Last weekend, I ran in the Oasis Zoo Run, a 10km race through the Toronto Zoo. I signed up for this race months ago and was really looking forward to the experience. Having only competed in 10km races that were entirely downhill (like the Toronto Yonge Street 10km and the Sporting Life 10km), I was looking forward to testing my speed in a race with a more challenging and hilly route.
The weather was cold and drizzly and while it showed signs of clearing just before the start, it clouded over and was fully raining by the time I crossed the finish line. I also had to run without music and my beloved Nike+ Running app. After checking my bag, I went to power up my iPhone only to find that it was completely dead. No music. No app, and no time to return to the bag check and get rid of it. I had to run the whole race with a dead iPhone strapped to my arm and earbuds playing nothing. It was a very disorienting experience for someone who always runs with music and an app that tracks my average pace.
I complained bitterly about it before the race began, but remembering the name of my new blog, my fiancé, who was also running the race, reminded me that all I would need on this race were thoughts and pavement. How appropriate. And like it or not, that was all I was going to have.
The race started on a nice long downhill, but halfway down the hill, I suddenly realized that this was a loop and we’d be turning around at the bottom and running right back up. I was immediately winded and we were only 2km into this run.
While the Toronto Zoo boasts more than 5,000 animals, I saw very few of them during the run. I vaguely recall some bison and a giraffe. I think I might have heard an elephant at some point, although that could have been the sound of a didgeridoo – one of the instruments being played in the somewhat bizarre en route band.
The Toronto Zoo is set in the beautiful Rouge Valley and at 710 acres, it’s one of the largest zoos in the world. The route did have some beautiful parts, but honestly, my memory of the run is clouded with thoughts of painful uphills and the sounds of my laboured breathing, which is a lot easier to ignore when I have an awesome song to distract me!
I had some low points in that race. I often thought about stopping for a walk break, but I forced myself to continue and managed to run the whole thing with a pretty consistent pace. The final 1km of that run was intense. It was almost entirely uphill and a pretty tough way to end a very challenging run.
Without my trusty app, I honestly had no idea how fast I was going. I felt lethargic and slow so I was anticipating a finishing time over one hour. I crossed the finish line at 54:44. Not a terrible time considering the conditions, but a far cry from my personal best (49:59 in the Sporting Life 10km in May).
A big shout-out to the race organizers. It was another well-run and efficient race. Canada Running Series race director Alan Brooks does a fine job with these races.
Two things I learned from the Oasis Zoo Run:
1) Charge my iPhone the night before a race!
2) Hills suck. I’m exceedingly thankful that my next race – the Scotiabank Half Marathon – is flat!
Did anyone else run this race? How did it go for you?