Saturday, October 18, 2008

Don't feed the animals!

Race Report! Oasis ZooRun 10K

It's not every day that you get to run through the Americas, Africa, Australia and Eurasia, but the 10K Zoo Run allowed us to do just that at the Toronto Zoo.

Pre-Race Prep

Earlier this week I completed two impromptu tempo runs to get a feel for a quicker pace. I ran an 8K at 5:17/KM and 5K at 4:52/KM, which got the wheels turning as far as goals for this event. I settled on a target 5:15/KM pace for a 52:30 finish, knowing it would be a tough course (hills, bends, being distracted by monkeys). Naturally, in the back of my mind (and with some urging from Marcy) I was secretly hoping for a PR of sub-49:10.

I ordered a big bowl of pasta at a company lunch function and brought the leftovers home for dinner. I realize it's only a 10K, but I'll take any excuse to carbo-load!

The hubby and I had a quiet evening and got to bed at a decent time.

Race Day Prep

We awoke to a frosty zero degrees C, one of the coldest mornings we've had thus far. We brought several layers of clothing so we could decide what to wear once it (hopefully!) warmed up a little closer to the scheduled 9:30 start.

We got to the Zoo nice and early and picked up our race kits/bibs without any trouble. We used the port-o-lets and just hung out in the car for a while to keep warm. We found some friends by about 8:30 and enjoyed the company while we waited for the start.

(I'm second from the left and that's Sarah second from the right.)

Thankfully, the temperature warmed up as the sun rose and it was closer to 5oC (that's about 41F for the Americans) by 9:30. After much deliberation, I settled on capri pants (I have no long pants that fit!), the long-sleeve technical Zoo race shirt with my Scotiabank tee on top, and a headband for the ears (I get a headache if my ears are too cold).

Here's hubby and I all geared up:

Note the shadow...that's our friend who wore bunny ears (many people dressed up as animals). I later found out he was constantly asked "What's your time?" - people thought he was a pace bunny!

The Race!

They had corrals set up for the 2500 10K runners, so I made my way to yellow (0:49-0:55) and got excited! It was a great atmosphere already and lots of chatter going on as we waited for the gun.

We took off promptly at 9:30 and I crossed the mat after only 30 seconds or so. The first part of the run was pretty crowded, and took us along the outside of the parking lot and along a couple of main roads before we entered the zoo from the "Staff Only" entrance around 2K.

I warmed up extremely quickly, rolling up the sleeves and ditching the headband just minutes into the race.

The next 8K would take us along winding paths through almost the entire zoo, with plenty of twists and turns and ups and downs.

The hills were tough, to say the least. They came one after the other and a few were painfully steep. At one point we made a steep climb that ended with a set of stairs. (Thanks Yumke for the warning! It was funny hearing all the gasps and groans when we the the sign: "Stairs ahead.")

I maintained a good pace under target, gradually increasing over the first 5K.

The second half of the race brought some of the most difficult climbs and I started feeling pretty tired. I pushed hard up the hills and distracted myself by trying not to let anyone pass me. I was successful, for the most part.

I also spent most of the second half of the race trying to remove a pesky rock from my shoe without actually stopping. I didn't discover how big the darn thing was til after the race - no wonder it was so uncomfortable!

I knew I wasn't going to set a PR, but also knew I would be pretty close to 50 minutes if I pushed hard for the last couple kilometres. It was a struggle and I felt like I could either keel over or vomit at any second (neither happened - phew!). Finally, I was on the home stretch and had an exciting finish with tons of spectators.

Official results:
Gun Time: 51:18.0
Chip Time: 50:58.7
Category (Women 25-29) Place: 16/261
Overall Gender Place: 78/1267

After thoughts

Overall, I'm very pleased with my time. It was a challenging course (one of the most difficult I have run). The race was well-executed with plenty of support and great refreshments in the finishers' area. The route was scenic and enjoyable, no matter how tough it got. I had been pretty excited about running past all the animals, but I only remember seeing the zebras. Must have been in the zone! I'll definitely be back next year going for sub-50:00.

Congrats to all of my friends who ran a great race!

Here's the after shot:


Marky Mark said...

Good job! I found it very tough especially the start with all that congestion. I thought given all the marathon training that I wouldn't get tired doing a 10K but I was very wrong!

Mel-2nd Chances said...

sad to miss it this year... amazing pace! Congrats on a great race! btw, i will be going down tomorrow :)

Marci said...

Great job, it sounds like a fun race to run! Speedy pace too!

Unknown said...

Great job! That does sound and look like a crazy course. That's really neat that you got to run through the zoo though.

And I carbo-load all the time. Just for the fun of it. And because I like anything pasta.

Marcy said...

OMG chica! That's a killer time, especially with the course! Sweetness!

LOL I can't believe you ran that whole way with the rock. I probably would've stopped HAHA

Unknown said...

Congrats. That rock would have drove me NUTS! Thanks for converting the temp for us Americans. I honestly had no idea what it converted to.

Aron said...

awesome job and big congrats!! you did so great!

AddictedToEndorphins said...

Amazing. Congrats on the PR.
I'll run that race next year!

Lily on the Road said...

Way to GO!!!,

Glad you explained the shadow in the pic, I thought maybe a "roo" had escaped!

Nice rock, I got one too on a 32K run, in exactly the same spot...I kept it!

Jess said...

Great job on the race! Almost a PR!

It's weird to me to see a race broken down my Ks instead of and my American measurement.

Anonymous said...

Hey marlene,

Been reading your blog for a bit.... Found it from Weddingbells! Ran yesterday too. My first race. 58 mins. It was tons of fun!

Good job on your time!

Gotta Run..... said...

Great job expecially since you carried a rock under your shoe for an extra challenge.

Love the shadowed bunny ears...LOL!!!

Looks like you had a great time at the Zoo.

Road Warrior said...

Holy cow, Marlene (or should I say holy tiger?)! Under 51 minutes is an amazing time. You must be beyond thrilled!

Chic Runner said...

Great race report! I love the bunny ears! ha ha, That race sounds really fun though. It looks like it was crazy and I'm with you on the carbo loading :)

Jenn(ie) said...

I'm doing this race as my first 10k (gulp) in a couple weeks so I was looking around for race reports to get a feel for the course. Glad I found your report! Sounds like I have a challenge ahead of me that might make all my future 10k races seem like picnics (or make me never want to do a 10k again - we'll see)!