Just ran my first 5k since November of last year and it went really well! Lowry Park is an awesome place for a race because you just can’t beat the scenery. The first mile goes along the Hillsborough River, the 2nd mile wraps around the inside of the zoo and the last mile takes you back out and to the parking lot where the finish line is.
First, the positives:
- $25 race registration included entry to the zoo (no biggie for me since I’m a member, but still), a ticket for a companion, a t-shirt, and goodie bag
- Like I said, the scenery is great. It was an early morning race and the weather was relatively cool so most of the animals were very active. Komodo dragons, sloth bears, river otters, you name it. The route even took you down inside the manatee underwater observation area. My favorite part was the white tiger who sat there staring at us probably wondering what in the world we were doing.
- It was fun running on different surfaces. Paved roads, dirt trails, sidewalks, wooden piers, you name it. Kept things interesting!
- I like doing races that support something worthwhile and this zoo is definitely a great service to conservation efforts in the area.
But, there were negatives:
- The registration was absolutely horrible. Registration was supposed to be 6:30-7:15, with the race beginning promptly at 7:30. When we arrived at 6:45 the line snaked a couple of hundred yards from the parking lot to the front entrance. Yep, they had one single table for all 800+ runners who had pre-registered. Pretty lame. As a result, the race got pushed back closer to 8:00. Ironically, the walk-up table was completely empty and it would’ve been easier to have just registered the day of. The odd thing is I did this race last year and this wasn’t a problem. They had several tables spread around and you just found the one that corresponded with the first letter of your last name and you were good to go. Hope this was a learning experience!
- There were 2 water stops on the route. I skipped the first one thinking I would wait til mile 2. Got to the second one and they didn’t have any cups ready. You had to stop and wait while they poured you one. Huh?? So I skipped that one too and just waited til the finish. Not a big deal, but not cool for those of us trying to PR.
I had originally planned to meet one of my friends that I’m running the half with so we could try running together. In the registration chaos, we were never able to find each other before the race. I held back to the end of the pack for the start and saw her about 100ft ahead of me. I tried catching up with her but after my first split told me I was running 10 min/mi I knew it was time to back off and run my own race. I settled into a 2:1 and sometimes 1:1 ratio for the rest of the race. Not sure what my actual final time was because, although the race was chipped, they didn’t have the results listed. I also forgot to turn my RunKeeper off until a few minutes after I’d finished. RunKeeper showed me running 3.24 in 43:14 so I’m going to guess I finished around 40. Definitely a PR for me and a huge imporvement from last year!
Here’s Heather and I post-race (she waited for me at the finish):
Less than 2 months ’til the “big one” and I’m going to fit a 10k and a few more 5k’s into the schedule just to get some more real-life race experience. It’s definitely a change from running on my own!
I’m excited, nervous, happy, terrified… but I’ll keep putting one foot in front of the other and trust that the training will pay off in the end. Race season is officially here!