Marwell Zoo 10k race recap

Hello! How was your weekend? Mine went crazily slow (Saturday) and then crazily fast (Sunday). We survived our 10k Marwell Zoo race, hurray!

Saturday Ben and me did an easy ‘shake-out’ run in the morning to loosen us up ready for the race the next day. I know some people like to leave a couple of days before a race and not run at all but I’m in the boat of tapering down during the week but always doing a really easy 2-3mile run the day before. Maybe it’s psychological, but I find it helps.

Then we pretty much did nothing but get all the chores done, walk Alfie on a lovely sunny walk (an hour later it tipped it down) and watched Grey’s Anatomy (series 8). On a side not, we finished House of Cards. So. Good. Watch it immediately.

For lunch Ben and I don’t usually have the same thing at the weekend (though for dinner we do). This is because Ben loves having either a corned beef sandwich or an egg mayo sandwich. Neither of which I like. I mean seriously, why ruin perfectly good egg with mayo?? Winking smile He’s stopped eating corned beef though after the horse meat scandal. Gross.

I was umming and arr-ing and really didn’t know what I fancied. I knew we had mozzarella that needed using up and as I’m currently addicted to BBQ sauce I thought I’d just have BBQ chicken with mozzarella all mixed together.


Excellent random meal if I do say so myself! Really simple: chopped chicken breast, random veg (zucchini, mushrooms, onion), BBQ sauce (any would work but I love Heinz) and then a whole ball of low-fat mozzarella chopped into chunks. Fry the onion, then add the veg, then the chicken and some spices (I used a random chicken mix), big squirt in the BBQ sauce and then add the mozzarella.

For dinner I had my favourite (and now standard pre-race night tradition) make-your-own pizza (chicken, veg, no cheese).


And then we had an early night, bless our old-married-couple cotton socks.

In the morning we woke up naturally bright and early before our alarms (which felt really nice actually) and took Alfie on a quick walk and then proceeded to spend the morning being nervous.

Does anyone else get stupidly nervous before a race? I just had butterflies in my stomach the whole morning (which was longer than planned as we had woken up earlier than expected – we had time to ruminate haha). We had breakfast and then Ben’s mum and my parent’s arrived and off we went in convoy to get there. It wasn’t far away at all so we were there in no time.


The race starts in the zoo and we had free entry because we were running but the parents would have had to pay to see us start (which was quite expensive per person). Bit cheeky really but I hey ho. So they waited outside with other spectators to wait until we ran out of the zoo (only the first mile was actually in the zoo).


It was quite busy and we were both still very nervous. After being delayed for 20 mins, we finally said goodbye and stood by our respective pace markers. We weren’t going to run together as we have different paces, but both of us had a time in mind to finish.

I saw someone I knew at the start which was quite nice so chatted away to them before beginning. I was a bit worried as we weren’t allowed to wear headphones as the roads wouldn’t be closed. I don’t usually run with nothing.

And then we were off! The first mile was uphill and through the zoo, which was quite fun as we got to see some animals. Though I only actually remember seeing ostriches (and then that Family Guy quote came into my head “why are there so many ostriches??” and made me laugh).

The first mile was TOUGH. I had a game plan of each mile pace I wanted to stick to to get my time. I stupidly went faster than I should. My first mile should have been 7.30mins but I did it in just under 7mins. Whoops.


Coming out of the zoo seeing my parents and Ben’s mum, blissfully unaware of the pain to come

And by mile 2 we were still hitting the hills. I couldn’t believe how tough I was finding it. So I brought my pace back down (who am I kidding, the hills brought it down!)

Mile 3 to 4 are a blur of pain and mental determination. I had heard the course was “undulating” but seriously it was killing me. I remember thinking how much I enjoyed the Reading Half-Marathon and was able to zone out. There was zero enjoyment in this run. ZERO zoning out. It was pure psychological concentration and determination to Just. Keep. Running.

The sun was shining and I was hot. I even grabbed water from the water stations TWICE which I never do. Though I only really manage to throw it over myself. How the hell do you run and drink from a plastic cup?? Mile 4 also welcomed the beginnings of a stitch which followed me to the end.

Mile 5 I remember there being less hills. More down hills. Thank God.

I also saw my parents and mother-in-law again and they cheered me on. This was much needed at this point.


They were able to take a photo

And then we were back in the zoo for the last dregs and finished!

Overall, yes it was hugely tough. I remember looking at my watch quite a bit and wishing the miles away. I remember not looking up at hills and looking at the ground because I knew it would knock my confidence if I saw for how long the incline went.

However, I also remember the exhilaration of finishing. I remember being cheered on by random spectators and my running club members. I remember being amazed at how I could maintain my pace despite the hills.


My official time was 43mins 34secs. 9th female, 64th overall out of 917. I’m very pleased Smile I was aiming for 45mins and wasn’t even certain I’d get that with the hills. Here are my Garmin times:


Ben’s time was 57mins 15secs. A full 8 minutes faster than he had planned!! I was over the moon for him and he was very chuffed.

And do you know what topped off the race finish? They were giving out apples with the goodie bags. Seriously. They knew I was coming Winking smile

So what comes after running? Food! Obviously Open-mouthed smile Well actually, a quick hop back home to shower and then FOOD. Again in convoy with the parents.



Good food with the husband and parents. You just can’t beat it.

And Ben made it 8 weeks without drinking!! So he had his celebratory pint with the meal. He thoroughly enjoyed it obviously hehe.


I’m so proud of him!

For the first course…This is getting seriously predictable. But Ben and I shared a mezze board to start. I know, I know.


I just love them.

And for mains I went for BBQ chicken (oh God, I really am becoming a boring broken record) with avocado and bacon salad.


Heavenly. Ben got the same and asked me what the ‘green things’ were. That’s avocado, Ben…*sighs* I love him regardless though Winking smile

Then we parted ways with the parents, got home and collapsed on the sofa. That’s where we pretty much stayed.

All in all, a perfect weekend I’d say!

I definitely think that 10k races are pushing my boundaries of what I prefer to run. I enjoyed running the half marathon far more than the 10k. I’m definitely more of a distance runner and 10k is just on that cusp I think. Saying that, I should be doing a 5k Parkrun this Saturday!! I just know it’s going to be painful…

What did you get up to this weekend?

What’s your perfect post-race meal?

What’s your favourite running distance? I think mine is a half-marathon (though 10 miles is my favourite running distance, but I’ve yet to run a 10mile race)

Hills – are they the bane of your running/cycling life? I hate hills. I hate wind as well. Wind and hills = Anna goes home.

20 Replies to “Marwell Zoo 10k race recap”

  1. I watched the first few episodes of House of Cards but I was worried that it was going to start getting weird. Now you’re the second person who has said they’ve finished the whole first season, so now I really do need to watch the rest 🙂

    They handed out apples? That’s perfect for you. haha.

    Congrats on your time. I think it makes it even better that you struggled a bit but came out nevertheless, meeting your goal! Great job!

  2. Congrats on the race!! And that chicken thing looks amazing. I may or may not have made your chicken paprika this weekend… and I may or may not have made about 80 million batches of it…. Addicted. haha

  3. Wow, well done to you both on fabulous times! I hate wind too – cycling in wind is tough! I don’t like hills when running, but cycling isn’t so bad – I love the feeling of achievement when you get to the top! 🙂

  4. Nice work well done! 🙂
    And well done to Ben too!
    Yes I get stupidly nervous before every race, and even before every Parkrun! Silly me!
    I think 10 miles is a good distance- I am not fast enough to be good on the short distances, I like more time to get into a rhythm, but then anything over a half marathon is so tough as the training just takes over (and I am not fast enough to be able to fit in training runs that easily either). Although the only 10 mile race I have done was the great south run, which is an experience I would rather forget, and would not ever repeat!

  5. CONGRATS on not just powering through the hilly race, but finishing three minutes faster than you’d anticipated!! You’re an incredible runner, Anna! Props to Ben, too, for his strong finish, and for going eight long weeks without beer. That’s some admirable discipline! I really love that you were able to participate in the race together. As they say, “the couple that runs together, stays together.” Actually, I made that up, but I’m certain that somebody somewhere has said it at some time, and that there is loads of truth in the statement! I’d like to find a man who shares my passion for fitness…the last few guys I dated were happy sitting on their bums most of the day!

    Your post-run meal looks absolutely amazing–especially the barbecue chicken salad with avocado and bacon! Talk about a seductive trifecta of flavors! You’re definitely not a broken record…you just have great taste. 🙂

    I haven’t run a race since college, but I’d say my ideal post-race meal would be a panini with chicken, spinach, caramelized onions, and gouda cheese. Mmmm.

    I’d say my favorite running distance is a 10K, although I’ve never run farther than 13 miles, so I might enjoy longer distances more than I think. 🙂 I’m shooting to complete a half marathon in the next two years or so–after I’ve put on about 10 more pounds of muscle mass. Oof. 😉

    Hope you had a wonderful Monday, Anna! <3 xoxo

    1. I’m so pleased Ben’s back into it. I love that’s so enthused again. “Seductive trifeca of flavors” what a sentence!! 🙂
      Yes! Run a half marathon! Such a great challenge. But wow 10lbs of muscle, you go girl!

  6. Congrats on such a crazy sounding race!! You should be really proud! Love that your family was there cheering you on as well, that makes it that much better I think 🙂
    The post run meal looks absolutely divine!! Im not a runner or racer so I cant say what I would have after, but typically after a soccer game all I want is a huge smoothie to drown my thirst!!

  7. Yayyyyyyyy GO ANNA!!! I can’t believe how fast you are. Seriously, you’re a speed demon. FYI I look down when I’m running up hills too. I just have to focus on the area right in front of me and avoid looking up to the top at all costs!! Congrats to Ben too- he did awesome!

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