Thanksgiving is a great holiday for many reasons:
- It helps us reflect on all the things we have to be thankful for;
- we get to eat a bunch of delicious food like turkey, rolls, mashed potatoes, and stuffing;
- we get to eat a bunch of pie;
- and we get to run in the Turkey Trot!
We usually go to Vancouver, Washington for Thanksgiving. A few years ago I discovered the Clark County Turkey Trot and signed up. It’s now become a tradition, and typically several members of our extended family will walk or run it. Last year I did it alone for some reason, but this year we had a decent sized crew. It consisted of Cyndi and me, our 8-year-old and 6-year-old, our 5-month-old, my father-in-law, sister-in-law, and a few nieces. My 4-year-old son was also supposed to go, but he threw a fit right before we left so we left him at home with grandma.
The Clark County Turkey Trot is a fairly large, but very family-friendly event. There are typically over 1000 runners and walkers I believe. It takes place on a walking path through a nice area with a creek, grass, and marshes nearby. It isn’t really great for “racing” as the path is fairly small, there are lots of walkers, and it’s an out-and-back. Nevertheless, I still try to do it fast and do my best.
For the past 3 or 4 years this has been my one 10k for the year. This year was no exception, so I was excited to see how my time would be and I hoped to break 40 minutes. My time last year was about the same as the year before that, so I really wanted to see some improvement this time around.
The weather was pretty chilly this year, but at least there were clear skies (in Washington — a rarity!). The temperature was around 27F when the race started. This year they started the 10k five minutes before the 5k, which helped with congestion a bit. I told my 8-year-old daughter, Paisley, that if she could finish her 5k before I finished the 10k, I would buy her a large smoothie from McDonald’s on the trip home from Washington. She loves smoothies, but we usually just get her the $1 sundae since we have five children and we don’t want to set a precedent of $4/piece just for dessert. I told Paisley that I thought she could beat me if she just ran the whole time — a daunting task for an 8-year-old. She had been running at school, so I thought she could do it.
I lined up near the front and got in an early pack within the first mile. There was one guy that took a nice lead, but most of us let him go. Our first mile was pretty fast at just under 6 minutes. A couple of the guys around me started to let up, but this was right about where I wanted to be. I was hoping to be able to maintain a pace under 6:15 or so.
There were some icy spots, especially on some of the bridges, but it wasn’t too bad. The sun started shining down and warming my hands a bit more as we finished Mile 2. There was a runner right behind me and we passed the #2 runner. The first runner was out of sight. The course has some very gentle and short slopes, and on one of these short uphills the runner right on my tail passed me, but then I passed him back on the brief downhill.
At the turn-around I was still feeling alright and it gave me a chance to see the guy behind me and see how far back the other runners were. We were spreading out, and as long as I could maintain a good pace I figured I could finish in the top three or four and hit my goal of under 40:00. I passed my father-in-law on his way out and yelled a “hi” a bit after the turnaround.
The runner right behind me stayed right on my tail. I could hear him there the whole time and I couldn’t shake him. I pushed hard up and down the slopes so he wouldn’t pass me again. I would have liked to slow down, but the competitor in me really wanted to beat this guy.
Once we got to Mile 4.5 we hit the crowd of 5k runners. This is always where the Clark County Turkey Trot gets a little hairy. It’s not designed for racing, and I want to be respectful, but I also want to get the best time I can. Well, when the trail is packed with walkers and joggers, you have to improvise. This means a lot of weaving, off-roading, and some close passes. Fortunately it was dry this year, so I could run in the grass next to the trail a lot more. Often there are puddles and mud which make off-trail running more difficult.
As we wove around the 5k’ers I began to hear the guy behind me less and less, although he was still fairly close. I saw my niece, Natalie, pushing my baby in the stroller and yelled a “hi”. I also passed my sister-in-law and a couple other nieces, as well as my 6-year-old daughter, Cosette. Finally about a quarter or half mile from the finish line I passed Paisley and Cyndi running together. I told Paisley she was doing great as I ran by her.
I ran through the finish at a time of 37:27, which I was very happy with. I believe this is my all-time PR (I didn’t run many 10k’s in high school). I held off the runner behind me and finished second place. Without that runner, I’m sure I would have been 0:30 or 1:00 slower. He helped me tremendously. The 6:02/mile pace was fantastic for me.
After finishing, I headed back up the course to find Paisley. She wasn’t too far behind and had a strong finish. I didn’t know about the 5 minute 10k head start when I gave her the smoothie challenge, so I gave her a big hug and told her she earned her smoothie. She would have beat me if I didn’t get the head start. She ran the whole 5k and finished in 36:59, so I was very proud of her.
We ate donuts and sipped hot chocolate as the rest of the runners in our family came through. We all had a fun time and a good Turkey Trot.
Of course, later in the day came the delicious Thanksgiving meal with over 30 people crammed into my in-laws’ dining room. We had about 6 pies available and I was the first to slice into them a couple hours after dinner. I started with just a small sample of each one. However, I soon learned that none of my wife’s family are really big pie eaters, so I just kept on eating. Apple pie, pumpkin pie, banana creme pie, chocolate pudding pie, lemon meringue pie, and raspberry rhubarb pie. I ate so much pie it was ridiculous. The next day I did it again. I’m pretty sure I ate more pie than everyone else combined.