Well, my race this weekend was nowhere near what Bill went through. The Wichita Turkey Trot involves either a 2 or 10 mile jaunt through Wichita's Riverside area. Lovely parks and paths, it's the perfect setting for a fun, late-season race (there are also some interesting trails that I can't wait to try out). The atmosphere at the Turkey Trot is fantastic. There's a traveling trophy that goes to whichever local school has the most student participants from year to year, so there are some really young runners, as well as mothers pushing strollers, groups of grade school children with matching shirts, and a few runners who have done all 32 Turkey Trots.
The atmosphere before the race was warm and intense. Not tense in the jittery, porta-potty filling way that the beginning of a triathlon is, but intense as in "Man, this is my first race ever! I hope my kid doesn't beat me." There was definitely an air of excitement and first-race nerves; as someone who runs/races more than the average person, it was fun to be around so many people--young and old alike!--who are just taking their first steps into fitness. Both the two mile and ten mile races started simultaneously, but at different places, so I don't know what the ten mile starting line was like (probably less crowded, with a greater average height for participants). But the starting line--or rather, the line of starters--stretched around the corner and down the road a bit. In fact, I couldn't even see the actual line; my dad and I arrived late because I had to teach a spinning class before getting my Trot on.
My race began with leaning forward at the sound of the airhorn, accelerating in super-slow motion as the hundreds of runners ahead of me began to pick up speed. At the beginning, I tried to run with my dad, but as a gaggle of older women ahead of us settled into a jog, I decided to make my move; after all, I knew I'd see him again in fifteen to twenty minutes. I started darting in between kids and old ladies, running off the road, dodging between little packs of joggers. It took probably a minute or two to get out of the thick of things and into enough open space that I could start setting my own pace. I knew that it was only two miles--less than twenty minutes!--but if I wanted to do well, I needed to be willing to hurt pretty bad for those twenty minutes.
The initial darting was enough to get my heart rate up into the 160s, but I wanted it to be higher for this race. I picked up my pace until I was sitting right at 175. Other runners fell away to my left and right, and more came into view in the distance. At a certain point, the runners in front of me stabilized, and I knew I'd found my race pace. My heart was still beating 175 times per minute.
It's amazing how slowly the miles seem to pass when there's only two of them. I haven't run just two miles in months, unless I'm just killing time on the treadmill or something. But when I passed the first mile marker, I thought, "Really? That's all?"
I had to stop twice: once to take off my long-sleeved T-shirt, once to shake out my shoulder. Sometimes when I'm running, I develop a catch in my right trapezius. It's been so bad in training runs before that I've had to ask a buddy to massage it for a few minutes until it settles down. It feels like a muscle spasm. I think it's particularly bad when I'm running at lactate threshold. At any rate, it hurt badly enough that I had to stop and stretch it against a tree. Which is embarrassing. I'm a triathlete, for crying out loud! Pain? What's that?
Needless to say, I got passed by quite a few folks (including one girl with a race belt on . . . you know what that means: fellow triathlete!), but I caught up again by the end. That final kick . . . I am definitely a kicker (by which I mean I almost always sprint to the finish; ask my spinning classes; I do the same thing with bike workouts), and I don't care whether you're running 2 miles or 26.2. The kick hurts. Once you really get into it, it's not so hard to maintain. I mean, it's not easy, but it doesn't provide the kind of gut-wrenching pain that the acceleration does. And that acceleration. Oofh. Every time I go for it, whether it's the end of a race or the end of a workout, I wonder if this is going to be the time where I keel over. Death by kicking. But then I get into it, and it's the best feeling in the whole world.
Results aren't up for the race, yet. At least, not the full results; a list of the top finishers can be found here. In fact, I don't know if they ever post the full results for this particular race . . . It's more a fun run than anything else. At any rate, I finished somewhere around 18:30-18:50. I didn't look at the clock right as I crossed the line. Either way, I ran something like a 9:20, which is about what I expected. It's not the fastest I've ever run, but it's a good place to start going into next season.
Honestly, I could have pushed myself harder at this race. I didn't quite achieve the level of hurt that I would have liked for a two mile race. After all, it's only two miles! And 16 minutes of pain never killed anyone. Or at least it wouldn't kill me. But, then again, this is off-season. And the Turkey Trot is not a PR kind of race. It's more like an excuse to eat a turkey brat for brunch.