Thursday, November 24, 2011

Turkey Trot 5K - My first race

7:00 am: Breakfast! Half of a whole grain bagel, with a light smearing of peanut butter, topped with bananas. Also, I had half a serving of greek yogurt and some sports water to chase down a Diet Dr Pepper. All 2 hours before running. Looking back, I would do that all the same, but cut out the caffeine. You will see why later.

8:00 am: We picked up my coworker and friend Karolyn on the way and we all remarked at the wonderful and very unexpected weather. It was supposed to rain. Instead, we had golden early morning sunlight on beautiful fall foliage.

8:10 am: We arrived at the park and found a long line of cars waiting to go in. We paid our $3 for parking and were fortunate to have got a spot (or so we heard).

8:15 am - 8:45: This was time spent in lines. Registration line to get our numbers (I got #241 which excited me because #24 is my birthday). T-shirt line to get our shirts. Goody bag line to get our goodies (which got stored in the car). Bathroom line. Then we got in line behind the starting gate.

This is when we noticed how many people were with us. It looked like it was far more than 1,300 people!!! There were tons of dogs and strollers. That worried me.

The fun part of the pre-race time was the music being played. "Take on Me" by Aha; "Final Countdown" by Europe; "Carry on Wayward Son" by Kansas. All the songs being played on the PA system were songs on my run playlists at home. I was so pumped up on adrenaline and caffeine (ooops) that I found myself wanting to go NOW!

8:45 - 9:00: The event personnel began trying to get runners to position based on their average 'times'. They had six minute milers at the front. Then seven's, eights, and from nine's on back it was a hodgepodge. I tried to figure out where other elevens were.

9:00 - 9:03: The start! However, moving over a thousand people off through a start frame on a narrow trail takes time. The race clock said 53 seconds by the time I got through. As I went through the start frame I started my timer/heart monitor and began recording my race. Photos others posted showed MOST of us starting our watches going under it.

We were a thick pack going up hill and onto an even narrower bridge. Not breaking any speed records....

Then when it flattened out and went along the parking lot, hordes (of smart ones) fled the path and ran through the parking lot to join back up on the path later. This added distance to their run so no one minded.

Jogging lightly on the straight-away as the pack broke up a little I had made a point to NOT LOOK AT OTHERS and people were passing me. I didn't care. I was a smart runner. Yup. I had a plan!!! I knew how to do this. I read about it. Just keep my own pace. So I did. Or so I thought.

9:03 - 9:26: I was parallel to the farthest parking lot of the park at just 3 or 4 minutes when I heard my watch beeping like I never heard it before. It was loud and annoying. I looked at my watch and it said: HR 182 "TOO HIGH". WHAT?!?!?! That isn't POSSIBLE! I hadn't even gone a quarter mile yet! NO WAY! I paid attention to my gait. People were still running past me. I still 'felt' like I was in my normal pace.

And a minute later the monitor watch began frantically beeping again. And a minute later. And a minute later. It was embarrassing. Next time I will put it on vibrate.

In fact, my heartrate monitor was yelling at me the entire run and I was getting nervous. My legs felt great. My lungs felt okay. I had no sweat on my brow. Why was my pulse so incredibly high? (It didn't dawn on me I had never ran within an hour of drinking caffeine before and then when you add that to the adrenaline of a large race - whamo!).

Shortly into the race at just before the quarter mile mark there was a runner on the ground trying to talk as people swarmed to help him and administer first aid. I thought it sounded like he had a seizure as he was slurring very badly. I slowed and someone told us that one of those helping was a doctor "please keep it moving".

And still that monitor of mine kept telling me HR "TOO HIGH". This concerned me. My 'max' heart rate is supposedly around 175. I kept TRYING to jog as slowly as I could. I wondered if I should just stop and walk and promised myself I would go a little longer. I practiced the breathing that always works at home to reduce heart rate. It didn't work.

I took my wind breaker off and tied it around my waist thinking if I could cool down that might help. It didn't but I felt better.

We were warned that part of the path was under water near the 5K turn around. I got there and volunteers were shouting we could turn around "It's alright" and "just a few more yards to the turn around". I, like most others, ran through the two large lane filling puddles. We cheered like children playing. It was actually my favorite part at that point. The cold water felt good.

I saw the 5K turn around and it was MUCH more than 'just a few more yards". Still, I jogged all the way to it, touched it and started my jog back. Then I saw throngs headed towards me. I jogged through the puddles and then went off the path....and walked awhile.

Yup. I took a break for a few steps until the throngs passed me and cleared the path enough for me to continue running. Excuse? Yeah. But I needed it. I started a light jog again and away I went.

Then ONCOMING traffic became HORRID. I was running into the throngs of slower runners, late runners and those running with dogs, children and strollers. I was coming up on others that had passed me earlier who were now walking in front of me side by side on the already limited space. I had a LOT of road blocks. I looked at my watch to see if I should sprint through and noticed the watch appeared to have stopped. I pressed SAVE just in case and was bummed that I might have lost ALL THAT DATA. Luckily, it saved the first 26 minutes worth (but no more).

I did a lot of dodging, weaving and cutting to traverse this section of the race.

Even with the walking parts, I was still maintaining an average time of 12:29.

9:26-9:30 am: During this time I did more light jogging than walking, but I did do a lot of the later. More than I planned. I can't remember much of that 4 minutes other than jog-walk-race walk-jog-walk-jog. I did get my heart rate down to the low 170's.

I did notice a lot of people cheating themselves though. People cutting across the grasses when the trail went in deep on curves, etc.

9:30 - 9:37 am: I decided to try and record more of the run. I pressed record and decided I was committed to run non-stop from then on. However, NOW I was sweating. NOW I was tired. NOW I was feeling drained and weak. It was HARD lifting those feet!!! I think I dragged them a few times.

On one turn close enough to hear the announcer calling in the first of the 10K runners back at the start, I noticed that the trail now had red ribbon and we were all being diverted through the grass, up a (ARGH!!) steep hill and through brush and trees, then back down the slippery steep muddy slope and across more soppy grass. I looked back and saw that the ambulance was STILL there from where that man had gone down earlier. That was worrisome. If it had been a seizure, they would have been done by then.

I later heard that he had a heart attack and 'it was pretty bad'.

9:37 - 9:40 am: I finally saw the far parking lot! I heard music! I wanted to STOP! lol This was the hardest part of the race. Then to make it harder, as I was running the path, those that had finished were lackadaisically walking back to their cars dead center on the trail (why?!?). Then, as I got to the near parking lot and the bridge that lead to the hill decline into the finish line, I had to run the gauntlet and much to my surprise - no one was cheering me and those with me on.

I had NEVER been to a 5K where those who were standing around after they finished (or the friends and families of runners waiting for them to come in) didn't cheer everyone in on the last stretch.

That was heartbreaking....until I saw George! He was photographing me and then he smiled and waved as I was kicking into my fastest sprints I could muster at that time.

I passed under the timer at either 9:40:34. Taking the finish time of 40:34 and subtracting the :53 seconds from when I went under the start bar (behind the crowds) nets a finish time of 39:41.

9:40-9:50: I drank water and half a banana and stretched. I felt my legs locking up so I told George I was going to go back and find Karolyn. They announced that the Polar Bear Swim would start in ten minutes and he promised to photograph it for me.

9:50-10:07: I walked and jogged back through the parking lot (off the trail) and then in the dirt and grass to the side of the trail (since there was TONS of racers still out there!!!) until I found Karolyn. I walked back with her. That really helped me a lot. I needed that walk. The perfect cool down.

10:07-10:30: Karolyn got some water, I got a half a bagel and she commented that her ankle hurt. I suggested we dip our ankles into the polar bear lake. Bless her heart she agreed! We went over to the lake, took both of our shoes off and rolled our pants up to our knees and stepped into the frigid lake. That was really cold but I think my feet and calves thanked me.

We walked barefoot to the car and went home. But as a note, as we were walking back, runners were still coming back in droves and we were cheering them on. A few of those who received our kudos looked and smiled or said thanks. :)


My actual run time for the 5K (of obstacles ) is: 39 minutes and 41 seconds.

Pace: 12:46


First 26 minutes - 2.12 miles (of the full 3.1 miles) worth of data:
  • Average Pace - 12:24 (included the periods of walking)
  • Fastest Pace - 9:53 (Whooops!!! Sure didn't feel like I got that fast)
  • Average Heart rate - 180
  • Highest Heart rate - 187 (in the second mile)
  • Time it took to reach Max Heart rate - 1:42 minutes (HOLY COW!!!)
  • Max elevation gain - 17 feet
  • Max elevation drop - 30 feet
  • Distance/time actually running - first 1.75 miles were non-stop. Then a few periods of walk/race-walk/jog alternating before going back to non-stop after I got my heart rate under 180 the last mile.

  • No caffeine before the run - I will have enough natural adrenaline
  • Watch my pace! - I didn't know how to on my monitor watch. Now I do. I should have never been running under 10 minute paces today and it sure as heck never felt like I was.
  • Find out today's official time - and beat it.

WEATHER/TEMPS: Race started at 40.1 degrees and was 40.3 at the end. Overcast. Humidity was 93%. Some gusts.

CLOTHING: Purple shirt TOO HOT. Gloves TOO HOT. No sweat band needed. Could had gone without the cap holding heat in.


  1. MOM I am so amazed u did this. Don't know what to say except GOOD JOB! I'm proud of ya. U inspire me. Wish I coulda been in WA 4 this thanksgiving.

  2. Thanks, Sean! You know me...never a traditional Thanksgiving. :D

    And how inspired ARE you? Want to run 4th of July?

  3. Fantastic job Leia! Glad it went so well. I liked your trip description. I used to run before I switched to cycling, so I could related to the things you talked about..

  4. Thank you, Karl. I don't know how you bike all those miles you do. That is very inspiring.

  5. Awesome!!! I mentioned on FB, I went and ran a 5k from my yard today in honor of you, so thanks for inspiring me to get out there on what would have otherwise been a lazy day.

    You did great, and having the first race under your belt you'll do even better next time. Great job!

  6. Thanks Yaish. When I was walking after the race with my friend I was telling her about your running and race style. By the way, I am ready to run again! My new shoes prevented ANY second day strain or pain. I am totally in love with them. I signed up for a January race too. :)

  7. They posted the official times. Because they didn't clock us going under the start gate, they asked us to subtract the number that was showing when we went under it from the official time we went through it coming back.

    Time when I went under the start timer: 53 seconds

    Official clock time when I ended: 40:34

    Official time: 39:41

    Average full race pace: 12:46