I was approached a few months ago by the ladies at ZOOMA to serve as a race ambassador for their half marathon and 5K at Lake Geneva just over the state line in Wisconsin. Even though the race was 2 weeks after my first marathon, I accepted … for one thing, I can’t pass up a free race, and for another, I have actually been interested in doing women’s race for awhile, and even looked into ZOOMA in 2011, but since it was an out-of-town race, and I didn’t really know any other runners to travel to the race with, I didn’t do it.

Well things certainly have changed in a year.

only three of us aren’t bloggers

This weekend I bunked up with Bobbi, Kelly J, Sierra, Emily, Kayla, Amy, Kelly W, Marcia, Kim, Kelsey, Erin, and some of Kelly J’s friends for the weekend.

We got into town Friday evening, headed over to packet pick-up and a Trek networking event (free wine & cheese … that’s all you need to know), and then back to the house for a pre-race pasta dinner, and then a reasonable bedtime. Saturday morning we were out the door before sunrise for the half marathon and 5K.

I opted to do the 5K. My legs need a break from long runs for awhile. I wasn’t sure how the 5K would shake out. For one thing, I’ve been focused on endurance for the past few months, and haven’t done much speed work. Also, I plotted the 5K course on Gmap Pedometer and knew it had a pretty significant uphill (and downhill). I’ve done even less hill work. But, looking at last year’s 5K results, I also thought I had a decent shot at top 3 overall.

I was able to squeeze in a half mile warm-up before the race, and I was glad I did, because my shorts started falling down. These shorts were REALLY old (they probably predate my stint as a runner), and I’ve lost weight. I was able to grab a safety pin from gear check to cinch my shorts as I ran to the corral. Luckily, that worked, and I had no wardrobe malfunctions during the race.

Immediately after the emcee yelled “go” for the race to start, one gal immediately shot off in front. I ran to the front of the rest of the pack, realized I probably wouldn’t catch up to her, and just settled into #2 with the hope I could hold on.

The race was exactly what I expected from the elevation profile. A little rolling hill at the start, then a steep uphill to the turn around. It was an out-and-back, so that meant a steep downhill after the turn around. The gal in front of me kept getting farther ahead, and I kept my own pace, figuring I could get a look at who was behind me right after the turn around. Nobody was too close on my tail, so I just stuck with my own pace (based on my heart rate).

The course itself was really pretty. Lake Geneva is a vacation town, it’s fall in the midwest, you could see a glimpse of the sunlight bouncing off of Lake Geneva – so the views did not disappoint. Also, the nice thing about being so close to the front of the pack on an out-and-back course, particularly a women’s race, is all the “good job” cheers I got on my way back. It felt pretty great! So thank you, fellow 5K runners.

Going down the hill wasn’t easy. I tried to lean my torso back so I wouldn’t fall forward and tried not to slow down too much. As I approached the finish, my name was announced – it sounded like they were able to do that for all the finishers (neither race was huge), which was fun.

I did finish second, but it was certainly no PR. My official time was 25:31. My mile split with the uphill was a few seconds slower than my overall pace at my half marathon PR race.

BUT, I beat all seven men who ran the 5K. (Out of close to 200 runners.)

And I got to meet Sara Hall, who was there to cheer on her mom who ran the half marathon, and also hand out the awards.

Meeting Sara Hall at @zoomarun #zooma #crbzooma

After the awards ceremony, we were able to watch the rest of our group finish the half marathon.

Chicago running bloggers at #zooma #crbzooma

After all the post-race fun [wine], it was back to the house for showering, food, and since we had the house for another night, the normal (?) girls weekend stuff.

Photo credit: Kelsey. Not pictured: the three bags of Halloween candy that I brought. #FatFluential.

Photo credit: Erin; Photoshop credit: Kim

Photo credit: Kelsey, but the dance skillz are our own. Clearly.

I finally learned Kelly’s cooking secrets.

Overall, it was a fantastic weekend with some fun ladies (and some damn good cooks), and I’m excited to get back into real speed work.