This was the inaugural Turkey Trot 5K put on by my friend and the Mount Vernon Running Buddies on Thanksgiving morning. It was cold here, and I didn't know how to dress for the race - especially needing to dress over an hour before. So I went with tights and a semi-warm long-sleeve tech T, gloves and headband. That turned out to be too warm (of course). The wind was pretty chilly, but it was almost 40* by race time. This race was a free race benefiting Food for the Hungry, a local (Mt. Vernon) food bank. I figured it was a good cause and I still owed Dave one for running me in at Erie, so I made the trek up to Mt. Vernon.
Dave told me that I might be one of the faster runners there, so I paid close attention to the race instructions, especially directions. Thankfully Dave's dad led the pack on his bike, so I didn't get lost. Since I was the first one there, I got to sign in first, and I was given the "elite" bib number... #1! It wasn't really a "bib" per se; it was a nametag with a number printed on it. But I was #1.
After everyone had signed in and given their donations to Food for the Hungry and after about two miles of warm-up around campus, Dave gave some race instructions, took a group picture, and lined us up at the start line.
The race started out with a mad sprint through campus. It was quickly clear who the competition was - two young guys sprinted to the front and pulled out to a sizable lead. I was already thinking "third isn't bad" when I realized that the one kid was not running steady; he was speeding up and slowing down. At that, I knew he was mine. I passed him around the mile mark, and he told me "good job." I told him to run smoothly, just keep going. The other guy was a cross-country-runner looking guy, and he was out in front by a bit. As we turned into the wind, I thought that I ought to let him take the wind for me. So I kicked it and caught up with him to draft. At first I don't think he realized I was there - he had his headphones on - and he turned and spat just as I was catching up to him... thanks a lot, buddy! As I picked up the pace, he started looking back... meaning I was in his head. So instead of drafting, I kicked past him, putting distance between us. I figured he was strong and he would keep up with me, but he didn't.
So after the 1 1/2 mile mark, I was out in front. It was hard to keep mentally in the race, but I determined not to look back. After all, the only race I have to run is what is in front of me! I kept concentrating on Dave's dad on the lead bike and kept going. When we went around a sharp corner, I snuck a look back and cross country guy was wayyyy back.
I tried to keep my concentration level high, not to think about how far back anybody might be, to keep my pace steady, and to only look forward. I kept pushing to keep up with Dave's dad on the lead bike (and he kept pulling away - amazing how much easier it is to go fast on a bike!), but that was what I needed from him.
As we pulled back onto campus, nobody was close. Coming around one corner, my "bib" went flying off (I picked it up later on my cool-down run). I figured (correctly) that nobody would care. I had one spot where I was a little confused on the course, but it turned out OK, as I came around the corner and saw the finish line ahead of me.
I took this moment to look at my Garmin and I saw that a PR was in the realm of possibility, so I pushed as hard as I could to the finish line. Alas, I was one second off the PR, finishing in 19:28.
Pretty much as soon as I finished, I turned around and ran the course in reverse direction as a cool down. I was so pumped up from the outright win that I probably could have run it three times. This was my first overall win since the 8th grade, and it felt good!