Happy December, friends! How the heck did that happen…?
I was just rereading my recap of the 2014 Cleveland Turkey Trot and my gosh what a difference a year makes! Not only in terms of weather but also in terms of racing. Amazing. Although, I’m fairly certain I wouldn’t have had as stellar of a race had the weather not been as nice. Here’s how race day unfolded:
There are two things worth mentioning before I begin. Number 1, packet pickup started much earlier this year, which was both good and bad. Good because there were less people in line when I went to get mine, and bad because… Number 2, they added a 5K this year, hence the earlier packet pickup times. An added 5K meant more people. Everywhere. More on that later…
Unlike in years past, choosing my race day outfit was a cinch this time around. It was a balmy 40-something degrees. No snow, no freezing rain, no insane wind gusts. Which meant no layers and no last minute freaking out because there was 2 inches of snow on the ground! Long sleeves and capris. Easy peasy. I picked up Julie around 8:15 and we headed downtown, thinking we were going to be super early since the race didn’t start until 9:30. Well, as it turns out, with the addition of a 5K route and nice weather, a lot more people were in attendance than I had anticipated. We were hoping to find street parking since it was so nice out but with a few circles around the block, no such luck. We headed to the place we normally park and shelled out $10 for special event parking. (Really? Special event? I don’t recall it being so expensive in years past… I digress.)
|Creeper photo bomb…|
We parked and headed to Cleveland Public Hall to meet up with Sara. We found her, her brother, and her brother-in-law, and said hello. As you may recall (or not), I know Sara from high school. Which means I also know her brother from school. He’s several classes below me and I haven’t seen him in at least 20 years, so it was nice to see him again.
After quick introductions and greetings, we headed outdoors. Now, being the smart girl that I am, I brought a plastic bag to keep warm. Because let’s face it, the wind in Cleveland sucks, regardless of how warm it is! Yeah, I got made fun of. I got 20 questions, particularly from Andrew, Sara’s brother. He’s a seasoned runner. How he has never seen someone staying warm in a plastic bag before, I’ll never know… I kept warm in my bag, and then passed it around to everyone else because I felt bad for them despite being made fun of!
|I have no idea what’s going on here… for real…|
The race was slotted to begin at 9:30 am. 9:30 came and went. It was a full 10 minutes before there was any semblance of a race beginning. I don’t even think we actually started until about 9:45. Finally the crowd began to move, so we moved with them. A few minutes later we heard what we thought was the national anthem but was definitely not, and then we were finally off.
Sara, Andrew, and I were all planning on staying together. My coach told me earlier in the week that he thought I could get in at a 43 minute race time, which would be a PR for me. I wasn’t so sure he was right, but I kept his pacing in mind as we ran. We started off fairly slow, mostly due to having to navigate around walkers and slow runners. The first two miles were a bit of a bottleneck.
I didn’t turn on tunes for a while because we were chatting as we dodged people left and right. We discussed how hungry I was (might come back to haunt me later?), how to cook a turkey (Andrew’s first), and many other random topics of discussion. At one point I lost Sara and Andrew so I turned on my music and got in the zone. I found them again but kept my music on. I had an inner battle going on. I wanted to stay with them but I really wanted to PR, so I couldn’t figure out what I should be doing. Somehow, though, likely around the third mile or so, we were running comfortably hard and I decided to race. I really wanted that PR, especially since the roads were dry and the temperature was mild. I fell into pace with Andrew and at one point he asked me what my goal was. I barely blurted out “43 or less” and we kicked it up a notch. I decided I would stay with Andrew even if it killed me. I know he’s faster than I am, though having never run with him before I had no idea how much faster, so I thought if I banked on sticking with him I was sure to PR.
We were making good time. Unfortunately, as it turns out, the 5K route merged with the 5 milers at just about the last mile. Instead of being able to focus on pace and running, the 5 milers had to start dodging the incoming walkers. It was a bit of a trainwreck, and certainly an opportunity for improvement for this race, which I strongly suggest they consider revising. I know plenty of runners who weren’t so happy about the addition of the 5K route into the existing 5-mile route. That’s neither here nor there, though, so I’ll save that for another day.
In any event, I told Andrew I would follow him and we started weaving in and out of walkers. When we hit 4 miles, I was running really hard. I honestly didn’t know if I was going to make it. I kept thinking to myself that I was pushing puke pace and that I would be heaving at the finish line! It’s the first time I’ve ever truly doubted myself like that in a race. I wanted a PR so bad and I needed to keep my pace up to make it. As we were rounding the second to last turn, I started getting tunnel vision and I knew it wasn’t good. But somehow, at the very last turn, I felt okay again. I definitely couldn’t sprint it in (which is a good thing if you ask my high school coaches). I laid everything out on the course. I had nothing left except what was pulling me through my last mile. But I did it. I snagged a pretty awesome PR. Unfortunately the official results didn’t pick me up going across the mat at the start so I’m technically using Andrew’s results, but I was mere feet behind him. Our race results would be different by tenths of a second.
I’m grateful for Andrew pacing me, though I’m sure he didn’t realize he was while we were racing. But honestly, without him, there’s no way I could have pulled off a race like that. I started at 10 minute miles and my last mile was an 8 minute mile. That’s the fastest mile I’ve ever run in my life! It was tough, but totally worth it. And no, I didn’t puke at the end. 🙂
We made it through the finisher’s chute (which wasn’t really a chute at all. In fact, as soon as we crossed the finish line we were met with a wall of people. Again, not for this post…), grabbed some snacks, and met up with Julie and Sara. We all PRed on Thursday, which was amazing. Thank you, weather gods, for blessing us with good race weather!!
|My unofficial pacer 😉|
Looking back on it, I’m fairly certain the tunnel vision was due to lack of energy. I learned at the end of the race that Andrew had taken a gel early on in the race. I’m considering running with some sort of sustenance for all races going forward, just in case this happens again. I was really hungry at the beginning which I knew could come back to bite me later on.
All in all, I had an exceptional race. I had fun with my friends, got a nice PR, and the weather was great. There are a lot of areas that could be improved upon for future Cleveland Turkey Trots, though, so hopefully they’ll fix those in time for 2016.
Shout out to my pacer, Andrew. You rock! And big hugs to my girls Sara and Julie, because without them none of these racing shenanigans would be possible!
Quasi* Official Finish: 42:43:16
Did you run a Turkey Trot?
Fun run, or race?
*I added a few tenths of a second to make it more legit.