Monday, December 27, 2010

The 2010 Alexandria VA Turkey Trot

It's hard to believe that when I started running on W1D1 of the C25K that 4 months later, I would be running in a Turkey Trot.  When I signed up for the 5 mile event, I don't think I believed that we would actually do it! 

During the two weeks leading up to the race, I continued to add distance gradually.  I was using the B210K program, which was getting me up to an hour run.  I still had walk breaks on the week before the race.  I made a decision that on the Tuesday before, I would just run straight for 5 miles and see how I did.  I honestly didn't think that I could do it.  I did and finished in just under an hour.  My goal for the race was to finish in under an hour, so that worked.

Debbie had agreed to do this with me, so I felt much more comfortable.  We discussed our running attire, our parking arrangements (parking is a bear for this event), and strategies. The weather forecast was not good, calling for chilly rain.  However, we were committed; so unless it was a down pour, we were running.  I was also chided on facebook by another friend that runs that I need to "man up" and run in the rain.  So, not to walk away from a challenge, I was running.

The morning of the run, I had Tom drive me to Del Rey (the community where the run is held) about 8:00.  We wanted to get there by 8:30.  Deb and I met up at a good friend's house, where we were able to stay warm and dry until it was time to head to the starting line.  The race attacts about 4200 registered participants.  However, a bunch of people just show up with 2 can goods and hop in the line, so it's more like 4500 folks.  We had picked up our racepackets and t-shirts the night before so all we had to do was get in line.

It was our first time wearing timing chips on our shoes.  We carefully attached those and once again felt really cool.  We were getting to be "real runners".  We were running a 5 Mile Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving morning with thousands of others.  We were no longer "posers", we were runners!  My goal again was to finish in under an hour and without walking.  Debbie's goal was to finish ahead of the "sweep".  We thought both of our goals were achievable.

We tried to line up where we thought that we belonged, ahead of the dogs and strollers but behind the "elite runners".  The gun sounded and off we trotted.  My one regret to this point was not having a festive Thanksgiving themed hat.  People were wearing feathers, turkeys, turkeys that looked cooked, pilgrim attire, etc.  I felt a little left out.  I need to come up with a cool hat for next year.  If anyone sees a REALLY good one, get it for me and I'll reimburse you!

I started out a bit fast.  I was caught up in both the moment and in a pack of runners.  I knew I was a bit fast, but had no real choice.  I just ran.  I figured things would spread out in a mile or so and I could slow down a tad.  Running up Commonwealth, at about the 1.5 mile point, I passed the leaders coming the other way.  How the heck do they run so fast????  These weren't kids, either.   I think the winner did a 5 minute mile or something.  I glanced at my ipod at the 2 mile point and I was doing under 10 minute miles.  I was afraid I wouldn't finish at that pace.

Have I mentioned that I am trying to develop "mental toughness" but am  not quite there yet?  I don't leave it all on the course.  I usually have energy to walk home.  Anyway, I decided to dial it back just a bit to make sure that I finished. I had never done a 5 mile event and didn't want to have to walk across the line.

The race went really quickly.  It was fun to see the streets lined with folks cheering everyone on.  Lots of houses had tents in the yards and tailgate-like atmospheres.  Plus, it was mostly flat. I didn't know the course so each turn was an adventure.  I was really regretting wearing my winter hat at about mile 3.  I was getting way too warm.  Luckily, I knew that my buddy, Roger, would be along the route with his camera to cheer us on, so I was able to toss it to him and I ran by.

I turned it up a notch the last mile to the finish line.  Now, when I say "turned it up", I speed up my pace.  However, we are not talking "collapsing at the finish line", wanting to puke, or anything like that.  Like I said, I need to work on my mental toughness.  This time, I was careful to look at the clock when I passed the finish line.  My time was 54:45 on the clock (from the gun).  My chip time was.....drumroll please......54:18 which is a 10:51 pace, my best to date!

I went and got some water off the truck for both Debs and I.  I didn't want them to run out.  Debbie drinks water along the way.  I don't do that.  I'm way to uncoordinated.  Luckily, I haven't ran far enough that it's an issue.  However, I knew that she would be thirsty.  I got a spot along the chute and waited for her to cross.  She did, well ahead of the sweep!!!!  We both met our goals.  We were so happy and proud.

We decided, as we walked back to our friend's house, that we would DEFINITELY run again next year.  It was just so much fun.  However, I do want a Turkey Hat!

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