Thanksgiving, random race review, and is this marathon stuff actuallypaying off?!?

Oprah assures me I'm ok just the way I am.
Thanksgiving is one holiday every year seemingly made for runners. There's a "turkey trot" in every city in the land, (usually early in the morning) followed by getting to gorge oneself on as much food as you would like without getting the normal stares from other buffet patrons. After the meal, no one even considers it rude if you don't stick around for polite chat, but instead decide to take a nap or watch football! All this, while simultaneously getting to feel smug that you've "earned" your 5,000 calorie meal for the day.

All this can be yours, unless of course, you're a marathon runner. For this lucky group the turkey trot is just the beginning. Afterwards, (and possibly before if you're really lucky) you'll have another 15-20 miles of running for the day of ahead of you. "No problem," you might say. "I'll just show up a little late to Thanksgiving and then eat to my heart's content." Then your caller id shows up with dreaded number of your coach who's calling to remind you that even though it's Thanksgiving, you're still 10 lbs too heavy.

   I lucked out this Thanksgiving and only had a five mile run scheduled for that Thursday. (never mind I skipped the 13 mile run that was supposed to come the day before.) It just so happened that my Turkey trot race that day was exactly five miles. So, on tired legs, and weary eyes I left home at 4:30 in the morning and hit the highway to the race site. Upon arrival at the Gobble and gorge 8k, whose esteemed race director I had met the weekend before at another race, I remembered that I was in a city full of amazing runners and didn't stand a chance at placing. This left me wondering Exactly why am I here again? (If anyone has an answer I would love to hear it, I haven't come up with anything convincing yet.) At any rate, I decided to just try and enjoy the race and keep below a certain pace.

   Killing a bit of time, I walked around pre-race, gazing at other runners warming up (fast), stretching (hardcore), participating in synchronized yoga (weird), and in general getting ready to run the race of their lives. It looked interesting. I, meanwhile, wandered off to see if anyone had a set up secret bar for liquid courage. (Note to any entrepreneur: this would make a KILLING at any race.) That's when I bumped into this. A giant, man sized, clothes and running shoe wearing turkey.

100% positive that no children will ever
 be sent to the therapist's couch over this.
   Disturbing moment over, I decided that I would wander around for the next five or so minutes and get ready for the race by seeing who had the same running shoes as me. (the answer was one pre teen girl.) Hearing the dj ask for everyone's participation in the ten second countdown I meandered to the front-ish of the line and got ready to take off. Much like last year however, take off was less "Apollo 11," and more "failed bottle rocket." With over 1,200 runners lined up in a small alleyway it took almost a quarter of a mile for us to start thinning out and get anywhere close to running.

   Once we got started though it is worth mentioning how many people were outside to cheer us on. Every volunteer who was giving up their Thanksgiving morning to cheer us on was great, but even better were the multitudes of people who stood outside of their homes on a cold thanksgiving morning, (almost all fully clothed) and smiled and waved at people they didn't even know. Not pushing myself this year I tried to make it a point to wish them all a Happy Thanksgiving as I ran on by.

   Not "racing" has its perks in that you take in more things than the sound of your own ragged breathing and what you pray isn't the sound of your heart. I was able to take in the neighborhood scenery, the layout of the course, and interestingly enough...the fact that I wasn't being passed by other runners. Initially I attributed it to the fact that all the people really racing had bypassed me early on. Then I noticed that while I was passing small pockets of middle school girls, I was still passing people. Could it be that...just maybe..all this marathon training was paying off?? Sure, I could definitely feel the hills working my calves, but it wasn't terrible...No, I reasoned with myself, it must be that I'm just running them slowly.

"This is the last hill, once you make it over this it's easy going!"
 said every volunteer, at every hill, in every race, ever.
   Realizing that I only had a mile left I decided that I would take it easy until I was a half mile from the finish line and then drop it from maintenance mode to beast mode. I crested over one last hill, jumped between two other runners and tried to floor it. It was then made abruptly apparent to all that the portion of running I had been ignoring and avoiding was speed work. Refusing to look at my garmin, I felt like I had only brought my pace down by about five seconds or so and was oohhhhh so grateful for the finish line being in sight. As I crossed the line and checked my time I did some quick checking and found out that my official pace was only one second off last year's.

   So maybe this marathon training stuff is paying off. And while I probably won't stop hating it...or complaining about it, I will acknowledge that it is doing me some good. With another upcoming big race this weekend, (The dash for cash ten miler) I'm hoping it'll do me some good as I'm looking to beat last year's time on a newer, harder course. Cross your fingers and wish me luck as I go round two with the girl who chicked me last race!


Popular Posts