February 10, 2013 by IowaTriBob
Yesterday I had the opportunity to run my first 5K of the year at the RunWild @ Zoo Miami event. The event was the perfect way to start off the racing season with beautiful weather, a flat course, unbelievable scenary, and a new personal best.
My coach Wendy and I have been talking about getting me into a 5K event over the past several weeks to help establish a run baseline for the year and to hopefully put the past several months of training to work. With a bunch of airline, hotel, and car rental reward points built up, I looked at the national weather map and identified southern Florida as the place to be. When looking for races in the area I stumbled across the RunWild @ Zoo Miami event and immediately registered and booked the rewards.
As I left Cedar Rapids the weather was somewhat mild compared to the past several weeks, but when I arrived it definitely put living in Iowa into perspective.
The RunWild @ Zoo Miami is a competitive 5K as well as family fun run/walk event benefiting the Chapman Partnership. The Chapman Partnership is the private sector partner of the Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust, operating two Homeless Assistance Centers in downtown Miami and Homestead.
The registration opened at 7:00am with race time starting at 8:00am. You could sign up online prior to the race and pick your packet up in the morning or sign up on race day itself. This was probably the one negative of the entire day. The event registration wasn’t very well organized and wasn’t prepared for the turnout of new signups or packet pickups, causing lines of nearly 100 deep at times. In fact, the registration took so long the race start was delayed 20-25 minutes so more could join. Given the weather was low 70′s with nothing but sun, there weren’t too many complaints and even with the delay, I enjoyed every minute of being there.
The race is held directly within the Miami Zoo itself and the course runs the perimeter of the zoo exhibits.
The course is fully paved and winding in most areas but is as flat as you’ll find. The scenary was absolutely amazing. Seriously, how many 5K races will you get to do where you can run by lions, elephants, giraffes, and howling monkeys as they begin to stir for the day!
There was a small, but well put together, exhibition where the pre-race announcements were made, national anthem sang, some great music played, and for those that chose to participate, a short but fun pilates warmup conducted.
After the race there were awards given and plenty of activities. Once you finished you could also walk back through the zoo before the official 9:30am open time with no crowds and open access to everything. In addition, your race registration could be used as free entrace back into the zoo throughout the day and allowed you to purchase discounted tickets for family members that wanted to join.
After a two day taper and some good carb loading and nutrition I finished with a time of 24:36 and an average pace of 7:56 min/mile. By far my best effort EVER. In fact, this beat my previous best event time by over 3 minutes (27:56) and my best training 5K time by over 2-1/2 minutes (27:17). What was just as suprising for me was that I placed 6th (out of 38) in my age group – 6th! For a non runner that only really started back in June, I’m feeling pretty good about that.
Late last year I set a few big goals for the 2013 season and one that I had really considered a stretch was to run a 5K in under 24 minutes. Although I realize there is still a lot of work to do this year, I’m hoping to have to revisit that goal midway through the year to set the time just a little bit lower.
Overall the event was a well put together, the atmosphere was friendly and exicitng, it was well attended but not too crowded, the weather was near perfect, and the scenary was amazing. Its definitely one I’m looking forward to doing for many years to come.