Thirteen days after the Houston Marathon, I decided to jump into the Zoo Run Run for the third consecutive year. I am debating running the Boston Marathon on April 15th, so I need to stay in touch with my speed, just in case I go through with it. Heck if Yuki Kawauchi from Japan can pop out constant world class marathon times left and right, I feel like a controlled 5k won't be too bad.
For the two prior years, the Nashville Striders have timed the event, but this year, I Run for the Party took over. While I enjoy the race itself, especially the post-race food, I really don't like the course. It's run through the zoo and it is extremely twisty with a ton of sharp turns. The first mile isn't that bad, but from then on, you can't run for more than a few seconds without making a sharp turn. Because of that, I wasn't looking for a fast time but was planning on running a little harder than half-marathon effort.
Traffic was insane coming into the zoo and instead of my planned fourish mile warm-up, I only had time to cram in two miles, with no strides. I ran most of the warm-up with Ashley Evans and then ran into Nashville's #1 most active roadracer, Jacob Carrigan and a high school kid I've gotten to know over the last year, Kevin Barrett and my friend/triathlete, Chris Hanson. I took a spot in the second/third row and then we were on our way.
I hate starting off fast in Nashville races, so I took my time working to the front and took the lead about 1/4 mile in and right before you enter the back part of the zoo. I tried to find my rhtyhm and get my legs turning over. I was worried how they would feel post-marathon, especially with not running any real "speed" work in a few months but they felt surprisingly good. I went through the first mile in 4:45 and was feeling pretty strong.
Once the twisting-and-turning started, I lost a lot of my speed and rhythm and once I found it again, it would be time for another sharp turn, and I would start over again. Somehow I came through two miles in 9:38 and was still feeling good. At that point, I felt like sub 15 was a possibility, so I decided to keep up the effort, and seeing where it put me.
I felt like I was losing way too much time, but I went through the third mile in 4:53 with a three mile split of 14:31. I then saw I had a realistic shot at breaking the 15 barrier, so I picked it up. When I rounded the final turn, the finish line was further down than I thought and I saw the clock just over 15:00, with about 50m left of running. After I crossed the finish line, I walked around for a couple of seconds before realizing my watch was still running and I stopped it on 15:15. I started it with the gun and since it took me a second or so to cross the timing mat and since it ran a few seconds post race, I felt my chip time would be around 15:10 or so. When the official results came out, it was listed as 15:16, which is definitely wrong. If I pay $44 (which is about a year supply of McDonalds McDoubles) for a 5k, I feel like I should at least get an accurate time. But guess not.
As usual, the post-race food was pretty decent, but I was bummed that instead of having Blackstone Brewery out there, like they had the two prior years, they had Michelob Ultra. And why serve both Michelob Ultra and water? At least choose one or the other!
But all-in-all, it was a pretty encouraging race. I was expecting my legs to feel flat but they felt good and fully recovered. It was also encouraging to run a good bit faster than last year (16:18 on a bum knee) and than in 2011 (15:51). While I feel the course is a bit short, I feel like it's an accurate 5k "time wise" due to the manic turns and super irregular pacing.
Even though I've done this race the past three years, I think I may pass on it next year.