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Zooma Texas half marathon: race report

Tracking the weather the week before the race, I suspected this race would be a shitshow. And I knew it was going to be a hilly route. I prepared for the hills (and distance) in my training, and I started hydtrating several days in advance. But even though this was my 17th half-marathon, I vastly underestimated the degree of shitshow.

The race itself was well-organized. Water stops were well-staffed and prepared, course markings were really good (especially considering there were three different race distances), and people were super friendly. It was geared toward women, but I saw a bunch of guys out there too.

But we had issues.

First, I ended up with a weird shirt situation–I wanted the unisex-size shirt (I don’t like the tiny sleeves on women’s shirts) but they gave me the wrong thing at packet pickup. When I went to exchange it the next day, they made me select something that was an entirely different shirt from the shirt exchange people, not from the packet pickup people, even though it hadn’t been my mistake. So I didn’t get the nicer pale-blue shirt with a little zipper pocket, even though I saw people wearing unisex versions of that shirt.

Next problem: it was held at the Hyatt Lost Pines resort outside of Bastrop. This place is HUGE–our hallway had a roundabout–but for $300/night they couldn’t give us a late checkout past 11am. The half didn’t even start until 7:40, which is fine if you’re fast. Not fine if you’re me.

On top of that, the weather was unpleasant–66 and humid at the start, almost 90 by mid-afternoon. Not great temperatures, but also not the race’s or the resort’s fault.

The course was also a challenge–two loops around the resort area and surrounding roads. Y’all, two loops of a distance race is tough. Add in the temperatures (it was cloudy and drizzly the first loop, but sunny and awful the second) and the hills? It was brutal.

That flat part at the end of each loop was actually a golf cart path. It did this crazy switchback thing for 2.5 miles, and it felt endless. THEN WE HAD TO DO IT ALL OVER AGAIN.

The best part was when I came around the golf course the first time, I was surprised by two friends who had come out to cheer for us! So happy to see them! <3 And they could catch us multiple times on those damn golf cart switchbacks by walking about ten feet, so I loved seeing them several times. They were basically the only thing I loved about the thing, really. That, and having dinner with my dad the night before.

The second loop was definitely a much greater challenge. By then the sun had come out in full force, much of the crowd had taken the split for the 10K finish, and the hills had gotten taller. So much for my goal of running the second loop faster.

I found myself run-walking with a similar-paced woman for a couple of miles, and a guy pushing about 100lbs of kid in a double-stroller hung with us around for the better part of mile 9. I lost her on the golf course, but it was nice to have company for a while. In fact, everyone on the course was really friendly, and at least five people commented on my shirt.

Toward the end, I was walking more than I was running, and I felt some low-grade queasiness whenever I tried to pick up the pace. Not surprising, considering the conditions.

My friends were waiting at the finish, and I collapsed on the ground for about 93 seconds before realizing I had 20 minutes to shower and check out of my hotel room. So I had to skip the post-race refueling–I barely even got a bottle of water.

For much of my shower, I sat on the floor under the water. I just couldn’t hold myself up. By the time I (eventually) got dressed, everything caught up to me. I curled up on the bed and couldn’t move. At one point Housekeeping knocked on the door and asked if I had late checkout (!) so I said yeah and they went away.

I think I’d missed my window to eat and refuel, and now my body was rebelling. I finally dragged myself out of the room, but the short version is that the next two hours involved me trying to re-hydrate and then not keeping anything down. Fun times, but not the kind my friend had signed up for. I felt awful on several levels.

I’ve been sick after a too-warm half marathon, but I’ve never been continually sick. We decided I wasn’t going to get better unless I could keep liquids in my system, so I got out my Aetna app and found the nearest Urgent Care place about 15 miles away, mostly in the direction of home. She was an angel to deal with me.

When we arrived, I could hardly stand at the counter and give them my basic medical information. They took me to a room where I could only lie on the examination table. I’d accidentally-on-purpose walked out of the Hyatt with a pool towel that I was now using as a nap blanket–sorry Hyatt, but that’s the way it goes. And a half-marathon medal is a perfect accessory to wear to Urgent Care, right?

They told me they couldn’t do an IV to rehydrate me (I found out later that’s primarily due to a shortage of IVs from Puerto Rico, not a failing on the clinic’s part) but could give me anti-nausea meds so I could rehydrate myself. Fine with me–I hate needles. The Zofran had me sitting up and almost feeling kind of human in about 10 minutes. I drank a cup of water and it stayed down, so they let me go and we had a much more pleasant drive home. Miracle meds, for sure.

I didn’t think anything could top that awful Hot Chocolate race, half of which was off-road, all of which was in way-too-hot temps. But a post-race Urgent Care visit is a telltale sign that I didn’t have a good day. So when Facebook reminded me that I’d recently visited Hyatt Lost Pines and did I want to write a review? that was a no-brainer.

Let’s recap: I spent $95 on the race, half of a $300 hotel room, $17 for a pancake breakfast I didn’t get anywhere near, and $60 at urgent care. My BRF did all that, and also drove me around (twice three times on a toll road), carried my stuff, and took care of me. Can’t say I’m interested in doing this race again.

Melissa

About Melissa

About the Author: Melissa Cooper started running in 2011 with Couch to 5K. In the summer of 2012, in what seemed like a leap, she joined Rogue Running and completed her first half-marathon–San Antonio Rock and Roll–later that year. Finishing San Antonio was supposed to be a one-time bucket list thing, but these days her half-marathon total is at double digits (and climbing). Her favorite race distance is probably the ten-miler. By day, she is a middle school teacher who juggles work and life and running—sometimes even successfully.