Posted On:
Wednesday, April 17, 2024
Updated On:

Athlete Race Recap: Coastal Delaware Running Festival 9K & Zoo Run Run

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Leslie Smith and Natalie Metz both ran races this past weekend that they were excited about and brought them a lot of joy. It cannot be understated how valuable and impactful The Joyful Factor is for endurance training and racing performance.

Coastal Delaware Running Festival 9K

This is the smile of a joyful athlete!

On Sunday, April 14, 2024, Leslie Smith ran the Coastal Delaware Running Festival 9K in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware!

Leslie has been running for many, many years, but she’s never run a 9K!  (Neither have I, for that matter!)  So, Leslie was really excited about the prospect of getting a personal best time in a running event…a personal best time is automatic when you’re doing a new-to-you distance!  She was also excited to travel to and visit somewhere new; she and her husband planned a vacation around this race.  All of this made this event something that Leslie was really looking forward to!

Leslie got pretty sick this winter and her illness lingered for a long time.  We had to adjust her training to accommodate for this, and everything we did was with the idea of having her feeling great on race day in mind.  Race week came and Leslie was feeling the healthiest and strongest that she has in months.  On race day, she ran at a steady effort and focused on being conservative in the first half of the race.  This paid off, as Leslie was able to build her effort in the second half and negative split the race!

Leslie finished 8th out of 36 in her age group, 188th out of 457 females overall, and 111th out of 315 Masters athletes.  Most importantly, she finished feeling strong, empowered, and ready to take on her upcoming training for her A-Race!

Congratulations, Leslie!

Zoo Run Run

On Sunday, April 14, 2024, Natalie ran the Zoo Run Run at the Rosamond Gifford Zoo in Syracuse, New York!

The Zoo Run Run is a race that Natalie has been wanting to run for many years, but has always been busy and unable to make it when it comes time for it.  She finally was able to run it this past weekend.  She hopped into the race last-minute after seeing how her recent training was going; she realized that she was ready to take it on!

(As a side note completely unrelated to Natalie’s experience at this race, I have absolutely no idea why this race is called the “Zoo Run Run.”  I’m hoping it’s a punny reference to “Da Doo Ron Ron” by The Crystals…other than that, I’ve got nothing.)

ANYWAY.  Natalie was really excited about this race and had the main goal of enjoying the experience of running through the zoo.  (If you want to get a taste of what this was like, check out this video of the animals’ reactions to the runners running by them!)  

She used this as a C-Race and stuck to the workout I had originally planned for the day, which included run/walk intervals.  The beginning of the workout included five minutes of walking to warm-up.  While it felt odd to her to walk the beginning of a race when everyone was running past her, she stuck to the plan and was able to ultimately pass runners later on in the race who started out too hard.  Natalie felt great throughout the race and her wife and son reported that she looked “super comfortable and relaxed.”

Way to go, Natalie!


Coach Laura Henry

Laura Henry is a Syracuse, NY-based coach who is a USA Triathlon Level II Long Course and Level II Paratriathlon Certified Coach, USA Cycling Level 2 Certified Coach, VFS Certified Bike Fitter, and has successfully completed NASM's Certified Personal Trainer course. Coach Laura is passionate about helping athletes of all ability levels reach their goals and has coached many athletes to success.

She can be reached at

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