I know that the purpose of Thanksgiving is supposed to be taking time out to think about how thankful you are about everything/everyone you have, and that sort of thing, but I like to think of myself as a pretty grateful person every day of the year. So, traditionally, I have celebrated Thanksgiving a little differently: try to move as little as possible, and then eat as much as possible. Of course I can be thankful at the same time, but there’s no hiding what my true intentions are. A few years ago my mom caught on to this and started demanding that I help make dinner, putting great strains on my efforts to sit motionless and wait idly for a huge meal to be fed to me. This year an even bigger obstacle was put in the way of this goal, and somehow I was convinced to go do one of those Turkey Trots happening all over the place.
My running buddy and I went to the one put on by the Oregon Road Runners Club that starts at the zoo. It would have been nice to take the MAX there so we wouldn’t have to deal with traffic, but the zoo is the closest MAX station to my house, so we had to drive. We only got there 15 minutes early, which was a mistake because I had to poop and there were super long lines at the outhouses, so I never got my chance. Luckily the urge subsided and things went okay in that regard. Again, I have to reiterate that I don’t bring up my poop to be obscene, it’s just that the state of your bowels is extremely relevant to how well a race goes. Those of you who are also runners understand that needing to take a poop while you’re running can negatively affect your race just as much as missing breakfast, not having the right pump-up music, or breaking your ankle.
A couple minutes before 8AM, we all lined up at the start. I usually head back a ways to avoid getting caught up with the super fast people, but I was already near the front and working my way through the crowd looked hard, so I positioned myself right behind the first row of runners. A girl next to me asked me if I run a lot. I hate these questions before a race. I’m often curious how fast other runners are, but I realize that asking can make me seem like I lack confidence in my abilities, and I’m about to find out anyway. I also don’t know how to answer these questions. Some people gasp in awe when I say I try to run 20-30 miles a week. Then there’s the guy I met at Pints to Pasta this summer, that scoffed at the fact that I don’t run twice a day – “you should really be running about 80 miles a week.” So when some complete stranger starts a conversation with “do you run a lot?” I really don’t know what to say. I told her I try to, so this started her on the “how fast are you going to run this?” track. We established that she planned to run around 8 minute miles, and that I was hoping to go a bit faster than that, so she was “going to try to keep up with me.” Great.
Instead of a starting gun, we had a man say, “On your mark… Get set… GOBBLE GOBBLE GOBBLE!!” As we took off, the girl who wanted to keep up with me flew ahead of me, starting right behind the fastest men. That might have intimidated me, but she was wearing a crazy zig-zag tank-top over a t-shirt, that very much gave the vibe of a recreational runner, and not somebody who could actually keep up with the pace she started at. Her shirt didn’t look stupid or anything, it just didn’t look like what a fast runner would wear to any kind of race. I was right, and passed her in about 20 seconds.
I often have the problem of going out too fast, and that combined with the fact that I started right in front, I expected that after the first mile or so I might have a lot of people passing me. In this case, I was wrong. The first two miles were straight downhill, at which point we were to turn around and come right back up. Downhill and uphill running uses different muscles, so I decided to run as fast as I could for the first two miles and wear out my downhill muscles as much as I could, since I would be switching muscle groups on the way up. I passed the first mile mark in 6:03, making it my fastest mile of the year (though I can’t really compare it to my other miles since it was all downhill). I kept waiting for a ton of people to start passing me, but it wasn’t happening. At the bottom of the hill (right by the tennis courts at the Rose Garden), was the turnaround point, so you could see who was ahead of you as they came back up the same road in the opposite direction. Here I realized that only three girls were ahead of me. The bottom wasn’t actually quite 2 miles (since the end had extra running through the zoo, past where we started), but I still felt that the 12:12 it took me to get there was pretty quick.
Things obviously slowed down coming back up, but I still felt pretty good – especially compared to running up Milolii Road in Hawaii. A bunch of guys passed me, but only about 4 girls, and I passed at least one of them back by the end. Sprinting through the zoo at the end was really run, but the end is pretty anticlimactic. There’s no real finish line, just somebody standing there handing you a flyer for some other road race, and a clock with the running time that was about 45 seconds faster than what I had on my watch. So I either finished in 28:33 or 29:15. I was definitely in the top ten for women, and it was probably one of my best races all year, but there were no recorded results or anything like that, so I had to accept a small chocolate turkey as my only reward. And everybody got one of those.
I’m not complaining (that much) though, because I ran an awesome race, it didn’t rain, and I got to see the elephants and the dancing polar bear. Then when I got home, I still had to cook some, but I also got to watch both versions of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Elf, so plenty of laziness still happened. And I was really thankful for that.