. Wild flowers, including the beloved Texas blue bonnets, are everywhere. The weather was warm, but not hot, and the humidly hasn’t kicked in yet. It’s perfect running weather.
This was my first race in years – and certainly my longest run since I crossed the finish line of the 2008 Chicago Marathon. ZOOMA creates fun races geared towards women (although men are allowed to participate). Their tagline is Run. Laugh. Celebrate. and without a doubt we did all three. All of their communications were very clear, the expo was easy and organized, and the race, albeit small and short on spectators, was well executed. The swag bag was luxe, for sure. Great shirt, a lightweight running hat (that I used on race day), and hot pink running socks. I think we geeked out over the socks more than anything else. They have six race locations right now, including Chicago and Napa Valley.
The overall energy at the race was was very positive. Very girl-power, in the best possible way. I started the run with a friend and the first 5 miles practically flew by as we were chatting and catching up. Once the hills kicked in, she was ready to pick up the pace, so I ran the next 8 miles solo. It was incredible. I had such a good time looking around at the other racers and chatting with ones that would sidle up next to me. I had so many brief conversations – sometimes just a few sentences, but it was always exactly what I needed to hear at that exact moment. There was one long stretch that was out & back on the same road, and I got lost in watching the racers on their way back. It was so interesting to watch the women – they were miles ahead of me at that point – and just exchanging smiles or making eye contact with them boosted me ahead. At one point what I thought was the 8 mile marker was coming up and it was the 9 mile marker. Realizing you’re one mile ahead of where you thought you were? WOOHOOAMAZING!!! The hardest part of the course (for me) was not the hills – it was the last three miles on the golf course. I put my headphones on at mile 10 and pushed through.
I wasn’t exactly well trained for this race; my longest training run was only 7 miles. It’s hard to find time to do the appropriate amount of training with kids, and, to be honest, I’m lazy when it comes to running. I came into race weekend knowing the course was hilly and that it would be a tough run, and I just told myself over and over again that I could do it – and I would do it. And guess what? I totally did it. My time was 2:25:55. Not bad given my estimated pace time is 2:15:00 and it was super hilly. Most importantly, I enjoyed it. I felt strong, I felt steady, I felt super positive.
The race started early so we spent the rest of the day at the amazing pool at the Hyatt Lost Pines. We couldn’t have asked for a better day. The sun was out, the sky was blue, and we were all feeling proud and accomplished. We carb’d out on some grilled cheese, indulged in a pina colada, and floated around on the lazy river. Heaven. (Note: I loved the Hyatt Lost Pines so much that we’re going back in a few weeks with the whole family. Can’t wait!)
It was an awesome weekend! Thank you to the ZOOMA team for putting on a great event. Thank you to the Hyatt Lost Pines for your incredible service and gorgeous property. Thank you to my husband and in-laws who flew in to watch my boys. Thank you to my wonderful friends for a great weekend. I feel recharged and rejuvenated. And slightly crazy because I’m thinking the ZOOMA Napa Valley sounds fun…what do you say, girls?!
Author: Candace Thomas