The Trot Off Your Turkey 5K in Barrington, R.I., in Saturday, November 30 was, I’m amazed to say, my very first Turkey Trot in seven years of racing.
It was a fantastic local event with 637 runners in the 5K and 229 in the 1.5-mile run/walk. I loved everything about this race, from the flat course and bountiful post-race spread to the great T-shirt design and warm, community vibe.
It was 28 degrees at the start, so my husband, Phil, and I bundled up for a brisk run on a cloudless, blue-sky day.
A food drive and raffle raised money for TapIn, an all-volunteer, outreach program that provides food, clothing, household goods, transportation and other services to local residents in need.
The main event was a fundraiser for St. Luke’s School, where the race was held. Bib pick-up and the raffle were inside the school gym, which I very much appreciated since it was so cold outside.
I’d pre-purchased six raffle tickets with my registration. You got to choose which items you wanted to draw for. A table with all the items sat in a corner of the gym with buckets in front of each to put your tickets in.
As I got my tickets, organizers were calling runners out to the start, so I hurriedly placed my tickets in a few buckets without completely reading what they were for.
Then Phil and I dashed off to the start, where we were toward the back of the pack. The horn blasted as soon as we got there.
There were no timing chips. Runners were timed the old-fashioned way. The gun time, not net, is your final time. At the finish, you’re shuttled into a single-file chute, where a race official takes a rip-off tab from the bottom of your bib and places it in order on a spike. A timer stands at the finish, writing down bib numbers and finish times.
The course was flat and fast as promised with a start and finish at St. Luke’s Church and School, touring runners around a lake and quiet residential streets.
I started my watch with the horn, but we didn’t actually cross the start for 10-15 seconds. Since I started at the back of the pack, I spent the entire race passing people. It’s such a mental boost, rather than being passed. Being in the back also helped me start slowly and ease into a good clip.
By the 1-mile mark, I was pushing hard and it actually felt good. There were no mile-markers on the course so I just checked my watch every so often.
At two miles, a volunteer was on the side of the road calling out times. With one mile to go, I knew I was in personal record territory, so I pushed just a bit harder as I saw the church and school come into sight.
I crossed the finish in 24:46 at a 7:59 pace, which is a new 5K PR. I am deliriously happy with that.
Earlier this summer, I ran a 3-mile PR of 23:22 at a 7:47 pace at the end of a triathlon, but I was almost certain the course was a bit short at 2.9 miles. So my pace there was really 8:03. Still a PR—my previous 5K PR was 26:45—but not quite sub-8 pace.
The Trot Off Your Turkey 5K was a measured 3.1 miles, and my GPS watch actually agreed. So pace over pace, this topped even my 3-mile effort this summer.
Considering I didn’t even cross the start right away, I know my net time was even faster that 24:46. Plus, I had more gas left in the tank. I didn’t finish this race redlining as I have done a few times this year.
It feels good to end the year on a high. It also confirms what I already knew: I’m a much stronger 5K and 10K runner than half-marathoner and marathoner.
With the finish line behind me, I headed into the gym for some post-race turkey soup. It was warm and delicious with big chunks of white meat.
Plus, there were doughnuts, muffins, bagels, pizza, bananas, oranges, chips, salsa—a truly impressive spread.
I checked the raffle winners to discover that I won! When I was doling out my raffle tickets, I saw a bucket that read, “Warren Animal Hospital.” Being a dog lover and dog mommy, I threw my ticket in.
I won a large gift box complete with toys, food, treats, shampoo and more…for your cat.
I had a good laugh. Another runner saw me hauling it away and said: “I bet you don’t even have a cat.”
“Nope! I don’t!” I said. We both laughed. One of my cat-owning friends will be getting a very nice gift soon.
I found Phil, who’d run his own 5K PR in 19:44, finishing 47th overall among 637 runners and 39th among 340 men. I finished 166th overall and 39th among 297 women. It’s definitely one of my best finishes ever.
My first Turkey Trot was a resounding success, and a great way to finish off my 2013 racing season with turkey soup in hand.
Here’s to 2014!