Sunday, January 20, 2013

Zooma Florida - Amelia Island

This is a recap of the Badass Babes trip to Zooma Florida - the Good, the Bad and the Emotional! Zooma Women's Race Series is a must if you are looking a great race weekend experience to share with your girlfriends!

We had a total of 6 ladies for this run, 5 from Tallahassee, FL and 1 from just outside Jacksonville, FL. The 5 of us from Tallahassee drove over to Amelia Island, FL on Friday afternoon in time to hit the Zooma Florida Expo held at the host resort the Ritz-Carlton Amelia Island. We fell in love with the Ritz Carlton at first site. The resort is beautiful and it sits on the beautiful beaches of Amelia Island. We headed straight for the expo upon arrival. The expo was a tad smaller than we had hoped for but fun nonetheless. At the expo we realized this was the first race of their series to be hosted in the area which we thought was super neat! There were 700+ registered for the Half Marathon and the 5K! I suspect once the word gets out they will have higher registration next year!! I received an awesome swag bag complete with a tech shirt and a Zooma Florida running hat. We will also be getting a water bottle and a yoga mat in the mail, YAY! After everyone was checked in we headed to a local restaurant named Baxter's for a yummy pre-race meal. We fueled on local fresh seafood and steaks, overall everyone had a nice time! All of us were in bed by 9:00pm, whew party girls we were not, haha!

The Badass Babes all checked in and ready to go! 

Saturday morning we were up by 5:30am and after a sweet prayer we headed to load the bus to the start line by 6:45am. We had never used race day transportation from event organizers like this before and only had heard of nightmares about missing the start, etc.. Zooma proved those stories to be wrong! The bus loaded a few minutes early and we were heading to historic downtown Fernandina Beach by 7:05am. Great job Zooma! We had an hour to spare until the start of the race. We quickly retreated to the near by Hampton Inn to get out of the wind. It was unusually windy and chilly for the area. We were joined by many by the fire in the lobby of the Hampton. It was nice to chat with others to see where people were from, we met ladies from Charleston, SC, Atlanta, GA, New Hampshire and Illinois. They sadly had hoped for a little bit warmer weather. Once the race started we ran through the beautiful and quaint historic downtown Fernandina Beach through a quiet neighborhood to the Tiger Point Marina. It was at the marina that I realized I was going to be faced with a bit of challenge - running over a BRIDGE. If you've ever traveled with me then you know this was a little scary. I took a deep breath, said a quick prayer and stayed toward the middle of the bridge. I didn't look to either side, just straight ahead. Now, I must tell you this is not a huge bridge but a bridge is a bridge! Then we traveled through the beautiful Fort Clinch State Park. This provided us much needed shade and shelter from the howling winds. It was flat but enjoyable. At one point we did an out and back portion where the Badass Babes could cheer each other on, it was perfectly timed for this runner. I love seeing my girls along the way even if they are way ahead of me! Once we left the park we made a right turn onto A1A. This portion of the race brought a huge smile to my face as we passed the little spot on Amelia Island where my husband purposed in May 2011 and yes, I snapped a quick picture for him. From there it was a straight steady course to the finish. I had been ahead of the 2:30 pace runner the entire race until mile 11 or so, then she passed me. Boy was that a defeating moment! I wanted so badly to be at 2:30 mark this race. This was a goal I had set early in training. I was very emotional and argued with myself the remaining mile or so. This is where some confusion set in. I turned the corner into Peter's Park thinking it was the finish as my Nike+ program said it was! Well, shockingly enough I had to run on the beach, yikes! Our group had not prepared for a true beach ending, which I might add it was an uphill beach ending. That just about did this emotional runner in until I came around the sand dune where I could see the finish line. At the finish line was the race clock saying I was on top of that 2:30 mark I so badly wanted to be at for my time; however, most importantly there stood the Badass Babes cheering and screaming as I crossed the finish line. I cried, I do mean ugly cry. Thank goodness for sunglasses! The Badass Babes are an awesome group of inspiring, encouraging friends! My official time for the race was 2:30:52 and I am super stoked! Here's a quick link to my official results, complete with a video of the finish - This was my 5th Half Marathon in a year and 2 within 2 weeks of each other. Our group had 3 first time half marathoners and at least 1 personal record... can't beat that! We were given a beautiful sterling silver necklace instead of a race medal. This was such a nice touch from the Zooma organizers. After we cleaned up and grabbed lunch a few us headed back into Fernandina Beach to stretch our legs or better known as hitting the cute little shops and finding a unique place to eat dinner.  We had so much fun exploring the downtown area, we shared many laughs along our walk. We decided to eat at Espana Restaurant & Tapas. We loved it! This was a perfect ending to a near perfect day with the girls!

The Badass Babes enjoying the fire at the Hampton Inn 

Allison and I with our girl Tammy

Cuddling at the start line trying to stay warm!

Post-Race...We might love this photo!! 

The beautiful Sayta necklace we received at the finish line! 

Allison, Shannon and I after a super fun "stretch" in Fernandina Beach 

Our favorite find of the day! 

Sunday has provided me a day of reflection about yesterday's race as well as all the races since the first half marathon on March 4, 2012. I have managed to take several minutes off my half marathon time and I have made some great friends along the way. I am thankful for all the blessings given to me and I look forward to more weekends like this to come! So much so that we spent about an hour of today's ride home researching the next Badass Babes road trip. It's going to an epic year of our group!

The Zooma Florida now marks the 3rd race in our goal of 13 in 2013. Up next we have the St. Pete Rock n Roll and the 26.2 with Donna (side note: I am only running the half marathon). We are making great strides toward our goal and it feels great!

I'm off to foam roll and enjoy this beautiful Sunday afternoon. Thanks for stopping by for a quick read, hope you enjoyed!


  1. This is a great write-up, Mitzi. I am glad it was such a great experience for you, and super proud of you for conquering the bridge and the uphill beach ending!! You rock! Paula