In an attempt to jump-start my competitive drive, I signed up for a nice short race: a 4.4 mile Turkey Trot. Because it was located in Webster, NY--where I would be spending Thanksgiving with my boyfriend R___ and his family--I figured it would be a reasonably small, casual race. This assumption was completely wrong.
Compared to most other races I have run, the Webster Turkey Trot was a casual affair. There were no pace-based corrals, only one midpoint mile marker, and the start of the race consisted of one man raising a large yellow flag and telling the front line of runners "Go" (prompting the runners behind them to follow, and the runners behind them to follow, etc.). However, the race was chipped (i.e. each runner is timed electronically), we received race T-shirts, and--most significantly--there were 4,800+ runners registered to run. This was clearly not just a neighborhood jog.
Because the start was so disorganized, I did not get up to speed until well into the first mile. I've been running so slowly lately and my internal barometer has been out of whack that I wasn't quite sure what that "speed" was; however, I was determined to break the 8-minutes per mile pace that I've been holding lately.
I felt pretty good on the course--it was reasonably flat, and the sun was warm. Then, we reached the last quarter mile. The path narrowed and veered off of the pavement, and I found myself stumbling and tripping down a slick mud and tree root-covered hill, along with the other hundred people pushing for the finish line. I made it down the hill in one piece, only to be confronted with a muddy grass swamp, at the end of which I could make out the finish line.
Slipping and sliding across the field, I made it to the finish line without falling. However, I was feeling awfully disappointed. Even if I ran at a good clip once I made it out of the crowd at the start line, the end is where I typically shave off an extra few seconds. I can negative split a race much more easily than I can power out of the gate. But now, this perilous mud pit finish ruined my usual strategy. I might not have broken an 8-minute pace.
Then I looked at my watch. 30:36! That couldn't be right. How could I have run 4-and-a-half miles at a sub 7-minute pace?
As it turns out, my watch time was a bit faster than my actual clock time (30:51 on the clock vs. 30:36 on my watch), and the race was slightly shorter than I had thought (4.4 miles in reality vs. 4.5 miles I had thought was the race distance). However, the good news is that when I need to "turn it on" for a race, I can. Average speed: 7:01/mile!
And so, I ate Thanksgiving with an especially thankful heart.
Results for this race:
Gender Place (All Women)
Age Group Place (F25-29) 4.4 miles