Marathon training continues. This weekend we ran 18mi on Saturday and then entered the Zoo Zoom 5mi race at the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore on Sunday. Yep, getting ready for the Goofy Challenge is quite some work. :)
Anyway, we ran the Zoo Zoom a few years ago and then it stopped occurring. This was a real shame as both the wife and I really liked this race. It's in Baltimore's Druid Hill Park, where the first three miles are in the park with some hilly areas (this park also hosts the Dreaded Druid Hills run every year, but this course isn't nearly so bad) and then the last two are through the zoo, with the last mile being through exhibits filled with yelling animals. It's quite a fun run. So, when they announced it was coming back, we jumped at the chance to do it again.
One of the best parts of the race is seeing the animals, both in the last mile of the run and beforehand. Some of the Zoo's Animal Ambassadors were out, including these two guys. The Screech Owl was my favorite (his name is Pellet). :)
After visiting the animals, we ran the five miles, which was somewhat hilly, including a huge down-and-up segment right when you actually enter the zoo. Pretty crazy run. When I hit mile four, the lemurs were the first animals I ran by and boy were they loud and cheering everyone on. Very cool. Then, the gorillas. Someone had the bright idea of yelling to them and they did not like that so they jumped, hard, at the glass. Very loud and scary...and cool. After running past some other animals, including a very chill cheetah, I finished the race and then waiting for the wife, who finished a few minutes later. Not a horrid time for five miles, but not great either...considering we ran 18mi the previous day, we both were pretty happy with our times. :) We visited some more animals (including a duck named Ritz...because he's a quacker!), grabbed some basic food, and headed home.
I love this event. The course is hilly but fast. Running through the animal exhibits in the last mile gives you quite a boost right when you need it after all of those hills. Plus, the race provides a long-sleeve t-shirt with a cool design (I have so many short-sleeve tech shirts, I never want another one...), it's cheap ($30 per person), and it benefits a great cause, the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore. I'm very glad to see the Zoo Zoom come back, and I look forward to running it again next year!
As you may recall, the wife and I are planning to do the Disney Goofey Challenge in January; this is the event that includes a half-marathon on Saturday and then the full one on Sunday. Our training plan has pretty much been based on our last marathon plan (I actually copied the week-by-week run totals) and then we are including some double weekends in there as well, where we will run the normal marathon training distance one day and a (significnatly) shorter distance the other. This seems to be working out OK, but I guess we will not really know until January. :)
So, anyway, last week we were scheduled for a 14mi run and our local running club, the Howard County Striders, was hosting their annual Metric Marathon. Basically, this is a 26.2K event instead of 26.2mi. It works out to be just about 16.2mi, which was close enough to our training goal that we opted to sign up. Since it's a local race, it's pretty cheap ($30/person) and includes a nice tech shirt and support water/Gatorade stops along the way. We actually tried to run this three years ago and also two years ago, but both of those were cancelled due to ice. Nuts. This year...perfect weather. Onward!
We showed up nice and early for same-day packet pickup. After relaxing in the truck for a little while, we went back over and chatted up the other runners, seeing many familiar faces. Then, off we went. We stuck with the 10:15min/mile pace group for a while and then fell back. Remember, this was a marathon training run and we had run 16mi the week before as well. We completed the course mostly on our own, alternating positions with two military runners who were running with 45min rucksacks on their backs. Cool stuff.
Anyway, the course for this race takes you all around Howard County. I've now run on some roads I would not have dreamed of doing so before and learned how some roads connect that I didn't know about. One of the things you need to understand about Howard County, Maryland, is that it's hilly. VERY hilly. CRAZY hilly. The Columbia Triathlon, hosted here, is widely regarded as one of the most difficult Olympic-distance races in the world, mostly due to the hills on both the bike and run courses. And the Metric Marathon course put them both to shame. This was, without a doubt, the most difficult and the most hilly 16mi I've ever run. Here is a link to the map but be warned that it provides no information about the elevation changes. Most unpleasant.
By the time we came around to the end, our friends Danny and Suzy (you remember Suzy, she's the best cycling instructor in the world) ran us in and that was that.
We got some water and pizza (Ledo Pizza...score!) and walked around a bit to calm our legs down. Our time wasn't great compared to others in the race, but I didn't expect it to be since (1) there are some crazy fast runners here in HoCo (Janelle and Keith...I'm looking at you) and (2) this was a training run and we ran it as such. So, that's the Metric Marathon. If you want a crazy hilly course and to see lots of HoCo that you probably haven't run before, this is the race for you. For me, however, one and done...I will not be racing it again.
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