For years I’ve wanted to participate in this 5k race at the Detroit Zoo, but instead I ran the Mackinac Island Eight Mile race. While I really enjoyed my weekend runcation up north, I’ll admit I felt like I was missing out.

I’ve been fortunate to always live within 30 minutes from our zoo. For many years, my Mom has been a zoo member. We used to go all the time as kids, packing lunches and eating them in front of the elephants (long before the Detroit Zoo acknowledged the elephant home was not suitable and had them moved – which is wonderful!). Maybe it’s the close proximity to home or the memories, but I’m partial to the Detroit Zoo over the Toledo Zoo. Or maybe its because the Detroit Zoo boasts that many of their animals are rescue animals, from their grizzly bears and bald eagles to seals and rhinos.

In college, I was happy to volunteer with my ACS student chapter at the zoo for kid events (Zoo Boo and Earth Day). They were great STEM-related opportunities for kids, and when I graduated college I looked at the process/requirements to be a zoo volunteer. That would be awesome! I would love to talk to visitors about the animals. However, it would have been a time issue with training for my first marathon that fall after graduation and being available for their orientation days that I could not commit. Someday in the future – sign me up! 🙂 At the beginning of the summer, I decided to finally become a member of the Detroit Zoo. I’ve already gone several times this summer, including a visit to their Dinosauria event!

Last summer, I fund-raised for my Aunt Ginnie; I formed Team Ginnie (original name, am I right?!) and I was shocked and humbled at my friends, family, and strangers who allowed us to exceed our fundraising goal at Stampede Scleroderma. I mention this because it was my first race at the Detroit Zoo. Technically, ran outside the zoo in the surrounding neighborhoods, but participants gained free entry inside to walk around afterwards. This race this time finished inside the zoo near the giraffes.

In the distance you can see the finish line arch
Map from Garmin

I didn’t pre-register and I still woke up early as if I was heading to work. I arrived about an hour before the 5k start and I didn’t have any wait registering. Packet pickup was so well organized. I’m really glad they had my size t-shirt left even registering race morning. They got this race well-planned! The only line I spotted that was incredibly long was for the portajohns. The race lined up outside the zoo gates on the service drive. I was worried it would be packed at the start line but they allowed so much room that a lot of people probably didn’t realize they could start closer. But that was fine with me! I didn’t want to trip on anyone or be shoved around!

Then I saw my friend Pete! It’s always nice to see a familiar face wherever you go but its great seeing the guy who pushed you to get speedy and confidence in you never wavers. 🙂

Pete and I post-race!

I honestly guessed I would run 7:30s – because that’s what I hoped I was capable of running. I went to a couple of the Hanson’s group speedwork sessions this summer and my splits weren’t always where I wanted them for my half-marathon goal. Maybe I’m being too ambitious. My first 5-mile tempo run two weeks ago averaged 8:25 but the splits were all over the place. The 5-mile tempo run last Friday averaged 8:20 and were a little closer each other. (My tempo goal pace is 8:23 but I’m not confident I picked it right for what I want but I need to chip away at it anyways.)

It was a cooler morning with a feel-like temperature of 56F! This feels quite chilly after a few 95F days last week! I wore a long sleeve shirt over my t-shirt before the race, then tied it around my waist – knowing I’d need it for afterwards to walk around the zoo in. I’ll let you know now in case you don’t make it to the end of this post but I was still freezing afterwards! (I even bought hot chocolate at brunch afterwards and had a pretty hot shower.) Just after the second mile I had to untie my long sleeve shirt and carry it; I couldn’t take it anymore. It was hard to breathe. I couldn’t adjust it right – did I want it above my rib cage or below? It was too constricting. I don’t know how people can run with it tied. I thought it might be annoying or sag too much but I didn’t consider it would make breathing difficult. If you regularly run with shirts tied around your waist, please let me know how you do it! I’m not sure how much this contributed to my laborious breathing but I was working hard, that’s for sure. The last time my heart rate on Garmin looked like this was during the Big Bird 10k race last fall.

Well, a 5k certainly goes by fast after a marathon. It was nice to have a shorter race.

Barely managed negative splits. I’m shocked because I felt like I was slowing down.

My official time was 22:48 (averaged 7:21, 46/2025 overall, 9/1350 female, and 2/205 in my age group). I even snagged an age group award! I was worried I’d never get another age group win after moving into a new age group this year! Ha ha!

I love the t-shirt and matching medal!

They gave us reusable water bottles at the finish that I’m really happy about.

I did walk around the zoo a little bit afterwards. I wanted to see Baby Jane, the newborn chimpanzee. It’s so cute how she hangs onto her mom as she walks around and climbs. Because she was so close to her mom none of the pictures turned out.

The post-race party was very impressive. No shortage of hot dogs and chip bags – LOL! There were bananas, too. I think I did see people with black bean burgers. Even a band playing music!

A well-setup post-race party

And then I was too cold and had to get to my warm car – I couldn’t wait any longer!

I’m thrilled about my new 5k PR! Last year I ran 23:34 in my goal race last summer and that was my fastest time in 7 years! This beats it. Heck, this is a time one could have expected from me in high school (still not my all-time PR, not yet anyways).

Can you tell I’m cold?