ZOOMA Florida Half Marathon

Yesterday I ran my fifth half marathon! It’s always an incredible feeling to cross the finish line of any race, but yesterday’s race was extra special because I set a personal record!

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My alarm went off at 6:15 a.m. and I had a minor freak out when I realized I forgot to pack the the small bag I assembled on Friday with my race-day breakfast! Fortunately I was able to buy a blueberry bliss energy bar at the hotel coffee shop.

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I ate the bar and drank a hot cup of coffee and a bottle of water. The race didn’t start until 8 a.m., so I felt like I had enough time to digest everything and avoid cramping before it was go-time. Hooray for a late race start!

Before heading out, I filled up a wrist wallet Gu Ghomps and Clif Shot Bloks, my fuel of choice for the race.

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Once I was dressed and ready, I headed down to the hotel lobby and met up with Caitlin, Mary and Rachel to catch the 7 a.m. shuttle to the start line.

The shuttles left at 7 a.m. as promised and we had no issues finding a seat. I’ve never used a shuttle to get to the start of a race before so I was a little nervous about it since I’ve heard some horror stories surrounding shuttles at other races. I am happy to report that there were no issues and we arrived at the start with plenty of time to use check our bags at the gear check station and use the bathroom.

Remember the fears I expressed a week or so ago about running in the heat? Thankfully that was not an issue at all! Temperatures stayed in the 50s which made the wait for the race start awfully cold, but I warmed up once we started running. 

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A few weeks ago, once I found out my sister would no longer be running with me due to a foot injury, I felt like I needed a new race-day goal since I was no longer focusing on our fun sister run. Sometimes I feel like I’m jinxing myself if I say my goals aloud, so I didn’t tell anyone about my goal until this week, though a few of you guessed it based on the pace of some of my training runs! I was hoping to PR, which meant I needed to beat my previous PR of 1:58:49 from the Savannah Rock ‘n’ Roll half marathon.

Here’s the thing: I thought I was going to die when I PRed in Savannah. Ryan really pushed me and paced me during the whole race and I while I finished feeling ecstatic that I broke two hours, my body felt like it had been hit by a truck. I was totally spent.

We didn’t train at a specific pace during our training runs for that race, so I made it a point to focus on my pace a bit during my training over the past few weeks. I wasn’t running crazy-fast or anything, but I was more aware of my pace than I have ever been in the past.

My strategy going into today’s race was to try to be consistent and maintain nine-minute miles throughout the race. The first mile of the race took us though an adorable historic district before we ran through Fort Clinch State Park for around 4.5 miles. There were some very slight hills in the beginning of the course, but once we entered the park, the race was flat as a pancake. The trees of the state park provided shading and protected us from the intense wind.

I spaced out my fuel quite a bit and took a few Gu Chomps or Clif Shot Bloks at miles 3, 4, 6, 8 and 10.

ZOOMA Race Map Florida

For the first half of the race I struggled a bit with self doubt, wondering whether or not I would be able to keep up my current pace. I tried to get into the zone by focusing on my half marathon playlist and I kept my eye on the two-hour pace group.

And then I hit mile seven. Right when I saw that mile marker, I mentally flipped a switch and said I would finish in under two hours and I would PR. (I actually visualized a light switch in my mind, which was kind of weird. I’m not sure where that came from, but it worked, so I went with it.)

The last four miles were basically a straight shot to the finish line which was great because it was flat, but also kind of daunting since you could easily see just how far you still had to run since there were no curves in the road. I focused on my breathing and kept a steady pace.

The big killer of the course occurred during the final third of a mile. Runners finished the race on the sand which was really challenging.

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Let’s just say there was absolutely no sprinting through the finish line at this race!

I knew a PR was within my reach and mentally committed to achieving it at mile 7. The mental shift that occurred then was HUGE for me. I started believing in myself and in my training. I repeated my one-word mantra. Both of my feet started cramping up at mile 11, but I ran through it. I hit the sand and tried to keep my pace up and though my run through the finish wasn’t a victorious sprint, I felt incredibly proud the minute I crossed the finish line.

My final results:

 

Julie Fagan Zooma Half Marathon

1:57:03

Apparently I ran a very consistent race, huh? I was surprised to see my average pace was the exact same for the first half of the race as it was for the second half of the race. I’ll take it! 

I happily claimed my necklace at the finish (the race passed out necklaces in lieu of medals) and headed over to the post-race party with Caitlin. (<—She’s a new mom and ran an incredible race. I was so psyched for her!)

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Check out the par-tay!

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They had a live band, post-race yoga and massages, free wine, hot coffee, snacks and more.

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I had a great time hanging with the other blogger ambassadors and chatting about our race experiences.

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I loved meeting Renée and Lorriane!

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Mary is a speedster and got second place in her age group! That cute tumbler was her award instead of a plaque which I thought was great and way more useful.

The group:

ZOOMA Bloggers

Renée, Presley, Mary, Caitlin, me, Amanda, Jane, Rachel and Lorriane (Unpictured: Michelle and her beautiful baby bump!)

And Tricia and Brooke, two of the wonderful women from ZOOMA:

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Yesterday was definitely day to remember!

Hooray for a new PR!

Comments

  1. says

    Congrats on your new PR! That’s awesome. And I love those necklaces! They’re so cute and definitely wearable! I love that idea. I can’t believe the last 1/3 mile was on the sand, though. How difficult!

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  2. says

    Julie, congrats on your new record! That looks like a lot of fun! Jeez, the party with the yoga and wine and everything almost seems reason enough to start training for a half marathon 😉

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  3. says

    Congratulations!!! And wow, that really was a consistent race haha. The whole event looks so cool and kind of up-scale. Like a fancy girls weekend with a 13.1 thrown in the middle, looks awesome!

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  4. Danielle says

    Hey! can you tell me where you bought your wrist wallet? (or does anyone know)? I like that it has a zipper and is super cute!

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  5. Stacey says

    Congrats on the PR! The race looked like fun. I wanted to do it, but it was just bad timing. Stinks since it was on my turf! Hope they come back again!

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  6. Priscilla Singer says

    Amazing job!!! P.S. I love your sparkly sweaty band!! You are totally inspiring me to do a 13.1! I have never even ran a 5k but run an average of 4-5 miles 5 days a week. What is your advice on where to start with race prep and training?
    Congrats & thanks, Pris

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  7. Alexis says

    Congratulations! You make me feel ready to start training for my third half-marathon. I just need to find a race first. I hit a PR last time but my recovery hurt so much because I had to back off from my training a couple weeks before :(. I am wanted to actually finish a training schedule for the next run.

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  8. Kaylyn says

    Way to go Julie!!! You should definitely be proud- especially since your pace was the same for both halves! I feel like that never happens :)

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  9. Mary says

    Congrats!! I liked your standings as well. You did well in your age group. Love the necklace instead of a medal that you won’t use. You were lucky the weather was a bit cooler. Have a great remainder of the weekend.

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  10. Kelsey says

    I definitely want to start training for a half marathon! maybe start with 5 and 10k’s first! congrats on your new PR. i love your blog you are such an inspiration and have helped me stay on track! BTW just took my first BodyPump class this morning and I LOVE it! Thank you!

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  11. ann d says

    Congrats Julie – Interesting seeing everyone in 50 degree weather wearing long sleeves and pants in Indiana we would probably be in shorts – I ran in 32 weather yesterday with a slight headwind on the way back…ending a half on the beach would be tough on the legs!!

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  12. says

    congrats on your PR that is awesome!! I too think I will jinx things if I say them out loud so I usually keep them to myself until after. ZOOMA races seem like they are a blast, I love that they give out necklaces at the end of the race.

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  13. sam says

    THIS IS SO MOTIVATING! I am running the Gasparilla 5k and then in April I will train for my 1st half! Where is the wrist wallet from? It is perfect fuel!

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  14. Nikki says

    Way to go!!! Congrats on the PR!!

    I am contemplating doing a half. I’m pretty slow and my longest run has been a 7 miler, but I’d like to give it a try. I love your wrist wallet, it’s so cute and doesn’t look bulky at all. Can I ask where you got it?

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    • says

      if you can do 7 miles you can totally do a half! i honsetly think anyone can run a half (assuming they’re not injured) if they take the time to train and build up to it! and my wristlet is from tjmaxx. my mom got it for me for christmas, but i also saw some for sale at target today.

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  15. Traci says

    Yay for you! Your hard work paid off!

    I’m scheduled to run the Zooma Texas race (March) which is apparently very hilly. It was to be my first half (previously only run 5ks), but since my training is going so well and my long runs are up to 11 miles already, I added a Livestrong/Austin half marathon in February. I think I’m crazy, but I’m going to do it!

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  16. Jessica says

    Congratulations! Definitely something to be proud of!! I noticed you don’t run with a water bottle – have you before? I usually do with my half marathons, but sometimes they are cumbersome…

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  17. Jacki says

    Congrats on the PR Julie! I’d love to do another 1/2 but don’t dare due to an old back issue that flared after I ran my first. (I couldn’t run for about 6 months after.) I’m curious what I would do differently than when I trained for my first besides stretch more! You should be very proud of yourself, you did great!

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  18. Elena says

    Congrats on your PR!!! I am new to running, and new to your blog, and just wanted to tell that I find your blog to be a great inspiration to keep me motivated in being consistent with my committment to lead a healthier life, one step at a time! So now, everyone have a good laugh: For the first time today I ran for THREE straight minutes!!! Hahaha! Is believing achieving? Hope so!!!

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    • says

      Babysteps! I used to be a “runner.” I hated it for years, I actually used to cry if we had to run across the street as a toddler, but in college I eventually worked up to running 10 miles and thought “Who am I?”

      You can get there! Now I lift weights, and squat and deadlift more than my bodyweight, and think, “Who am I?” Believing IS achieving. Go you!

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      • Elena says

        Thanks so much Cassie !
        “Baby steps”: that I can use for a mantra! I love the english language, it really makes everything sound more effective, powerful (I’m italian, by the way, living in Italy, loving almost everything american). Great things you did from crying to cross a street!!!! Thanks again!

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    • says

      that IS fantastic! you will be up to 6 minutes before you know it… then a mile and more. honestly, your determination and dedication will get you so far. i still feel crazy when i think about running 13.1 miles… my first big running goal was to run a full 5k. congrats on working on your running!

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  19. Sarah says

    Oh my gosh congrats on the pr!! It sounds like a great race and I can’t imagine finishing on sand and STILL getting a pr! Hope you have some good compression socks. You’re going to feel it tomorrow!

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  20. Amanda says

    Congrats :) I’m running my first half in 3 weeks and have enjoyed following your training for your race! Thanks for the inspiration!

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  21. Faith says

    Congratulations on a great race! I’m training for my next half and I love reading about other’s experiences. I have to echo the couple of questions above – where did you get that wrist wallet? Did it work well for your chomps?

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  22. says

    I honestly do not know how people can run far and race in a half marathon, or marathon. I’m not saying that to be rude or anything. It’s just that I hit this road blog between 6km – 8km where I MUST stop running. Everything hurts, hips, lungs, ankles… the mentalaity of it all is just amazing how people can just “run through it”. One day I’ll get there!

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  23. says

    Congratulations on your new PR! The after party sounds like it was great. I love the necklace and think that’s a much better idea than a medal. Great job!

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  24. Taylor says

    Congratulations girl! That’s so awesome! You’re running story and accomplishments are super inspiring. I’m sure you’re on top of the world today. There’s nothing like conquering yourself!

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  25. says

    That necklace is adorable! Such a cute idea! And congratulations on your PR! Sounds like a great race where only the minimal things go wrong. Some races are just a nightmare. And the results look like a tempo run 😉 Very consistent

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  26. says

    Congrats! You’re such an inspiration to me as I am currently training for my first half marathon! Thanks for sharing all your training experience… it has helped me a ton!

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  27. says

    I did hypnosis to prepare for unmediated childbirth and visualizing a light switch and turning it off was a major part. So I totally get what you mean and I bet it made a big difference!

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  28. says

    Great race report!!! I loved reading it and yes it has me interested in running That half because of the necklace instead of medals etc. I’m also so impressed at your PR with the part of the run on Sand, that’s just tough tough, so you’re made of tough stuff!!!!

    I hope to be writing a similar report about Glass city in April!

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  29. Wendy says

    Congrats on an awesome race! It sounds like everything fell into place perfectly with break fast, the shuttle, the weather and the PR! Although, a sandy finish line… eeek!

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  30. ann d says

    you can always do “throw away” clothes before a run – pick up something warm at goodwill and toss it when you are warm on the run…race organizers generally will pick these up and redonate to a local charity!

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  31. says

    Congrats, girly! That is so incredibly awesome and inspiring! Overcoming fears and challenges and pushing yourself through while having fun and meeting new people is the bomb.com! It’s because of you that I actually am training right now for my first half marathon this summer! :)

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  32. Margaret says

    So excited for your PR! Wish I was there. My parents live on that beach now and the Ritz is where I got married! Oh the memories on that lawn!

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  33. Terrie M says

    Congratulations on your half Marathon!! Great time and I did notice your pace was exactly the same and I think that shows your training and dedication paid off!!

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  34. Nicole Harman says

    Congratulations Julie, sub 2 hour is awesome I am hoping to run that in April at the RNR Nashville. Hopefully the hills don’t kill me!

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  35. says

    Congrats on your PR! That is such an awesome accomplishment! I absolutely love that the race organizers decided to give out necklaces instead of medals. That is very cool, and it enables you to actually wear the necklace around and remember your race on a more regular basis – something that you cannot as easily do with a medal.

    Out of curiosity, where do you get a wrist wallet to carry your race fuel supplies?

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  36. Lyric says

    WOW! Congratulations on the PR. I do Track and Field with my High school and we go to a lot of meets. Going into it I thought I was a pretty decent runner, I was always better than my friends and I could run 5 miles no problem. My first race I came last and was really disappointed. The other runners were much better than I expected. My coach ran up to me and gave me a big congrats. I was really confused until he told me I had made my PR. Instead of concentrating on my placement I decided to concentrate on my PRs. This makes me a better runner and I hope to one day participate in a Half Marathon or Marathon!
    Ps. Love Cliff Shot Bloks, and Gu Chomps, but the idea of Gu creeps me out…

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  37. says

    Congrats on your PR :) You’re amazing! What a great race, necklaces beat medals anyday! And all that yoga after- ahhh what fun. Makes me want to race..not run but race haha. Oh and sand for the end omg.

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  38. Heather says

    You are such an inspiration Julie! I have followed your training plans for running and watched how your cross train and how you eat and have learned a lot. I ran at Disney World last weekend for the Half Marathon and despite the 35+ warmer temps than I have trained in, I managed to get my first sub two – and guess what??! The same EXACT time as you did! Good Karma for sure! CONGRATULATIONS! :-)

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  39. Carrie says

    You go girl. I entered in my first 5K race for Feb 10. I’m so excited and should have done this a long time ago. I love to run.

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  40. Laurie says

    Congrats on the PR! Where did you get your wrist wallet? Does it just wrap around your wrist like a sweatband? I’ve never seen one like that and it looked really neat! I hate wrestling with a small pack around my waist during races when trying to get out my fuel!

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  41. PattiR says

    CONGRATS!! What an awesome race for you!! I have a question about your fuel. I’m resolved to work on my long run fueling this year. I’ve always used Gu gel, but decided i’m going to try the shot blocks. How many did you take at a time?

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  42. Sara says

    Congrats on your race! I am also wondering where you got your wrist wallet from. I usually use my spibelt, but sometimes it gets annoying trying to fish through my phone and chapstick to find my fuels. Also, what do you take your photos with on race day (well.. really how do you carry it with you during your run)? Thanks!

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  43. Stefanie says

    Congrats! I ran my first full marathon yesterday (and it rained almost the entire time). I really enjoyed reading about your race prep as I was getting ready for my own.

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  44. Bridget Quigley says

    I’m so pumped that you beat your PR!! I’m hoping to PR my next half coming up in about a month. Also, to echo the other ladies, where did you get your wrist wallet? I’m on the hunt for one now!

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  45. Samantha says

    So that was you who I saw near the starting line!! I have been following your blog for so long and Zooma this past weekend was my first half marathon. I had no idea what I was doing but it was a blast. Great job on your PR!! :)

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  46. says

    Julie, No way! 1:58:49 is my exact PR thus far! I’m running a half in Miami this Sunday and determined to break that. Thanks for the motivation! I love Amelia Island! Looks like a fun, beautiful race! Congrats on your new PR!

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  47. Lauren D. says

    Congratulations on your PR, that is so awesome! You are such an inspiration. Where did you get your wrist wallet? I have been trying to find something to carry my running fuel. I am training for my first half in March!

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  48. Danielle says

    What pants did you run in and were they comfortable?? Like not sagging down while you run…that happens in the ones I have so I get no use out of them:(

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  49. Kate says

    Congratulations on your PR! I was wondering what brand your wristlet is and where you purchased it? What a convenient way to carry your fuel or keys!!

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  50. Brooke says

    Congratulations Julie! I have been reading your blog for quite sometime now, but I have never commented, although I should have! Great job on your PR! Great job pacing!

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  51. says

    My boyfriend just ran the Manhattan Half this morning. He says he’ll trade off with you next time. You run in the 10 degree weather through Central Park, and he’ll run in Florida, lol.

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  52. Lindsey says

    Where did you find your wrist wallet? I have my first marathon coming up in three weeks and have been experimenting with different fuels and since the weather has been cooler I usually store them in my sweatshirt pocket. I don’t think that approach is going to work for the marathon though since it’s in May, hahaha.

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