This Thanksgiving weekend NB and I traveled to my hometown, a suburb nestled in east Cleveland, to celebrate the holiday with my family. Last year we ran our first half-marathon in his hometown of Atlanta, so we knew we weren’t going to be doing it up quite like that, but still wanted to earn our turkey a bit.
We got up right at 6 a.m. and I made us some oatmeal and my mom made us coffee (thanks Mom!). It was going to be a gorgeous day, but it was starting off pretty chilly, so we had to sport some layers. By 7 a.m. we were heading out the door to the mall hosting the race for packet pickup.
The drive went smoothly and before we knew it, we were spotting 13.1 and 26.2 stickers, and saw the big “finish” blow up banner laying across the parking lot. We just beat the rush and were pinning on our bibs and securing our timing chips when suddenly there was a huge line. Phew! But we got to stay inside and stay warm while we prepared, which was nice. Ii actually ran into a former neighbor, Liz, who is a couple years younger than me. I hadn’t seen her in YEARS but knew she was running marathons, and fast (I friended her on Facebook later that day – turns out she ran the Air Force Marathon! Small world we live in).
We took our Gus (chocolate raspberry Roctane for me – yum) and got in a bit of a warmup, looping around the parking lot, and ran into one of my future step-brothers (for whom I can not think of a clever alias yet, so please forgive me for that). Before we knew it, it was minutes to the start, and time to line up. I was a little worried about pace. I hadn’t been doing any tempo runs or speedwork, and had no idea of the elevation chart for the course, but was hoping I could squeak out a sub 32 minute race. NB was hoping for sub-30. I decided my B goal was sub-35, since I knew I could manage this without killing myself and still have fun. The rest would be icing on the cake.
I waved “hello” to a high school friend on the sidelines and readied my Garmin. It was a gun start, but we positioned ourselves well at the star,t near the front but not in a will-be-run-down-by-speed-demons way. With my headphones in and the quiet sound system, I could barely hear the announcer, but knew when the surge started: I pushed ‘START’ on my garmin, having already started my music a few seconds before, and we were off!
I thought I had heard the announcer say something about the first mile being fast, and he wasn’t kidding. NB wanted to take the first mile in about 7:45 go warm up, and I wasn’t far behind him for that whole first mile. We trotted out of the parking lot and across the main road, tucking into a side road and down a short but nice downhill. We passed some dudes playing mud football (who I think heckled us about not playing football and “only” running. yeah, okay. My sport is your sport’s punishment) and eventually a high school with an actual football team out for Thanksgiving morning practice. I hit the first mile before my Garmin did, so I think the course was short (or the first mile was, since it didn’t seem to get shorter progressively, and stayed the same after that), ticking it off in 7:37. Oops. A bit fast, but maybe I was just building myself a nice cushion?
The course quickly flattened and we headed into the first out and back about 1.5 miles in. NB still wasn’t that far ahead, and we exchanged smiles and high-fived between the cones as we passed each other. I was confused by not being at 2 miles at the turn around, but we ended up going through a parking lot a bit and winding around more to make it four, so it worked out. In the weird little parking lot turn around, I thanked a boy for picking up a fallen cone, only to hear my future step-bro echo my thanks. Startled and competitive, I unthinkingly picked up the pace, noting it on my garmin, in addition to my elevated breath. I asked him how he was feeling, and after a bit of chit chat, let him go. No sense in bonking just trying to chick him (he ended up beating me by less than a minute, so I can’t complain).
I hit mile 2 in 7:51 somewhere in there, and mile 3 in 8:01. Then the suffering began. I was pretty pleased to see a time pretty near my 5K PR just shy of where 5K would have been, when I came back to that hill from the beginning, and now of course as an uphill. I eased off the throttle, lowering my arms and driving to drive up in a relaxed fashion. As I was still trying to catch my breath, I ran past my mom, who was staked out to see us all passing at about 3 and a third miles:
Apparently I surprised my mom when I came up the hill – she didn’t expect me to be so close behind the guys!
Okay, I confess. I took a teeny, tiny walk break. I was dying, that hill just clobbered me, but mostly I was a huge chicken. It was like 15-20 seconds, and didn’t really cost me anything. I picked it right back up for a long loop around the mall’s main parking lot before snaking around to the finish and charging it in. Seeing the clock, I suddenly had a huge grin on my face, seeing that I was going to CRUSH my goal. Here are some snaps of all of us finishing:
I zig zagged a little dizzily after the finish, and got stuck in the corral line where people were stopping very suddenly to remove their chips and volunteers pulled our raffle tags (though they drew the raffle before the walkers had finished – lame). We of course snapped some post-race pictures:
We headed inside for bananas and water and other goodies, and found out that we actually did decently in our age groups. I’d been secretly hoping for an AG award, but honestly I’d forgotten to take into account all the cross-country runners home for break that absolutely crushed it. But I got 6th in my AG and NB got 7th, so we can’t complain!
Here’s the weird part:
Garmin time (started watch at gun, since no starting timing mat): 31:07
Garmin distance: 3.94 (huh?)
chip time: 30:59
Either way, I beat my goal, and even if the course was short, I STILL would have beat it if it was the correct distance. Plus, it was a turkey trot, so who cares!
One of the funniest parts? NB and I went for an “easy” trail run on Saturday on one of the toughest trails ever – it was four miles, and it took us (read: me) almost 44 minutes. Umm… yeah.
Winter is well on its way, and I had my last run in shorts this morning until probably April. But am I done racing for the season? Not likely – these random fun runs are just too much fun to pass up. And already we have our sights set on a 5K on New Year’s Eve…