Saturday, January 4, 2014

Turkey Trot for a Cause Recap

This Thanksgiving (by which I mean the holiday that occurred over a month ago), Eager Feet Dad and I kept up our tradition by running our third Turkey Trot for a Cause together. He runs a few miles every week, with a much heavier focus on lifting. This means he's in plenty good shape to run a 5K - and I bet he would excel if he chose to run more - but he likes to complain the whole week beforehand that his legs will fall off. And he'll die. And the world will probably end.
An essential element of the tradition.
This year was even better, as Thanksgiving dawned cold and snowy, adding one more thing to "worry" about. We got up early to prepare the turkey, put it on time bake, and hit the road to allow plenty of time to get there. The race is local, but the going was slow, even on the main streets.

EFD told me he wanted to shoot for a sub-30, and I promised to pace him. I was a little nervous since I have about three gears: really slow, slow, and jesuschristtoofastslowdown (read: slightly faster than slow). We discussed strategy a little bit pre-race, and then I had to turn away as EFD started doing his static stretching warm up.
Page One of Google Images didn't have any funny results for this, unfortunately.
While waiting inside, EFD was able to meet another Illinois alum, which always makes him happy. We also had someone take our picture, because our hats were pretty baller. The joke is they almost didn't fit since we have child-sized heads. Unless literally the entire band is made of velcro, it's probably not adjustable enough.
Our headbands bring all the runners to the yard.
It was very cold standing at the start. I appreciate the organizers want to speak about their organization (helping raise awareness for epilepsy), and I really appreciate the township supervisor coming and showing his support. It just seemed to take extra long in the cold, though one runner behind us made humorous comments throughout.
Exhibit A: Having a tall parent is amazingly useful in so many ways.
The problem with this race is that as it continues to grow, the course hasn't been growing with it. About a mile is through the town's golf course, which is very narrow, and passing can be extremely difficult in inclement weather. They had more "participants" this year, though I think the same number of people as 2012 showed up, probably because of the conditions. However, if the course doesn't change soon and wave starts aren't implemented, it's going to be very hard to keep everyone satisfied.

With this in mind, EFD and I started pretty close to the front. This is something I still struggle with. In my head I'm still the super slow runner that has no business being that close to the front. I can also be conscientious to a fault (this is not a humble brag, honest), and I'm incredibly paranoid I'll ruin someone else's race by getting in their way. Because, obviously, the local turkey trot is basically the Boston Marathon in terms of competition.

Our spot ended up being pretty good, though we still had to pass people. EFD did great, and we were on track to make the sub-30 no problem. It was very strange running at about a 9:50 pace. It was fast enough to hurt, but still slow enough I knew I wasn't racing full out. It was mentally a lot tougher than I anticipated. I think my brain wanted me to choose - did I want to go for leisurely run or did I want to go balls to the wall? This in-between thing just wasn't cutting it.

The first sign of trouble, a bit past mile two, was when we reached the point at which we needed to circle a pond. In previous years, we went around the pond and continued on normally. This year, we went in reverse, which meant runners had to merge back with traffic following their loop. We're guessing the bridge further out was icy and we needed to be diverted, but it was still incredibly awkward and poorly planned. (It's not like ice and snow on Thanksgiving are totally abnormal in Michigan.)

We did get to see Eager Feet Mom at this point!
Apparently our turkey headbands made us really easy to spot. Who knew?
After the pond was the home stretch. The ending of this race is always strange, since the finish line is obscured around a hill. Runners can't see it until the final 50 yards or so. I was giving EFD updates on our distance at this point, when we noticed the course was probably going to be long. I tried to pull him along at the very end to make our time goal official.
Must beat the people wearing their race shirts, which I explain to EFM every year is not an acceptable thing. She still thinks it's cool.
Time: 30:19

The course ended up measuring over .1 long, which is a ton for a 5K. I know we didn't run the tangents properly and did some passing, but there's no way we added that much on our own. I felt awful for EFD - he beat his goal pace but didn't get an official time that reflected that. I'm super proud of him, though. Not only did he run a(n actual) sub-30, his last mile split was a 9:12!

I want to absolutely love this race, it is my hometown turkey trot after all, but it's a little hard. If the weather is nicer in 2014, I worry how crowded it could get. I also am concerned about the new course change and inaccurate distance. If EFD is going to run one 5K a year, I'd like to be reasonable well-measured.

All in all, it's a really fun tradition. My Thanksgiving plans will probably be different in 2014, as I'll have moved out and it's an important holiday for Michael, but this is something I definitely don't want to give up. Gobble gobble.

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