Friday, November 25, 2011


With the Turkey Trot this week, I took it pretty easy. 6 miles Monday morning, jogging with KC Monday afternoon. 6 miles Tuesday morning with some strides on the track, then 3 miles Wednesday afternoon. After yesterday's race I only had 26 miles in 4 days. Pretty crazy down week. So today I did an easy 10. Really easy; it felt like I was walking  most of the way. I wasn't concerned. My legs were pretty tight and I just wanted to relax and shake them out. It was warm outside too. I think zero wind and zero clouds with a lot of sun is pretty nice.

Yesterday I ran an 8 second PR in the 5K, 15:32. On Thanksgiving 2006, I ran 15:43. In March 2008, I ran 15:40 on the track. So this is better than both of those races. I got 8th place. 15:32 for 8th place, with the winner running 15:00. I think it's one of the slower Turkey Trots in recent years.

2011 - 15:00
2010 - 14:31
2009 - 14:35
2008 - 14:39
2007 - 14:29
2006 - 15:08
2005 - 14:27
2004 - 14:49

Times aren't available for 2003 on the FARC website (thanks Debi Bernardes) but in 2002 the winner ran 15:40 and was an American. Unless the winner in 2003 was too, then Jason Van Horn is the last American to win on Thanksgiving in Fredericksburg. So sometime while I was in college, Terry decided to start importing talent. This year was pretty weak though. Interesting to note that the two years that I ran the fastest were the two years that the race was the slowest.

But it had little effect on me, if not for a positive one. I purposefully dropped behind the pack at the start of the race and waited for them to pull away from me. I continued to ease up during the first mile so as to not get pulled along to what I assumed was something in the 4:30-40 range. When I went through the first mile in 4:57, I was only a few meters behind the back of the pack. So I decided that I needed to get back in the group, because I figured running 4:50 wouldn't be that much worse than running 4:57, especially since I was already one mile down. Unfortunately I couldn't catch them, even running down Sunken Road. The pack was starting to break up a little bit though, with two guys starting to fall off the back.

The two mile mark was right at the intersection of Littlepage and and Grove, which I went through in another 4:57. Amazing that 10 years ago as a high school senior I was only able to run 10:17 or something like that on the track for 3200, and today I can run a 2 mile in 9:54. Granted I did do that when Charlie and I went to run in the Lynchburg Twilight meet in 2007. I had a great 10 laps there...

After two miles things really started to hurt. I could have really used the old course crowd support, instead of having to run down Littlepage and Kenmore all alone, silently. There were still some runners on Washington Avenue when I got there, but they weren't all that helpful at that point. The only thing that helped was that 7th place was coming back to me. I knew I was slowing down, and I was having trouble breathing, but I kept driving trying to catch him. The sun was at my back so that I could see my shadow, and I watched my form to make sure that my arms were still moving the right direction... I didn't want to get too flappy too early. Mile 3 was bad though, 5:07. I don't know if I really knew that when I saw it. I saw the total time was 15:03 though, so I was only 4 seconds behind where I wanted to be. Just go!

I went around the stupid last turn that is stupid and remember thinking "do I go wide or cut it short?" I don't know what I ended up doing, I think I just tried to run as short as possible. I didn't have enough room to catch #7, if it would have been possible to pass him anyway. I saw the clock when I rounded the corner and it was at the low 15:20s. GO! I wasn't even thinking about the total time, I think the whole notion of the day was just to run faster than I've ever run before, and let the clock figure itself out. And that's what happened. I ran through the line, wasted a little energy on a fist-pump, and had the clock at 15:34 when I finished, a 31-second close. Turns out I really closed in 29, so that's awesome.

And now I can't breathe. I bent over and tried to catch my breath. One of my students was standing on the fence next to me and grabbed my hand, but wouldn't let me go. I couldn't get away from him, I was just that tired. His mom freed me from his grip and I wandered off to get my shirt and see KC. By this time, #9 was finally coming in, 16:18 or something. Pretty far behind. As usual, I'm the last of the faster people, with a huge gap behind me at the Turkey Trot.

Behind me, Chip, Anne, David and my mom were all running too, all but David wearing their new Team Blitz t-shirts. Chip ran 18:49! Crazy! His goal was to run under 20:00, hopefully 19:40. He ran 6:03 pace with a goal of 6:25 pace. Just nuts. Anne ran 20:29 to get 2nd in her age-group. David had a solid 23:52 (achieving his goal of not throwing up and running under 24 minutes) for 337th place. My mom's time was 43:31, after some walking, jogging, and a pit stop at the Kenmore bathrooms. Anne and I went back to find her. They were all the way back on Littlepage when I finally found them. I didn't know if I'd be able to make it that far back, I was hurting pretty badly.

But overall everyone was happy with their Turkey Trot performances. I was the 3rd local finisher behind Joey Murray and Silvio Guerra. Be sure to click on that second link... you'll see who the class of the field was that day. The crazy part is that he doesn't even run anymore! I wish I could get him to run with me...

It feels good knowing that I'm better than I've ever been before, 5 years later. Absolutely foolish telling Julie Hunter and Nina Van Wormer at William & Mary homecoming in the fall of 2005 that "2:40 in the marathon is probably as fast as I can go," and that I would probably move on to triathlons soon. I'd done ONE triathlon and only run 3 marathons. How young and foolish I was... but I digress.

Happy thanksgiving!

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