Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Tortoise & Hare Turkey Trot 5k

I've included every minutia and tid bit of the day, so if you want to skip ahead to the portion labeled the race, no one will ever know.

5:30 AM - Time to get up. I slept fine. Sick wife slept awful. No mercy from me, I declared vehicular departure in 30 minutes. Sick wife humored my declaration by sleeping while I showered. I ate a bowl of oat meal and made sure to pack an apple and banana for later.

6:02 AM - Pull the car out of the garage with sick wife and gear all loaded. Anticipation and nerves are starting to hum. It's raining, but we are headed south where there is supposed to be a lack of precipitation.

8:18 AM - Sick wife needed two bathroom breaks on the way to our runner friends house. Not vomit breaks, just regular bladder the size of a teaspoon breaks. Rain finally ceased a mile or so before we got there.

8:24 AM - Runner friends are ready to go when we get there. So it's back in the car for some caravaning. The rain starts again after 5 minutes.

9:15 AM - The parking lot is full. We are directed to park along the side of the road. There is a paved trail parallel to the road, about 100 feet away. Many women are running on the trail. Off in the distance in the middle of a feild we can see a mass of humanity. The womens 5k started at 9:00. Runner friend's wife is running the 10k and that begins at 10:00. Runner friend and I don't run until 11:30.

9:16 AM - It's cold outside. Not as cold as when I ran last Wednesday, but still frigid. Commence bundling. Luckily it wasn't raining. Though it would threaten to rain the rest of the day it never did.

9:25 AM - Sufficiently bundled we waded into humanity. The main area was probably a 1/4 mile from where we parked. First things first we headed for registration. Amazingly easily. What's your name? Ok here's your bib number and shirt. Make sure you grab your chip that corresponds to your bib number from the boxes over there.

9:35 AM - Everybody is checked in and has their chips. Lots of food and water out. The cliff shot people have a table with free packs of their stuff. Runner friend samples some and says it's good. Due to my self imposed caloric restrictions I avoid it all as much as possible. Runner friend has no caloric restrictions, being a lifelong runner, and makes sure to consume my share.

9:45 AM - Let's find a map. The map is confusing, but eventually we figure out that the 10k is two times counter clockwise around the paved hike-bike trail. The 5k is one time around clockwise. I'll include the map here, but like I said it's confusing. For example the start/finish was on a gravel road/two-track that is not shown on this map at all.

9:55 AM - It's either getting colder or we're not moving enough. We all shuffle over to the start. Runner friends wife is a little nervous, having not done a training run in a couple weeks, but this is a woman who has run three marathons. The start is very sparse. Just a stake in the ground next to the gravel road/two-track a few hundred feet away from the finish. No chip timing mat, everyone starts at the same time. The finish is all done up with an inflatable archway and two timing mats. It just seems odd the start looks so random.

10:00 AM - And they are off. So we head across a bunch of sporting fields to a point on the trail so we can cheer on runner friends wife.

10:08 AM - She comes by for what will be the first time, we cheer.

10:10 AM - Runner friend gets a call from non-runner friends, "We are nearing the finish line, where are you?" We start walking towards the finish, but can't see them. Non-runner friends, "I'm holding a red umbrella." We scan the horizon, not a single umbrella in sight. Seconds go by. I spot them as he walks out from behind a pavillion that had been blocking him. Sure enough he is using a red umbrella as a walking stick. Note to dear readers: If you tell someone you are the one with the large red umbrella, you will want to have it open, or risk being ridiculed (at least in my company).

10:28 AM - Runner friend's wife hasn't passed by the trail again yet. We assume we've missed her and position ourselves so that we can better see the approach to the finish.

10:29 AM - We are proven wrong in previous assumption as runner friend's wife comes by on the trail, luckily we do not miss her and cheer. She's looking strong and is on a great sub 10 minute mile pace.

10:31 AM - 10K leader comes in as we move closer to the finish.

10:56 AM - Runner friend's wife comes in for her finish, we cheer. As we walk yet closer to the finish line I spot my mom, her boyfriend, and my grandpa. Greetings commence, most of these people have met before. Lots of congratulations go the way of runner friend's wife, deservedly so.

11:00 AM - Runner friend, his wife, and I head for our cars. It's time for us to get ready to run and for her to get ready to stand in the cold.

11:10 AM - Shoes, chip, gloves, watch, compression shirt, long sleeve tech shirt, number pinned, and track pants off. It is in fact colder with just running shorts on. We do a little warm-up jog to the port-a-potties. Runner friend gets his first look at my pace. I lay claim that if he wants he could run actual circles around me as I run the 5k. Runner friend has a running pedigree that is unparalleled, but since it's my first big time 5k he's going to run at my pace. I tell him to dress warmer than if he were going to run it himself as this shouldn't work up too much of sweat for him.

11:15 AM - Bladder's emptied in a socially acceptable location, we proceed to the cheering section. Picture taking commences. Fruit of labor appears below. Also in the background you can see the gravel road that we start and finish on, but does not appear on the map.

11:28 AM - We line up in what appears to be the back of the pack. I do a very minimal calf stretch, my typical minute before running routine.

The Race - I'm not going to time line this. The air horn did it's thing and the crowd lurched forward. It took a few seconds to get to the start poll, I wish I knew exactly, but we'll get to that at the end. We were finally running, we were getting passed a lot though. I didn't look back after we lined up at what we thought was the back, but by my estimation about fifty people passed us in the first 1/4 mile. When the large throng in front of us disappeared. I looked back and confirmed that we were alone. I told runner friend that we were it. He said yeah but not for long. There were a couple tall guys wearing wrestling sweatshirts ahead of us walking already. It took another minute or so to pass them. As we passed them wrestler 1 said "Yeah we'll go slow at the start and then speed up and pass a bunch of people at the end who are starting to fast." Wrestler 2 said "I don't care about passing people, this is my race, it's against me to finish." Wrestler 1 waited a second or two and then said "Well I'm gonna pass some people." It was funny to hear out loud. That's the type of battling logic that one normally only hears in their own mind. We never did see them again till it was all over, they did finish. I'm not sure if wrestler 1 got to pass anyone. A couple more minutes went by and we came up slowly on a guy that was running and walking. Every time we'd get close to him he'd run fast ahead then he'd start to walk. After a few cycles of this we sped up and just passed him. Never to be seen again. I could feel the pace was fast but it didn't feel as fast as when I run a 13 minute mile at home. I guessed it was about 14, which for me is awesome for a first mile. For whatever reason I have a tough time getting my training runs started at much more than 15. We came up on the first mile marker and it felt quick. I looked at my watch and told runner friend that they messed up the mile markers. He asked how I could tell. I said cause we just ran that first mile in 12:14, and that is not possible. He laughed and said we were going at a good pace and to just keep going. I was absolutely baffled. We may have passed another person in there I can't remember anything but astonishment. The hike-bike path was paved. It ran through the woods and there were a couple bridges, all very picturesque. Somewhere into that second mile I got a little side stitch. I was able to make it go away with a little controlled breathing. Suddenly I could hear someone talking on the loud speaker back at the finish. I looked at my watch it was 15:25, we figured that was probably them announcing the winner. Slowly over the course of about a 1/2 mile we approached 4 people that were running side by side by side by side. They were run walking, but mostly they were talking. It was a cross between plastic surgery and (what I took to be christian) mission trips. It was all boils, growths and the lord. It got to a point that I almost wanted to walk just so I wouldn't have to hear it. Then we came to a hill and they slowed down. It was our chance and we passed them. A little ways past the top of the hill we hit the second mile marker. I knew we were going a little slower, that hill had taken it out of me, but the time said 12:56. I told runner friend and he was all encouragement. Shortly into that second mile we got close to where we had parked the cars and then a step or two past that was 4/7ths of our cheering section. They were taking pictures, like this one.

We are in the middle, runner friend is waving. You can see 3 of the 4 mission surgeons behind us. The two guys ahead of us had just been running with a woman they knew. She was talking about other people that had already finished the race, kids I think of the guy with the hat. Over the next 1/2 mile or so we got closer and closer to these guys. Eventually we passed them, but that didn't stay for long. I don't think we slowed down I think it was just getting towards the end and they had saved a little in the tank. So about a minute after we passed them they passed us and were gone. The last 1/4 mile or so was on grass and gravel which felt like an annoyance after having run almost 3 miles on asphalt. We hit the last mile mark at 12:45, again more amazement. There was a little uphill we had to go before we got to the home stretch. As soon as we popped up that hill we could see the clock. We both knew it was going to be under 40, this gave me a real boost. Runner friend was trying to better gauge it, he said if we kicked it in we might make 38 something. I said, "Alright lets go." And I ran as fast as I possibly could, faster than I have ever ran in my life, I was sprinting... for about 200 feet. The problem was there was a good 400 and some feet to the finish. So I had to slow down. As you can see in the picture below we crossed the finish in 39:09.

The group of people standing behind us on the right side of the road is our cheering section. The person in blue standing on the left side of the road is runner friend's wife. Immediately after crossing the finish line I felt vomitous. I put my hands over my head and tried to walk it off. It took about 2 or 3 minutes for it to pass. I've never felt that before I suppose it could have been from our fast pace, but I think it was more from the sprint as I have never done that before. Congratulations abound as is want to happen when you bring a bunch of family and friends to a race. My hope for this race going in was that I'd be able to run the whole thing in 42 something. It felt really good to have completely decimated my previous time and that goal. Another round of picture taking ensued.

I blamed runner friend for the great race and he blamed me, as you can see there was plenty of blame to go around. There wasn't much food left by the time we were done, but there were water bottles and free massages. I took one of the former instead of the later, but runner friend's wife got a massage and she said it was good. We hung out for a bit and confirmed that the official time was 39:09. Unfortunately when we crossed the finish line I wasn't thinking about my watch so I didn't remember to stop it until a minute or so afterwards. I wonder if my actual time would have been under 39, it would have been close for sure. I had unsmartly over scheduled the afternoon so we couldn't go have a big celebratory lunch with everyone. Instead we hit a subway and visited my great great aunt who lives in the area. The ride home was long. I wasn't sore but I did get tired. The only thing I'd do differently in the future is plan a meal with everyone afterwards.


Dan Seifring said...

Well worth reading the whole report. Nice sub 40.

And nice job with another week of great weight loss.

Anonymous said...

Saw your post on RWBF...didn't even know you were there or I'd have said hello! Great job on all your progress and keep up the great work!

Jeff said...

Way to go, Emil! Great race, great report.

Definitely something to be said for having a friend to run with and a cheering section to cheer you!


Pokey said...


Congrats on a GREAT first race....you were AWESOME!!!!

Liligurl said...

WAY TO GO!!!! Great job, thanks for the report..truly inspirtational....Keep moving forward...

Sarah said...

Hi...I ran across your blog while I was trying to find official photos from the Tortoise and Hare Turkey Trot, a race which I also ran. I'm very impressed by your story and determination! I, too, ran the T&HTT, in 2006, as my first race after I started my own exercise/weight loss program. One year later-- and about 40 pounds lighter-- I ran the 2007 version of the race and finished almost 8 minutes faster than the prior year. I also ran the Detroit Half Marathon in October, which was my big goal for the year. I wish you good luck with your own half marathon training! Running the half was one of the most amazing things I've ever done. Now, I'm mulling over doing the full marathon-- my first-- in Detroit next year.

I guarantee that as you shed more poundage running will get easier and more fun. That's what happened to me. As I continued to drop weight I ran faster and farther and now my easy run pace is 8:30/mile and I consider it "just another day" if I go out and knock off 4 miles before work.

I'm going to keep reading your blog and follow your half marathon training progress. I've already signed up for another half, in Virginia next May. I won't start training until February and I can't wait!

Good luck and keep up the great work!

Pat said...

great race report. It's great to hve your own personal pacer. my first 5k was a 42:15 race and I was overjoyed. your doing great and you'll love it as the times get better and better.

Cheryl said...

Just found your new blog after not having visited your old one for several weeks. I loved your wonderful race report! Congratulations! Great time, too.