Race Report: 2016 Clark County Turkey Trot 10K

For the past few years I’ve had the tradition of running the Clark County Turkey Trot in Vancouver, WA. This year the tradition continued.

Unfortunately the weather was not very cooperative this year. I’ve had good luck with Thanksgivings in Vancouver, WA, but this year it was rainy every day we were there, including Thanksgiving. Nevertheless, Cyndi, Paisley, Cosette, Fielding, Kara, Breeana, and I all laced up and headed out early on Thanksgiving morning to do the Turkey Trot. I was the only one signed up for the 10k. The kids were all signed up for the 5k, and my wife and sister-in-law also ran it so they could provide real-time support for the kids.

Huddling to keep out of the rain
Huddling to keep out of the rain

The Clark County Turkey Trot course was pretty much the same as it has been, with a slight alteration of the start and finish to make it more of a straight-shot and spread out the finish from the snacking area. This was a good change for sure.

I lined up near the front of the pack. I hoped to win but was unsure what the competition was like. I also hoped to beat my 2015 time of ~37:27.

Once we started there were a few guys that really took off. I reeled in a couple of them after a half mile or so, but I was still in 3rd or 4th. They looked strong and there was no way I could hold that pace for 10K. My first mile came in at 5:51, and that was about as fast as I was willing to go. I hoped to settle somewhere under 6:10/mi.

There were lots of puddles and combined with the rain it made for a very wet race. I was pretty wet not long after starting. Fortunately it wasn’t very cold, so I could get away with a short sleeve shirt and gloves.

As we came up to the 5K turn-around at Mile 1.6, the guys in front of me began coming back. I had forgotten about the 5K, and I was very happy to see all the runners ahead of me turn around so that I was left in 1st place for the 10K. I was still feeling good, but now the pressure was on.

Cosette at the 5K turn around
Cosette at the 5K turn around

The next couple miles were pretty uneventful. I hit 5:50 for Mile 2 and then 6:04 for Mile 3. At the turn-around I grabbed some water. I had a decent lead on the next runner of perhaps 50-100 yards. There are tiny hills (more like bumps) during miles 2-4. It was nice to have some changing terrain to push up or coast down.

I hit 6:05 for Mile 4. I was very happy with my pace and that I was holding at sub 6:10 this far into the race. It’s interesting to me that I have started to be able to naturally find the right pace to run — whether it’s a 5K or 10K or even a marathon.

Around Mile 4.5 there is a sharp turn and an opportunity to see how close the next runners are. I was hoping to look back and see no one, but sure enough there was a runner maybe 40 yards back. I tried to pick it up a notch so he wouldn’t catch me. It scared me that there was someone that close behind this far into the race as I wasn’t sure I could out kick him.

Soon I came upon the 5K walkers. The main issue with the Clark County Turkey Trot is that the out-and-back course is on a fairly narrow trail. It’s enough for ~4-5 people to walk side-by-side, but when you have walkers coming and going it can easily fill up the route. This results in a lot of weaving, dodging, and running on the grass/mud for those of us trying to make a good time.

That said, I realize that this isn’t a “PR course” Turkey Trot. I try to be respectful and I understand that it’s really not a big deal.

Due to the walkers, I couldn’t see if the runner behind me was closing in or not, so I just went as hard as I could given the weaving. I did see my wife running with our 5-year-old, so it was fun to give them a yell.

The walkers eventually thinned out and I was able to finish strong. Miles 5 and 6 were 5:57 and 6:02. I ended up finishing in 1st place with a time of 37:04.

Full results: http://resultsdb.com/results/ClarkCountyTurkeyTrotResults2016.pdf

I was happy to see my 9-year-old daughter Paisley waiting for me at the finish (from the 5k). She was able to run the whole way and I was very proud of her (and she was proud of herself).

We waited for everyone else to come in. We ate donuts and hot cocoa and the kids got to hit the pinata.

Fielding with a pocket full of pinata candy after the 5k
Fielding with a pocket full of pinata candy after the 5k

It was another great Turkey Trot and a fun way to start the holiday.

2015 Clark County Turkey Trot 10k Race Report – New PR!

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.

Ready to run the Clark County Turkey Trot
Turkey Trot crew

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.