I was waiting to post this until I uploaded the one whole picture I took on race day, but I figured meh, I can edit it in later.
Anyway, my racing career started, as I've shared here before, with the Lone Tree Firecracker 5K way back in 2005. From there, it's slowly expanded. I've occasionally done races with friends; I've done several by myself. Since Brandon moved out here in early 2008, however, with the exception of my second year doing Tri for the Cure (he has extra "equpiment" making him ineligible), I've done every single race since with him.
Due to his day job of airline pilot, he wouldn't be able to get back home until the evening of Thanksgiving ... which doesn't really help if he wants to do a morning Turkey Day race. That, combined with the fact that it was forecasted to be cooooolllldddd on Thursday morning made me delay signing up for the race.
But I signed up anyway. I drug my butt out of bed early Thursday morning, bundled up and drove to Wash Park. I got there insanely early to get a good parking spot so I could escape quickly (had to work at noon), signed up, did my pre-race business, chose a corral and ... went back to the car to stay warm.
The good thing is by race start (10:15; more like 10:18 for me), it was a lot warmer than it had been forecasted to be. Earlier in the week, I checked the forecast: roughly 18 degrees by race start; feels like 8. That's cold (even for you minnesotans :-p). By the actual race start though, it was in the mid- to high-30s. Relatively toasty by comparison.
Toasty enough that I ended up overheating during the race, but more about that in a bit.
Anyway, by about 9:30, Brandon had hopped on a flight and I wasn't going to sit in my car doing nothing ... so I got out and got into my corral to stand around doing nothing. Awesome, I know.
Before I go further, the corrals. The Mile High United Way Turkey Trot (MHUWTT) is the nation's largest four mile race. A lot of people do it. There were supposed to be over ... 9000? doing it this year, but the actual number of finishers ended up being a lot less ... probably due to the cold. Wusses. As a result, they changed the start from "mass insanity" to "five corrals of organized chaos." The first corral was for the good people who would be averaging under an 8:00/mi. In other words, not me. Corral five was for families, people with dogs and people with strollers. Corrals two through four were for the rest of us.
I had initially gotten a sticker for corral three, but after hearing that there would be a few minute delay between the starts of all corrals and time was kind of an issue for me ... I chose corral two. Jammed into the corral as it started to fill up was when I first started to think I might have been overdressed.
Take for exhibit: my toasty warm Nike Pro running tights with my SkirtSports race skirt over them with Drymax socks and my shoes with a trick learned from Steve in a Speedo - duct tape.
On top, a whole bunch of SkirtSports - marathon tank, Runner's Dream long-sleeved shirt and one of their winter jackets (which I ended up not needing). I also was wearing gloves, my ear mitts and two hats.
All of that stuff was very useful in keeping me warm in the corral (except for my feet; no sun was getting down to them) ... but ended up being bad on the course. I'll learn some day.
After chatting with a couple of the racers around me (basically: why haven't we started yet? we're all freezing; and why do you have duct tape on your shoes?), it was finally ready for our corral to go.
With the start, I saw the help of the corrals; it made it a lot nicer at the beginning of the race. Sure, you still had to jockey for position, but it wasn't NEARLY as bad as it has been in the past. Mile one was the interesting mile - a band, a dead squirrel right smack dab in the middle of the road (pretty fresh, too; if i had run with my camera i so would have taken a picture), you know. It also went by pretty quickly. I glanced at my watch about 50 feet from the first mile marker and it said 9:13. Sweet.
(I should now mention that my goal for this race was to crack 40:00. I have also figured out that my "happy pace" in training runs - the pace at which I can control my breathing, and feel like I'm going fast but just on the edge of not being able to hold it - is probably around a 9:30.)
I took my gloves off about the same time I visited the water station in mile two. I walked briefly to make sure I got my gloves safely zipped up in my pockets and to snag and not choke on my water. I also, in mile two, managed to snag some guy's dropped glove from the ground and give it back to him without missing a stride. The mile two mile marker came at 19:something ... so it was a slower mile. But it felt like a slower mile. I was a tad concerned on time though and tried to pick it back up a bit.
Mile three contained another water station and the loss of my hats to my pockets. I tried unzipping my jacket, but the full pockets bouncing around were annoying so I zipped it about halfway up and dealt with the toastiness. I didn't check my watch at the marker so I don't know where I was at at that point.
I would also like to mention at this point that attempting to zip up a jacket while running is NOT an easy feat.
Mile four seemed so long. I started seeing more and more finishers walking past and I was starting to pray I was going to have enough time to get home, showered and hopefully some food in me before hopefully making it to work on time. In any case, the finish line eventually came upon me and I stopped my watch after crossing the third mat - 38:06.29 (race clock time was 41:something thanks to the staggered starts).
In other words, goal: hit. I waded through the masses for my water bottle, my bagel and my free gift from the Runners Roost tent (after coffee mugs the last two years, they switched to pint glasses this year), snagging an extra one for Brandon because I'm a bad person.
I went to the car, had a mini freakout when it first looked like my street was blocked off, sped home, showered, changed and was able to clock in at work at exactly 12 noon. As for food, well, I just snarfed down some coffee cake when I got to work. Not ideal, but meh. I consumed enough corned beef that night and enough turkey on Friday to make up for it.
Time: 38:06 (close to the watch)
Overall Place: 1720/5263
Top fifth? I'll take it. I was above average (avg. time 45:08), too. Go me.
EVEN BETTER THOUGH:
Take a look at the results from the two previous years:
So that's about almost a three minute PR from last year and 10 FREAKING MINUTES better than the first year I ran this damn race. That, my friends, makes me happy. :)
Next race: VEGAS!
On a side note, the duct tape TOTALLY worked. My feet were starting to go numb while waiting in the corral but they were warm by the end. I know this was the duct tape and not just running because I have come back home after cold runs with half-frozen feet. So, success!