Monday, May 19, 2014

Make Tracks for the Zoo Recap

Yesterday was one of my favorite races; St. Louis Children's Hospital's Make Tracks for the Zoo 5K.  It's a great family race and it ends with breakfast at the Zoo, which is one of my favorite places in St. Louis!  This year was the first year that I ran the race in its entirety, which was pretty exciting.  I hoped to finish in under 40 minutes and I was this close to reaching that goal, clocking in at 40:11.  I am really proud of my time this year, particularly when I look back at my history with this race.

The first year I did Make Tracks for the Zoo was in 2011 and I finished in 1:16:09.  I hadn't even begun my running journey at this point, so I walked and had a great time.  I did not participate in 2012, since I had just had Jack 2 months prior in March of that year. In 2013, I finished in 46:39 through a combination of running and walking.  Since I started participating in this race, I've come a long way and shaved nearly 36 minutes off my time!  Plus, I love that since last year, Nick has joined me by participating in the kids run.  I think Jack will be ready for the kids run next year, too!

Me and my sweet boys
I love that this race runs through Forest Park near the Zoo, since this is my stomping grounds for my "runches" during the week.  In addition to being a beautiful course, it's one that I'm very familiar with.  As we started out, my calves were cramping a little bit, but I kept going, albeit slowly.  As we approached the first hill shortly before the first mile ended, I found a surge of energy and bounded up the incline.  It was really empowering and a good reminder for me that the hill work I've been doing, even for just a short time, has made a difference.

Much of the 2nd mile was flat and it was so nice to coast along enjoying the park on such a beautiful day.  Last year, race day was very hot and humid, but this year, we lucked out with gorgeous temperatures in the 70's and no humidity.  It was divine!

The first part of mile 3 was downhill and that was a nice boost heading into the last stretch.  I thought I might be able to break 40 minutes, so I really took off during the last .5 mile or so.  I saw my mom and the boys near the end of the race and it was so nice to see their smiles and hear them cheering as I approached the finish line!

After I finished, we headed over to the area where the kids were lining up for the kids races, including the 1/2 mile run, 1/4 mile run, and the 1 mile fun run.  Nick decided to do the 1/4 mile run again this year and I planned to run it with him.  Last year, I ran it with him because I wasn't sure how he would do running it by myself and I wanted to enjoy the experience of running with him.  He seemed a little intimidated by the crowd last year, so it made sense to run with him.  As we started the race yesterday, he took off and I started to step off to the side so that I could stay near the finish and watch him cross the line.  He stopped at one point, though, and realized I wasn't behind him and started to back track to me.  He found me and I started running again but he took off again and I caught up with him later at the finish line.  I was really proud of him for being fearless and making the race his own!  Next year, I think he will be ready to take on either the 1/2 mile or 1 mile run all on his own.
We ran into Stacy and Illyria at the race! 
Nick has had a bit of a competitive streak lately and doing these races has opened up a conversation about being a good sport and how races are not about winning, but about having fun and supporting others.  During the awards ceremony after the race yesterday, he kept asking if he was going to get an award (he had already received his participants ribbon).  I explained that the kids 1/4 mile was just for fun and that we received a ribbon for participating.  He seemed a little disappointed and mentioned wanting to win an award, so I asked him how many races I've ever won. He said none and I pointed out that he was exactly right and the reason that I do these races is not to win, but to have fun and challenge myself.  I'm sure a lot of this competitive behavior has to do with his age, but hopefully as we continue to do these races together we can work on good sportsmanship.

We spent a little time at the zoo after the race and then we came home for long naps, at least for Jack and I.  My mom, the boys, and I had a great time at the race and I'm looking forward to participating again next year!

Me and my Mama
"Accept the days when running seems impossible. Embrace the days when running seems effortless."