Saturday, September 18, 2010

KC Zoo Run 4 mile Race - RR

When: September 18, 2010
Where: Kansas City Zoo
Temp: 75F
Dew Point: 68F
Finish Time: 29:33 (new PR)
Avg. HR: 178
Max HR: 192
AG: 7/72
OA: 74/1200+ (unsure of exact number)

The morning routine went as planned and I made it to the Zoo about 1hr before the start. Unfortunately, I had a bad case of sciatica running down my right leg. It was a little painful just to walk around. I could feel the pain shoot down the leg with every step. I tried some light jogging and it didn't feel too good so I switched back to walking around as my warm-up. I would stop every so often and try to stretch out my hamstrings and back.

With about 20 minutes to go, I took the 1/4 mile walk to the starting line. The walk was mostly uphill which I was hoping would help out the dice. I stretch out a bit more and then take some pictures of the crowd.

Looking forward (I was further back than I thought).

Looking behind me.

When we had 10 minutes to go, I figured it was time to turn on the Garmin. Thankfully, I remembered to charge it. It was at this time that I started to try and get myself mentally ready for what was ahead. I knew the first 2 miles were basically downhill (gradual), but then we get into some good hills and narrow zoo paths to make the race interesting. I decided I would try to go out fairly fast and try to hold on. My main goal was to beat my time from last year (33:50) but I was going to go for the PR. I wasn't sure if I could do it or not; I am a stronger runner now, but this is course is a lot tougher. Still, I had to try.

It's finally time to start. The national anthem was sung and we were off. Mile 1 starts with a gradual incline until our first turn and then is downhill for the next 0.5 miles and then levels out for a bit. There is a very noticeable incline at about the 0.7 mile point, but it is fairly short and doesn't take much out of you since you have the downhill momentum built up. The mile finishes on a downhill. Mile one finished in 7:08 which was faster than I wanted, but I figured WTH lets go for it. I snapped the following pics during the first mile:

About 1/4 through the mile. The guy in the tie-dye looking shirt became my target.

Spectators around the 1/2 mile point (Canada Geese in case it doesn't show up).

The noticeable incline.

Mile 2 starts on a downhill and my pace is holding steady. At about the 1/4 mile point it levels off for about a half mile. The course then takes a short, but nice downhill section, levels off, then finishes on a gradual downhill. I could tell that I was working this mile. The early fast pace started to catch up to me. I decided to keep pace with Tie-Dye dude. He slowed just a little, but it was more along the lines of the pace I wanted to shoot for during this stretch. Mile 2 was finished in 7:17. The following pic was taken during Mile 2:

Just shy of halfway through.

Mile three gets very interesting as the hills start. We also start to run along the narrow paths within the zoo. I honestly don't recall much but the hills. The big hill is near the end of this mile. I would say that about 3/4 of this mile is uphill. Tie-Dye dude slowed more than I wanted to so I decided to make my move and pass him. This mile has been my nemesis during this race. The last 2 times I ran it, it defeated me and forced me to walk. I was NOT going to walk this time. No matter how much I slowed, I was determined to continue running. This time, I won the battle with this mile. I slowed a decent bit, but still finished mile 3 in 7:47. The following pic was taken during this mile:

About half way through the mile (during the only level portion).

Mile 4 starts on a decline, but quickly goes to gently rolling hills. Overall, I would consider this mile to have more uphills than downhills. I was struggling this mile and saw that I was creeping up close to my old PR pace. I decided it was too close for comfort and I needed to dig deep and pick the pace up if I wanted any hope of setting a new PR. I had to push all the doubt out of my mind, ignore the ever-present sciatica pain, and deal with the discomfort the only way I could think of, finish faster!

I saw two guys that were possibly close to being in my AG and decided I had to pick them off. I willed myself to push the pace, but I didn't have too much left. I did speed up since I was closing the gap. They were running side by side on the narrow path so I had to pick my spot to pass wisely. We are coming up to a turn and they take it wide. I cut inside and pass them. No I need to keep my speed up since I don't want to be THAT guy. You know, the person who speeds past you only to slow down. That really irritates me so I used it as motivation to keep my pace. Eventually, I can no longer hear their footsteps. I am really struggling at this point. My avg. pace has picked up but so has my HR. I now know why it feels like I'm working hard, my HR was at 190 (my max is b/w 200-205). The guy who won the race was on the side cheering people on. He let us know we were almost finished. I tried to find a kick, but there really wasn't one there. I see the finish line and keep charging ahead. Next thing I know this young whippersnapper (16ish) tries to sprint past me. I was not going to let her pass me without a fight. I managed to take my spot back and keep her from passing me. I cross the line and quickly move to the side and start walking. I was SPENT. The following pic was taken during mile 4:

The two guys I was determined to pass. This was right before I passed them.

After catching my breath back, I went and found the people that pushed/pulled me through the race, starting with the whippersnapper. I thanked them all and congratulated them for having good races.

All in all it was a great race under warm and humid conditions. I was completely drenched at the end. I will be back next year!

Thanks to everyone who actually made it this far. I will finish this report with a couple of pictures of the critter this race goes to support, the Polar Bear.

I hope you enjoyed the RR and pics.


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