Sunday, November 25, 2012

Race Recap: MHRRC Turkey Trot 2012

Happy (belated) Thanksgiving to you and yours!  Enjoying good food with family and friends makes Thanksgiving one of my favorite holidays.  Not to mention I'm a big fan of reflecting on all the things we're thankful this is my kind of day!  Another reason I love Turkey Day is because it's becoming a holiday for running!  Turkey Trots are becoming a popular Thanksgiving tradition and I can't think of a better way to start a day of feasting than a few sweaty miles shared with family and friends.

For as long as I can remember, my dad has run our local Turkey Trot.  And my brothers and I would either be out there freezing cheering for him or joining in the kids races. The Mid-Hudson Road Runners Club offers a few distances so that runners of any level can participate in the Turkey Trot: Kids 1-mile, 2-mile fun run, 5-mile and 25K (AKA 15.5 miles).  The last few years I've run the 5-mile race and every time I struggled with the hilly course.  It's not like anything I'm used to running in NYC, but I can push through anything for 5 miles, right?  Sometime back in July, I was reassessing my 2012 goals and decided that this would be the year to take on the challenge of the 25K race.  It sounded like a great idea at the time...

Come Thursday morning the weather was perfect--Mid 40s and sunny for the 8:30 a.m. start.  I wore shorts, a thin long-sleeve tee, vest, compression socks and (of course) a Sparkly Soul headband.  As I've never run 15.5 miles before, let alone "raced" it, I had no idea how to plan for this race.  Dad had sent me the course map and elevation, so you'd think I knew what I was getting myself into, but nope!  My ultimate goal was to survive (and not cry) and I guess we could say 10:30 min/miles was goal pace (given the hills).  The 25K distance typically draws only about 75-80 runners, most being faster and more seasoned than me, so I also mentally prepared myself to come in last for this race.  

Dad and I at the start

Since I already established that there was no way I was racing 15.5 miles, Dad decided we would just "have fun" and run together.  That plan worked for awhile.  The hills were tough but the downhills helped.  Dad and I had driven the course prior to the race and strategically dropped Gatorade where we wanted it.  I also brought my fuel belt and my favorite Gu Chomps for fuel.  In sharp contrast to NYC races, there was not water at every mile and definitely not many cheerleaders out on this course. There were a few water stations staffed by running club members and volunteers, who were very friendly and encouraging.  And then there were the few families (not affiliated with the running club) who stood out on their lawns or at the ends of their driveways to clap, cheer and hand out additional water to runners!!!  Talk about thankful! That's some awesome "small town" spirit to push a girl through an otherwise tough course.   

My new favorite photo.  Check out our matching form!
I mentally broke the distance down to 5, 5, 3 and 2.5 miles.  I decided early on that if I was going to meet my goal of surviving, I would have to walk most of the hills.  The inclines were hurting my calves and my lower back pretty badly, but I fought through it and felt strong for the first 10 miles.  My Nike+ app GPS was really thrown off, so I have no clue what my pace or splits were, but I also didn't care.  Despite the walking on inclines, I was starting to lose my umph.

Seriously, hills?
After the 10-mile marker, I told Dad to go on his own because I knew he could run faster and I didn't want to hold him back.  I tried to keep him in my sight for as long as I could, but that man is a beast and took off.  He's currently training for another Goofy Challenge in January so this was a good long run for him to practice.
Go, Dad, Go!
As I watched him disappear up over a hill, I turned up my music and dug deep to finish out the last 5.5 miles solo.  I thought to myself, "you run 5 miles all the time, no big can do this."  But I felt super slow and just wanted to finish.  My feet hurt, I was hating the pitch of the road making me run on a slant and I kept feeling anxious that drivers were not paying attention and I would get run over.

Can you see the ridiculous hill wayyy in the distance?

Mile 12 was (gasp!) yet another hill.  I distracted myself by singing (okay, rapping) to myself and thinking about all of the yummy food I was planning to eat later.  Sweet potatoes, turnips, pumpkin pie, beer...oh my! I thought about how I was missing the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.  I thought about how crazy those people are for sitting in the freezing cold for hours to watch that parade.  I thought about how people probably think I'm crazy for choosing to run 15.5 miles on Thanksgiving.  They're right. It is crazy, but in my opinion it's always a good idea to be active and moving and sweating! :)

I was so excited when I saw Mile marker 15 and my Dad cheering me on shortly after! That last stretch was the longest half mile of my life.  The course heads back into the high school parking lot where it started, but in order to make up the complete distance, you have to run a little loop of the parking lot before crossing the finish line.  So you can SEE the finish line, but have to run a loop to actually get there.  Awful!  I just kept putting one foot in front of the other, but I felt like I going backward.

Almost there.
And finally....I crossed the finish line!  With a new PDR of 15.5 miles!

My official time was 2:48:27 (avg pace 10:52) which ended up being 89th of 96 total runners (not last!).  It could have been 3+ hours and I wouldn't have cared.  I was just happy to be done!  The first thing I said to my dad was "Okay, now I can say I've done that.  And I'm never doing it again."

Dad's offiical time was 2:41:01 (avg pace 10:23), which undoubtedly would have been much faster if he didn't stick with me in the early miles!  But I'm glad that he did (thanks, Dad!) because no matter how fast or slow...I love running with that guy!

In the end...I'm so THANKFUL that I survived my first (and most likely last) 25K Turkey Trot and was able to spend the rest of the holiday enjoying family and good food!

What are you Thankful for this Thanksgiving? Did you run a Turkey Trot this year?  Eat a lot of turkey & mashed potatoes? Tell me about it!

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