Hey guys! Coming at you today with my annual Turkey Trot race report.
I love the idea of doing a race on Thanksgiving morning. Well, let’s be honest, I love the idea of doing a race on any morning. Thanksgiving is one of the most popular running holidays of the year, if not the most popular. I’ve been celebrating this age-old tradition for four years now by running the Turkey Trot for Hope 5K in Mobile. The race benefits Camp Rap-A-Hope, a local organization that provides year-long programs and a week-long summer camp to children between the ages of 7 and 17 who have, or have ever had, cancer.
Thursday morning was absolutely beautiful here on the Gulf Coast! I’ve been going on and on about how “one of these days,” we are going to have nice weather on a race day … well, Thursday was THE DAY! It was a crisp, clear 40 degree morning, perfect for running! There were 980 runners in the 5K (that’s a lot for us). I am so glad that there was such a good turnout to support this cause!
Before the Race
It was like Christmas morning (except for the whole it was Thanksgiving thing) when we woke up to temperatures in the 40s! Woo to the hoo! A brief moment of jubilation quickly changed to concern as I realized that I didn’t remember how to dress appropriately for a 40 degree 5K. Do I need tights, long sleeves, arm warmers, gloves, ear warmers or all of the above?! I mulled it over with a cup of coffee and decided to layer my singlet over a light long sleeve top. I threw all. the. clothes. in my bag and took them with me for good measure.
We got to the race about an hour before the start. Several of our friends ran too (yay! for racing with friends) and several of us needed to register. We got registered and ran the course before the race as our warm up. The course is the same course as several of the other local races except for that it starts (and thus, ends) at a different point along the way. I’ve run this race several times now, but I’ve run the other races along the course way more times and it’s always a mental adjustment to get used to the “different” route.
I warmed up with tights over my shorts and a long sleeved hoodie over my long sleeve shirt and singlet. I was chilly for a mile or so and then got nice and toasty. So toasty even that I decided to shed the base layer long sleeve shirt that I was wearing and get down to just my singlet, shorts, gloves and arm warmers. I have never run or raced in arm warmers before. I always talk myself out of it somehow, but this was a last-minute, game-time decision and I just went for it. The verdict: not for me. I felt like they were cutting off the circulation to my arms and I ended up pushing them down about a mile in (I’m glad I tested it in a 5K and not in a marathon :)).
We made our way to the start line with less than a minute to spare! I didn’t realize that we had cut it this close, but before we even made our way into the street to line up for the start, the horn blew and all of a sudden everyone was running. Alrighty then!
Since I am in the midst of the marathon-specific phase of my training right now, I didn’t really have any big expectations for this race. I wasn’t sure how my legs or lungs would react to running at VO2 max pace, as most of my workouts have been focused on strength and not speed. My coach thought that I should target somewhere in the 6:00 to 6:05 range. He is usually spot on with his pace recommendations (even though that is not a wide target pace range at all).
Spoiler alert: I averaged 6:01!
Let’s back up a little bit though … Daniel and I planned to run the first mile and a half together. His plan was to pick it up at a mile and a half and really go for it and I wanted to wait until about two and a half to really go for it. We talked about it beforehand and were each comfortable with our respective plans. We ran pretty much stride for stride through the first mile. I figured we would start fairly quickly (within the goal range) and run the first mile between 6:00 and 6:05 pace.
I have been really trying to not look at my watch during races except for at the mile splits. I want to learn to trust myself to run by feel and not worry or obsess over whether I am running too fast or too slow. I want to be a zen runner and be one with the pace. I am definitely not there yet! When my watch beeped to signal the first mile split, I looked down and saw 6:19. What?! I said out loud to Daniel, “Wait. What?! 6:19? That can’t be right. What does your watch say?” I legitimately thought that my watch was wrong. Fake news. Unfortunately, he confirmed that yes, the watch was accurate (go figure) and we weren’t actually running as fast as it *felt like* we were. In hindsight, I think there was a bit of a headwind during that first mile, but of course, I didn’t realize that at the time.
At the time, I was just mad (so not quite to the “zen runner” stage yet). Anger isn’t an emotion I typically experience while racing, but I think it actually helped me in this case. All of a sudden, I made a conscious decision to run faster and work harder. Daniel stayed right by my side, just as we planned, through the first half of the second mile. As soon as we got halfway through the second mile, he took it to a whole. nother. level. and promptly left me in his dust. I was mentally prepared for this (thank goodness) and I just focused on chasing him as best I could. I hadn’t looked at the pace again during the second mile (in fear that it would be slower than what I had deemed “acceptable” in my head). When the watch beeped to signal the second mile split, I looked down and saw 5:57. Yasss! That’s more like it!
The best part was that I still felt good (really good even). At this point, I knew I could maintain the pace for another mile, if not pick it up slightly. During the last mile, I kept telling myself that I can do anything for one mile. Less than 6 minutes to go, less than 5 minutes to go, less than 4 minutes to go, etc. It’s important to stay mentally focused during a 5K because if you let up, even just for a minute, you can lose your momentum. I focused on Daniel ahead of me. I was running by myself and so was he. We were both making ground on the runners in front of us, but we ran out of real estate before either of us were able to catch anyone. Before I even knew it, my watch beeped to signal the third and final mile. I looked down to see a 5:49 split!
I even managed a finishing “kick” for the last tenth and dropped my pace down to 5:20 for a few seconds. I don’t usually do that. Ha. I finished in 18:45 according to the results (18:42 according to my watch … I wish we could go with watch times :)). I was 1st female and 10th overall. Daniel finished in 18:32 and was 9th overall.
After the Race
We ran the course again after the race as a cool down and swapped the deets of how the race unfolded for each of us. Everyone in our group did great! I think we were all in the top 20. After the cool down, we hung out for a little bit and waited on the awards, which thankfully didn’t take too long. The race was very organized and that is much appreciated, especially on a day when most people have other plans and gatherings to get to.
I always look forward to getting a pie and a handmade medal at this race. The kids make the medals during their summer camp, which is really special. I love unique awards like that.
An added bonus this year was that the overall winners also got a gift card for a free pair of shoes from Running Wild! Major score. After the race we got cleaned up and headed to my grandmother’s (apple pie in tow) for a nice Thanksgiving afternoon with the family.
I have so much to be thankful for, not only on Thanksgiving Day, but also on every other day of the year. Thanksgiving can be somewhat of a bittersweet holiday for me, as that is when the attack happened (12 years ago now), but it also a wonderful reminder to just be thankful and that every day is a blessing. There will be days (or years even) that are hard, but those days make you stronger and more appreciative of the other days (and years).
Happy [late] Thanksgiving y’all! Talk to you soon!