Race: Throo The Zoo 5K
Place: Louisville Zoo, Louisville, Kentucky
Date: May 13, 2017
For the life of me, I can’t figure out why I can’t run a 5K this year that is actually a 5K. This is my second attempt (which is saying something as I despise this distance) at a 5K this year (the first was the Anthem 5K…which was just about this distance as well). I am not built to be a sprinter. These legs would rather run long than run all out for a short distance. BUT…I’m struggling to find my speed again…and races like this are a fantastic way for me to run fast without fretting, worrying, or freaking out.
Let’s face it…my injuries have left me lacking in the self-confidence and the belief that I can do any sort of speed work without getting injured.
This was a fantastic opportunity. For one thing…I love this 5K because of how much fun it is. I mean…you run through the Louisville Zoo. How cool is that. AND…you honestly do spend a majority of the time inside the zoo now. It used to be just a duck in and out thing. This race has definitely come a long way…even if the course continues to be a little short.
So, my friend Richie, had mentioned this race to me a little bit before KDF ran. And I said I had been eyeing it. When my other friend (and sister from another mister), Melissa, mentioned she had a team running, I leaped at the opportunity to join in. The name was clever (See You At The Finish Lions) and it was a fantastic way to be a part of a race with a friend. So, yeah…I was all about it. I signed up before the last chance to do so before registration went up…and it was all good to go.
My coach set no goals for me on this race, other than to just do my best and to see what I can do. I love goals like that. I don’t feel pressured to push harder or faster, whether or not I am capable of doing so…so I think I tend to run better. Going into this race with that in mind, I had no nerves, no tears, no panic attack. It was a nice change of pace (pun not intended, but funny!).
I left work a little early to run home to make pre-race pizza (because, it may be a 5K…but some traditions should just happen!) before heading over to Louisville to pick up my packet at Whole Foods. Lo and behold, as I’m leaving the office, Melissa texts to see if I wanted her to pick up my bib and shirt. Saved me a trip, so I told her that it would be awesome. I was going to go to the grocery store before heading home, but wasn’t feeling it, so onward to the apartment. It wasn’t too long after that that Melissa stopped by with all my race stuff. How awesome is that!! I love this lady because she just naturally thinks of others!! It made my evening a little less stressful for sure.
I finished up making my Gluten Free Vegan “Sausage” Pizza for dinner (I made the “sausage crumbles” out of chickpeas and amazing spices that made it all taste like sausage), ate it out on the balcony, and then decided to do a small amount of grocery shopping just to save some time. After arriving home, I put the groceries away, changed into my pajamas and worked on my PT stretches/exercises and foam rolling. Then, I was off to bed.
It was still relatively early, but I needed the rest. And, I also had an alarm set for 4 a.m. so I would have time to do my PT stretches/exercises pre-race as well. When the alarm went off that morning, I shut it off and immediately knew something was off.
Well, I couldn’t turn my head for one thing. I had slept weird and now turning my head to either side caused a sharp muscle stabbing pain to radiate throughout my shoulders/neck. This…was not good. Not at all. With little to do about it (I don’t medicate before races as it can do serious damage to internal organs and BioFreeze would totally burn the moment I started running and my pores opened up), I went outside and did all the outdoor PT stuff before coming back up for the indoor stuff. I managed to get it all done with very few stops to help with the literal pain in my neck.
My roommate and I actually loaded up the car to head that way early with a plan. SO many people go on and on about the wonders of coffee pre-race and how it gives a boost. We decided to swing by Highland Coffee and give it a try. So…we did. I got myself a traditional Cafe Au Lait with their homemade macadamia milk and we went on our way to the zoo. We had a bit of time after parking, so Cathy and I went to go stand around. As we reached the curb, I head my name being shouted out of a car. I turned my head, and it was Richie. What good timing. He was on his way to park. So I decided after drinking some coffee, I should take advantage of the small lines for the port-a-potties. I hate using port-a-potties, so here was one reason I wasn’t a fan of the coffee pre-race. When I returned, Richie was joining us.
We talked for a little bit and caught up on everything. Richie had been dealing with some foot issues, and this was his first race back. We were both just hoping to run strong and well. I texted Melissa…but she wasn’t here yet. With about 20 minutes to go, we decided to move closer to the start line.
It was after I shed my jacket layer (it wasn’t cold, but I tend to always be cold…so I just dress that way). The weather in the 50s was perfect, honestly. I tucked it into Cathy’s backpack and, after getting a good luck hug, went to stand in the mob of people at the start line. Richie was there…and soon, Melissa was joining us too.
For the first time…none of us were sporting the KDF Marathon Ambassador shirt. We were getting our race style on for sure. Melissa was waiting on her husband to join us and pointed out that Cathy was getting her picture taken with the sign she carries to my races. Of course she was. She always gets her photo taken. HA! Melissa’s husband joined us just before the start of the race, which was delayed for a few minutes. This gave us a chance to get a pre-race photo together. But then it was time to go. Melissa and Paul had discussed staying up front, but they hopped out and started at the back of Wave 1, which is where Richie and I were taking off.
We both ran down Illinois Avenue, which is just outside the Louisville Zoo, Richie going much faster than I was pushing. I wanted to go faster, but I also know that 5Ks are still about pacing. I’m just really bad at doing so. We make a turn and enter through the back of the zoo. One hill climb…and then a great downhill. I passed Richie on the downhill (I love me some downhill action) and pressed on. This part of the race is great because, as I said, we’re inside the zoo. We duck out shortly before Mile 1 to zig-zag through the parking lot…but that comes after the first steep hill. Gorilla Hill. It’s a beast. I press up it and am thankful when it levels off. Exiting the zoo soon after, I follow a few runners into the parking lot area where there is a water stop there. I blow past it, not needing water, and continue onward. This is the annoying zig-zag part I mentioned up there. Definitely a way to get the necessary mileage. But definitely a pace killer. I end up neck-and-neck with a younger, female runner and we’re pretty much stride-for-stride with her as we re-enter the park. I pull ahead for a brief moment and feel really accomplished…
…until she blew right past me. HA. Oh well. I wasn’t even pressed to try to pass her again. I was comfortably uncomfortable with my slowing pace. And…yes…I could tell I was slowing down. Soon after entering the zoo again, another steep hill climb happened. I did my best to focus on form and just working on pressing up the hill. I was slowed tremendously by the ascent, but felt strong at the top, and totally enjoyed the downhill as always. We hit Mile 2 just before rounding a corner and entering the African Outpost area of the zoo, as well as Glacial Run. Here we could see some of the walkers heading through the other part and it was nice to get some cheers and encouragement along the way. The zoo employees were also good for that as well.
It was just before we make the last bit of the race before the exit that we double back on the route again. Just as I’m coming up to the corner, a woman ducks under the flags and starts in toward Mile 3. I run past her immediately, finding that very dishonest and unfair. But, at least I was ahead of her. I hope if she got any sort of award she didn’t accept it.
I make the winding, tiring, final climb out of the Louisville Zoo and head to flatter ground. My legs are fatigued and I pass that 3 mile marker without my watch buzzing. It was off at Mile 2, but I was hoping that it would even out in the end. It didn’t. I didn’t hit the third mile…AGAIN! UGH! That is beyond frustrating, but I cut the Louisville Zoo a lot more slack than I do those in charge of the Anthem 5K. Just sayin’. That being said…I really, really want a 5K that is the real distance so I can see my baseline and what I need to do to try to improve. As I’m about to head into my marathon training, I will be limiting racing out of necessity of not getting injured…so this might be a moot point at this point.
I wandered over to where Cathy was standing just as Richie crossed the line. I told her that the course was short and that I would be right back. I went to find Richie and we went to grab some bottles of water. As more people came in, I went to round off my mileage and finish up Matthew & Dennis’ long run that day in the parking lot of the zoo. Melissa and Paul came in as I was finishing that up and were ecstatic to hear Cathy screaming for them at the finish line.
We all met up and while Matthew & Dennis went to head to Panara for the breakfast thing with Laura & Mike…Richie, Melissa, Paul, Cathy and I went over to the finish recovery area to wait on awards, raffle prizes, and just simply hang out and talk. That was a lot of fun, actually, discussing upcoming plans…the KDF Ambassador luncheon later that day, and just our general, overall well-being. I love my friends!
It turns out, I was 2nd in my age division, so I was called up to receive a certificate. The last time I ran this race, medals were handed out. I guess since River City Races no longer is in charge of this one, that changed. But, it’s cool. I don’t have a certificate other than finisher’s certificates…so this was something different for sure. I proudly accepted the honor, as this race is tough to run and has some tough competition!
Afterwards, Cathy and I decided we needed to make our Costco run and ducked out of walking through the zoo…which sucks as I have never actually visited the Louisville Zoo. But, we would be seeing Melissa and Paul again at lunch at Guy Fieri’s on Fourth Street later that afternoon.
So, the official results of the Throo The Zoo 5K is that I finished the race in 22:07…unfortunately on another short course. I still would have beaten the time I had for the previous running I did in this race…which was in 2014…so there is that. It’s something, right? I was I was okay with this time. Much slower than last year, but I ran hard just over 12 hours before this one…so…yeah…this was good for me. I was 45/1493 finishers overall. I was the 6/932 female finishers. And I was 2/105 people in my age division! I’ll take that! I also learned that coffee did not give me an extra boost during the race…so therefore, I think I’ll leave it for after from now on.
It was a blast returning to this run again…and being able to do it on my dear friend’s team. I hope I did her proud. And I hope to attempt to actually get in a 5K on properly measured course before I resolve to focus on training and not racing. Because that is coming up…fast.
I can’t wait to run this one again. Challenging and fun. Who doesn’t want that?