Friday, November 28, 2014

Elk Grove Turkey Trot (Courage Run) 2014 - A Much Longer Race Report than Necessary!

I haven't run a Turkey Trot since 2008.  In fact, I haven't run a 10K since 2011.  And even more in fact, this was only my fifth 10K ever!  Since my only experience with 10Ks was back in the day when I used to be so very much faster than I am now, it is no exaggeration to say that I went into this race with zero expectations of doing well.

At my best 10K (in 2011 - you can read about it here) I ran with an average pace of 7:59, and at my worst (in 2008) I ran with an average pace of 8:16.  Currently, my training paces average somewhere in the mid- to low-10s.  So, yeah.  A PR was 100% out of the question, and the only thing I was really gunning for was how big of a Personal Worst this race might be.

For a competitive girl, I was surprisingly okay with that.  I've been feeling so much better lately, and my training paces are starting to come back down a little, so mostly I was just excited about opening up the throttle and seeing what I could do.  My main goal was to run hard and not fizzle out, and my A+ goal was to bring it in somewhere in the sub-9 pace range.  I felt like that was going to be challenging but not too far out of reality.

I had put this race on my calendar a few weeks ago, when I realized that I was feeling ready to race again.  UltraIronHubs decided that he wanted to tackle the 5K for a lot of the same reasons I did:  he had spent the summer in injury rehab and is feeling better enough to want to see what he had to give at a short race (more on that in a bit).  Big Boy and Little Boy just finished an incredibly awesome Cross Country season two weeks ago and pretty much haven't run at all since then, but thought they would give the 5K a try as well.  So, yay!  The whole family racing on Thanksgiving!

Note:  wouldn't this be the perfect spot to post a picture of the four of us at the race?  Yes, had I not completely forgotten to take one.  FAIL!

Parking lot selfie!
I woke up much earlier than I had hoped to and had plenty of time to hang out and start feeling a little nervous.  Oh, how I have missed that feeling these last long months of not racing!!  You guys, I haven't raced since July!  July!!  Have you ever not raced for four and a half months?  Me neither.

The race is super duper close to our house, so we decided to run down to the start as a warm-up.  But we also needed a place to put our jackets and other stuff, so I drove down to the start, ran home, finished getting ready, then ran back to the start (and drove home after the finish).  Lol!  Pretty extensive warm-up.

The whole way to the starting line, I had a huge knot in my stomach.  I couldn't decide if it was nerves or my breakfast, but I was not happy.  My legs felt like lead and I was struggling with a 10:40 pace.  This did not bode well for the day at all!  But as soon as we got to the venue, I found my girl TR (my client/running buddy) and the nerves started to subside.  I was here to have fun and run hard.  This is a thing that I love and I was here sharing it with people I love!

So many runners from my kids' CC team were there for the race (as well as their coach, who was second place female in the 10K)!!  The boy in yellow is a good friend/teammate of theirs who ended up taking first place overall!
I finished up my warm up stretching, took the photo of my kids on the starting line and then slipped into a sort of open-ish spot pretty far back off the line just in time for the national anthem.  No more time to be nervous, because we were off!

There was a pretty good bottleneck right off the line because people simply do not know how to line up for races.  I wasn't worried, I knew I didn't need to go out super speedy, but I also didn't love having to weave around the walkers - WALKERS! - less than a quarter mile in.  Oy!  Thankfully, this race closes down the streets on the course, so we had the whole width of the street to run on.  Less than a mile in, the course splits the 5K from the 10K to pick up a little mileage for the 10Kers, so the field really spread out and I was able to see who I was really competing against.  Oh, did I mention that as soon as I started running, I felt great and was all about "Which one of you girls is in my age group, because I will be running faster than you"?  Yeah.  It felt good to be back!

I had more in the tank than I had even dared to hope for.  My legs felt amazing and my breathing was perfect.  I had my eye on a couple of runners - Salomon shoes girl and Blue Pants girl - who were probably my age.  They had both passed me in the first half mile, but were staying pretty much directly in front of me, not getting further ahead.  The 5K and 10K courses reconvened briefly, which meant more weaving around people running slower than I was.  Thankfully, we split again by the 2-mile mark and were separate for all but the finisher's chute after that.

By two and a half miles in, I finally dared to look at my Garmin.  I had resolutely avoided it until then because I didn't want to be disappointed.  I was feeling really good.  I thought my effort was just about as close to puke-threshold as I should be with four miles to go, and I didn't want to look down and see that maybe I was only running 10 minute miles, you know?  Nope.  My average pace was 8:30!!  Holy crap!  Faster than I had dreamed I could do!

I passed by Blue Pants girl, who had obviously gone out too hard, and started to make headway on Salomon shoes girl.  I caught her by Mile 3 and set my sights on Red Socks girl.  Too easy, time to look further up.  I felt so damn good, you can't imagine.  A good ways up, I spotted Purple Socks girl and focused on getting closer to her.  I turned my music up louder and ran harder.  I felt more confident than I've felt in ages.  I caught and passed people one by one.  When we got to the hairpin turnaround at Mile 4, I got to see Purple Socks girl and thought she was definitely my age.

By four and a half miles in, I wondered if I was going to be able to push this hard all the way to the end.  I still felt like I was flying, but the effort was catching up.  My oatmeal was sitting right in the back of my throat.  I didn't want to throw up, I didn't want to slow down.  It was a real dilemma.  There was a girl right on my left hip pocket.  I could feel her and see her a little out of the corner of my eye.  I suspected she was my age.  I knew I was doing all the work and I should make her pull for both of us, but I didn't want to slow down and lose her, so I stayed in front.  I still had my eye on Purple Socks girl, but I could tell I wasn't going to get any closer than this.

I had told UIH and the kids where they could cheer for me, and oh my goodness was I happy to see them at just about mile five and a half!  I was super close to being done!  They whooped and hollered.  I wondered how their race had gone, but couldn't worry about it just then.  I had to focus on finishing strong.  I looked at my Garmin and couldn't make sense of the number.  I picked up the pace a little.  Vague Shadow girl was right at my elbow.  I knew she was going to make her move, and - yep, there it was at the Mile 6 sign.  I worked for it (hello 7:30 pace from Mile 6 to the finish!), but she got me.  As she passed, I smiled at her and told her Atta Girl.  She smiled back.  I assumed that was the difference between an AG award and not, so I was briefly disappointed, but there was the finishing arch!  And the clock.  Seriously, my time was that low?!?  I sprinted it in, thinking maybe, just maybe, it might not be a Personal Worst!

I collected my medal, looked at my Garmin and burst into tears.  Today was indeed a PW, by eight seconds.  They weren't sad tears, though!  I had run hard enough to get within striking distance of a speed I ran in my 30s!  It was a Thanksgiving miracle!!

So very, very happy with my race!
We hung out for a while, hugging and congratulating several of my clients and other friends who ran and walked the race.  What an exciting day!  I got to see my 70-year old client complete her first 5K!  I got to see my girl TR beat her previous best 10K by TWO MINUTES!  Another client, who tells me every day how much he hates to run, came flying through the finishing chute with a huge smile on his face!  My girl Nicole, who I met when she was over 200 pounds and who promised me that she would "never" run, completed her 13th race this year (and her kiddos ran the kid's race)!!  My heart was very full of thanks and gratitude.

According to my Garmin, the course was a little short.  My stats:  6.13 miles, 51:31 total time, 8:25 average pace.  Official stats:  6.2 miles, 51:25 total time (note:  this makes it a PW by only TWO.  SECONDS.  Gaaaaaah!!!), 8:18 average pace, 55/296 overall.

We hung out long enough to check out AG awards and - woo hoo!! - the prizes were pumpkin pies!  UIH (who had gone into the race just hoping to not get beaten too badly by both kiddos) ended up beating them both and getting THIRD PLACE OVERALL, with a time just eleven seconds off of his PR!!  So freaking amazing!  Big Boy managed a huge (road) 5K PR and took 3rd place in his age.  Little Boy also ran a super (road) PR, but got edged off the podium because the AG was pretty wide (13-18).  At the award tent, they had printouts of the AG winners and there I was, in third place for my age!!!  Cruising on the internet today, however, has different results.  So strange.  Yesterday's results were posted in 5-year age groups, but the online results are 10-year categories.  So, officially, I actually placed 6th.  Now I feel bad that I brought home somebody else's pie!

My handsome pie winners!

Happy Racing Thanksgiving!!  Did you trot with the turkeys this year??


wendy said...

Good job pahla! They must have meant the pies for 5 year age groups.

Kate Geisen said...

No TT for me this year. With all the racing I've done in the last couple months I think I'm (gasp) a little burned out in racing.

But YOU...way to bring it!! Awesomeness. And I'm sure that our was meant for you.

coach dion said...

OK 2 things we want to know what times the others ran...
and my wife ran all her PR aged 45 and 46 (5km to Marathon)so how about having a crack at a sub 50 in the new year!!!