Monday, November 25, 2013

Birthday Race Recap

The past few years I have lived in the DC area there has been a race that falls right around my birthday.   I loved this race because it was close by, had Georgetown cupcakes at the end, and last year they even had mimosas.  It was like they knew it was my birthday and planned the race just for me.  This year I kept looking and it never showed up on the calendar.  Then I learned that my beloved Pacers running store was closing (they were one of the sponsors, so I suspect it had something to do with the race not being held).

My birthday race last year.  Now that I think about it,
I wore almost the exact same thing this year. Talk about consistent.

I was really bummed until another race caught my eye--the Zoom at the Zoo 8k at the Maryland Zoo.  I've always wanted to do a run at a zoo--I'm OBSESSED with zoos and make a point to go if there's one near me in my travels.  My nice friend agreed to run the race with me as part of my birthday present and before I knew it, race day was here.

Even though I have officially completed four weeks of my half marathon training plan, I feel like my runs lately have been a little crappy.  I haven't quite gotten into the running groove yet even though I've consistently been doing around 5 mile runs.  My goal was to just relax and enjoy the race--no reason not to have a good time at my birthday celebration!

When we got to the zoo it was 25 degrees.  I layered up in my favorite long sleeve Under Armour tech shirt, my Brooks pullover, and a zip up hoodie.  Getting our race numbers, shirts, and chips was fast and easy and I really like my race shirt.  They had a dark blue for men and a light blue for women.  I'm a big fan of shirts that actually fit well!  Waiting for the race was ridiculously chilly, but once we started I warmed up and didn't really notice the cold.  The first part of the race was a little crowded but opened up a little once we got to the nearby park.  The first two miles felt like they went by quickly and  they had a water stop right before the 2 mile mark.  Right before mile 4 there was a monster of a hill and I was so glad that they had put a water stop at the end so I could catch my breath a little!  We kept hearing people talking about the big hill at mile 4, and man were they right!  Much to my dismay there was another little hill around the bend from the water stop, but I managed to haul myself up without too much trouble.

Most of the zoo part of the run was around the service areas, so it was a nice path, but you didn't run by many animals.  The parts that did go by the animals were a little disappointing because it was so cold and not many were out!  We did get to run by a couple of cheetahs which made me really happy (yay animal sightings!) and we joked that they were going to release them to make us "earn our spots" like our race shirts said!

As we rounded a corner around mile 4.5 there were volunteers cheering (THANK YOU!!! for standing out in the cold!  The volunteers were troopers and it was so nice to have their support!) and telling us that there was one last uphill and then we were done.  Not gonna lie, that last hill about did me in.  I had it in my mind that the worst of the hills were over and it would be smooth sailing from there.  I felt every last step of the race and can't say it was my strongest finish ever.  The race ended up going a little long (4.99 according to my Garmin), but I'm not really one to care about distances being exact since I'm the true definition of a run for fun kind of girl.

After we finished we got a chilly (yet delicious) muffin from Corner Bakery and then went back to the car to warm up a little before layering up some more to explore the zoo.  Part of the race entry included a pass to the zoo for the day and we didn't want to pass up a chance to see the animals just because of the cold!  We ended up having a great day together (and probably stayed in the indoor exhibits much longer than we would have on a warmer day!).

Do the animals that were out and about surprise you? :)

I'm definitely looking forward to running in the race in future years!  Thanks again to the Maryland Zoo for a great event!


  1. What a great recap and I love your pics! I wish we had stayed around the zoo after the race was over, but my husband told me that our toddler was FREAKING OUT from the cold. (I think she was more freaking out because she had on such a puffy coat that she couldn't put her arms down, but whatever.)

    I'm so glad I'm not the only person that thought that last hill was the worst. Thank goodness for those volunteers! Happy birthday to you and I'm glad you had a great time! :)

    1. Haha, that's ok, just a good excuse to go back! I don't blame her, I'm not a big fan of waddling around in all my layers either!

      The volunteers were incredible! They looked so happy, too! Thanks for the birthday wishes!! :-)

  2. That looks like an awesome race!! I love running through the National Zoo in DC. Every chance I get :) That shirt is cool too!

    1. It was! It was a nice change of pace from my usual runs! (It's actually called Zoo Zoom haha, I'm not sure why I decided to rename it!) Embarrassingly enough, I have never run at the National Zoo! It's on my bucket list before I ever move from the area :-) I love that the shirt is a women's fit! No boxy race shirts here! :-)

  3. That is a super cute shirt! I'm glad you still had a fun birthday run. It surprises me a little that that donkey was out in the cold, though ;)

    1. Just a tad wrinkled after being dragged out of the hamper for a photo shoot ;-) It was lots of fun! Annnnd donkeys are tough ;-)