Albuquerque’s Run for the Zoo Half Marathon Recap

Sunday, at the Run for the Zoo Half Marathon, I made a huge  running blunder.

I forgot to start my Garmin.

As a result, my mileage was about .11 off the whole time, and I had no idea how much time had gone by.


Albuquerque’s Run for the Zoo is the city’s biggest race.  Just about everyone in town has either run it or supported a runner at some point.  Although still a “hometown” race, it is obvious that Run for the Zoo is working to slowly establish itself as Albuquerque’s destination race.

For example, last year they added the half marathon event to the 10-K, 5-K, and 1 mile Fun Run line-up (though, still no medals for half finishers).  This year, packet pick-up was moved from a local athletic store to a hotel ballroom, and it had the beginnings of an expo!  Even though the half marathon cap is at 600, it is a well-organized race, and I think it has the potential to grow.

{Packet Pick-Up Bloody Mary Bar!}

Run for the Zoo also holds a special place in my heart because it was here two years ago that I ran my first ever race.

The day before the race was Cinco de Derby (my boy Bodemeister came in 2nd), and since Whitney from Racing the States and her friend were in town from Denver to run, we met up and enjoyed a pre-race margarita.  It was very cool to meet a blog friend in real life.  I wish I could meet all of you!

The next morning we got up early and did our pre race routine of wandering around half asleep while trying to pin numbers to shirts somewhat straight.

As mentioned last week, I wanted to shake up the routine a bit and see if any tweaks would help performance.

I started off by eating a bigger breakfast.  Typically I’ll eat a banana pre-race.  This time, I ate a bowl of Cheerios and some soy milk.  I think this was a bad idea.  My stomach felt upset.

The half marathon started a full hour and a half before the 10-K which was perfect in every way from more parking to a less crowded course.  This also meant no porta pottie line (the half only had 425 participants)!

The bad side of the early start was the complete lack of crowd support.  The one thing I’ve always loved about this race is the amazing community cheerleaders who line the streets to encourage runners, no matter what the weather is doing.  I guess the crowds don’t get up that early?

We started right on time (Yay, Race People!), I got my Garmin going about .11 miles in, and I started SLOW.  I was shooting for negative splits, so I wanted my first mile at about 8:15.

Turns out trying to run slower than you want is actually a lot harder than it sounds.  With the initial excitement, everyone is going fast, and oh my goodness, I was passed and passed and passed. Super competitive Amy was not happy.  But I kept working at going slow despite my adrenaline pushing me otherwise.

I also opted to start off without music.   The first three miles where everyone is just jockeying for position is actually distracting enough, and I didn’t need it.

At about mile 3.5, the crowd was thinning, we were starting down a long straight away next to the river, and I was ready to start kicking into gear, so I decided to turn on Amy’s Workout Jams.  I think delaying music worked well.  Aside from the few minutes I spent getting everything situated with untangling headphones and trying to figure out which button was “on” without looking, it gave me the kick when I was starting to loose the race excitement.

The trail itself was full of shade.  I had taken allergy medicine and Musinex, and I didn’t feel the same suffocation that I felt two weeks ago.  I was hydrated.  There was just a slight breeze.  Overall, everything seemed to be in prime condition.

Except for my negative split skills.

I started out slow, and even when I thought I was picking it up, I was staying pretty much the same, or getting slower.  I’ve already determined through multiple races that I’m pretty good at starting out fast and slowing down, but apparently I have a much harder time starting out slow and getting faster. Plus, as a smaller race, there were fewer people to use as pacers.  I ran by myself for most of the time.

I took my Clif Shot at mile 7. It didn’t create the same gag reflex that I got two weeks ago, but I may consider less gooey fuel options. Although Aaron took the Jelly Belly sport beans and said he could only stomach one.  They didn’t provide sport drink along the course.

Finally, at mile 10, I managed to get my act together, and started to speed up.  I was actually feeling really good at this point in the race, which I think spells total failure on the effort part, so I tried to use up as much energy as I could in the last three miles.

This is where our lack of speed training really hit.  I had the energy, my legs didn’t hurt, but I’m just not trained to run that fast right now.  But, I was still passing people, and stayed motivated by passing more. Who’s boss now, early passer people?!?!

I crossed the finish line in 1:47:25, twenty seconds faster than my race time two weeks ago.

{Sprinting toward the finish!}

Also, because this was the Run for the Zoo, I sported my zebra print Bic Band to celebrate the occasion!

{Double fisting like a pro!}

I didn’t really accomplish a true negative split because… it was hard.  Starting off slow is hard.  Having people pass you left and right is hard.  Though, I discovered passing people at the end is actually more motivational than passing people at the beginning, but by that point, it was too late to make up time lost during the first 10 miles.

I truly think I could have run the first few miles 5-10 seconds faster each, and I don’t think I would have exhausted myself, and at least I would have taken some time off the clock.  I chose 8:15 as a starting point because that was the slowest I wanted to go, but I think I should have started out faster.

I didn’t have any miles that were as slow as last race, but I didn’t have any miles that were as fast either.  And I feel like because I felt so good the entire race, I should have pushed it further.

And after all is said and done, it only made a 20 second difference, and that could have been because the race conditions and my overall disposition were better, not necessarily because I started off slower.

Maybe I just need more practice at this.

There were 425 finishers.  I came in at 91, Aaron came in at 28.  He was 6th in his age group, and I was 9th.

{Three legged Aaron, going toward the finish}

My dad ran the 10-K, and actually did really well!  We waited with my mom, cheering on the other half marathon finishers and 10-K finishers until my dad crossed the finish line.  I’ve actually never stood at a finish line before, and I saw some pretty interesting things.  I saw an older lady running fully barefoot which sounds just like a bad idea all around, but she looked great.  I saw another man who maybe didn’t heed the warnings of training into Vibrams, because he walked in obvious pain barefoot with his 5-fingers in his hand.  I saw a little kid (maybe 7-8) bust out, and finish probably in the top 10 of the 10-K.  I saw a lot of determined people, a lot of victorious people, a lot of tired people, and a lot of people who looked very ready for a cold shower and a nap.

{Aren’t we the coolest? And I love how this picture accentuates my shortness}

The great thing about the Run for the Zoo is the free admission into the zoo after the race.  We went with my parents and hobbled around for a couple of hours before the muscle pain started to set in.  I hadn’t been the zoo in several years, so it was fun to see the new exhibits.  Albuquerque’s zoo is actually pretty nice.

Overall, this was an enjoyable race.  It didn’t hurt, the miles went by fast, and I’ve recovered nicely. Truthfully, even though I didn’t come in at my goal time of under 1:47, I’m not really all that bothered.  It is obvious that I have plateaued, and it is time to take it up a notch.  Thanks to everyone for all of your support and encouragement! Half marathon #5 is in the books! Not my best, but definitely not my worst.

*CORRECTION: I don’t really know what I was thinking…I ran this race only 6 seconds faster than I did the Albuquerque Half Marathon.  Sigh.

21 thoughts on “Albuquerque’s Run for the Zoo Half Marathon Recap

  1. You guys are so cute! I love the pic with your dad. That’s awesome he ran, too!
    I’ve always thought running slower than you’re used to is so much harder. I wonder why that is.
    So glad that overall you felt better, though! It sounds like a nice race.

    • Haha! Thanks! I have no idea why it feels so much harder either. It just didn’t feel right or productive. I need to work on it I guess. And it was a very nice race!

  2. Packet Pick-Up Bloody Mary Bar!?!??!! DONE! 🙂

    That’s an awesome time — one you should def be proud of! I agree that negative splits are tough and that starting out a race slow is one of the hardest things to do. But with practice, it gets easier and I do think it’s totally worth it! Congrats on an awesome race and great recap — I was thinking about you this weekend!

    • RIGHT?! I have never seen a bar set-up at a packet pick up before. And thank you! I need more practice! In theory, it seems like it would be so much easier than it actually is.

    • Thank you! I agree that passing people at the end was nice. I promise I’m a very nice and supportive person, but when it comes to racing, I am determined to pass people!

  3. I like how you had flip flops at the ready after the race, that is pretty awesome. Congrats on another run, looks like you enjoyed this one quite a bit more then your past couple of races!

    • Thank you! I live in flip flops! Pretty much the only time I wear closed toed shoes is when I run, or when it is so cold outside (like, 20 degrees) that it would be physically painful to be in sandals.

  4. Nice job! It seems like your race was overall good! I really enjoyed that whole event. And the zoo is pretty awesome! Really nice exhibits and habitats built for the animals! I also saw the guy carrying his 5 fingers in his hand…i totally passed him during the race (I think he was in the half), and then I saw him again after I finished when he was finishing.

    • I’m so glad you enjoyed your time down here! We were cheering for you as you crossed the finish line. You looked really strong. The 5-fingers guy did not (he was a halfer)! We saw him afterward, and he had a very noticeable HUGE blister on the side of his foot. Ouch.

    • Thank you! I can definitely see how they make sense, and I’ll probably try it again, but there seems to be some sort of science to it that I haven’t figured out.

  5. Looks like a super fun race! I’m loving the bloody mary bar at packet pickup. If I ever accomplish my dream of being the race director for my own marathon, I am totally doing that!

  6. Pingback: Short, Unrelated Thoughts, and HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY! | Lavender Parking

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