First, last Wednesday I took the day off and thus I was able to rise at a late hour (8:00 am, oooh) and go for a nice four-mile run before heading to my hometown in Ohio for the holiday. The novel factor here was that I was not running in the predawn darkness. Daylight, how curious! What's that bright disk in the sky?
Second, the Aurora Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving Day. I did this race last year and because I was going to be in Ohio I decided to have at it again. I looked at my time (33:16) and figured I would aim to beat that, and if I was having a really good day I would strive for a sub-32:00 finish. I wasn't expecting much because I haven't felt especially fleet of foot lately.
Thursday morning dawned clear and bitterly cold, which was a change from last year's horrible wintry mix conditions. The thermometer in the car on the way to Aurora oscillated between 20 and 25 degrees. Luckily (obviously) I had packed a bag of running clothes in every combination imaginable in preparation for any weather eventuality (it was northeast Ohio, after all) and thus I had my favorite cold-weather racing outfit on hand for the conditions.
Due to my inability to remember anything, I had forgotten to let Garmy spend the night nestled in its charging cradle and as such it was completely dead come race morning. I was going to be (gasp) running blind. I was going to be forced to pay attention to the way my body felt and run accordingly. The horror! (Have I...become too dependent on modern technology?!)
Shortly before the race, after my dad and I picked up our race packets (a bag of coupons for the outlet mall, gee, how exciting) I randomly bumped into an old friend of mine from high school. I had not seen her in several years so that was a nice surprise. To my shock and awe she was wearing the marching band-issue sweatpants from our Flag Corps days (yes, folks, I was a "flag girl" in the marching band my junior year, and yes, I was as nerdy as you may imagine, I mean, come on).
This race has the most unattractive starting area of any in which I have participated: the shipping alley behind the Aurora Premium Outlets. Hooray for Dumpsters and loading docks! (and random bits of trash...and empty cardboard boxes...)
During the first mile, we passed a group of people playing a game of touch football. I thought, Look at those nutjobs...who plays football in the snow in 20-degree weather at 8:30 am on Thanksgiving Day? On further reflection, I thought: Well, they're probably thinking the same thing about us: "Who goes and runs a road race in 20-degree weather at 8:30 am on Thanksgiving Day? What a bunch of weirdos."
I revel in my weirdness! (and nerdiness, but y'all knew that already.)
A man at mile 1 called out "7:30" as I passed. This surprised me. I knew my true mile split was probably a few seconds less because it had taken me a while to cross the starting line from my position in the pack. OK, I thought, doing better than expected. Let's go with this, then. Mile 2: 15:00 for another 7:30 mile. Mile 3: a long uphill grind, and at the top it was 22:54 (7:54 split) with one mile to go. I increased my turnover and hit my lactate threshold. It started to burn, but I was almost done. As I approached the finishing chute (yes, a finishing chute, this was a really old-school race, tearing tags off bibs and putting them on a stick and everything) I saw the timing clock in the 29:XX range! I crossed the finish line in 29:40, which blew my prerace expectations away. I waited around the finishing area until my dad was done and then I said I knew we had discussed going straight home but I thought I had a good chance of getting an age group award so could we please stay for the awards ceremony? We did, and I did. Receive an age group award, that is. I finished third in my age group and won a trophy. I had not won a trophy since some cross-country invitational in high school. It was totally awesome.
The world's ugliest race shirt ever. This color (pumpkin? burnt orange? baby poop?) does not look good on me. But the trophy looks great! Note: this shirt was instantly classified as "internal use only" where "internal" means "inside the house; never to be seen outside where its brazen hue could sear the eyeballs of unsuspecting passersby."
Following the receipt of hardware, we returned home where brunch (Dutch baby and bacon, mmmm, bacon) and coffee (lots of coffee) were waiting.
Final race stats:
3/24 age group
Incidentally, the overall winner finished in 19:28, which is a 4:52 average pace. Yow!
And speaking of fast paces, look at my last mile. I hit the 3rd mile at 22:54. I finished in 29:40. That's a 6:46 mile, which is two seconds faster than my race-winning effort in the Run for the Rolls in August. What the hell, people, what the hell?
Saturday morning I bundled up in my "if you look good you feel good" outfit and headed out for a long run. It was a runner's dream (well, this runner, anyway): about 30 degrees, nice and sunny, no wind, clear pavement. I cranked out ten miles, listening to my iPod the whole way, and finished in just under an hour and a half. It felt so good. I can't wait for my vacation later this month. Oh yeah, did I tell y'all? I GET 17 DAYS OFF IN A ROW, PEOPLE. And I am going to go running EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. In the DAYLIGHT. OMGBBQ!!!!111!!!!
THAT is why I hoard my vacation time like Scrooge all year. So I can blow my vacation wad like John Holmes all at once. Yeah.