On Thanksgiving morning, I ran in the Louisville Colorado Turkey Trot 5K. It was my second race ever (after the 10K I ran at Universal Studios two weekends ago), and my first 5K. It wasn’t, however, my first Turkey Trot…
I used to run in Turkey Trot races each and every year in elementary school, and I hated it. With a passion. They were mandatory school-wide events on the last day before Thanksgiving break, organized by our gym teacher. Each grade competed amongst themselves, with prizes going to the fastest boy and fastest girl in each grade. In first grade, we ran one lap around the playground and baseball diamond (either 1/4 mile or 1/5 mile, I can’t remember), and each year, a lap was added, so by the time we hit 5th grade, were were running a full mile.
Here I am in 1988, nine years old – so probably 4th grade?
I was the chubby kid in my class, and I couldn’t run to save my life, so the Turkey Trot was dreadful. We would train during the month of November by running around the playground during gym class, and I remember praying for it to be over. The only gym class activity I hated more was climbing the rope, because that was a public display of my complete lack of physical abilities, with the rest of my class sitting in a circle, watching me not able to even hoist myself one foot off the ground. At least with running, less people noticed how slow I was, and how much panting was needed for me to move, because they were all running in front of me – figures getting smaller and smaller in the distance as the gap between me and nearly everyone else increased.
I do have good elementary school gym class memories, too – mainly ones involving games with a giant parachute, and the days when we played Pac-Man, a live-action version of the video game, set to what was, at the time, one of my favorite songs: Buckner & Garcia’s (no relation) “Pac-Man Fever.”
I digress. On the day of the Walnut Lake Elementary School Turkey Trot, I would always oscillate between feeling nervous and feeling terrified, with both feelings stemming from knowing that my finish would be downright embarrassing. I don’t recall actually being teased for being fat or slow, but I was mortified that it would happen. When I was in fourth and fifth grade, I used to hope that the fast kids would lap me early on, so the teachers and parent volunteers would lose track of how many laps I had run, and maybe, just maybe, I could squeak by running one less lap than I was supposed to.
Thankfully, the fast kids earned most of the attention after the Turkey Trot, as they should have, and in my grade, the Turkey Trot was dominated, year after year, by the same kids. My friend Bryce won every year for the boys, and my friend Ashlee won every year (except one) for the girls. The best part was their prize: every winner went home with a frozen turkey donated by the little independent grocery story across the street. I talked with my friend Sean (who was my next door neighbor and friend since we were in diapers) and he made a valid point: While a frozen turkey may be helpful for the winner’s family come Thanksgiving Day, couldn’t they have come up with a better prize to encourage 6-10 year olds? Why should an 8-year-old care about a frozen turkey?
Fast-forward more than 2 decades. I’m now 32 years old, and I actually enjoy running (sometimes). It’s been a stellar fall for my running career – At the beginning of October, I reached my own personal goal of running nonstop past all the strip clubs in my neighborhood, and two weeks ago I ran in my first sanctioned race, the 10K through the movie studio backlots. Both of those runs were over 6 miles, so when my sister Sarah asked if I wanted to run in her local Turkey Trot 5K when I came to visit for Thanksgiving, I said sure! 5K? Easy-peasy.
Because the Turkey Trot was happening about a mile from Sarah’s house, in a neighborhood without tons of parking, we decided to ride bikes down to the starting line. There were about 600 runners there, and we arrived nice and early, leaving lots of stretching time, and lots of chit-chat with a few of Sarah’s friends that were also running that morning. Here’s Sarah and I pre-race:
We claimed a spot in the crowd near the front of the pack – here’s everyone awaiting the starter pistol:
The course started on some residential streets, and then entered a big park, where the course narrowed from a full street to a narrow path. It was a beautiful park – lots of open space, and a trail that dodged and weaved alongside a creek, with the Rocky Mountains looming in the distance. At the halfway point, we turned around, and ran back along the same route to the finish line.
The weather was perfect, and despite not having run since the 10K two weeks ago (thanks, in part, to being sick for the past week), my running felt strong. The best part of the race was running it with Sarah. She’s so funny, smart and supportive, and it was really wonderful to be able to do something physical like this with her – the first non-swimming physical activity we’ve done together since… well, I don’t know when.
The worst part about the race was that it was crowded. We were on a narrow path for most of the run, and the path was divided down the center, to accommodate runners going in both directions, so passing other runners was very difficult. Sarah and I, as it turns out, are pretty well-matched in regards to our pace, and we stayed within a few yards of each other for most of the race, until I broke out in the lead at the very end.
Here we are a few minutes after completing the 5K:
Which brings me to…
David’s Official Results From the 1st Annual Louisville Turkey Trot 5K, 11/24/11:
- Total Time: 26:57
- Pace (my average time for each kilometer): 5.23
- Pace (my average time for each mile): 8:39
- Place: 147th out of 593 runners/walkers.
- Place in my Age Group (Men 30-39): 40th out of 101 runners/walkers.
- Number of other runners with the last name Garcia in the 5K, all of whom are unrelated to me: 3 (Sarah’s no longer a Garcia – her married name is Van Houten).
- I’m getting faster! When I compare these results to my 10K results, my per-mile-pace dropped drastically, from 9:32 to 8:39. I know it’s an apples-to-oranges comparison, since I paced myself differently for the 10K, and the 10K was on a much hillier course, but I’m still proud.
- I finished in the top quarter of all the participants!
Keep it up, David!
MY NEXT POST: How I fared during Thanksgiving dinner.