Racing locally, in my opinion is one of the best ways to race. You can sleep in your own bed, you know the tricks to getting around traffic and good parking, you likely know the route of the race and there is the general pride that comes with seeing athletes ready to run in your hometown. This year, the Zooma Half Marathon & 10k was scheduled to be in Annapolis on June 5. I love the half marathon distance and I love running in Annapolis. But this would be my third weekend in a row of racing and to be honest, the Zooma registration cost is a little steep for my purse strings so I wasn’t sure if I’d sign up to run. But then, an email came out from the Annapolis Triathlon Club calling for volunteer pacers for the Zooma Half. Sold!
When I first started doing running races, I raced to participate, to experience the race, and that was about it. Let me first say that there is absolutely nothing wrong in racing with that mindset. My perception of racing started to change as I learned more about running, form, training techniques and drills, and my own potential. My perception of races also started to change the first time I adopted a real training plan which was for my first half marathon in October 2008.
I distinctly recall that race being the first time I set a hard goal that I hoped to achieve. For that run my goal was to finish under two hours, which I just barely did. That race pretty much set the tone for how I’ve been running, training, and racing which is goal-oriented. Continue reading
There are a number of training drills that call for running at 5K pace or a 10K pace. Some drills just tell you to run at your goal race pace. Though I’ve gotten into incorporating more tempo runs and speedwork into my training I still haven’t quite figured out the paces I should be shooting for in those runs. The most I’ve taken the time to figure out is my goal time for different distances. If I took the time (and was good at math) I’m sure I could quickly figure out those different paces and times that I should be using in training.
I’ve run a consistent 9-minute mile for a long time; on longer runs I might average 9:30 and shorter runs I can usually stay under 9 minutes. These ranges are what I consider to be my “training paces.” I’d like to learn how to better use these paces during different training runs and I’d like to set more training pace goals. However, I also would like to better establish my race pace. On my recent half marathon I finally think I achieved what I could consider a race pace. Mile after mile I managed to maintain an 8:58 pace. Continue reading
Earlier this year I met the owner of Blue Point Timing and Race Management in Annapolis, Ron Bowman. He has worn many hats in the Annapolis running community and continues to coach many runners in addition to running alongside them, and is now well into his second year of operating his race management company. It was when I met Ron that I learned about the Ben Moore Memorial Half Marathon and 10K and put it on my calendar as a summer race.
The race is in honor of another running coach, Ben Moore, who was also a Marine and so the race started and ended at the Truman Parkway Park n’ Ride where Ben, and now Ron, begin and end many group training runs. I’ve lived in Annapolis for over seven years but there are plenty of places I’ve not been before and this park n’ ride is one of them. I knew the race was going to be small and registration was going to be held the morning of the race at the start area. As happens with me on all race days I woke up before my 5:30 a.m. alarm excited for the race. I wanted to make sure I’d have plenty of time to get ready, find the park n’ ride, and get registered before the 7:30 a.m. start gun.
I sort of knew where to go to find the start location and even though I knew the race was going to be small I was stumped to find that there weren’t any signs pointing runners to the race location. I also knew that Ron was operating as a one-man show most of the time and that he was relying on a small pool of volunteers to help for the day. I knew I was in the right place because other runners were milling around the parking lot but it took me some time to find the humble registration table set-up. I started to have mixed feelings about the small race. I absolutely wanted to support Ron and his efforts to put on local races. A friend of mine was helping to time the race and along with her volunteer time I always appreciate the work of any volunteer. Standing in the registration line with other runners we talked about how great it was to have such a reasonably priced timed half marathon right in our backyard. And that is when I realized that no matter the size of a race, races are races and runners are runners and that is what it’s all about. Continue reading
Most runs start pretty early in the morning and the ZOOMA Annapolis race had a start time of 7 a.m. for runners of the 10K and half marathon course. This means that volunteers had to be there long before the sun was even up to ensure that water stations, information centers, parking lots, exhibitor areas, and the gear check station were set-up and ready to go when the first runners arrived at the start line.
I had volunteered to work gear check at the race as well as hand out chocolates to finishers as they arrived back at the Expo from the finish line. I woke up almost every hour to make sure I didn’t miss my 4:30 a.m. alarm and by the time I got to the Naval Academy stadium to meet my fellow volunteers I was remaining optimistic that the ominous clouds overhead would blow over.
Not having volunteered to work a race before I wasn’t sure what the flow of things would be and it turned out it couldn’t have been simpler, more organized, or run by the most patient and helpful people. The ZOOMA race is the brainchild of Brae Blackley and her calm demeanor and constant smile eased both volunteers and runners as she responded to a constant flow of questions. Her core volunteers are her friends, mother, mother-in-law, and husband as well as the many willing locals who came out to support her race whose mission is to empower women to live healthy, active, and happy lives. Continue reading
Every time I do a run I am forever grateful to the volunteers who line the course at the water stops, the start and finish line, the packet pick-up, the gear check–they seem to be everywhere. I’ve never really stopped long enough to think about where all the volunteers come from, or what happens behind the scenes of a race, but I know it’s a lot of work no matter the size of the race. In March I met the organizers of the ZOOMA Women’s Race Series and realized my opportunity to learn more about how a successful race comes together as well as what it means to volunteer, rather than run, a race.
On May 31st, hundreds of women (and men) will line up to run either the ZOOMA 10K or half marathon in Annapolis. This is peak tourism season and the town will be buzzing with out-of-towners, boaters, history buffs, shoppers, dog walkers, and hordes of other people who are drawn to our waterfront town every spring. The addition of a busy tourism season to the many details of organizing, moving, and communicating to hundreds of runners no doubt presents challenges to the ZOOMA race organizers, which is where volunteers come into the picture. Continue reading