I love running Thanksgiving Day races; it has become one of my favorite Thanksgiving traditions. The first one I ever ran was back when I was in seminary and I ran the Nicholasville Turkey Trot a couple of times. Once I ran a small race near my parents' house in Kentucky, and I've also run the Columbus/Upper Arlington four milers. Two years ago, I won the inaugural MVRB Turkey Trot, a race my friend put on to race money and food for a local (Mt. Vernon) food bank. So this year I was looking for a race and found out that the Larry Cox Turkey Trot would be held in Chillicothe, a race to benefit the Southern Ohio Crime Stoppers and in memory of fallen officer, Larry Cox, an avid runner who was shot and killed while off duty in 2005.
Looking online, I could only find records of the first five finishers - which should have told me something... I also found a blogger who has run this race every year (including running it in an amazing time of 14:55). I decided I would run. Then I found out that a friend from town was going to be running, so I begged a ride from him. He said, "It's going to be cold" to which I replied, "Yep, no PRs this time."
On race morning, it was indeed cold. Jason's truck thermometer said it was 13*. Thirteen. I dressed for it: tights with warm up pants, warm long sleeve tech shirt (from Erie Marathon - we were laughing because I wore a marathon shirt to a 5k... but Jason wore a shirt from the Toughest Mudder 50k... and we met a guy at the start line in his Burning River 100 miler shirt), vest, jacket, hat, and mittens. I got signed up and it was frigid out there. My feet (in Asics Piranha racing flats) were numb when I started my warm up run. Sign up was kind of crazy - there were tons of people. They were sending the "pay in cash" over to the "pre-registered" table, so I went that way. I couldn't get my pen to work - too cold - so I filled everything out in pencil. When I found out that I would have to pick up my t-shirt later at some other location that I didn't know where, I decided I really didn't need a t-shirt. (race only was $15, with a t-shirt it was $24, and with a hoodie it was $35 - I just donated the extra I'd paid).
I ran for a while to warm up, then got back in the warm truck, then finished with some more running and finally was warm. I ditched the jacket, vest, and warm-up pants and made my way to the start line. There were lots of fast-looking runners there. The pre-race normal stuff went on, but the cool part was where the RD announced that Keegan Rathcamp (the guy who'd run sub 15) was going to carry Larry Cox's shoes - that his shoes have been carried in every race. Very classy. After the National Anthem was sung, we were ready to go!
The initial surge was fast, and I let it carry me. I made sure to remind myself, "You're not racing these guys; you're just running a speed workout." - this was my expectation: I had decided in advance that I was simply going to do my speed workout (3x1600 at 6:32) with no other expectation.
The course was extremely easy. Easy to follow and easy to run. There were two little hills, but they were nothing. There was some ice in a couple of patches, but as long as I watched my footing, it was no problem (nothing like the Frozen 5k I ran at NU where I hit a patch of ice and went flying, taking another runner out in the process). I kept on at a pretty steady pace, running the tangents as much as I could (Duke, my Garmin, measured the race at exactly 3.1 miles, so I must have done pretty well running the tangents!). The first mile slipped by at 6:13, and the second mile was 6:16.
During the second mile, we went up onto the bike path where I ran a ton of my workouts while my boys were in soccer practice. The wind was against us, so I drafted for a while behind a high school runner. He was slowing down a little bit, so I passed him and told him, "just tuck in behind me and let's go get the next guy." He was happy to oblige. I just kept doing that - basically doing a fartlek workout - drafting for a moment, then passing and catching up with the next guy and doing it over.
The third mile finished up on the street with a little uphill and ice before heading down into the park. Once we were in the park, I knew it was close, so I tried to pick up the pace a bit. The third mile was in 6:20, and the last .1 I managed a 5:04 sprint. I was excited to see 19:20 - a PR for me by 7 seconds. It was great running this time, as I haven't managed anything close for over two years (since before I was sidelined with plantar fasciitis a year ago).
At the finish line there was no means for placing or record keeping of any kind. I'm not sure why we got bibs (probably just to help them know who was a bandit). So there was no way of knowing how I did, overall place or age group. But 19:20 is pretty solid in my book!
I was so psyched about the PR that I went back and ran the course backwards for a cool-down, cheering for the other runners. The bike path part was a little hectic as it was full of runners and I kind of had to dodge them as I was going the wrong way! I found a friend (Andrew's soccer coach) and turned back and easily ran back with him and his kids, finishing up with about 3 miles of cool down.