Zooma Half Marathon: A Story in Photos

The ZOOMA Half Marathon and 5K on Saturday was pretty tough and very awesome. Here’s the story of Team Relentless…

On Friday afternoon, I left work at 2:00 and went across the street to the Belmont to pick up our race bags. It was really fun getting the goods for our whole crew.

I hustled home, finished packing, and made a breakfast taco for Saturday morning. My superstitious nature outweighed my practical side, so I made my traditional taco, secure in the knowledge I could heat it up with a hair dryer at the hotel. Then Jen and I hit the road to Bastrop.

The Hyatt Regency Lost Pines is gorgeous and inviting. Lots of greenery and warm stone interiors — they even offered us a glass of champagne when we checked in, which I very reluctantly declined. This was the view from our room:

Driving along the rollicking, rolling hills of the entrance road, I joked to Jen, “Man! I sure hope this isn’t the running course… [nervous laugh].” That particular road wasn’t the course, but it may as well have been. After we found some of our other chicas, we hopped back in the car to drive the actual course. It was an intimidating collection of hills and well, relentless. I now fully understand the elevation chart so thoughtfully supplied by ZOOMA.

The course was an out-and-back, so any restful downhill cruise meant a climb back out on the return trip. The majority of the course was up-and-downs like a roller coaster. There was also a stretch where we ran on the shoulder of 71 (!), and a hill that slid down into a residential neighborhood for about 1/2 a mile and required a long, painful climb out around mile 7 on the way back.

Via text Dave reminded me that I love hills.

As did Jen. Repeatedly as I fretted about the hills.

“Plus,” she said, “look at all the wildflowers.”

I pledged to look at them and think of her if the hills became too challenging.

I thought about the wildflowers a lot. But I’m getting ahead of myself…

First, we gathered the crew and went to dinner on Friday night at Big Mouth Southwestern Grill in downtown Bastrop. The fajitas were delicious and just what I needed: lots of chicken, guacamole, a corn tortilla, and piles of grilled onions and green peppers. We, of course, declined dessert.

That was the first of many times when the thought crossed my mind that we could have cocktails and dessert and lounge in the hot tub, then sleep in and just enjoy the resort instead of running for hours the next day.

I couldn’t really get anyone on board with that plan.

[Team Relentless: me, Bonita, Jen, Julie, Kelly, Mary, Lauren, Devon, and Bernie. Missing from the photo: the fabulous Carla, who was still on the road.]

But one crazy-silly idea did take root at dinner: Bonita and I had previously made an agreement to do 13 burpees at the finish line. Somewhere between the salad course and wolfing down our protein, we agreed to do a burpee ladder at each mile marker. Thanks to Devon (smart girl!) we decided to make it a reverse ladder: 13 burpees at mile 1, 12 at mile 2, 11 at mile 3, etc. until we crossed the finish line and did one final burpee in victory.

It seemed like a good idea at the time.

I was asleep by 10:00 and next morning, I ate a lukewarm breakfast taco and joined the ladies at the starting line. This is the one where we look happy:

And as tradition dictates, here’s the one where we look mean (except for Lauren who got confused about which version we were doing):

My most excellent husband Dave — who sadly is missing from the photos — got up at 5:00 a.m. to ride a ZOOMA shuttle bus to the resort (while wearing a badass orange RELENTLESS t-shirt) to join Jen on the official cheerleading team. (Jen was sidelined by an injury but was the inspiration behind Team Relentless ’cause she’s, well… relentless.)

He took some photos at the starting line. Here’s the field of runners waiting for the gun:

And here’s a pretty badass photo strip he took with his iPhone. Click on it to see it in all its expanded glory.
And finally, here’s video of the start of the race. If you pause it at 1:38, you’ll see Julie, Carla, Bonita, and me. Neat!

The starting line was in the parking lot of the resort and once we’d cleared the yellow lines that designate parking spaces, the hills started… and pretty much never stopped. Sometimes I pretended I was on a roller coaster and mentally (and sometimes physically) threw my arms overhead for the fun ride down the hill. On the way up, I thought about Erin and her advice to use the balls of my feet and chug- chug- chugged up ’em.

And lots of times, I looked at the wildflowers and thought about Jen:

Bonita was my running partner, and I will be forever grateful for her generosity. When I needed to go inside my noggin and just listen to music, she let me. When I felt chatty, she shot the shit with me. When I stopped for a 30-second walk break, she did, too. She’d randomly look back over her shoulder to say with a huge grin, “This is so awesome!” And after every set of burpees, we celebrated together. I wish you all a training partner and friend as giving and fun as Bonita.

In the first few miles, we saw Julie, Carla, and Mary from time to time. But they pulled ahead of us and finished fast. Superstars! Special kudos to both of them for running their first half marathon on that crazy course and finishing in really impressive times.

Mary brings it home

Julie rocks her first half marathon

Carla, still smiling after 13.1 miles

At mile 10.5, Jen and Dave waited for us in the official cheering zone. We owed them four burpees.

While we were out screwing around on the hills, Lauren, Bernie, and Devon were tackling the hilly 5K course. Lauren smoked it with 8:26 miles…
And Devon whooped her first EVER official race.

Then they got freshened up and celebrated…

And Devon got this totally cute headwrap:

Meanwhile, Bonita and I were still chipping away at our miles and burpees. The finish line crawled up a final hill, then wound through the parking lot to a big ZOOMA arch and the clock. Even though I didn’t think it was possible, when I saw the ZOOMA sign, I ran a little faster and smiled like a ding-dong.

For the last two miles, I’d kept myself going with a promise that I would lie on the soft green grass when I finished. So when Bonita and I crossed the finish line (watch time: 2:20), we did a celebratory burpee, I kissed Dave, and then I took a lovely rest on the lawn.

When I could get up again, there was lots of hugging:

As previously noted, Dave totally rules. See? Doritos!

… and M&Ms:NOTE: I did not eat all of them. But I did enjoy a few of each… mmmm. Doritos.

Here’s Team Relentless looking happy (and CrossFit!):

… and Team Relentless: The Mean Version:
After taking advantage of miniature cupcakes (all of us), massages (Julie and Mary), coffee (me), and champagne (Devon and Lauren), we soaked up a little sun on our balconies and headed back to Austin.

The end.

*** I have to give a big ol’ shout-out to my new pal Alma who, over coffee at the finish line, said, something like, “I saw you doing those burpees and knew you were that girl with the blog!” and thus made my dreams come true. Thanks for reading, Alma, and congratulations on your run! ***

Also, in case you get the urge, here’s the official RX for the workout Bonita and I invented. Have fun! (And remember, crazy workouts are best done with friends.)

For time (cutoff at 2:30):
Run 1 mile, do 13 burpees
Run 1 mile, do 12 burpees
Run 1 mile, do 11 burpees
Run 1 mile, do 10 burpees
Run 1 mile, do 9 burpees
Run 1 mile, do 8 burpees
Run 1 mile, do 7 burpees
Run 1 mile, do 6 burpees
Run 1 mile, do 5 burpees
Run 1 mile, do 4 burpees
Run 1 mile, do 3 burpees
Run 1 mile, do 2 burpees
Run 1.1 miles, do 1 burpee

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  • kchic says:

    Thanks for the shout out! I feel especially honored as you are my new fitness (and of course fashion!) hero! Thx to you and Dave for inspiring me to start the 100 pushups in 100 days challenge TODAY! As of now, I can’t even do ONE on my toes, so we’ll see where it goes from here…Here’s to your inspirational blog keeping me motivated!
    Much love and respect,

  • Melicious says:

    Woohoo! GoooooOOOOOO, Alma! Pushups: love ’em/hate ’em. Keep me posted on how you’re doing with the 100! Hope we can run together again some day soon!

  • Team CS says:

    Had a blast! LOVE YOU ALL!!!

    My feet still hurt though, :(!!!

  • Erin Clare says:

    HO…LY…SHIT. Most awesome 1/2 marathon post yet!! You actually agreed to doing burpees during the race?? Hard core!

    All I keep thinking is: I know those girls! I know those girls! If I had someone to actually shout that to, I’d be doing that right now!!

    BAD ASS and Congrats to you all!!! BIG OL HUGS!!

  • erikajeanne says:

    100 Pushups in 100 days?!?! Where do I sign up for this one? When did it start?

    GOOD JOB LADIES! I can’t seem to scream it enough!

  • Susannah says:

    Wow! You have always been an inspiration, but this was so great to read! I literally got chills. You should be so proud of yourself and you definitely deserved those Doritos and M&Ms. I really do not like running, but you have planted the seed my friend. It must be such a great feeling to cross that finish line! Way to go and keep up the AMAZING work!

  • Katherine says:

    What a great story! Way to rock those burpees!! Yall are awesome. Way to go 🙂

  • Heidi says:

    Awesome! You’re inspiring! Totally enjoyed the pictures, and the race recap! I’m Alma’s friend, and I’m doing the crazy push-up workout also! whoo hoooooo!!

  • TheWhit says:

    BADASS LADIES!!! Truly inspiring and makes me so proud that I get to say I’m friends with and train with you amazing women!

    I LOVE that y’all rocked the burpees at the mile markers and when I run my first half marathon you better believe I’ll be following in your amazing footsteps!!

    Keep up the fabulousness!! Muah!

  • Melicious says:

    Everyone… thank you SO MUCH for your kinds words. I know I speak for all of TEAM RELENTLESS when I say: You’re welcome to join us next year! Do it! We can ALL do burpees at the mile markers! How cool would that be?! A CrossFit Relentless Burpee Army.