I completed the 2014 Cleveland Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving morning. Here’s my recap.
(Disclaimer: I will not be doing a mile by mile recap. Mostly because I was so worried about slipping I was hardly paying attention to the mileage!)
Wednesday evening, November 26, 2014, was cool but not extraordinarily cold. The streets were clear — no ice, no snow. I woke up on race morning, Thursday, November 27, 2014, to a winter wonderland. It had snowed overnight. Perfect conditions for slips, trips, and falls.
The 2013 race was a slippery hot mess. I saw people wiping out left and right, and at the end of the run, my quads were on fire because I had to adjust my gait so much to keep from falling. I was in emotional distress when I saw this out my window:
I had to change my race outfit to a slightly warmer shirt with a zip neck. I really wasn’t looking forward to running, to be completely honest. But I had two people counting on me, so I had no choice.
My friend Marnie arrived at my house at 8, and we picked up Julie around 8:15 or so. A quick stop for gas, and we were off. Soooooo slow… At every stop sign, my ABS were crunching and trying to keep us from sliding. Thankfully the only lunatics out at that time on Thanksgiving morning were the trotters.
We parked and hightailed it to Public Hall. I’m so thankful I changed my outfit at the last minute because the wind downtown is brutal. I was out of throw aways so I ended up bringing an oversized recycling bag with me for warmth. And thank god I did because it was frigid. Next year I’m wearing an ankle length bathrobe!
Once inside Public Hall, we tried to locate a few friends we were planning on meeting up with pre-race for some hugs and photo opps. We found Chris and Jennifer, but didn’t make it in time to meet up with a cyber-friend, Kelly. After brief hellos, Julie, Marnie, and I headed to the bathroom. Where the line was a mile and a half long. We split up and I found another bathroom with a shorter line. I texted over to them and they came to meet me.
|Happy Turkey Trot Day! Me, Julie, and Marnie.|
After the longest potty break ever, we met back up with Chris and Jennifer for some pictures. Say cheese!
|Julie, Jennifer, Chris, Marnie, and me!|
|Let’s do this!|
Then it was race time!
We made our way to the doors and immediately felt a burst of cold, windy air. Uggggh… Here we go…
I put on my recycling bag, and out we went. It was slushy, and cold, and I just wanted to get the race over with so I could go home and take a hot shower.
|Is that your recycling bag, or are you just happy to see me? Say wha?!|
The first mile of this 5-mile race is the toughest in the wintry conditions that I’ve now subjected myself to two years in a row. It starts just outside of Public Hall and winds around near First Energy Stadium (where the CLE Browns play) and the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame. The road is essentially concrete in that entire first mile, which happens to be really slick when it’s slushy or wet.
Just before the 1 mile sign, the big toe on my right foot started to go numb. Uh oh! I had sloshed through several puddles at this point but I had faith in my Fox River socks, so I kept going. I knew there was an aid station around mile 2, so worst case scenario I would just stop there. The roads were also closed so there were police every couple of blocks.
As soon as we rounded out of that first loop and we were on the “out” of the out-and-back loop, things improved slightly. The wind seemed to bite less, and there were large spaces of non-slushy road. I picked up a little speed in this area, but had to be careful to watch my footing to allow for slick spots. And I could feel my toe again!
Overall, things were cold and slushy for the first half.
At the halfway mark, where we turned and started “back” on the out-and-back loop, is when the real fun began. At this point in the race I realized I was cold, I was soaking wet, and I just wanted to get done. I also really wanted to beat my time from last year. Last year’s race was abysmal so basically anything faster than a 10:00 m/mi would suffice. I was skeptical because the conditions were oddly similar, but I was determined.
I noticed I could see where the slush was from the reflection of the… well, I would say sun but I’m in Cleveland, so I guess I’ll have to say clouds… I could see the slush/ice from the reflection of the clouds. I could see that there was only water an inch or so away from the double yellow line on the road. And I could see there was no slush or ice in the water.
Instead of trying to scoot my way through ice and slush, I decided to run the remainder of the race through the water.
I might have been slightly delusional at that point, I’m not really sure. No one else was running through the water. But my shoes, socks, and bottoms of my tights were already completely soaked. And I wasn’t slipping at all. It worked. I was able to pick up my pace, and I blew through the rest of the course.
Unfortunately, rounding the last half mile became slick. Instead of being able to sprint as fast as I could across the finish line, which I definitely had the power and will to do, I ran a controlled speed across for fear of slipping in the last 100 meters of the race.
Overall, I finished in 46:00, which is a 4+ minute improvement over last year. I was pleased with my time and performance given the conditions.
After the race, the plan was to reconnect with Julie and Marnie near the finish. If we didn’t find each other, we were going to meet back at the car. Unfortunately we didn’t see each other at the finish, and after about 10 minutes of waiting and shivering, I went back to the car. Marnie and Julie found each other and were waiting for me at the finish for about 20 minutes! Gah! But thankfully they had a nice warm car to come to when they finally gave up the search for me. Next year we will all run with full phone batteries!
|Warming up in the car! Brrrr.|
I’m not entirely sure I’ll do this race again, if I’m being honest. I know there are several other Turkey Trots in my area. The CLE Turkey Trot is a tradition and it typically sees about 8-10,000 runners on race day, the shirt is totally awesome, and I like the idea of it. But I really dislike cold, biting wind. This was my third winter race in downtown Cleveland, and I truly think the wind from the lake is just too much for me to handle.
All in all, it was a fun morning and I’m glad I had such great friends to enjoy it with. Counting down until the next race!
Can’t wait to hear about YOUR Turkey Trot experience! Where did you run? How far was it? Did you have better weather than we did?!