Every year on Thanksgiving, participants in the YMCA of Greater Louisville Turkey Day Fun Run race past my house, but this was the first year I decided to participate.
The race has a bit of a funny setup. There’s no set distance. The options are simply called “Short Run” and “Long Run.” The lengthier option is roughly a 10K, so I (and almost every runner I know) registered for this distance. Ultrarunner Jeff was visiting his sister just across the river in Indiana, and he was all set to run the race with us, but injuries and a doctor-ordered break from running sidelined those plans. Rest up, man!
On Thanksgiving morning, my friend, Scott, came over and we ran the mile or so the Y as a warmup. I’d already picked up our packets, so there was no need to check in. My plan for this race was to run as comfortable as possible. Since there was no designated distance, there wasn’t going to be an opportunity to PR. I figured a 10:00 mile would be a good, easy pace.
After the requisite pre-race pictures, I shuffled toward the start line and ended up farther back than I should have been. When we were given the signal to go, I spent the first mile bobbing and weaving my way toward my pace group. Scott and I ran alongside Lindsay, but the pace and congestion proved too much for her and she sped off. Our friend, Ben, pushing his daughter in a stroller, ran with us for a minute, but he, too, decided to speed up and disappeared into the crowd in front of us.
I’d accidentally left the volume turned up on my phone, and the RunKeeper app lady let us know we’d clocked a 9:08 for the first mile. I felt good, so I figured I’d just go with it. Since the race was in my neighborhood, I’d run pretty much the entire course (or parts of it) about a hundred times.
After two pit stops for shoelaces that refused to stay tied, our pace had slowed to 9:18. It still felt surprisingly comfortable, so we kept at it. There was a little girl running about 20 yards in front of us for awhile. I’m fairly accustomed to losing races to small children and the elderly, but Scott hasn’t run in enough sanctioned events to have been exposed this humbling experience. This little girl couldn’t have been older than eight or nine, and she was chugging right along in what appeared to be a red velour sweatsuit. Little Red was stylin’ and profilin’. And embarrassing the men behind her.
The course was fairly flat, with one “hill” at the end. It’s not really that big of a hill, but it’s an incline. And it was enough to slow down Little Red so that we could pass her and save a little face.
On the final stretch of the race back at the Y, Lindsay (who had already finished) yelled out that Scott and I should sprint to the end. We took off, and he cut me off with his gangly legs, so technically he won by exactly one second.
Afterward, I hung around to watch our friends finish (and subsequently ended up missing all of them) before running back to my house to begin the day.
My official time ended up being 55:02:34, and the course was 5.985 miles long. The overall eight miles I logged in that morning helped offset the deluge of calories I consumed that afternoon.
I feel prepped and ready to start pushing my distance times to sub-9:00s. Slowly but surely, I think I can get faster.
Here’s hoping everyone had a great Thanksgiving!
Keep running, friends.
Some photos courtesy of Eileen H. and Scott S.