I was in Madison for Thanksgiving for friends and I’ll get a chance for a different Turkey Trot. I’m always up from running in a new place.
Just a bit over freezing and overcast, it was perfect race weather, and once again I’m surprised that all of my favorite cold weather gear is black—compression tights, my Team Ortho Monster Dash hoodie, and Lululemon gloves and hat. I have plenty of long-sleeved shirts in orange, bright green, yellow, white, and other non-black colors that would probably be just fine, but when I’m waiting to start and just after I finish, I haven’t found anything more comfy than the Team Ortho gear.
I had an especially long time waiting for my start this time. Not the start, just when I would actually crossed the line. I got there early to register. Since I was showing up in Madison the night before, I wouldn’t have time for packet pickup (and if there is going to be race day registration, why couldn’t I just pick up my packet?). I went back to my car to wait until start time. I don’t know why so many people want to stand around in the cold.
But, I should be the one to talk. I starting walking back to the start area 15 minutes before the start and my intestines decided that I needed to use a porta-john. That’s usually not a big deal, but I was running the 10k, starting soon, and the 5k started 15 minutes after that. The lines were full of 5k people 15 minutes earlier in their schedule. That’s no big deal; there’s absolutely nothing at stake today. I’m not going win, or place, or even PR. I shouldn’t have pre-race jitters but here I am in line for the porta-johns.
I’m almost to the front when the gun goes off, more than couple minutes early. I’m talking to another 10k runner as it happens. No big whoop, though. I’m next-next in line, but it takes forever for me to get my turn. I do my business quickly, leave the porta-john, and run to the start.
The start area is a mess. The 5k runners start latter, but they go in the opposite direction, making a figure-8 where the races join only at the end. That means that when I cross my start line, I’m running directly toward the 5k start line 200 meters away, and they are all facing me. Both sides of the start area are crowded with spectators and 5k runners going toward their corrals.
I don’t know how late I started, but I don’t catch anyone, not even a walker, for a half mile. It sucks to run intervals all alone, and that’s almost what this feels like minus the warmup. It feels worse. The best thing about events is the shared surge. We all run much faster with the herd, but here I am, alone. I get to the mile marker, having passed fewer than 10 people, mostly walkers. Some other runners must have started late because I wasn’t blowing by them.
I get to the first mile marker at 15 minutes and change by the race clock, having run a 7:45 minute mile. I didn’t start that late, I guess. But, whatever. I was still alone. This wasn’t fun at all and I wanted to find someone to run with. I’d be satisfied with 55 minutes today, although my PR is 50 minutes something.
At a mile and a half I could see the back of the main cluster, and a little before Mile 2 I latched onto the back and started working my way through the group. I was warmed up now and had lots of short term goals—pass the guy in the turkey hat, pass the runner in the Get Basted & Cluck shirt, pass that guy in the “Recall Walker” shirt, and so on.
The Recall Walker people are everywhere
The course is just what I like, too. Lots of rolling hills give me plenty of short term goals and mix up the muscle use. I tell myself I can take a slight break at the peak, then don’t. I just keep on running. It feels okay to pass people. I’m not going very fast, maybe a 8:30 mile, but I kept passing people. Running around groups of people kept me off a steady pace and each time I had to do it I thought about how much I was adding to my path. An extra step here, and extra step there. One pace is about three feet. Run around one hundred groups and that’s about 100 meters. An extra hundred meters is an extra 30 seconds. I want to get up to a group running at a respectable pace and back off the gas a bit.
The profile, with rolling hills
After Mile 2, the course has an out-and-back dog leg with the turn around at Mile 3. During this part I get to see all the people who would normally be behind me already coming back. No matter. There’s a water stop that I blow by, as well as a couple more “Recall Walker” shirts.
At the turn around, one of the 10k runners who was waiting in the porta-john line with me catches up to me, so we run together for a bit. She didn’t go over the start line, so she figures that she won’t get a time for this run. Still, she’s running a 7:40 pace, and I can’t hang with that (not even on a good day) so I let her go ahead. I have plenty of time to make 55 minutes.
The course, with dog leg
After the dog leg, the course uses part of the Capitol City Trail, going through a conservation area. That’s nice, but I don’t see any wildlife. A little later, I pass a sign that says “Entering Hunting Area” or something like that. I think about my all-black running outfit. Why couldn’t I have worn something orange?
It’s not too long before I pass the sign that says “Leaving Hunting Area”. The distance between the signs seems too short. A rifle bullet would go from one sign to the next while barely slowing down. Maybe it’s just shotgun. I don’t feel any better about that since I don’t want either of them entering my body.
With a half mile to go, the 5k course merges with the 10k course for an uphill stretch to the 6 mile mark. It’s a nice little hill and it doesn’t hurt as much as I think it should. These hills look worse when I’m at the bottom of them. I had plenty of cushion to come in at 55 minutes, but I didn’t back off. I was only putting in an 80% effort, but hey, it’s a holiday.
I finished with 59 minutes on the gun clock. That’s not bad for starting 8 minutes after everyone else. That’s my official time too; they must have turned off the start timers, so they missed me starting. Oh well, the more I run the more glitches with timing I’ll have, but that’s the third one this Fall (or two and half if I take half the blame on this one).