The one about Running This Zoo!- Borgess Half Marathon Race Recap

The team name I chose won!! How cool is that? I had signed up to join the team that my running group was forming for the Kalamazoo Marathon/Borgess Half Marathon/ Borgess 10k/Borgess 5k and we were asked for suggestions for team names. I don’t consider myself particularly creative or punny, especially when it comes to things like this so I decided to consult the internet for some suggestions. I was rewarded with lists of hilarious team names, some of which you can find here and here, and basically by a quick google search. My my, there are so many creative [and slightly inappropriate] people out there!

I didn’t feel right using one I found online plus I felt none of them celebrated Kalamazoo, MI enough. Eventually, I came up with “We Run The Zoo”. It’s awesome because it had ‘run’ in it as well as part of the name of the city :). It also portrayed strength and domination [in the sport of running], kind of the way you ‘run’ a successful company, for example.

After a few days, I revised it to say “We Run This Zoo” to make it more specific ;). The team voted and my suggestion had the highest number of votes. Yay!


Kalamazoo Area Runners Team- We Run This Zoo! [Photo by Mariam]

This was a race of many firsts for me. It was my first time running the Borgess Half Marathon, my first Michigan race, my first race on a Sunday, my first half marathon post-injury, and my first half marathon post personal record. There was absolutely no pressure.

If you’ve been visiting this blog for some time, you know that I just moved to Michigan. One of the factors I considered before moving here was whether or not there was a running community/club nearby. Fortunately, there is and I got plugged in relatively quickly.


Lovely backdrop with athletes at the start line. [Photo by Mariam]

Winter training has never been a favorite of mine. The last and only other time I’d done it, I refused to run outside if it was below 32 F and swore it was going to be my last. Ha! Look up where Michigan is on the map. Basically, the definition of summer here is 50 F and above and that doesn’t roll around till about Mid to end of May. I am only slightly kidding.

Needless to say, I had to suck it up. Not only did I end up training in single digit temps, but I ran on snow, as well as ice. Some days, I thought my fingers were going to fall off as they were so numb, I couldn’t feel them. I couldn’t even unzip my jacket when I was done with the run.


A picture I took as I was waiting to start. It was in the mid 30s but pretty sky 🙂

The race was on May 7 and I started training on January 28. Actually, I take that back- based on my definition of training. I define the start of training as the day I commit to following a formal training plan after I have signed up for a race. So even though I started training in January, since I didn’t sign up till March, I didn’t start training till March ;).

I procrastinated signing up for several reasons. One- I am a procrastinator :). Two, I wasn’t sure I would be able to actually train in Michigan winter. Three, I was giving myself room to change my mind in case I just didn’t feel like doing the race any more. Lastly, I am cheap. And this should not even have been an issue because my employer generously reimburses employees and their family members for this race, as well as provides an extra shirt in addition to the shirt every runner gets. What a sweet deal, right??

Training was hard, especially when I had to travel on several weekends and miss running with the group. One weekend, I was in Mexico, another, I was a bridesmaid in Maryland (and I didn’t run at all that weekend and even a few days leading to because I didn’t want to mess up my hair and sweat it out– diva problems!), another weekend I was in Florida, another weekend I was in Dubai. Ya- it was hard to be disciplined with training.


Another start line pic 🙂

I was told the Borgess Run was always ‘hot’ with start temps at about 60 F. I don’t like the cold, but even a start of 60 F felt like it would be too warm for comfort. I tried not to think too much about it– of all the factors in racing, weather is one thing you can’t control.

You can however control your racing outfit and nail polish color. So I went and got my nails painted purple because the shirt I planned on wearing was purple :). I constantly visualized myself running in that outfit until about 2 days before race day when I saw the weather was going to be a high of 51 F and a low of 31 F that day! So goodbye purple short sleeved shirt. I thought about maybe a long sleeve layer underneath the shirt but with a start temp of mid 30s, I didn’t want to risk it. I ended up wearing a thicker blue layer on the purple shirt- not too far from purple. I also put on bright red lipstick.


This guy definitely planned his outfit!

Now to the actual race. It was cold, so cold that I ended up having my gloves on the entire time. Another first for me. The start line was about a mile from my apartment so I decided to walk there to save me the craziness of parking [as well as heavy traffic as I found out on my way to the venue]. I had half a bagel and cream cheese before leaving- first mistake, I should have had the whole bagel. I also took 2 packets of GU energy gel with me. I’ve never used more than 1 packet on a run, but something told me to take 2- I’m glad I did.


One of the 3 T-shirts I got out of this race. Pre-race picture. [Photo by Mariam]

The first 6 miles or so were great. I had great pace, faster than I had hoped. I know one isn’t supposed to start out too fast but I felt it would be a ‘crime’ to deliberately slow down. I was going to ride that pace as long as I could. It was nice running through so many places I had never been to, especially the parks and parts of downtown Kalamazoo.

At about mile 7, I started to get tired and feel pain. I had already started on the GU but I was starting to get hungry. I couldn’t believe it so I had some more GU. The hunger didn’t go away. The miles started to feel much longer. It felt like I would run for ages before the next mile marker came up. Oh, and this course has hills! I had never run a hilly course- another first. They were brutal and there was a huge one right at the last mile. But whyyyyyy?


I had gloves on the whole time — Official race photo

So anyway, I was very hungry and the GU wasn’t helping. They also didn’t have Gatorade at the aid stations- my first race that didn’t have Gatorade. Instead, they had something called GU brew which I had never tasted and looked like water and didn’t taste much different from water. I don’t think it did anything for me.

At one point, as I was drinking water, some went down my wind pipe causing a major coughing fit which hurt like crazy because my stomach was empty. So it was a seriously painful 30 seconds or so of dry heaving and tears streaming down my face–strictly due to the coughing, I might add.


For real, that is a smile. I promise. lol. Official race photo

Somehow, in the last half mile or so, I started to gun it. Maybe it was the excitement that the torture was almost over, or perhaps it was because I had like 10 times more spectators at this point and didn’t want to appear like a wuss. Whatever it was, I overtook quite a few people on my way to that finish line.

One awesome thing about this race that has never happened to me before was that the announcer called out my name as I [I guess everyone’s name as they] crossed the finish line. I got my medal, like I expected. There was water, chocolate milk, and [finally] Gatorade at the finish line, like I expected. But there were no bananas! How do you not have bananas at the finish line???? That’s race 101, isn’t it? Maybe not. lol.

Also, this gets me every time- while running, occasionally, a spectator would yell “Great job, Omobola” and I would turn around like “who do I know out here?” especially as I know almost no one in Kalamazoo. Then I remember my name is on my bib. lol. One of the people who cheered me on also yelled, “Did I say that right?” and I couldn’t manage a conversation right then so I just gave a thumbs up and kept going. lol. I know some people wanted to say my name but just got intimidated. It’s okay though, I know their hearts were in the right place.


My favorite official race photo. Maybe because I wasn’t actually ‘posing’ 🙂

So finally, I didn’t make a PR; however, it wasn’t my worst time, it wasn’t even my second worst time. So that’s pretty sweet, in my book, given all the surrounding circumstances.


Finish Line! [picture taken way after I had completed the race]

Would I run the Borgess Half Marathon again? Right now, that’s a yes! 🙂

Cheers to my Fourth Half Marathon!! Official Time 02:12:32.


Post race selfie — do I look like I just completed a half marathon less than a minute before taking this picture?

I’m thankful to God for the ability to run this race and thankful to my family and friends who supported me in achieving this accomplishment. Also, special thanks to Mariam for being at the race and the awesome photos she took that weekend.


The sweet feeling of accomplishment

Happy Trails!


Header Photo taken by Mariam.



  1. weekendcampervanning · May 12, 2017

    Congrats on finishing the marathon! I have so much respect for you long distance runners. Such dedication, training during the winter… in the snow! “We run this zoo,” – love it!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Omorin · May 13, 2017

    Well done ‘zoo runner’, really proud of you!👍🏽
    Great pics!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: The one about Running Into Canada-And Then Back Out | oh the places she'll go
  4. Pingback: The one about My Journey To Another PR | oh the places she'll go

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