I am not so great about keeping traditions. Its not that I don’t want to make and keep with them. I love the idea of doing something annually for the sake of consistency, meeting up with friends new and old, and now introducing my children to those things I love and feel are important. I believe this is the allure of the Turkey Trot as part of our holiday tradition.
Turley’s CU Turkey Trot has become part of that tradition since I really added racing into my running routine some 15 years ago. The Boulder Road Runners used to consistently run two races at the CU Research park. One on the 4th of July and one on Thanksgiving. Fellow Fleet Feet runner George Zack used to point out, these two races were a great way to benchmark your fitness throughout the season, and I took that to heart in many ways. I have run these races through a variety of ebb and flows in my life and fitness. When I was not as fit, just a few weeks after a marathon, to when I was really fit and all in between.
This year’s Turkey Trot was no exception. Not being able to gain back any consistency in my running since May, I realized that I am trying to race myself back into shape right now. I haven’t had any time on the track, might have done a handful of harder efforts, but really the last 3 races are where my hard efforts have fallen.
I had no expectations for the day except to get out and run controlled yet hard. Two miles of warm up and some stride outs in shorts and a long sleeve tech T left me realizing that this 10am start might be warmer than anticipated. But instead of worrying about a shirt change at the last min, just rolled up my sleeves and headed to the now crowded starting line. Exchanged a few smiles and handshakes with my co-conspirators and got my iPhone ready for the start.
Oh yeah, I didn’t bring my Garmin or a watch today so I was keeping time and tweeting my progress every mile with the iMapMyRun application. (I really need to get an armband type solution for running on hard days as its a but cumbersome just to carry by hand, but there is a post on that to come.)
A record 1,400+ participants gathered at the new starting line just east of the former. This year they decided to run the race in counter-clockwise loops, reverse of all previous years. (view map) The hope was it would be a quicker course and would alleviate a hairpin turn about 400 yards to the finish line which left your mind, lungs and legs in a quandary.
The countdown, the siren, and we are off. Fast and furious. Runners young and old take off as fast as they can without any concern for actual pace. I tend to think I am beyond such foolishness and can pace myself where I need to be from the line, but know this is rarely the case.
By the first turn and the one uphill stretch, a gap is already starting to form between the lead group and myself. In better days I might go, but today is just about getting out with ease and staying steady. I relax through it, and enjoy the stretch along Colorado Ave is now slightly downhill and get into my stride. Mile 1 goes by with ease as we loop around the eastern edge of the research park. (Looking at my tweets later, I found out this was a 5:30 first mile, which was about on target.)
As we finish the first loop, crowds are gathered and are cheering for those going by, I hear a familiar voice or two yell out my name and words of encouragement. Back up the hill again is harder the second time around, but now I am starting to close on a few that have gone out too hard in the beginning. This builds my confidence a bit and I start to focus on pulling them in.
Through the second loop the road becomes congested with the masses of walkers. They are scattered enough at this point I can still make it by without really having to yell “On your left”, but now and again have to weave and bob.
Now I can feel really feel the full effects of my efforts. I am in full debt and it becomes the time when you wonder how long you can hold the pace.
With about 800 yards to go, I pass another runner giving me enough of a boost to push full force through the finish.
I am on the left of the street with the river of walkers on my right. I now have to navigate through to make the right turn into Potts filed to finish on the track. I was able to find a decent hole and quickly moved over to the right hand side.
Now onto the track I can see the women’s front runner, Fiona Docherty 200 yards away and no one else in between. I have no idea what the time on the clock is but knowing that this could make or break my goal, so I try and keep my head down and push. Coming into the line with a final kick I am relieved to see 17:XX still on the clock. I believed I finished just under 18 at the time. Later when I found my official time was 17:43 I was even more excited about the effort.
After the race, I chat and catch up with old friends and new acquaintances, talking races and life. The semi-annual benchmark.
I stayed around to watch a few of the kid’s races around the track. Proud families cheering and running with this new wave of runners, introducing them to their passions and building traditions for years to come. One day I vow to be more organized, and/or less selfish in my own racing, to start building my family’s holiday rituals.