It seems like I’ve been planning this race forever (since last spring, I believe).
So this year, I did run the ZOOMA Bermuda Half Marathon as my 41th Half Marathon for these reasons:
- A warmer weather race-cation opportunity
- Cari agreed to do it and and be my roommate.
- I had enough frequent flyer miles for a free flight.
- Only 1 1/2 hour flight from JFK.
- It was held on Presidents Day weekend (one less day to take off from work)
- I found out that fellow bloggers Erika and Marcia were also running it. And I’ve never met Erika.
- It was advertised as a scenic course with ocean views.
- An all women race… who can argue with that?
- I’ve never been to Bermuda.
- Two races = 3 medals (BLING!)
Half Marathon Training:
If you follow my posts, you also know that I am not strict about following a training plan. I ran my last half marathon several weeks before in NYC…with foot pain. The foot pain continued and I considered downgrading to the 10k. But I am stubborn and decided to tough it out. (I mean I just ran a HILLY half in NYC in the freezing cold…)
As with all my half marathon training, I did not really care about my week day runs. They were usually 3 miles. However, I do try to do longer runs on the weekend.
So after 13.1 miles on January 19, I did manage to complete 11 mile and 9 mile training runs. I skipped the 12 miler in favor of a 4 mile race + 5 more miles after.
The goal for this half marathon was finishing!! Not to race it, not to get injured and not to make my foot pain worse!!!
Pre-Race Activities and Preparations:
Although the half marathon was scheduled for Sunday morning, Cari and I arrived (with no flight drama) late Wednesday night.
We had planned to stretch the legs and get used to the hills and humidity on Thursday morning. But instead we mostly walked the beach, the hilly railway trail and climbed to the top of a light house. Not much running but lots of steps!
The rest of the day was spent reading and relaxing at the hotel pool
and exploring Royal Naval Dockyard in the evening.
On Friday, both Cari and I got itchy to run. Finding a non-hilly route was a challenge. We tried the golf course. NOPE! And then we finally settled for looping the hotel.
Thanks to a ZOOMA Bermuda FB group, we able to communicate with many of the runners who shared their plans and ideas for their stay on the island. We decided to take a ferry after our run and spend Valentine’s Day touring Hamilton.
We returned in time for the first race event – the Welcome Party (at our hotel):
- Pick up your race bib plus your welcome gifts!
- Attend the course talk with ZOOMA race staff
- Drinks, music and appetizers courtesy of the Bermuda Tourism Authority
We met some familiar faces and lots of new ones. Sara, the ZOOMA Race Series Owner, gave us tips on running the race. She warned us about the hills and the narrow winding roads and reminded us to run with traffic on the LEFT side of the road. (Yes, this is a British island.)
We also met the pacers for the race (many of whom were on our flight.) They made sure to chat with every runner in order to help them finish at their desired pace. (My pace = ????)
Unfortunately our beautiful Bermuda weather ended. We woke up to wind, rain and chilly temps on Saturday. But it didn’t really matter because we had the OFFICIAL GROUP EXCURSION scheduled:
- Round trip transportation from hotel to Crystal Caves + Swizzle Inn
- Entry to both of the Crystal Caves
- Lunch reservation at Swizzle Inn
Both Crystal and Fantasy Caves were breathtaking and our lunch delish.
After our trip to the caves, we hung out in the hotel and relaxed before getting ready for the Lighthouse Run.
The 2 mile course got changed to 1.5 miles and the rain and wind lessened as we walked up to the Lighthouse start but then re-started with a vengeance.
With a half marathon the next day, we decided to walk the race. And we got soaked.
Still we had fun.
We ate some popcorn but didn’t stay too long at the beach (even though there were FREE drinks.)
After the race, we took the shuttle back to the hotel from the beach, changed our clothes and had dinner in the hotel – Pizza for me, as usual. Carb loading complete!
I organized my usual race outfit (tank, skirt, compression calf sleeves, cap) and went to bed around 10 pm.
I brought my oatmeal and coffee from home with me and got up around 4:30 am to get ready and have breakfast in my hotel room..
It was NOT raining…hooray but still dark and a little chilly. I put on some throw aways and packed a bag for after and headed to the shuttle.
The shuttle left promptly at 6 am and we arrived in Hamilton at 6:30…still an hour to wander, take pics use port-a-potties.
I checked a bag with those throw aways, a down jacket and flip flops)
Before we knew it, it was time to walk UP to the start.
It was a small race (110 or so) so no corrals. The Half Marathoners lined up first so we had to say good bye to Marcia.
As I mentioned, we had met all of the pacers at the Welcome Party. Now was the time to confirm whom we wanted to run with and line up with them.
I initially thought about running with the 2:15 pacers but as I told them, I was not running for pace and would most likely finish around 2:30.
I’ll do my best to recap the race below. (Warning: it’ll be long…)
My plan, as usual, was to stop and walk briefly at every water stop (so I wouldn’t get dehydrated) and to stop and walk longer to eat a GU at every other water stop. I planned to walk whenever necessary and NOT RACE it.
Here is a very cool interactive map: https://www.plotaroute.com/route/1004724
Anyway, here’s how the race went:
10:01, 10:01, 9:59, 9:54
As always, I felt more energetic during the beginning miles. I started running with the 2:15 pacers. Unfortunately, my foot hurt from the first step to the last. I was disappointed but prepared for the pain.
Because I knew that I would slow down, I was actually (as you can see from the photo) ahead of the pacers.
There were hills from beginning to end. No road is flat on this island. No road is straight. Curve after curve…blind curves but we ran single file and with traffic. It was a little scary at times but the drivers were very courteous and moved over for all runners.
I stopped at each water stop as planned. I drank my water quickly because I did not want to litter on this beautiful island.
From mile 2 to 3, I think, it was starting to drizzle and then the rain got harder and harder. I was thinking that it would be a repeat of the night before but I wasn’t prepared for the rain. There was NO rain in the forecast.
Luckily it stopped. I was soaked which turned out to be a blessing. The sun came out, the humidity rose and the air got warmer and heavier.
And wet socks = blisters (I got a big one that didn’t hurt and a small one that did.)
10:58, 10:17, 10:22, 11:14
The biggest hill was at mile 4. I walked/ran up all the hills (which I guess was the whole race lol). I finally ate my first one of the three gels. I followed what worked in my last half and full. Different brand of gel for each stop. (Honey stinger, e-gel, Gu)
I did smile every time I saw a photographer…even if I was running in pain.
Foot pain continued but I focused on the course which was breath-taking. I lost the 2:15 pacer which was to be expected.
However, my other foot started to hurt (It has in the past = bunion!)
11:03, 11:40, 11:42, 12:19, 11:30, (.23 -11:00)
I continued the same pattern except that my hill walking got longer and longer. I started to feel the humidity and almost wished that it would rain again.
My calves started cramping. This has NEVER happened to me before. Very painful!!
I could NOT sprint across the finish line.
I crossed at 2:23:21. (2:23:16 -Garmin time)
I was immediately handed water and two big medals and luggage tag.
I grabbed a needed drink (or two).
Then headed to get some food to go along with my drink(s). Then off to bag check to retrieve my flip flops for my poor feet. (Down jacket?? What was I thinking??)
They gave out age group awards but only to FIRST place in 10 year groups.
I met up with Marcia and then Cari. Everyone was happy with how the race turned out. Kudos to ZOOMA (and the ONPace runners!!)
We had planned on heading right back to the hotel (on the shuttle) but they encouraged us to stay for the Gombay dancers.
Then we chatted with RD, Erika. and watched the Pacers and last runner finish.
Of course, no race would be complete without goofy beach/medal pictures.
Additional Race Reflections:
- Half Zip, Tank, Bag and map mailed to runners ahead of time.
- Excellent communication about every aspect of the race before, during and after the race.
- Transportation and excursions organized by ZOOMA
- Easy packet pick-up at the hotel.
- Welcome gifts. Luggage tags & makings for a Dark & Stormy drink, key chain.
- Welcome party with appetizers and opportunity to meet the other runners and pacers.
- Shuttle to and from the start
- Sufficient number of port-a-potties at start/finish and along the course
- Sufficient number of water/Gatorade stops (7) – 1 had Gels (I think) but I missed it.
- Bag Check. Easy drop off and pick up.
- Well marked course – mile markers and police directing traffic.
- Free Massages at the finish.
- Pacers. Great group. Personal attention given to each runner.
- Planks given as awards.
- Very cool medal(s) (and luggage tag).
- Soup, sandwiches, popcorn, bars, fruit at the finish.
- Gombay Dancers entertaining at the finish.
- Lots of photographers on the course (ZOOMA and Professional)
- FREE photos. Many many of each runner. In the FB group and on results page of web site.
- Open bar…unlimited drinks at the finish.
- Great weather. (except for the 1.5 mile run and one mile of the half/10k)
- Beautiful course. Water views throughout.
- All women’s race.
- Friendly staff, participants, volunteers, residents.
- Discounts for many Bermuda Activities (Dolphin Excursion, Caves, etc.)
- 10 Year age groups and award given to First Place only.
- Hills and winding roads with no shoulders and blind curves (but that is Bermuda).
- Running with traffic (but there was no other way to have it.)
- Rain/wind during the Lighthouse Race (but can’t change the weather.)
- Nothing 🙂
Would I recommend this race?
Yes. Yes. Yes.
It was super well-organized. Special attention was paid to EVERY detail. The course was scenic. Bermuda is beautiful.
I am now considering other ZOOMA races because of my experience at this race.
I am so proud that my body could run. Yup. pain is temporary. I quickly forgot the next day how much it hurt.
My finish time was 3 minutes faster than than my previous foot pain half in NYC (so a foot pain HM PR lol).
Racing with friends is the best way to race.
NYC Half Marathon…my 2nd time running this race. Going for a foot pain PR!!
Since today is Tuesday, I’m also linking up with these ladies and you should too.
I’m linking up also with this new link-up:
Happy Running! Have you ever been to Bermuda? Ever run a ZOOMA race? Please share.