Zoo Zoom 8k

Finishers!

Sure, I completed a half marathon last weekend, so maybe I should have taken a week or two off from racing. But, I had wanted to do this race last year, but wasn’t able to, so I decided to go for it this year. I talked my friend Stef into doing it with me.

It was in the upper 30s when we got to the zoo — not the coldest I’ve run in, but not my first choice. Apparently it was in the teens last year, so we couldn’t complain too much. We tried to stay warm while waiting for the start.

Ready to race!

Here’s Stef crossing the start:
Go Stef, go!

I hung back a bit more, because I wanted to stay out of the way of the faster runners. The first part of the route went through Druid Park – near a lake, and the looping back to the zoo’s entrance.

Runners in the park

Andrew caught me near the zoo entrance:
Hi!

Shortly after I hit the half-way mark, Stef was nearing the finish. (She used to race competitively…she tried to tell me how “slow” she would be in the race. She finished 7th in her age group, and pulled off 8:20 minute miles. Yeah…so slow!)

Stef nearing the finish

In Mile 3, the course plunged down a hill. I had fun running down the whole hill — my 30-30 intervals be damned! I knew I’d have to come back up it, walking, so I wanted to enjoy the downhill. I slogged up the hill, through part of the zoo, and into another uphill. But I knew the end was close.

I stopped to hug the penguin on the way to the finish.

Hugs for the penguin

Finish lin

Afterwards, we stuck around the zoo to say high to some of the animals.

Barb and the goats Stef and a new friend

Penguins

Zebras

Elephants

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Avengers Half Marathon

Disney pulled me back in — I thought I was done with running half marathons, but then Disney goes and puts on an Avengers-themed race. (And a Star Wars-themed race, which I will also be doing in January.)

I started getting into the theme right away at the expo. Here I am with my new boyfriend:
Me and my new boyfriend

I stayed on East-Coast time, so getting up at 3:30 AM wasn’t TOO bad. I had flat Barb ready to go.
Flat Barb is ready

So I got up and ready in a flash.
Captain Barb ready to run

The hotel was fairly close to Disneyland (just across the street), so I walked over the start, dropped off my bag, and a that point the runners were being called to the corrals. There were lots of runners in costume all over. I loved this Tony Stark, playboy, though I can’t imaging running in a tux!
Tony Stark, playboy

Corral H, the last corral for those of us slow-pokes, was HUGE. It had more people in it than the first three combined (give or take). I made my way close to the front of the corral and seeing the rest of the people stream in over the next 30 minutes gave me hope that I’d have the extra time I needed to finish the race. I started chatting with a couple of other ladies – one of whom had followed me as I was threading my way through the people in the corral to get as close to the front as I could. It was their first half marathon, so I chatted about my experiences at my previous halfs, and I think it helped them feel a little better. If nothing else, it helped pass the time until we were able to move up to the start.

Start line

One thing I did this time that I forgot to do at Dumbo, was I enjoyed the course. I took the time to take in the sights and all of the other people in awesome costumes. Sure, I got into my own groove, focused on my intervals, and tried to keep up my pace, but I also remembered to look around. In particular, I remembered to look for the photographers, so I have a slew of decent race photos this time. (Though, I accidentally ordered them on CD, rather than as downloads, so I have to wait a couple weeks to get them.)

I didn’t stop much through the parks, but I had to grab a picture of the Haunted Mansion, all dressed up for the holidays.
Haunted Mansion dressed for the holidays

The parks took just the first 3 or so miles of the race. Once we got out of the park, it was much less crowded, making for easier running. But, around mile 5, the wind picked up. When I checked the weather later, we had been having gusts of 20-25 mph (!). Starting around Mile 5, many of the mile markers were down – we could see the clocks, but the rest of the signs were down.

The wind took out many mile markers

I kept up my running through the 6 mile mark, managing a negative 10k split. But then, the wind overtook me. Either that, or I had gone out too fast — my training maybe didn’t prepare me to keep up the pace I had initially set. I’m not sure which.

The other problem was that the course then turned onto the Santa Ana River Trail — a big dirt trail. Combined with the wind, it was hard to run. We were treated to the this street art, though:

Street art for the race

Around Mile 7-8, Disney had invited a cosplay club to cheer us on. I didn’t count how many were there, but it seemed like a lot. My favorite was Star Lord, who, sadly, I didn’t get a picture of.

Soon thereafter, we got to Angels Stadium. I remembered to enjoy this experience, which I’m not sure I did last time. Taking in the stands, and they had a marching band going on the field as we ran through.

Entering the stadium

I was excited when I passed Mile 10, because they tend to relax the sweep a bit at that point. Though, that was also when I noticed the pace bikes more and more, so I didn’t get too complacent. I was walking full time, but didn’t let myself slack.

The wind had not let up at all. There was a f–king tumbleweed rolling down the street. A TUMBLEWEED.

There was an f---ing tumbleweed!

I walked in the rest of the race, crossed the finish and got my medal. I managed not to cry after crossing the finish – that’s a first for me.

Finish line

The family reunion area was closed due to the wind, and I suspect they had taken down the backdrops for finisher photos (though maybe they didn’t have them to begin with??).

Turns out, I had a PR…by 8 seconds. Heh. Not much to write home about, but given the change in my training, I’m actually happy. This time around, I trained at a slower pace than my previous races. I think this strategy helped me avoid injury during training, but didn’t do anything for my confidence. I’m going to change up my training plan a bit for Star Wars, but I’m jumping into the middle of the plan, so I don’t want to do anything too radical.

Finisher!

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Sisterhood Virtual 5k

I signed up for the Sisterhood Virtual 5k back in October when I had high hopes of doing the c25k program after getting my heel healed up. Well, I’ve been spotty at best about caring for my heel (please don’t yell at me – I have a plan and will come up with a stretching and icing schedule to make it better). ┬áBut I knew that I could walk it no matter what.

When I went to take the dog out this morning, though, this is what I saw:
The snow was a complete surprise this morning!
(Image the snow a bit more pristine and the air white with flurries.)

I don’t have access to a treadmill, so outside was my only options. So I started making excuses – I can’t go out in the snow! What if I slip? It’s only 28° out there – that’s cold! I should just cancel. No one would blame me for not doing it today.

But I ignored those excuses. I bundled up, grabbed my iPod and camera, laced up my walking shoes, and headed off on the course I’d mapped yesterday. Here I am heading out for my virtual 5k:
For for my virtual 5k

For the first mile or so, I was thinking about all the girls at Disney – about the training they did and how awesome it will be tomorrow when their training all pays off. For the second mile, I was mostly concerned about not slipping – the terrain was downhill then uphill, and I had to be careful about where I was stepping.

For the third mile I started to marvel at how far I’ve come in a year. Last year the idea of walking outside in the snow and cold would have been laughable. In fact, the idea of doing a virtual 5k at all would have been weird. Not because I couldn’t have walked that far – I’m pretty sure my husband and I do it all the time when we go downtown to visit the museums – but because it wouldn’t have occurred to me to do it. I’m also starting to figure out that exercise is not something that takes up time that I could be doing something else, but is the something else that I should be making time for. I haven’t been 100% with exercise and training this past year, but each time I fell away from it, I went back. And I went back faster each time.

I snapped a couple of pics along the way, but then realized that the pics make it look like I was walking out in the country…I wasn’t, I’m in one of DC’s suburbs, so these were just carefully chosen shots to show the snow.
Roads were clear, but not the sidewalksNottaway park was pretty

And my footprints on the snowy sidewalk:
My footprints in the snow

And here I am back home, after my 3.5 miles (yes, longer than a 5k, but it was the closest route I could find that I actually wanted to take):
Me at the end of my 5k

There are a couple more pics on my flickr page: Sisterhood Virtual 5k on Flickr.

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