Race Recap: Zooma Napa Valley

My last race in June was a 10k, a short and sweet distance to end an incredible month of fitness accomplishments for me. I didn’t originally plan on it, but after running my best half marathon to-date only a few days prior, I felt the urge to push myself and set a new 10k PR for myself. It was a good thing a half was taking place in this race as well, since I was able to use the pacers to my advantage—even if only for the first three miles!

The day before the race, I had work so I couldn’t find the time to pick up my bib & swag bag and partake in the pre-race expo. The race organizers were at least nice enough to allow friends to pick up your race items for you, so I was able to have someone pick up my things for me in advance. My pre-race goods included a small Zooma bag with the following inside:

 Items included the race shirt, Feetures hot pink socks (!!), Emergen-C sample packets, a cute running hat. $30 value apparently.

Items included the race shirt, Feetures hot pink socks (!!), Emergen-C sample packets, a cute running hat, justgogirl bladder leakage “help” (<—where was this when I ran this?). $30 value apparently.

After work, I spent the rest of the night unwinding and going to sleep early, since I was on my feet all day and had to work around a bruised knee (fortunately, it did not hinder my running abilities!). The next morning, I woke up an hour early since I was feeling hungry and needed time to fuel and freshen up.

Two bars and a smidgen of coffee did just the trick. I had the brownie crunch flavor of a thinkThin bar and an Amazing Grass super food bar. The thinkThin bar was my favorite of the two—plainly because of the chocolate insides and outside. The AG bar was not that bad either, thanks to the chocolate chips that served as a good binding agent for the other trail mix-esque ingredients.

thinkThin brownie crunch

amazing grass green superfood

After nourishing myself with just the right amount of protein and carbs, I felt ready for the race. I arrived at the start around 7:40am, after we parked the car in a nearby residential area. The race start was near a church, and the starting line wound around like a giant snake with runners running both the half and 10k mixed up in the crowd.

the start

The main sponsor of the race was Muscle Milk Light, made prominent on the starting line blocky arch:

zooma RACE (36)

I got in line beside the 2:00h half marathon pacer just as announcements were being made. She would (unknowingly) be my guide for the first three miles ;) .

announcements

The race organizers did a great job of getting us out on time. We were off by 8AM, running to the sounds of Gangnam Style. It was embarrassing, but at least no one embarrassed themselves by stopping to do the dance moves :P

Because the half marathon and 10k runners were packed together for the first three miles, there was some crowding issues in the first mile of the race. I found myself at all sorts of angles near the pacer, and felt much more focused and in tune with her steps. I barely paid attention to my surroundings, even though I could hear others exclaim to each other how beautiful the vineyards looked against the backdrop of a clear sunny sky in late June.

After hitting mile 2, I noticed that my shoe lace was getting untied and had to hop over to the side of the road to get that taken care of. I still didn’t want to lose my running rhythm, so I immediately sprinted back to my spot behind the pacer, after making sure my shoe laces were tight enough. Before hitting mile 3, I found myself getting ahead of the pacer and from that point, decided to just keep going. Why slow down if I had the itch to speed up?

After the 10k turnaround, there was no looking back. I sensed my posture straightening up, and my stride getting slightly longer. I kept note of my pacing and breathing, and tried to keep things consistent as I made my way back to the finish. Since the majority of the runners were running the half, I was now a solo runner—since there was a length of space between me and the closest runner ahead.

Along the way, women didn’t hesitate to shout the occasional “Good job!” or “Nice work!”. I either smiled or replied with raspy “thank yous” so that I wouldn’t be rude but still preserve my energy towards running. I also came across some fun Zooma signs, like a sign starting off with “you know you’re a runner when…” and following with signs in response. It got me thinking about various ways I could finish the phrase as well.

After passing the last aid station at mile 5, I found myself zooming past two women, and yearning to finally get to the end. I was averaging an 8:23/mi pace for that mile—the fastest I’ve run in “recent” history. By the time I got to the end and checked my Garmin, I realized I had met my goal of a new 10k PR, in addition to a new 5k PR. I had run the first 3.1 miles at an average pace of 8:40/mi, and the total 6.2 miles at a speedy-for-me pace of 8:51/mi. Oh yes, I’ll take it! :D

I also noticed that the elevation chart looked like two mountain peaks after analyzing my stats later…haha!

zooma RACE (3)

After being handed my medal and taking a moment to catch my breath…

medal

…I walked over to the Muscle Milk vendors and helped myself to a bottle.

muscle milk

Chocolate flavor!

chocolate

I had to drive back to work an hour after I finished, so my Dad and I hurried over to the Marriott where they were holding an indoor post-race expo. It was awkward because I was the first runner to arrive since I didn’t take the shuttle. Whoopsies?

 Muscle Milk truck parked outside // waiting in the lobby for some other runners to arrive before looking at food // shuttle I didn't take

Muscle Milk truck parked outside // waiting in the lobby for some other runners to arrive before looking at food // shuttle I didn’t take

After the first group of runners arrived via shuttle, I joined them as they gravitated towards the buffett table in the center of the room. The spread included apples, bananas, and serving trays of wraps that had either turkey or chicken. I wasn’t hungry for fruit, nor could I have the wrap due to the meat filling, so I ended up forfeiting my snack coupon. I was somewhat surprised that they didn’t have a veggie wrap or vegetarian-friendly option, but I was disappointed because I was expecting some sort of snack box similar to what I’ve seen in other bloggers’ race recaps of past Zooma races.

 I'll pass, thankyouverymuch.

I’ll pass, thankyouverymuch.

Since the buffet didn’t provide me with much munchies, I found another Muscle Milk ice chest out on the patio. I asked for another bottle (Vanilla Creme) and my Dad got the banana flavor. We found a seat on some couches and drank our shakes.

patio

Other vendors were behind the pool, which I figured out after peeking around this walkway.

walkway

I was offered an electrolyte sample, as well as an Honest Tea fizz pop sample.

samplezz

The other vendors behind the pool didn’t offer much in freebies, but there was a yoga group assembling by a tree, and massage tables.

zooma RACE (7)

There was also a booth selling sunglasses. I didn’t want nor need any though :P

zooma RACE (8)

Just as the party was getting started, I had to leave so that I would have enough time to make it to work. To be honest, I didn’t mind taking off earlier than everyone else since there really wasn’t much to do, frankly speaking.

I found the race to be, overall, a fine experience in regards to the course layout and organization. Perhaps I would have had “more fun” if I had been able to make it out to the pre-race expo the day before, or if there had been more variety at the buffet table. Nevertheless, I was proud of finishing the 10k course running at a pace faster than I have ever ran before, proving that all of the hard work I put into this month with long distance running was worth it.

Finish the phrase yourself! “You know you are a runner when…”

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6 comments

  1. Tricia@ZOOMA says:

    Great recap! We appreciate your feedback and will use your comments while planning next years race. Congrats on your race!

    Tricia
    Community Manager
    ZOOMA Women’s Race Series

  2. Brittany says:

    You are KILLING it with these races, WAY TO KICK this ones ass. Your time is amazing. I have been enjoying nothing over 5 miles lately, so I switched my See Jane Run entry to the 5K!! I wish there was a 10K option, because 5K is super short, but I would die if I ran the half right now!! HA!
    Brittany recently blogged…The Sun it ShinesMy Profile

    • P says:

      Glad you found my elevation chart to be comical ;) . I was pleasantly surprised to see Tricia’s comment as well. It encourages me to keep posting race recaps :)

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