A year ago the United Run for the Zoo was my first 10K ever. It seemed like a daunting distance at the time. I knew it fell between the "sprint" of a 5K and the distance run of a half and I was a little unsure of how to tackle it. I had a bout of anxiety before the race and an emergency trip to the restroom before hitting the course for a miserable warm and sunny run. This year I was a bit more prepared to tackle the race, but also had a miserable run for other reasons.
I went after work on Friday to pick up my race packet. The pick up location was inside the Lion House of the zoo itself. Luckily I don't live to far from the zoo so it was an easy pick up. I had spied the weather radar before I left and hoped to make it before more storms hit. Luckily I made it in time even as the clouds looked ominous. On Saturday I started breaking all the pre-race rules. I headed over to a friend's place to play poker. I had neglected to eat before going over there. We had snacks and beer, another no-no before a race day of course. I just needed to unwind after my long week of work. I wound up staying there for 7 hours playing poker, eating cookies and rice cakes and drinking beer. These probably weren't the best calories to get into my system. I did continue tradition and picked up a slice of pizza for dinner on my way home.
Race day came far too early. We had a friend running the 5K so we met up around 7:30. I got up at 6AM in case my body decided it wanted to be upset and allow myself time to settle down. I pulled myself together and headed out the door. I wore my arm warmers (best investment ever!) and was glad I did when I noticed there was a bit of a chill to the air. By the time I got to the zoo to meet up with my friends a nice stead drizzle had started. It didn't help that there was also a chilly wind from the north. We huddled under a tree and waited for the race to begin.
A few minutes before the race was set to begin we headed to the start corral. I had a tough time getting up to where I needed to be and finally gave up and stayed at the front of the 8:00 min/mile flag. I knew it wouldn't take too long for things to thin out up front. A couple minutes later we were off and running. It was still raining out so everything was slick and there were puddles everywhere. I of course took off too fast. I was also wearing my Newton Motions for the first time in a race. I've worn them plenty for speedwork, but this was their first race. I could tell I was slipping a little bit on the wet pavement wearing them. They were a lot better than my Brooks Pure Cadence on wet cement though, if I had worn those I'd be ice skating on a day like this.
As the race went on I slowed my pace a bit and just tried to hang on. I knew if I could keep it under 8:00 min/mile splits I could gut it out at the finish and give myself a little bit of a PR. It was a struggle to keep the pace. There were a lot of turns for this race as you go through the zoo and whatnot. There are also lots of little unexpected inclines. It all adds up to making falling into a groove a little difficult. Finally we hit the turnaround at mile 4 and headed back south. I now had tailwind and was running on familiar paths. I started to pick up the pace a bit for the homestretch. Somewhere along the line my GPS was thrown off so I was actually closer to the finish line at the end than I thought so I didn't start my finishing kick as early as I wanted. When all was said and done I finished in 47:00 flat. Its a new PR by 49 seconds. The time is also a 5:43 improvement over my race last year. Its amazing to see how far I've come in that time.
Next weekend is the Allstate 13.1 Marathon. It will be a repeat of my first ever half. I'm just hoping that it won't be sunny and 85 like it was last year.