There is a quaint American tradition of running “Turkey Trots” on Thanksgiving Day. These are often used to raise funds for charity, but also to give people a clear conscience for the overeating that they will do as the day progresses. My wife Lis had decided that we would do a 5 km trot to raise funds for the local charity ‘So Others May Eat’ (SOME). It was run at Haine’s point next to the Potomac River, a site I know all too well from various other races I’ve run in D.C. Almost perfectly flat, it is a great place to do a fast race, and Mayor Adrian Fenty showed that he was as good as ever. He beat me in the Savageman Triathlon in September and so when I saw him zoom past me, with his bodyguard closely following (or at least that’s who I assumed it was since it was the same fellow I saw at Savageman), I was saddened to be out trotted again by the fellow. He took it very well when I complained afterwards and we got the photo to the right. Still, it gives me something to aim for!
Lis and I were out the door about 7:45 and it was 0 degrees C. Not the most perfect day for me since I don’t like it too cold – brings on my asthma. We rode our bikes the 6 miles down to the race start where we got the photo to the left. Easy to guess who is the Canadian by the way we are dressed 🙂
There were some 4000 people participating, and they were a combination of competitive types and others just out for a fun trot (or even walk for many of them). There were lots of dogs, families, and some got into the spirit by dressing up as turkeys.
Since Lis was walking she went to the rear while I went to the front. This was only my second 5 km race and I have to admit that I had mixed feelings about it. That was two years ago in October when Jerry, Simon and I ran in Rockville Maryland. I managed a 19:47 and came second in my age group, but it was a horrible experience. I am more equipped to do 19 hours than 19 minutes: I far prefer the long distance races.
I decided, however, that I would give it my best shot. In my training program for next year’s Ironman Louisville the run training is based on the VDOT concept from the Jack Daniel’s running formula. This uses your performance in a recent race to establish you training paces, and then training at these paces you improve your speed. I did a 5 km test four weeks ago on a track, but an actual race would be much better as it really forces you to work hard. The competitors really pull you along – especially when it’s the mayor! My 20:35 on the track gave me a VDOT of 48, so I was interested to see what I could achieve here under race conditions.
When the race started I was off quickly, doing sub 6:00’s. My goal pace was 6:30 – 6:45, depending on how I was feeling, so I backed off a little, but not too much! It was amazing to see people doing 5:30 pace and before too long they were off in the distance — including the mayor, but I was keeping up with the second fastest group.
I did the first mile in 6:22, and the turnaround in 9:42 so I was just a little faster than last year. On the backward leg we were sharing the road with the slower runners and they took up both lanes to the extent that we fast runners were constrained to an area about 1.5 persons wide on the right side. Just after mile 2 some idiot swerved in front of me and collided, but fortunately I was not knocked down. However, my GPS watch came out of its holder so I had to stop and run back to collect it before starting again.
As before, the last 0.75 miles is particularly grim, but there was this young woman who was ‘sparring’ with me and we pulled each other along. It seemed to take forever to cross the finish line, but I managed a 19:18 for a 6:19 average pace. There was at least 5 seconds lost due to my stopping so I’ll claim a 19:13 for the race – and a VDOT of 52. I placed 45th, 5/195 in my age group.
At the finish line there was a fellow/fellowette dressed up as Turkey who was ‘high fiving’ everyone that passed. I don’t think that many of us who did sub 20 minutes had enough energy to raise our arms, but many of the later ones did!
After a shot of my asthma inhaler so I could breath again, and the photo with the Mayor, I called Lis to find where she was and jogged back to find her. I met her about a mile from the end and jogged/walked back with her. She had been passing all the walkers and enjoyed watching the dogs, people, costumes, etc. It was her first (and she says last) race.
We grabbed our bikes and then rode home. It was a bit more tedious than usual since it has a number of hard uphill sections and we were feeling a bit the worse for the morning’s efforts.
A nice start to Thanksgiving day. And it even helped a few people less fortunate than ourselves.