Got up bright and early and headed 15 miles up the road to the lovely Baker Park section of Frederick for the Waystation 5K Turkey Trot. I don’t know what it was, the fact that I didn’t sleep well last night, the terrible weather we’ve had up until this morning, my lack of a good diet plan, but I felt off this morning. It could be the fact that I typically run at night, but regardless, I got to the race site and loosened up. My round goal coming into this race was to break 28 minutes, a little over a month after my 31:47 in Baltimore. The Frederick course is fairly easy by Frederick County standards. The only inclines are very mild and not very long, so I knew I wouldn’t have to deal with the burn of steep hills like we have here in Brunswick.
After the 1K started, a bunch of folks started meandering over to the start/finish line to get lined up. First, I must say, the “turkey hat” is so 1998. I must however give major props to the young Asian fellow and his girlfriend who came dressed to run in Indian brave outfits complete with war paint and tomahawks. As I’ve said before, the running crowd is very “white”, very cheesy, and very diverse….but seriously, no turkey hats next year. We get it, it is Thanksgiving.
I picked a spot a little closer to the front than I did in my last race and waited…..and waited….and waited. Finally a giant turkey gave the go signal and off we went. While my legs were very fresh from taking it easy this week, I started out of the gate WAY to fast. When we hit the first mile marker, my breaths to strides were way out of whack. I pared my speed back a little bit but never hit that sweet spot where I know I can just keep going without any trouble. I seriously had to push myself. My goal went from “sub 28” to “just finish this damn thing without stopping.” I need to focus on pacing early and I need to learn to tune out the runners around me as they entice me to go faster than I should too soon.
As we came past Park School, I could see the park’s band shell and the balloon gated finish line. At that point, I knew I would finish, but how hard could I push? As I rounded the last turn, an elite runner who had come to the corner to cheer said, “27!” to someone. Suddenly I realized my goal might still be in reach. I pushed. When I crossed, the clock showed “28” and some change and my stop watch had me 28:34 after about 20 seconds of fumbling for it in my pocket while trying to catch my breath. I will post my chip time when it is made official. Needless to say, I had mixed feelings. Yes, I was very close to my goal, but not quite where I wanted to be, BUT, I learned a few things about starts, pacing, and running on cold mornings that I will have to take into consideration for the future. I have made good strides since I started running again and I am happy with my progress. I am NOT anxious to see the law of diminishing returns start kicking in, but I know it will, but hey, when you hit that peak, find another gear!
Race Review: The course was very nice. Not much for elite runners to get excited about, but plenty fun and safe for runners at all levels. Baker Park makes for a nice backdrop and the folks in the neighborhoods are very gracious in giving up some parking, not being able to use their street for a few hours, and coming out to spectate for this event.
Two criticisms: One, get a REAL public address system. I don’t understand why everyone that promotes events doesn’t own one. My band had a NICE PA that cost Tony like $1200 back in 2005. Yes, that is a lot of money, but we played rooms no bigger than my kitchen all the way up to roller rinks and STILL had volume to spare. We also played plenty of outdoor gigs with it and everyone could hear us just fine. Megaphones and piddly little PA’s don’t cut it for outdoor events with thousands of people. If you’re a promoter, a charity, or an event organizer, make this investment, you will not be disappointed.
Second, all of Baker Park was available yet they crammed everything on the landing up between the band shell and the old armory building. It just made for a crowded mess at the finish in regards to finding water and space to cool down.
Other than that, great event for a good cause. http://www.waystationinc.org/turkeytrotinfo.htm
Chip times came in just a few minutes ago: 28:08 for old Hankdawg! About 12 to 15 seconds better than what I had estimated. Very pleased, but anxious to see a 27 or better in the minute column. This put me 44th out of 90 men in my division, and 454 out of 986 men. I like that I am hanging with or near the 50 percentile in both my age bracket and overall given the fact that I’ve only been training for a little over four months.