We kept our turkey trot streak alive this year by running the 5 mile race at the Pittsburgh PNC YMCA turkey trot. This was, by far, the biggest turkey trot I've ever done. Back in 2010, when we were last in Pittsburgh for Thanksgiving and ran the 5k option, I don't remember it being nearly this big. There was a 1 mile fun run, 5k, and a 5 miler - in the 5 miler alone, there were 1,542 finishers. But it was so well run (I found a porto-potty with ZERO line) and had plenty of parking that I had no idea there were that many people until I looked at the results online.
I've been lazy over the past month with my running (as in I would go for a 2 to 3 mile run once, maybeeeeeee twice per week, with a couple weeks having zero running). Part of it was sheer laziness coupled with a bit of I-Could-Care-Less-About-Running burnout, and part of it was to let the leg/groin muscles that I felt like I had strained back in October heal up. Admittedly, I probably took the take it easy so my leg feels better to the extreme by barely running at all, but it has been quite nice to feel guilt-free this off-season about not running. If I'm not in the mood, I don't make myself run. Just in the past week I've started to feel little twinges of hmmm, I think I actually feel like going for a run or I won't throw my computer out of my window if I get an email from Training Peaks. I'm going to start next season rested, not burnt out, and my leg feels 100% better. Off-season goals achieved.
That was a long way of saying I had no expectations for yesterday's turkey trot. Each time I've gone out for a run, it has felt like a slow slog and it seems like I'm huffing along at a 9:00 pace that feels like it should be a 6:30 pace given the amount of effort I'm putting forth. Mr. Sweetie was running the 5 mile race as well (he's the type where he can get back into running and within 3 weeks his easy pace is in the mid-7s. I kind of hate him for it). I felt like it would be a reasonable goal to try to hold a 7:30 pace for the race, especially given how sloggy I've been feeling in my run shoes lately. Mr. Sweetie and I decided we would run together and I had a few thoughts of maybe we should just jog this for fun, why does everything always have to be a race, etc. I was feeling slow, out of shape, and thought what is the point? Then we got to the start line, the gun went off, and it was definitely a race - point or no point, slow or not slow.
We started towards the front, but far enough back that the first half mile was spent dodging around people and trying to find open road. By the time we made a loop around the stadium, the crowds had thinned out considerably and we had plenty of space to run our race. I felt like the effort was easy (a bunch easier than my warmup jog from the car to the start line) but the first mile went by in 6:56, which was a nice surprise. I felt fine as we looped by the start/finish area and made it a goal to try and keep my pace consistent for the remaining four miles. We went over a bridge and into downtown for mile 2, passing by the 5k runners on the other side of the road who had started 30 minutes before us - it was a nice distraction seeing the other runners. Mile 2 clicked by in 6:55 and when I made it to 2.5 miles, I reminded myself that I was halfway done and I can do anything for 2.5 more miles. Just past the halfway mark was the turnaround point and I started seeing the leaders pass by on the other side of the road. There were still a number of girls ahead of me and once in awhile I would catch up to one and I tried to look strong when I made my pass so that maybe they would be tempted not to try and follow. I finished mile 3 in 7:02 and by this point, Mr. Sweetie was pulling ahead and I let him go - it was starting to be a struggle to hold my current pace and I was afraid if I tried to go with him, I would implode before the finish. Mile 4 felt like the longest mile ever and I was surprised to see a 6:57 flash on my Garmin. We ran by the start/finish area again to make a half-loop around the stadium for a final time. It was flat but windy and I was on the lookout for the turnaround. Mr. Sweetie slapped me five when he passed me going the other way after the turnaround and in the last half mile I finally got within striking distance of a girl wearing a florescent jacket that I'd been slowly reeling in for almost two miles. In the last quarter mile, I decided to go for it and make the pass, I knew I'd be mad at myself post-race if I didn't at least try. After I went by her, I tried so hard to keep the same pace all the way to the finish. I wanted the race over... NOW. As a result, mile 5 was my fastest in 6:37. I finished in 34:47, with a 6:57 average pace. 2nd in AG out of 150; 9th girl out of 819; and 74th overall.
It was so cold outside, even with the sun shining, that we immediately walked back to the car to warm up and go home. Mr. Sweetie's uncle had a great race in the 5k and he had the car all warmed up by the time we finished. We earned our turkey-stuffing-potatoe-crescent roll-apple pie-pumpkin pie dinners, which is my favorite thing about a turkey trot.