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A Weekend of Mother Runner Awesomeness - Zooma Cape Cod

Michelle runs her fourth half-marathon of the year on Cape Cod, and gets to meet two of her running idols.

I love when so many exciting things happen that I don't even know where to begin.

The short version -

- Went to "Another Mother Runner" house party last week and had a blast

- Ran the Zooma half-marathon on Cape Cod, and shaved THREE minutes off my PR

- Won 1st place in my age group, and came in 6th overall

- Enjoyed a lovely, kid-free weekend on the Cape with a friend

- Met (and had dinner with) several awesome mother runners from the RLAM Facebook page

- Spent time (at last week's house party, and at this weekend's race) with two of my running idols

- Got my official Boston 2013 acceptance email

First, the house party, which I knew would be awesome to go to, and which became even more awesome when I found out an old friend from my Wheaton College days was going to be there.

I've heard Sarah and Dimity talk about the house parties on their podcast, so I had a pretty good idea of what to expect, but I have to say it still caught me a little off guard when I knocked on the door and Sarah opened it!

I've read both of their books, and spend a great deal of time on their Facebook community, chatting with them and other runners - commiserating about bad runs, celebrating great runs, swapping advice, and sharing stories. It's an amazing group, and I was so excited to meet at least a few of the members in person.

Meeting Sarah and Dimity was, of course, incredible. They are two of the nicest, funniest, most down to earth people you'll ever meet. And just as I expected it would be, it was so easy to talk to them. I honestly felt like I was chatting with old friends.

The party itself was great, too - awesome giveaways, Sarah and Dimity reading from "Train Like a Mother," and lots of fun conversations with other mother runners. And as a bonus, one of those mother runners just happened to be an old friend who I hadn't seen in nearly 20 years, and it was fabulous to finally have a reunion and catch up with each other.

All in all, a very fun night, and I'm so, so glad I was able to make it.

Next up was Zooma Cape Cod - the reason I was awake at 4am Saturday morning, and on the road at 4:30am to pick up my friend Deb.

As with the Jamestown half in July, I went into Zooma without any real specific goals in mind, so I had virtually no pre-race jitters. I knew I wanted to try to finish somewhere in the vicinity of my Jamestown time, but beyond that, I had no expectations.

The weather was gray and damp, but a good 10 degrees cooler than it had been in Jamestown, so I knew I'd have that in my favor. But I also had heard that the course was pretty hilly, so I wasn't sure how that would play out.

The hills started right away - two decent-sized ones in the first mile, and a few more good-sized rollers in miles 2 and 3. But that was nothing compared to miles 4 to 5 - almost an entire mile of climbing; no exaggeration.

The good news is that I am apparently a good hill runner, because I found myself passing a lot of people on those hills. And thankfully, after climbing nonstop from mile 4 to 5, we were treated to a huge downhill on mile 6.

Also like Jamestown, I was not listening to music (I really never do anymore), and barely looking at my watch. I glanced down a couple times the first few miles, but after that, I think I only checked it two or three more times for the remainder of the race. And I was fine with that. I knew that I was running as fast as I could, and that was my only goal for the day, so all was well.

As the miles ticked by, I knew I was definitely up near the front of the pack. It was a small race - only 230 participants - and there were not a lot of runners nearby, so I spent most of the race alone, but that wasn't a big deal for me. I like having company, but I'm ok with running solo, too.

There had been a small group of runners ahead of me for the first six miles, but somewhere between miles 7 and 8, I started picking them off one by one, and by mile 10, I had passed a good 6 or so people, and as I passed one of the aid stations, someone told me that I was in sixth place. That was a nice thing to hear : )

Two of the people I passed were two women who were running together, and had been since the start. They looked pretty strong, but I felt like I had it in me to get past them, so I sped up just a tiny bit, said "good job" to them, and moved ahead. After that, there was one other woman who had been just ahead of them, and I really hadn't intended to try to pass her, but I came up on her heels on one of the hills, and we chatted for a minute and then I moved past her, also.

There was a moment shortly after the 10-mile mark where I felt suddenly and completely exhuasted, and I worried that I was going to crash and burn during the last 3 miles. But it passed, and although I was definitely feeling tired, I managed to keep my pace up.

The last three miles, as they always are, were tough. I really wanted to slow down. But I knew if I bailed now, I'd regret it. So I just focused on getting to each mile marker. Mile 11 was a very welcome sight, and Mile 12 made me blissfully happy.

There was a weird spot where we had to turn off onto a side street and loop around for about 1/4 mile, which was incredibly annoying, as it came at about mile 12.5, but I looped around, saw that the three women I had just passed were still a few hundred yards behind me, and vowed that I would not let them catch me in the final half mile.

And I didn't : )  It was really, really nice to cross that finish line, especially since the clock read 1:38!!!!!!!!! 

Deb wasn't able to run the race due to a nasty case of plantar fasciitis that's kept her from running for 4 months, but she was volunteering at the finish line, and it was awesome to get a congratulatory hug from a friend : ) 

I was kind of in a daze after that. I chatted for a minute with the three women who came in right behind me, and we all complained about how brutally hilly the course had been, and I kept glancing at my watch, still kind of astonished that I had set a 3-minute PR in just two months time.

Sub-1:40 had been my goal for the Newport half next month, and 1:38 was my 'secret goal,' so now that I've jumped ahead to my secret goal already, I have no idea what to plan for in Newport. I think the best plan is to not plan, since that worked so well for me at Zooma and at Jamestown.

I'm going to assume that I can run at least a little faster in Newport, since the course is definitely flatter. But since the race is in just a few weeks, I'm not really going to be getting in any significant training between now and then. I'll try for a couple track workouts and a tempo run or two, but mostly, on race day, I'm going to trust my body and just run as fast as I can. That seems to be working out pretty well for me so far.

The final numbers -

1:38:07 - 7:29 pace

1st in my age group

6th of 230 overall

Splits - 7:29, 7:20, 7:28, 7:27, 7:47 (hill from hell!), 7:31. 7:17, 7:33, 7:26, 7:06 (!!!!), 7:15, 7:27, 7:21, 6:34

This race was also the first time I've had the luxury of finishing a race, and doing absolutely NOTHING for the rest of the day. Scott is always very, very helpful after I have a big race or long training run, but it's not the same as being away from home, and having zero responsibilities.

It was great to see Sarah and Dimity again at the post-race party, and after all the festivities had wound down, Deb and I went out for some shopping and lunch, then came back to the hotel and spent a few hours just lounging on the beach before heading out to dinner with some new friends (from the RLAM Facebook community).

I don't know if I'll do a Zooma race again, but I think I'm going to find room on my calendar at least once a year for a girls getaway race weekend.

Oh, and about that whole Boston acceptance thing?  I'll save that for another post, because it's BOSTON - it deserves its own post!!! 

For more from Michelle, check out Me and the Boys, her blog.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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