Sunday, May 6, 2012
Safari Park Half Marathon Recap
I didn't really have any expectations for this half. The start of the week totally sucked and my runs on Monday & Tuesday were no bueno. I could barely get a full breath which makes it really hard to run unless you are going really, really slow. But every day got better and better and my 9 mile run yesterday went really well so I was hopeful for today.
I woke up at 3 today since I had a 90 min drive there, had to pick up my race packet, and the race started at 6:30. I kind of regretted that this morning because I only got about 4 hours of sleep but it turned out okay. I got there in plenty of time, got ready, and then met up with Moonkin Running. It was fun to meet another twitter friend. I can't tell you her name or show you her picture because she is another Super Spy. ;) Then we split up to head to our corrals. I got in the corral with the 2:15 pacer which I thought I could do without dying. The plan was to just have fun, not worry about time, and enjoy the run.
The start was full of energy and packed with people which forced me to go out slow. I couldn't have gone faster if I'd wanted too. Which was fine. We headed out and turned on to rural roads that would take us past wineries, dairies (some of the cows even came out to watch us), a horse ranch, and an ostrich farm! It was cool and overcast and the surrounding views were beautiful. At mile 6 we had to climb a steep long hill into the Wild Animal Park. We were all groaning going up it and not just because it was so steep but also because the race people had put up signs with really bad jokes going up them. Like: "How do you know when a rhino is about to charge?...He pulls out his credit card!" and "What do elephant trunks and this hill have in common?...They both suck!". Yeah, they were all bad like that but you had to laugh.
Once we were over the top of the hill, we were in the park and we had a fabulous downhill that wound thru it. I was laughing w/ a couple of the runners about what the animals thought of us crazy humans running by them! We left the park for a little while and some of the keepers were out there with a camel cheering us on. We had one more hill at mile 12 as we went back in the park and then it was all downhill to the finish. I'd lost the 2:15 guy a while back but caught and passed him at this point. I'd had a low energy point around mile 10 but then felt better so picked it up a little at the end.
It was hard to stay focused though, especially when we ran by the elephants and there were baby ones! It was almost torture to keep running and not stop! But I told myself the faster I finished, the sooner I could come back with my camera. You could hear the finish line party for the whole last mile and it was really energizing. The finish was a lot of fun, with the lions to the right and the cheetahs to the left...I found myself speeding up. Be fast or be food, right? ;) I finished in 2:12:35 which I was very happy with. Frankly, I was thinking it would be more like 2:30 because I've been so slow lately. But I did pretty well considering the slow start and the hills. And best of all, I felt great at the end. I probably could have pushed harder but who cares, I had a blast!
I got my medal, grabbed some water, banana, orange, and a bagel and went to sit in front of the cheetah enclosure and watched them while I ate. I swear the cheetahs were licking their chops as they watched us and were pacing back and forth. Later, one of the keepers told me that all the keepers were talking about how much the cheetahs enjoyed watching us. Ha! I bet! :) The medal is very cool, don't you think? I love it.
After that, I went back to my car and got my camera and spent the rest of the day exploring the park. I even splurged a little and did the Photo Caravan tour which is a 2 hour tour on truck that goes into the animal areas so you can get up close and personal with them. You get to feed giraffes and be just a couple of feet away from rhinos. And take pictures galore. A photographer/wild animal lover paradise. Spring is a wonderful time to visit the park with all the babies and the frisky animals. I highly recommend it.
All in all, today was fabulous! A perfect early birthday present to myself. Holy cow, I'm going to be 44 in 13 days! I don't feel old though. I feel like a kid. Especially today. :)