ZooZilla 5K – RECAP

Wow! Where to start? Jennifer mentioned this race to me a few weeks ago and I decided why not? It sounded like a lot of fun and I haven’t run a race since July! I’m a touch out of practice with race morning routines and such, and since NVHM is just over a month away this would be perfect. It’s also pretty challenging with a steep climb up One Wild Place, and all of the little rollers throughout the zoo – perfect practice for my upcoming half.  We’d been emailing back and forth all week about our goals for this race and even just this morning I still wasn’t 100% sure what they were.  But, moving on. Get comfy…I’m kind of wordy when it comes to recapping things. Especially *spoiler alert* good things!!!


Since I was just treating this race as a practice I wasn’t nervous at all and got a pretty good nights sleep. I did wake up every hour after1 AM to make sure I didn’t miss my alarm though. I finally woke up at about 5 and got started with some coffee,a little water, and a cinnamon raisin bagel with peanut butter.  I normally wouldn’t eat that much before a 5K, but I was already hungry and knew that the race didn’t start for another 3 hours so I figured it would be A-OK.  One of the things I need to figure out  is my race day nutrition and this was a good step!  I checked the weather before I got dressed, and my app said that it was 43 degrees and no rain so I decided to wear shorts and a jacket. Imagine my surprise when I walked out to my car and it was raining. This is why I have trust issues. Honestly, I wasn’t that upset…I kind of like running in the rain. I find it very calming!

Jennifer and I met just after 7 to pick up our shirts and timing chips and then we sat in the toasty car until about 15 minutes before the race was scheduled to start. Somehow I think we both kind of decided that we were really going to do for it this morning, give it our all and not leave anything behind on the course. We’d try to stick together as long as possible, but if either felt good we were free to go ahead. Before I knew it, it was time to leave the warm car and heated seats. We did a quick warmup job through the parking lot (a first for me – I’ve never done any kind of warmup before a race. Maybe I should start…), and made our way to the start. As we were doing this, I was eyeing up the hill we would soon be running and was a touch nervous. I quickly pushed those thoughts aside and started reiterating my positive thoughts.

We stood in the start area for a few minutes, and without any warning…we were OFF!!

Mile 1 – 9:19 min/mile: Jennifer led the way, bobbing and weaving through the crowd so we could find some space. I seriously credit her with our great start because otherwise I probably would’ve gotten stuck behind a group and not been able to get into a good rhythm. I’m working on this new theory that I run better when I don’t stare at my Garmin every .0005 seconds, but I couldn’t help but look down and I saw that we were running close to a 9 min. mile.  The first mile is really just a big loop through the parking lot, and through some of the construction that is going on (and was a mud pit thanks to all of the rain lately).

Mile 2 10:01 min/mile: I didn’t say anything to Jennifer as we started up the mountain that is One Wild Place, but we were still running side by side and feeling good. This hill is the kind of giant that just.keeps.going. There is no end in sight. About halfway up, I lost Jennifer as I was doing some bobbing and weaving of my own and when I tried to look behind me I nearly fell. Face planting the pavement didn’t sound ideal at that point, so I just kept trucking and hoped that she wouldn’t hate me for being a klutz.  I kept waiting for the top of the hill, and it wasn’t coming. Finally the turnaround appeared and there is a nice little downhill to give your legs a break. As I was going down, I passed Jennifer who was looking really strong! This is when I started to think that today was going to be a good day for both of us! The turn into the zoo is a short, steep little hill. From here you start to run the perimeter of the zoo, which is a lot of little rollers. When my watch beeped I looked down and saw a 10:01 min. mile and was really happy considering the beast that we just climbed!

Mile 3 8:16 (?!?!?!) min/mile: At some point after mile 2 (I think near the bear exhibits), you actually get into the zoo wrap and around some of the exhibits. The lions and tigers were out which made this crazy cat lady happy – the tiger was really into the race…that or he was just hungry and eying one of us up for breakfast. Either way, fun to see! Somewhere during the mile, I glanced down at my watch at saw that I was hovering close to a 9 min/mile again. I was still feeling really good so I just kept focusing on my breathing and somehow I started passing a few people and my pace just kept dropping (major milestone, because normally I’m the one getting passed)!!! After one more quick uphill (by the snow leopard), it is mercifully all downhill from here. You get to go back down One Wild Place, and I really tried to open my stride up and make up some of the time I lost when I going up. I was able to pick it up quite a bit, and continued to pass a few more people on the downhill. We went back through the construction mud pit, and as we rounded the parking lot I saw the finish line flags. I looked at my watch and saw the pace, saw the time and realized I was going to PR BIG TIME.

.08 6:32 min/mile: I really started to haul ass once I saw the finish line. I just kept flapping my little T-Rex arms, and before I knew I crossed the finish line with a brand shiny new PR of  28:10 (official time) which is a 9:05 pace!!!! The only thing that bums me out is that my watch registered short 😦 . I know it’s not a huge discrepancy and it would have only added a few seconds onto my time, but still. Aside from that, I was pumped!! I circled back to look for Jennifer and saw her just in time to cruise in to huge PR of her own!

That's right. Just a couple of sub 30 5Kers here!!!!

That’s right. Just a couple of sub 30 5Kers here!!!!

Also, that 28:09 finish time was good enough for top 10 in my age group and Jennifer finished 7th in her age group! We pretty much crushed it today.

Social media is pretty awesome, and kind of made me feel like a rock star today with all of the congratulations that were sent our way! I think this one from Kristy sums it up perfectly though:

Could not have said it better myself!

Could not have said it better myself!

It is SO satisfying to see that all of the work I’ve been doing is paying off! This is exactly what I needed in my training – validation that I’m on the right track and  a great confidence builder as I head into my last month of half marathon training!

Major congrats to Jennifer who got her sub 30 on a tough course, and for motivating me to give it my all this morning!

I’ll leave you with this gem from my Instagram page!



5 thoughts on “ZooZilla 5K – RECAP

  1. Loved reading this because I’ve been curious what your actual experience was. It sounds like you were super strong the whole time. Awesome that you were able to pick up the pace & pass people on those rolling hills in the zoo! (I still have to post my recp, but my experience was much more struggle-filled!) Your pace in the last 1.1 miles is blowing my mind! 6:32 sprint to the finish! And your overall pace in general–so fast & totally awesome!!! You absolutely crushed this race & should be so proud! And for the record, there were nearly 100 people in your age group, so you were in the top 10%! There were only 26 in mine, so I just missed the top 25% (I’m happy about that though!) I’m so happy we ran this race together. It was fun & following you definitely helped me. Hope we can run lots more together!

    • Thank you so much – I cannot wait to run more races together! I never imagine that I would be able to pull something like that off – and when you told me where I finished I was stunned. Seeing our hard work pay off is one of the best feelings!

      I am terrible at race recaps – I left SO much out that I wanted to say, but didn’t know how to without making it as long as Grapes of Wrath.
      I’m soooo excited to read your recap – it sounds like you really stuck with it and did NOT give up!!

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