2017 Run For The Zoo Half Marathon

This race marked my 15th half marathon, 9th state, 2nd half of 2017, and first half marathon that I completed in under 2 hours! I am still in awe that I finished this race at a pace (9:08 min/mi) that in High School I considered 'impossible' to hold for a 5k! 

We drove down to Albuquerque (stayed in Placitas) on Friday morning & the race was slated for 7am start on Sunday, May 7th. Check over on my blog for pre-race weekend activities (including quick recap of the expo!). Since I'm still in the midst of training for my Revel Rockies Marathon (35 days away) and I had originally had 18-20 miles on my schedule for Sunday, I decided that I would play the extra mileage by ear and not stress about it too much (I have already done one 20 miler that felt fantastic and have one more left in this training cycle). I woke-up at 5, got dressed, had some oatmeal with cinnamon and a banana, and we were off! Alex dropped me off about a mile from the start/finish area (which was right in front of the zoo!) and I got my mile warm-up in at a super easy pace. I still had 40 minutes to kill once I arrived there and it was SO quiet. I actually questioned whether I was there at the right time/ location because there were so few runners. I walked around for a few minutes to get a lay of the land and then walked RIGHT UP to the porta-potty line. I'm still in shock that there was no one around them 30 minutes prior to the start!

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It was already pretty hot out (60 degrees), so I knew that my PR may not be a possibility depending on how hot it got (I don't do well in the heat). I had my nuun performance hydration blueberry strawberry mix with coconut water in my Nathan speedshot portable waterbottle, so I knew that I could take in as much electrolytes as I needed!

It was about 15 minutes to start and still a super small crowd. I wasn't nervous, but pretty excited! I LOVE RACING! I headed to the start line and got in some dynamic stretching prior to lining up. 

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We all lined up and this was by-far the smallest half I've ever done. There were very few spectators (kinda a bummer), but so thankful for all the volunteers that were there! We were less than 45 seconds to start and then they said that we would have a delay of 10 minutes due to a course malfunction? After a minute passed, they said it would just be a 5 minute delay and for us to line BACK up! Well, after that craziness, I restarted my garmin and we were off! I was so thankful that I had both my sunglasses and visor because it was already sunny and hot. The first mile traveled behind the zoo on a dirt path and then hooked onto their bike path (which we stayed on until mile 11). The bike path was nice and there were water stops every 2-2.5 miles, however they never once offered anything besides water. I am still in shock that on a hot day like today, they couldn't scrounge up a bit of Gatorade or something with electrolytes for us. Definitely a huge negative for this race and I was super thankful I decided to bring along my own waterbottle with some electrolytes (although could've used way more). 

I felt really good up until mile 9 (when the shade was gone and the sun/ heat really started to wear on me). I started out at a conservative pace, picked it up after mile 4 and tried to hang onto that pace until mile 10 (this was my race strategy), and depending on my time either pull-back a bit (which I did due to I would definitely meet my 2 hour mark and the heat was taking its toll) or kick it up. I took one honey stinger gel at mile 5.5 and the second at mile 9.75. 

At mile 11, we were joined by the 10k runners which was OK, but by the point I joined them I had to dodge a lot of walkers and that took quite a bit of energy. I really liked that a little past mile 12, you could see the finish area the entire time. I kicked it up and really just kept my focus on the finish. This part took a lot of grit! There were a few more spectators along this section and I was still feeling really good. I crossed the finish line at 1:59.37 and seriously felt like I could've run another 10+ miles. I was never super sore afterwards and although would've liked to really push myself and see how big of a PR I could get, I'm glad that I kept that drive and will use it towards my Marathon next month! I shaved 2 minutes off my PR in November and am so proud to be chipping away in the under 2 category. 

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Afterwards, we headed out pretty quickly as we wanted to get on the road. We did a pit-stop at Dunkin Donuts (like the true New Englanders that we are) and ofcourse I had to get a DONUT! I did a short rolling session with my R8 and stretching before getting in the car for our 8 hour drive back home. 

Overall, if I wasn't trying to complete a half marathon in every state I probably wouldn't have participated in this race. The organization was OK (again, I'm used to larger races with spectacular organization), the lack of Gatorade/Powderade on the course was disappointing, the only check-in point that they had on the course for our chip was at the end (not even at the beginning) so I really had to rely on my Garmin, and they had NO mile markers on the course (also disappointing). I had a runner in front of me ask a volunteer if we were at the halfway point (it seemed like this could've been his first half) and the volunteer said yes- we were only at mile marker 5.5 (I didn't have the heart to tell the runner that he still had another mile to go before we hit halfway)... 

Here's to chasing the next race and the next PR! Cheers!