Minnesota Zoo Tiger Tracks 5k: A Recap


This weekend, I got my fourth 5k race under my belt!

Lately, I haven’t been much into running. It has felt extra hard. I haven’t seen any progress. I haven’t been getting any faster, nor have I felt like I can transition into a longer race like a 10k. Haven’t. Haven’t. Haven’t. Wah. Wah.

If it weren’t for having this race scheduled months ago, I might have quit running completely. Instead, I’ve been running consistently three times a week. However, I wasn’t doing much else in terms of activity outside of those runs.

No wonder why it has taken me all summer to drop another five pounds.

But I could have just skipped the race, right? Nope. Months ago, my friend Stacy signed up for this 5k with me. So not only am I grateful that signing up for this 5k kept me going, but I’m also grateful that having the opportunity to see Stacy again made me accountable. 😉

The week prior to my past three 5ks included two rest days prior to the race. Unfortunately, my schedule this last week didn’t quite allow that. In fact, the last time I ran prior to this Saturday race, was Tuesday. I was unable to run or even workout at all on Wednesday or Thursday. Okay, that’s probably an excuse, now that I think about it. I could have done twenty minutes of something in the morning, right?

The Night Before…

Sophie Jean had been getting pretty whiny lately when I left to do my runs and didn’t take her. She can’t go very far running, but boy does she go crazy when you ask her if she wants to go for a walk! So I decided that a nice brisk 30-minute walk after work would suit the both of us.

I figured that a walk would loosen me up a bit for the race and help my back that’s been so stiff lately. Twenty minutes in, she started to slow down and looked up at me as if to say, “Are we there yet?” It really had been way too long since I’d taken her for a walk. Bad momma.

I met Stacy and her family for dinner at Ansari’s Mediterranean Grill and feasted on a Greek Salad and a Chicken Gyros Wrap. {Sorry! No photos!} As I usually do the night before a race, I over-stuffed myself. I really thought that being with other people would distract me; but it didn’t. Whoops. I’m fairly sure that I finished my food before anyone else.

After dinner, Stacy came back with me to my house. It was so nice to spend the rest of the evening talking, laughing and hanging out. It was just so relaxing.

Still, I felt like I needed a snack. I knew it was just nervousness, so I decided to make one of my new favorite staples I’d discovered during my Pantry Challenge Weekend: Kim’s Green Monster Smoothie.

Green Monster Smoothie Concoction

I finished it quickly and then realized why I wanted it so badly over anything else: I was thirsty. And my glass of water in front of me was still sitting completely full. Hmm…

We got to bed at a decent time and I practiced my night-before-race ritual of taking a hot shower before bed and using lavender oil – both to help me sleep. Even if it’s all in my head, it always works.

Race Day…

I apologize for the lack of pictures, but I think I’ve established what I like to eat for my pre-race breakfast: peanut butter on whole wheat toast, a banana and water. We also stopped at Caribou Coffee on the way to the race and I got my usual Americano. Yay! Strong coffee!!

On the way to the race, Rob said to me:

“If you finish in under 37 minutes, I’ll buy breakfast!”

“Don’t say that!” I yelled back. “It’ll only make me start out too fast.” Besides, I hadn’t  even run one under 38 minutes yet, so I wasn’t getting my hopes up. Especially not after that bad Tuesday run…

We arrived with plenty of time and Stacy taught me how to put the timing chip on my shoe. It’s the first race I’ve done using one and I just couldn’t follow the instructions.

Stacy and Carrie: Pre-Race

After waiting what felt like an eternity to use the portapotties, we got in line for the run. We thought the weather was great when we got up, but felt a bit of humidity when we were waiting at the start. While we were chatting, the horn blew. We didn’t even realize what time it was! But it took a while for us to get to the start line. For some reason, starting out confuses me. People are running every which way, trying to get ahead of each other, etc. It takes me a while to get in the groove.

The run through the zoo could be very peaceful if alone. There were a LOT of people running this race which caused a few small bottlenecks from time to time. There were people of all shapes, sizes, abilities and ages (even kids!)

I felt absolutely great the first mile or so. Better than I’ve felt in a long time! However, I never actually saw the first mile marker. When I looked at my HRM {which ended up failing me in monitoring my heart rate} and saw that I had been running for sixteen minutes, I hoped that I had just missed the marker. Gratefully, I did.

One strange part of the race was going by the Wells Fargo Family Farm area. What wonderful aromas when you are breathing heavily! HA! But the bunch of goats all standing on top of a table or something reminded me of my Sophie Jean. She always seems to need to be up high. For that reason, we sometimes call her a cat. And after she gets a really short fur cut and her legs look extra long, we actually tell her she’s a little goat! So despite the smell, I smiled.

There were a few little hills that added a bit of a challenge, but they also led me downhill. I took full advantage of them and picked up speed on those! The killer, though, was the Monkey Ramp. If you’ve been to the Minnesota Zoo, you know what I mean. I didn’t realize the route was one where you go out and back, so while we went down that ramp on the way out, very close to the end we had to run back up that ramp. The monkeys were probably looking at us like we were the real monkeys!

I was having a hard time the last half-mile or so… So I started to make up games. I told myself that I had to pass ten people before the finish line. Now, normally, everyone is passing me. But this was a big race and there were a lot of run-walkers. Even if I passed people, they’d eventually pass me again. But it was my way of distracting myself. I didn’t end up passing ten, but it kept my mind occupied for a bit!

After I passed the three-mile marker, I picked up the pace a little bit. Then I saw the finish line and the clock time and really kicked it into high gear.

My final chip time?


A Personal Record!

And a free breakfast for me!

  • The Event: Tiger Tracks 5k 2012
  • The Location:  Minnesota Zoo – Apple Valley, MN
  • The Date: August 25, 2012
  • Night Before Dinner: Greek Salad & Chicken Gyro Wrap
  • Night Before Snack: Green Monster Smoothie
  • Pre-race Breakfast: PB on whole wheat toast, banana, Americano
  • My Time: 36:08 (PR!)
  • The Weather: Mid 70′s, slightly humid, partly cloudy
  • General Feeling: Content
  • Uniqueness: Funds raised from the 5K Run support the Zoo’s conservation efforts.
  • The Goods: Zoo Admission for the Day, Tiger Paw-Print T-Shirt
  • The Grub: Nature Valley Oats ‘n Honey Granola Bar, Old Dutch Potato Chips

When is the last time that you wanted to give up and were glad you didn’t?




11 responses »

  1. I didn’t even think about what the 5k might smell like! And here I was imagining you running past the animals and how nice is that and…yes. Manure would be a reality.

    Congratulations on the PR lady! Diligence pays off, and running when you don’t want to can pay major dividends. You absolutely earned that time! Very proud of you.

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