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    I'm a stay-at-home-mom who, as part of a mid-life challenge, decided to run a marathon for kicks. I didn't plan on it becoming a hobby, but it did. I QUALIFIED FOR BOSTON at my second marathon and slipped into the vortex. Join me as I fulfill my dream of running the marathon majors.

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Race Report: Zooma Great Lakes

Categories: 1/2 Marathon, 5k, Zooma Great Lakes

I was delighted when I was invited to be an Ambassador for Zooma Great Lakes. The Chicago Running Bloggers did it up right and made this race a weekend bonanza. We all rented a house…a fabulous one I might add, in Fontana, WI for the festivities.

I picked up Kim and headed out of town on Friday afternoon. We got to the house, retrieved Kelsey and Erin from the train station, and headed to the expo and cocktail party.

Biggest Dork Ever award goes to me for squealing “SARAH BOWEN SHEA!” when I saw her at the Run Like a Mother table. I was glued to their Marathon Moms series in Runners World back in the days when I was running 2 or 3 miles at most. Following their adventure toward the Nike Women’s Marathon inspired me to entertain the idea that maybe, just maybe a marathon was in the cards for me one day…

Let’s get to the race. My goals:

  • Have fun. Enjoy the weekend and the company of like-minded women.
  • Test the ornery hip. Shut it down and re-evaluate if it hurt.

In a perfect world, read noninjured state, I’d have run the half at a conservative pace and probably walked the hills to conserve energy for Marine Corps a week later.

Since I’ve not run long on dry land since RnR Denver on 9/22 and my hip was still hurting as of 10/16, I reeled it in and opted for the 5k. I was terrified to test the hip. If it cooperated, I’d gain at least a shred of confidence going into Marine Corps, if not…we won’t go there. To make matters worse (they can always be worse) in the middle of Tuesday’s 2 miler, I felt like I’d taken a gunshot to the calf. I haven’t mentioned it because I hoped ignoring it would make it vanish as fast as it came. No such luck.

The party house crew before leaving for the race. Special thanks to Erin for her photographic stylings.

Race day dawned cold and clear. Those doing the half  were bussed out to the start of the point-to-point course while us 5k peeps started and finished harborside.

We were off and I felt great. The first half was pretty much a steep trudge. No complaints from the hip although my calf did not like the hills. At. All. So I walked up and chatted and cursed them with others around me. The foliage and scenery were stunning so it wasn’t all bad.

We cheered on the leaders as they headed back down before it was time to make the turnaround ourselves and go screaming down. I was so grateful to have scaled back to the 5k. A half filled with hills like these would have been a deathwish in my current condition.

Despite running a 5k PW (hey I was walking, I’m good with it) I felt strong and like I could have run tons more after….not on 14 degree incline…but YKWIM. Miraculously my hip was painfree. However my calf was screaming and stiffened up immediately after I finished.

I was shocked to snag AG 3. Here I am receiving the award from Sara Hall. Sara was there cheering on her mom, who kicked ass on the half marathon. It was so sweet to see mom and daughter celebrating afterward and so inspiring.

Apres race with Amy, Maggie and Erin.

The Chicago contingent post race.

Post-race left to right: Jess, Bobbi, Kim, Skinny Runner, Sara Hall, me, Meghan, Kayla, Laima. Special thanks to Kim for allowing me to ripoff this pic.

It’s always a treat to see Dimity of Run Like a Mother fame.

After party: A fun, festive atmosphere with a band, good food (chicken or veggie wrap, pasta salad, apple), Muscle Milk,  and lets not forget plenty of bubbly to go around.

Swag: The race shirt is from Skirt Sports. Great quality, cute and cut nicely. There were necklaces instead of medals. Since I ran the 5k I was thrilled to get anything at all. But had I run that hard half marathon I think I’d want a more uniquely styled necklace than the one we got. I’ve worn the necklace since race day though and I have to say it is growing on me.

Course: Very scenic but HARD if hills aren’t your bag. I would not want to be a first timer on this course.

Final Thoughts: I can’t say enough about the relaxed, supportive vibe of this race.  It seemed to be perfectly aligned with my goal this year to enjoy more destination races in the company of friends new and old and to run for the sheer joy of it rather than chasing a PR (not that there’s anything wrong with that).  Overall, this race is very well done and a really fun girlfriend’s getaway. There are Zooma races all over the country. I’d definitely recommend checking out one or more! As an Ambassador I participated free of charge, however my opinions are my own. Special thanks to the Zooma staff for inviting me!

Congrats to everyone who raced over the weekend!

  1. So glad to get to hang out with you once again!

    And you’re right. The whole vibe of the race seemed very relaxed. Which was nice because I had been chasing PR’s all year. A perfect way to end my season. :)

  2. it’s always so fun to meet people who’ve you adore, glad this was another great weekend!! I have my fingers crossed we make it to the same race some day!

  3. bobbi says:

    I loved the race vibe too! I wish you could’ve hung out longer on Saturday :)

    Sorry to hear a new body part is being a pita. How’s it feeling now?

  4. kilax says:

    I think we told you this, but when we hit the first hill on the HM course (like… at .2), Bobbi and I both were thinking (and told ea other later) that it was so smart of you to go down to 5K with your mean hip :( That course was TOUGH! I am so impressed with how we all did on the 5K and HM! You kicked butt and placed! And Sara gave you the award! TOO COOL!!!

    I wish we could have hung out more. Maybe Bobbi and you and I can get together after MCM to hear all about it?! :)

    Thanks again for hauling me up there! I hope your calves are better today!

  5. Sounds like a fun race with some fun ladies! I’ve run Zooma Austin 2x and had a great time at both. The best part is just having a chance to hang out with the girls!

  6. Meghan says:

    Congrats on a pain-free hip AND award! I had no idea! That’s awesome. Best of luck at MC – you are going to ROCK IT!

  7. Glad the hip was pain-free and congrats on the AG! Hope your calf’s doing better!!

  8. I’m so glad you had a pain-free race!!! Also, amazing job on the AG win! :)

  9. Jenna says:

    Love your goals for this race and really enjoyed the photos! You’re awesome!! Spa <3

  10. Kate says:

    Glad your hip was behaving, but it stinks about your calf. Hopefully this is just a brief hiccup, right? Great job with the 5K and placing in your AG! Awesome! :) And your trip up there sounds fantastic. I’ve been through Lake Geneva once, and it’s just beautiful.

  11. Melissa says:

    Yay for pain-free and an AG place! Sounds like a great race and looks like you had a really great time. :) Hoping your calf feels better soon!

  12. Congratulations! I totally know what you mean about not saying something hurts and just wanting it to go away.

    Cute necklace. I agree that if I was running the half, I’d want something different. But, sounds like a wonderfully put together race and so so fun to meet so many bloggers. Love that!

  13. misszippy1 says:

    Sounds like a fantastic event all around. And you still snagged an age group award after all the time off? Nice!

    Fingers crossed for you!

  14. Ang says:

    Congrats!! I’m hoping to do my first 5K by Spring, even if I have to walk most of it. I kind of like the necklace, it’s cute.

  15. Kayla says:

    You are right..it totally didn’t feel like we were meeting for the first time. But I had an awesome time hanging out with you!! I REALLY REALLY hope the hip cooperates for MCM! Congrats on placing in your age group even when you totally didn’t expect it!

  16. Ali says:

    Great recap! I really want to run a ZOOMA race, they look like a blast!

  17. Suzanne says:

    Now I know I’m going to have to put a ZOOMA race on my calendar for next year!

  18. Emily says:

    Congratulations on AG3 and way to push through what sounded like a torturously tough course!!! I wish your calf and hip a pain-free existence, and the speediest of recoveries.

    It was so great to meet you in person this past weekend! Can’t wait for our next running blogger getaway!!!!!

  19. Glad you were able to enjoy the event and that you made the right choice for your hip. Good luck at Marine Corps!

  20. Yes, you’re so right about those races that are just for friends and scenes and the experience. So fun to meet up with Sarah! I remember being surprised by how tall she was when she was in Houston. :) Crossing my fingers for you at MCM!

  21. Char says:

    Looks like so much fun. And to get an AG place when you’ve walked some – that’s my kind of race.

  22. Molly says:

    Fun Girls weekend indeed! The necklace instead of a medal is a cute idea too. Thats great that your hip behaved, but what is up with the calf?!? I hope it’s better today!

  23. Tink says:

    So glad to hear your hip held out for the race! Hopefully the calf is just a super tight muscle….I think a deep tissue massage is in order! Enlist the Caveman!

  24. Sounds like a great race and congrats on the podium finish! Laima said that 5K course was brutal.

  25. Jill says:

    You deserved that necklace (and I LOVE it) for enduring that angry calf up those steep inclines. You always inspire me by your determination and ability to know when to play it smart. Great job, Chica! I think MCM is going to go pretty dang well!

  26. What a fun weekend (although sorry to hear about your calf issues). Glad you played it smart. MCM is a fantastic race – can’t wait to see how you like it!

  27. I feel the same way about the necklace. I didn’t really like it at first, but now I’m wearing it and it is growing on me… :)

    The photo of you and Sara is so cute! Congrats on the age group win! Hopefully next time around we’ll get more time to chat. :)

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