I was Zooming with Zooma Florida 12K!
I will set the ZOOMA Florida scene: Ritz Carlton, Amelia Island, beach, blue skies, mild temperatures and my daughter and best running friend. Packet pick up and expo was scheduled for Friday 2-8pm. We land in the hotel lobby at 7:30pm. Traffic was horrible and the Ritz tells me they have no more double beds. The desk clerk kindly informs me that they can wheel a cot bed into the room and that will take care of the problem. I kindly flip out. We can blame it on the drive. Katie and Belinda run down to the check in to pick up our packets while I continue to carry on in the hotel lobby.
Disclaimer: I am a current ZOOMA ambassador, I did earn a free race entry but all other expenses are my own.
Let’s just say when we checked in, we got 2 rooms, side by side for the price of one. Now, that is Ritz Carlton service. The manager also called me on Saturday to see how I did with the race. It was after 8pm and we were starving at this point! We made a beeline to the sports bar in the hotel for burgers/grouper sandwiches and french fries! I am telling you, the best french fries I had eaten in forever!
Flat Skippy was ready and Katie and I are were ready for bed in our bed and Belinda was next door in hers. The plan was to leave for the lobby at 6:45 am to ride the bus at 7. The lobby was full of excitement and we were some of the first on the bus. It was a cool 57 degrees and the bus was warm! We arrived at the Fernandina Beach park and had plenty of time for potty breaks and fun pictures.
I texted Coach M the night before and asked about my pace. I really wanted to aim for the 10:00 mile and she agreed. She gave me some last-minute tips and those were going thru my head as we headed to the start line. The ZOOMA Florida 12K and half marathon both started in the same spot. The 5K started 30 minutes later down on the beach in front of the hotel. The race started right on time and the breeze was whipping right off the water, it was a beautiful start!
I had my Tailwind in my hand and the plan was to walk thru the water stations and sip sip. We all ran together for the 1st mile and then we split and the half marathon group ran towards the Fort Clinch State park and the 12K group is basically running back down A1A to the hotel. The course is pretty flat and the beach homes are beautiful! After the first few miles we really spread out on the course and I felt safe running along the bike lane. There were plenty of cops driving up and down the course checking on the runners. As you approach mile 7 you can see the Ritz!
This is where the fun begins! My watch said 7.1 miles and that meant .4 miles left to go on the sand! The joke before the race was that I planned on catching up with my daughter and finish with her! Remember she was on the beach for the 5K and started 30 minutes behind me. As I hit the beach I looked for her but did not see her. I kept running thru the sand towards the finish and I heard my name over the loud-speaker! The volunteers handed me my water, medal and banana and I looked around for Katie. I did beat my daughter by a couple of minutes! She was still smiling as she crossed the finish, 3.1 miles on the beach is no joke!
We still had Belinda out on the course running the half so Katie and I headed up to the lawn for the after party. First stop, the line for the free massages! Organized post run yoga sessions were also going on. Barefoot wine was pouring the bubbly and handing out goodies. There were 3 tables filled with snacks for everyone to try and vendor tents on the lawn to browse thru. The live band was fantastic and it was fun to watch the runners dancing and singing along!
Finally, the moment I was waiting for! The 12K awards! Waiting, waiting and in 2nd place in the 50-54 age group, Mary Beth Jackson! Shut the door! I was so excited! Finish time: 1:14:14 with an avg time 9:55 minute mile! Goal met! 9:35/9:51/9:32/9:53/10:06/10:03/10:06 and 5:10 minutes to the finish on the sand! You know, I missed 1st place by 8 seconds! WHOA!
Therefore, let me give you 5 quick reasons to run a ZOOMA Florida race: great host hotel, fabulous after party, designed for women, fabulous bling, and a great reason for a girl’s weekend!