Race: Throo The Zoo 5K
Place: Louisville Zoo, Louisville, Kentucky
Date: May 12, 2017
Major question of importance…will the course of the Throo The Zoo 5K ever actually be a 5K? Because…once again I didn’t even hit 3 miles for this race. In fact, when I crossed the finish line, my watch read 2.99 miles. I know it’s not hard to measure a course. I’m not even good at running tangents, but…come on. I do give it a pass because it is a zoo run and it is supposed to be fun…but I swear…move the start line back or the finish line out just a little bit…and GOLDEN!
So…I was talked into doing the Throo The Zoo 5K by my good friend, Melissa. She had a team started for the race and made sure to inform me that…hey…they have finisher’s medals this year because…it was their 25th anniversary of the race. So…I signed up. We all know how much I LOVE 5K races right? *sarcasm*
I am NOT a sprinter. Not one bit. Not at all. This is why I have NO finishing kick at the end of races. If I am sprinting…I’m done a the end. My energy is spent. Maybe this is because I didn’t grow up a runner…I don’t know. But…5Ks are not my forte nor something that I actually enjoy running.
But…they do make for good speed play. And it’s a fun way to do speed work, as I am an avid hater of doing anything that means pushing hard and then recovering. LOL! I can’t help it. Speed work and treadmills are what injure me. So I’m reluctant to do either.
Also…Saturday is my “long” run day and I had 81 minutes on tap for that morning. I also hate training by time. But I’ve made that known from the start. My plan was to run for an hour ahead of the race…pause and drive to the zoo…and then finish up my long run with the race itself. My original plan had been to finish up my run after the race, but it was going to be very hot that day and once the sun came out…I probably would have died. I normally love training in the heat, but this year it’s not working so well for me. MEH.
The night before, I met up with Melissa and Paul for sushi at Dragon King’s Daughter (sushi is my new pre-race BFF…at least for now)…and then we went back to the apartment so that Cathy could apply KT tape.
I needed to stretch and roll and then sleep because I needed to wake up early enough to fit in a sweaty 60 minutes of running, change, eat, get to the zoo…and then see what I could do. So…that’s what I did.
Morning was an early alarm for me. I suited up, put on my Nox Gear Tracer 360 and head lamp and headed out for some easy paced miles. I am working very hard on keeping my long runs and easy runs slower more consistently. Slowing down has never been my forte. I am a work in progress there. After just over an hour of running (I like round numbers so I went over the time to get to a perfect mileage number), I had 8 miles under my belt and went inside to stretch out, eat, and change into clothes for the race. I decided to ditch the tank top and wear a crop because I was dying in a tank top before the sun came up and with the race starting at 8 am…the sun would be up and if the Indy Mini taught me anything it was if I overheat…I’m done.
I fixed up my protein shake using my OWYN protein powder (coffee flavored) with my Four Sigmatic Cordycep Mushroom Elixir and took it on the road with me for the drive to the zoo. That would be my fuel for this race as I seem to forget to buy bananas these days. This was new…but doing new things on race day seems to be my thing this year. I have no idea why. I drank it on the way there, but soon, Cathy and I were stuck in the zoo traffic and barely moving. The race start time was quickly approaching and we still had about a half mile to go. We quickly made the decision to park in the Kroger parking lot and make the walk to the zoo. It made for a nice warmup anyway, right?
Traffic is usually an issue, but it has never been this bad. But with the promise of a medal at the end, the 5K sold out and…yeah…it was a mess. Melissa was apparently in the zoo round-a-bout and no moving. So…we weren’t alone. In fact, we got to the start line before she and Paul did. Which is CRAZY!
As I was standing around waiting for the race start, I convinced myself that I didn’t need to pee (I mean, I rehydrated with Nuun, and then drank a protein shake…and I really did need to pee, but port-a-potty lines were RIDICULOUS)…which seemed to work. And then I saw Laura!! Laura and I talked and we’ve started making some plans to do long runs together this summer…so that will be fun. Start time was approaching, so I shed my Run The Bluegrass hoodie and went to line up with Laura at the start.
We both noted the lack of certain regulars at this race…which could be a good thing in the end for us. HA! We also noted a lot of kids lining up at the front of the start…which race officials specifically asked NOT to do…but…I mean…it’s the zoo. It is a safety concern though. That being said, one of said kids was like…pretty close to being one of the first in…and he was 12 so…I mean…some do deserve it, but others probably should have moved back. Especially since the road this starts on is narrow and crowded at the start.
Speaking of the start…a random airhorn went off prior to the race…and it really just confused all of us at the start line. It was not the official start. But now that everyone was ready and prepared…the official start was counted down by the emcee on the microphone at the start line. And with a simple…”GO”…we were off and running.
I kept my training shoes on (they are heavier than my racing shoes) to help me better pace myself this race. The first mile was spent on the narrow-ish Illinois Avenue, just outside of the Louisville Zoo. My legs still felt good at this point, surprisingly, after my miles that morning, so I just worked on running comfortably hard. I wasn’t going to all-out sprint it…but I wanted to see how much I could push myself. The first turn takes us into the entrance at the back of the zoo. Last year, I remembered rocky areas and my Newton shoes would get stones stuck in the lugs. This year…I kept my Adidas Boston Boosts on to prevent this from happening. Glad I did…because the rocky section was just the start. Further into the race, construction was happening in this first mile and there was a big section on the path that was stones and loose rocks. I made a good decision to wear the heavier shoes. We hit Mile 1 soon after hitting this parking lot area of the zoo, pass the water stop and zig-zag up a hill and head back into the zoo. I could hear a lot of people coaching some younger runners near me. “Try to run faster. You have to run faster.” UGH. Let them have fun.
Back into the zoo and we get some fun rolling hills. I was now in the presence of a man with a running stroller. He was running strong, but one of the steep uphills inside the zoo slowed him down to a walk. For most of the rest of the race…I could hear him talking to his child about the animals that were out and about my socks. I literally was steps ahead of him for the rest of the race. Here we can see walkers heading into the first mile and it’s this fun area where the late wave and the first wave get to meet. Some of them cheer and send out encouragement, which is nice. And the zoo employees that are stationed around are also amazing for that too. Mile 2 hits around the start of the African Outpost section of the zoo. And my watch beeped a little after the mark. Here we go again.
I didn’t once glance at my watch, because I never do when running, so why start during races. But I could feel the strength and energy draining as the hills continued and we hit the worst of them all…Gorilla Hill. This is a long and winding climb that does take runners out of the zoo for the final sprint to the finish. I was slowing down on the hill, and when the flat road came back as we all came out to the parking lot to finish, I couldn’t find a finishing kick. Well, I never have one anyway, but there was nothing left. I did manage to get shout-outs from Howard, Matt, Amy, and others who ran to the race to cheer on finishers. So that was amazing. They could recognize me this time because I had on fun socks and colorful shorts. I learned my lesson after KDF. HA!!
So, I ran it through to the finish, my watch never even beeping for a third mile. MEH. Oh well. And that guy with the stroller…he passed me in the final straight-away. Naturally. I finished the race and received a medal and magnet…then moved out of the way to wait for Cathy to join me. I told her I needed to round up my mileage so I did a short jog in circles in the grass before grabbing some water, a banana, and going to stand at the finish line to wait on Melissa and Paul to finish. Cathy told me that I was the 6th female in, so that guaranteed me an age group award. That was exciting. It was just a matter of where I placed for it.
They weren’t too far behind me and we cheered them in to the finish line. We went to meet up with them afterwards. Cathy went to grab them both water and Gatorade and then get their official finishing times for them. They both had a good race and Melissa was about to head out for her 2nd 5K that morning with the Girls on the Run girls she had been coaching.
As Cathy and I had nowhere else to be and my running was now done for the day, we waitited with Paul to cheer in Melissa’s mom, who signed up at the last minute to walk it. She did great and actually beat her time goal. WOOHOO!! And then I won a door prize randomly…which ended up being Louisville Bats tickets and some chicken place gift cards (these are of no use for me, but I’ll take the baseball tickets).
The announcers started to do age group awards, so I wandered over that way, but they ended up pausing halfway through for the costume contest awards. I wandered back over the shade of the tree where everyone was huddled and just talked a little bit and laughed a lot. And when age group awards resumed, I missed the first ones, and I suddenly heard my age group announced with me as coming in first.
WOOHOO! I hurried that way to go claim my certificate. I definitely wasn’t expecting that result as I ran this race faster last year and came in 2nd in my age group. And I haven’t felt very fast as of late. So…after running 8 miles prior to the race itself…this was a pleasant surprise indeed.
Afterwards, Cathy and I left to make the walk back to the car and head to brunch. We hit up North End Café for a Basic Breakfast and some chill time. Later that afternoon, we were headed out to a wine tasting with our friend Michelle, so this was fuel to get us through to that. And I made sure to get some protein for some much needed recovery as well.
And the winery…that was a whole lot of fun!
So, the official results of the Throo The Zoo 5K is that I finished the race in 22:58…with the course being short AGAIN this year. I hope that gets fixed in the future. I slowed down each mile and Gorilla Hill was a struggle, but I’ll take this time with over an hour of running ahead of the race itself. I was 54/2589 finishers overall. I was the 6/1685 female finishers. And I was 1/239 people in my age division! Maybe my endurance is coming back. I hope to get heat adapted sooner rather than later so I can endure a bit more, but I’m pretty proud of this result when all is said and done.