2-2.5 mile w/u + strides
Target: 10k race @35:30-35:50
Actual: 35:39; 2nd place overall female
1/2 mile c/d
Total: 9 miles
Ever since deciding to come to Ohio for Thanksgiving, I knew Jordan and I had to run the Cincinnati turkey trot. Two years ago we'd planned to race the 100th anniversary event, even going so far as to pre-register and pick up our packets a few days in advance, but then Jordan very selfishly came down with the swine flu the night before. Needless to say, the race went on without us. This year, however, I was determined to toe the line at the oldest (and probably one of the largest) Thanksgiving Day race in the country. (According to Jordan, there is another turkey day race in upstate New York that also claims to be the oldest, but I'm pretty sure the race that owns the URL "thanksgivingdayrace.com" has to hold those bragging rights.) I might also add that though this race is huge--over 14,000 participants this year--and pretty darn competitive--top 3 men under 31 minutes and top 4 women under 36--there's no prize money or even a free pie to speak of. Instead, today's race was about nothing more than putting forth a good honest effort and enjoying the health and good fortune of being able to partake in such a magnificent event with family and friends. In fact, not only were Jordan and I on the starting line, but so were his uncle Dave--fresh off his 60th, yes 60th lifetime marathon a few months back--Dave's wife Stuart and Stuart's sister Emily--herself fresh off a red-eye flight from San Jose that landed a mere two hours before race start. We even had our own spirited cheering squad that braved the overcast and windy weather to come cheer us on, consisting of Eloisa, Jordan's little siblings Tyler and Madison, Stuart and Dave's children Nolan and Sophia, and Jordan's mom Suzanne who was also visiting from the west coast. With that kind of support in the wings, how could you not be fired up to run fast?!
A few of our adoring fans: Nolan, Madison, Sophia and Tyler
With just a few minutes to go before the start, Jordan and I reluctantly shed our warm layers and stepped to the front of the pack. We saw quite a few collegiate guys who looked legit, plus several women whom I knew could contend for the win. In particular, I recognized Tara and Kara Storage, identical twin elite runners who train in Ohio. For a second my heart sank and I mentally relegated myself to accepting third place, but I quickly nipped those negative thoughts in the bud and told myself that anything could happen if I gave it my best effort. From the moment the gun went off, I did just that. Quickly one of the twins (I had no idea which, but learned later it was Kara) shot to the front, gapping the entire women's field by at least 10 meters after the first few minutes. Twin #2 (Tara) also put several strides on me during the first mile which trended uphill and wound around the downtown Cincinnati streets. I split fairly comfortably in 5:42 before immediately opening up my stride on the mostly downhill second mile. I caught and passed Tara fairly quickly, but Kara remained at least 15-20 meters ahead of me despite my 5:35 second split. At that point we reached one of three bridges on the course, the first of which would lead us over the Ohio River and into Kentucky. This was the first noticeably steep ascent of the morning, and my heart rate responded accordingly. As we crested the bridge and began striding downhill toward the third mile marker, I noticed that Kara wasn't putting much more distance on me. In fact, it seemed as though I was ever so slightly gaining on her. Sure enough, by the time we approached a second bridge (really a mini-bridge in comparison to the other two) on the Kentucky side during mile 4, I found myself within several meters and, during the descent, matching her stride for stride. Though I was laboring, I knew that reeling her in was a good sign. There was a chance I could actually win this thing!
For the next mile we ran side by side, neither of us giving up any real estate. During this mile mile we approached the final bridge which would take us back to Cincinnati, and this was by far the steepest and most difficult of the three. I knew the pace was slowing, but at the same time she wasn't pulling away. When we finally reached the summit and the grateful reprieve of a long downhill with just over a mile to go, the victory was still very much up for grabs. Less than a minute later, however, two men closed quickly from behind and overtook us, and before I knew what was happening Kara latched onto their backs and found another gear. It was a gear I did not have. Within a minute she put 10 meters on me, a gap I was unable to close for the remainder of the final mile. Despite this, however, I never gave up in the remaining few minutes. My last mile, a 5:30, was the fastest of the day--I don't remember my other second half splits but there was definitely a high 5:40 and even a low to mid 5:50 in there--and I didn't stop pushing until I crossed the finish line. With a few meters to go I could hear our trusty cheerleaders screaming my name, and though I couldn't quite muster a smile on my face there was certainly one in my heart. I crossed the line just under 35:40, shy of the victory but still earning a road PR on a very hilly and windy course, which is nothing to be disappointed with given that I'm in the middle of marathon training. Jordan also ran a great time and outkicked three guys in the final straight, proving he's still got some wheels despite being many months removed from serious training. There is much to be thankful for on this holiday, and I can't think of a better way to start off the day other than maybe having my pops there to toe the line next year. Happy Thanksgiving!
Post-race mimosas (and peanut butter): Stuart, Emily and the KinLos
Thursday, November 24, 2011
2-2.5 mile w/u + strides