Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Brighton Turkey Trot Race Report
My search for a suitable turkey trot had several criteria this year. First, knowing how much cooking I have to do on Thanksgiving meant that a turkey day turkey trot was out of the question. Also, I had signed up for church duties for most of the month, so a Sunday race was out as well. Finally, I did not want to drive halfway across the state to get to the race. I turned to active.com's Turkey Trot Finder and discovered that the Brighton Turkey Trot fit the necessary parameters. I signed up "old-school" by sending in a check and registration form, and was committed.
Race day arrived and I was pleasantly surprised to find that my thermometer read 45F, so I decided I would probably wear a short sleeve shirt for the race as the sun would probably warm it up to nearly 50 by the start time. Not wanting to be cold beforehand I threw on my long-sleeve and fleece over the shirt and headed out the door. As I drove north to Brighton I was shocked to see the car thermometer plummeting. By the time I arrived there was frost everywhere, and the thermometer read 28F. Needless to say the T-shirt plan was out the window.
I headed in to pick up my race packet and timing chip (this was the first year for chip timing). The registration is held inside the Brighton Recreation Center, which is really nice to be able to keep warm and use heated restrooms. There was plenty of room for spectators to hang out as well. The rec center is located next to a nice little park as well, with a 3/4 mile path running around it, perfect for warming up! I ran around the park a few times and threw in a few 30 second sprints as well for good measure. I knew I wanted to hit the ground running hard and did not want to risk injury by going off cold. By the time I was lining up at the start I was down to just a long-sleeve shirt and shorts, plus my gloves and hat.
I lined up within two rows of the starting line as I knew I wanted to be in the lead group from the start. The gangly limbs and racing flats always leave me feeling a little outgunned, but I suspected from prior year results that I had a shot at top 15. I often wonder if and how other runners size me up, as I always feel like a bit of an outsider in those situations. The 30 second warning came, then someone yelled "Go!" and we were off! My body settled almost immediately into a fast pace that felt hard, but manageable and I knew it was going to be a good race. Watching the leaders snake around the corners in front of me I knew I was in the front 20 and my goal was to make sure I did not lose any ground. The first mile marker came in 6 flat and already some runners ahead of me had started to drop back. Ahead of me, the first female runner had already shaken off her two competitors and I made it my goal to maintain distance with her. Mile two came in 6:05 and I had only reeled in one other runner, I suspected that that would be the last of my advances. Through mile 3 I felt like I was just keeping it together, although the 6:01 split indicates I was handling things just fine. I stole a glance behind me around the final corner and tried to push hard to the finish line to hold off the racer behind me. 18:52 from the gun and my chip recorded 18:48, a solid 5k effort good for 10th place!
I ended up meeting up with two other racers at the end of the finish chute who were going to run the course again as a cool down, so I joined them for an extra 5k. They had run the race in prior years, and we had a lot to chat about as we ran back. It was great to engage with other runners who have similar training and racing philosophies. It was a good way to kill some time before the award ceremony which I was determined not to miss. When I checked the race results, I was shocked to discover that I had somehow been entered as "female" in the scoring system! I immediately reported the error to the scoring official, but I probably should have emphasized that the error affected the age group awards. I had erroneously won the female 30-34 age group! I hoped that they would have fixed the problem by the time the announcements were made, but unfortunately not, so I stood there red-faced as my name was read as the winner of the category. Afterward I was able to get my correct 2nd place award, but the situation was embarrassing and I felt terrible for the women who had received incorrect awards. It turns out that there were several racers in the wrong "category" so I hope the race is able to get this fixed in the future.
This race has a great "small race" feel, but is put on very professionally. The post-race food was good, and there was plenty left even when I came in after most of the racers had been through. The chip-timing was an added bonus. The only detraction from this great experience was the whole mistaken gender issue, which I hope will be addressed in later years. I will definitely be returning to run this race next year!