If I had to sum up the Walnut Creek Turkey Trot in one word, I know exactly what word I would choose. Cold. As usual, we both woke up and arrived on location way too early. We may have actually been the first participants there. But, on the positive side, we had no problems finding parking and the non-existent packet pick up line moved extremely quickly.
We did have to wait a few extra minutes for Kelsea, who had a surprisingly difficult time with the Scantron form, to register. Despite the time and effort, Kelsea still went down as first name – Kelsea, last name – Ks. What can I say? We engineers aren’t known for our spelling.
As soon as our bibs were in hand, we ran back to the car to warm up. And there we stayed until the time came to summon up the courage to get out of the car, take a few pictures and make our way to the start.
Now usually I feel like, “the colder the better,” when it comes to running. But I have changed my mind! Now I say, “the colder the better, unless it’s too cold.” By the time the race started my toes were completely numb. Yes, actually numb. And the running gloves that I had taken off my Amazon wish list because, “How often do I really need gloves while I’m running?” are now back on that list.
But my frost bit extremities were nothing compared to my lungs and lip. Which I’ll get to later. First, let’s go over the race.
Those of you who read about my pre-race anxiety know my strategy was to try and keep up with Kelsea for as long as I could. Well, after about 30 seconds I figured I had reached my max. I was full on ready to slink back into the pace group where I belonged when Kelsea turned around. And slowed down. Forcing me to continue to try and keep up with her.
After about another 30 seconds I found myself thinking, “Screw getting a good time. I need to SLOW DOWN because THIS SUCKS!” But somehow I managed to hang on and maintain my three foot lag behind Kelsea. I checked my watch at the first turn around at 1.15 miles, and it read 9 minutes and change.
I realized we were running around an 8 minute mile pace and figured I had room to slow down. It was around this time that I tried to get Kelsea to leave me behind again. She refused, telling me, “We’re almost done. You can do it.” Or something like that. I thought back, “Almost done?! Are you (insert choice word here) kidding me?! We’re one mile into a three mile race! We’re just starting!” I replied verbally by saying, “Okay.” Probably because that’s all I had breath for.
I figured as long as I was stuck with Kelsea I might as well make the best of it. I tried to remind myself to relax and breathe. And I have to say, for as much pain as I was in, at least I didn’t sound like I was having an asthma attack. I cannot say the same for one lady running near me during the second mile. If I had had the energy I might have turned to her and said, “I know how you feel. I feel the same way.”
I checked my watch the second time at mile two. It read 15:50. I must have said something to Kelsea about, “go ahead,” or, “I’m dying,” or some combination of the two. I can’t remember exactly. I do remember her saying, “You can do anything for 8 minutes.” I thought back, “Wow. How did Kelsea know we’re running at an 8 minute mile pace?” I also thought, “I don’t know about anything for 8 minutes. I don’t know if I can run a whole other mile in 8 minutes.” Instead, I replied verbally by saying, “Okay.”
Towards the end of the third mile Kelsea saw the finish line. I could tell she wanted to pick up the pace, but my legs just wouldn’t move any faster. I told her I would meet her at the finish, but she wouldn’t stray from my side. I thought for the last time, “Dammit Kelsea! Just go ahead!”
I finally picked up my pace with about 50 feet to go. I mustered up every last bit of energy and pushed it into the finish for a (my) watch time of 24:37 and a gun time of 24:42. I came in 7th out of 128 in my age group and 134th out of 1654 overall. Needless to say, I am super excited about completely bulldozing my goals. I’m also pretty excited that I don’t have to run another 5K for time for a LONG TIME.
Kelsea came in 4th in her age group (we’re in different groups) by 9 seconds. Prizes went to the top three, which means I now feel especially bad for holding her back. Can you say good friend? If it weren’t for Kelsea, there’s no way I would have finished in the time I did. And let’s not forget about Jason who actually ran this race and finished, coincidentally, in my old PR time of 28:53.
As soon as I finished I noticed two things right off the bat. My lungs hurt. My lungs actually hurt. And they didn’t stop hurting for probably another hour. It also felt like I had taken a shot of Novocain to the upper lip. I could barely form the words, “I need to throw up,” without slurring my speech. And I worried that I might actually be drooling. When does summer start again?