Friday, November 27, 2009
Turkey Trottin' It
We've had a bunch of visits this year from family and friends that have been great. At the same time, though, our family was really looking forward to this Thanksgiving-just the six of us, no traveling and nobody coming to visit either. Sometimes you just need a few days of getting up whenever, hanging out, and doing nothing in particular.
One of the only scheduled activities for the day was the third annual turkey trot, presented by the local firefighters union. I'd planned to do it one way or another, but my seven-year-old begged to do it, and there was no question in my mind that the answer to her request would be an emphatic "yes."
She's the kind of kid that the husband and I used to have nightmares about-literally. You know South Park, and the "you killed Kenny" moment in every episode? Yeah. That's the stuff that would keep us up late at night because she had NO healthy fear of anything, and never thought about consequences to her actions or words. Oh, and she used to hate even having to go out to walk as a family a few years ago, throwing fits and always being too hot, too cold, fill-in-the-blank with an excuse of why she thought it sucked. Some time between her birthday last May, and now, though, she's grown into this more mature kid, thinking before she acts or says something, and willingly putting her energy toward good stuff instead of mayhem and debauchery. We've discovered that while we NEVER would have wanted to get her big sis involved in as much stuff at this age, she's a totally different person and is thriving on a heavier dance schedule, and trying to walk and run whenever possible.
Though I use my treadmill as kind of my last choice, more out of necessity than anything else, she loves getting on that thing. Without fail, she asks to listen to Steve Runner's Phedippidations podcast episode about Kathrine Switzer every single time she gets on the hamster wheel. I don't question it, though-she gets on there, and I just watch as she recites the episode word-for-word, and moves the pace up and down automatically between running and walking breaks. It cracks me up when she's running and rocking out to the "Don't Tell Me What To Do Because I'm a Woman" song-I can't even talk that well on the treadmill, forget the headbanging and singing along. So, you might understand why she got an enthusiastic yes from me on the turkey trot participation question.
This event has grown exponentially each year, with the first year being one of those "we expected 100, and 300 showed up" kind of showings, where they had the unexpectedly (to them, anyway) good problem of trying to figure out how to manage a bigger crowd the next time out. It's no surprise to me that this race has taken off, though. Everyone likes to get out and burn off a few calories on turkey day, it takes place in a popular location for outdoor activity (the riverfront trail/state park where I do a lot of my long runs), and it really shows that the firefighters and other volunteers who help to put on the race have a vested interest in the event being successful. The firefighters are pretty darn fit themselves, and several have family and friend connections with people in the local running community. All of the money raised from the race goes to a fund that supports professional firefighters and their families who have been injured or killed on the job, and when I ran it for the first time last year it was obvious that they really appreciated the good turnout and wanted it to be a good experience for everyone. It's just a formula for success all the way around.
This year, I was not surprised when they informed us in pre-race instructions and announcements that there were 600-700 people there to run. This is pretty big-time in a city of 46,000, and they'd added a few nice touches this year, with firetrucks there pre-race for the kids to tour and sit in. My daughter was bashful about it, but I could see that she had her eye on the truck so I walked over with her to check it out. She got to climb up in the truck and grab a seat while the firefighter pointed things out, and chatted with her about where she went to school, and if this was her first time running the race. When it was time to race, they had the trucks roll slowly down the road to the start, with runners following behind. I positioned us near the back of the starting pack, and we talked about how we didn't want to go out too fast, and would try to keep the walk breaks short. Soon, they sounded the siren on the truck as the "starting gun," and we were off.
The first part of the race goes down a stretch of country road dotted with a few homes here and there, with some animals coming up to the fences to watch the action. We got off to a pretty good start, and my daughter was having fun saying howdy to dogs that would come up to fences to bark at the runners. There were a lot of kids at our spot in the pack, including some little guy who couldn't have been more than four-he kept having wardrobe malfunctions with his shoes, his jacket, his hat....you name it. His mom would stop him to adjust things, and then he'd be off like a shot down the road. We came upon a property that had some kind of ugly old ostrich strolling the edge of the property, and naming this guy proved to be a fun activity for us, eventually arriving on the name of Bubba for the old bird.
We hit the end of the first mile, and came up to the fork on the course where strollers and the trail-phobic could go straight ahead, and everyone else could turn off for a nice rolling jaunt around a small pond and through the trees. As we turned onto the trail, I looked at my daughter and said "congratulations, you're now a trail runner!" and she put her hand up for a high-five. I laughed as we rounded the pond, and she asked if we could go look at the water-I said to take a look at it as we ran, because it was still a race, even though we weren't racing other people today.
She took a few more walk breaks in mile two, but was pretty much on the same pace as the first mile. I got another chuckle when out of the blue she asks "wouldn't it be cool if we got to go over a log?" About ten seconds later, we rounded a corner and there was a short, steep hill with a couple of steps built with logs. Nice job on the course prediction, kid!
Getting into the third mile, the course rejoined the trotters who took the road route, and it was fairly crowded with walkers now. Though I was impressed that she was actually still in a whine-free zone, I could see that Kaia was getting a little tired so I busted out some song stylings and other diversions. We sang the Barenaked Ladies' "If I Had A Million Dollars," and Kaia recited the dialogue from version on the live album we have-"Oh, oh, the Bryant Street Theatre? It's right up that ladder, lady! Welcome-to the Bryant Street Theatre-have a fruit rollup!" She told her favorite "interrupting cow" knock-knock joke a gazillion times. I don't know how that never gets old. Coming to the end of the third mile, she was starting to run out of gas, but skipping and walking intervals kept it fresh and wacky. Yeah, we were acting ridiculous and I was loving it.
When the third mile began to wind down, Kaia began to get into a little bit of "my legs are mushy! They can't run anymore!" I said "listen-do you hear the crowd at the finish? You're ALMOST there!" No, no, I can't hear them, mom. Okay, fine-let's walk but let's keep moving. I knew that she *could* easily psych herself out about this like she might have a year or two ago, so I just kept playing distraction, knowing that we were SO close to finishing. She'd be thrilled to find out that it was her best 5K ever so long as she didn't just sit down for five minutes. As we approached the three mile marker, I was trying to coax her to run a little, but she was kind of set on briskly walking-so we just did that.
Then, we turned the corner and she could finally see the finish chute. That's about the last I saw of her as she perked up, started kicking, and flew on in to the finish. It was ridiculous the kind of speed she had-I'm definitely pure distance runner and just could not hang side-by-side, so I followed after her the best I could, finishing right behind her. We walked up to my husband and other kids at the end of the chute, where she proudly proclaimed, "I beat mommy!" Haha. She was perma-grinning it as we walked around after the race to talk with other people, repeating the news of her victory to anyone who would listen.
After that, it was home for cooking, eating, hanging out, eating, a little wine, eating, and eating. Yeah, we did eat a lot but I'm pleased to say I kept it somewhat in check, having a good plate of food and taking my time eating, not treating it like an all-you-can-eat buffet with half a dozen trips to refill the plate. Later in the day, my relaxed and idle mind took a trip to a little trail event in Moab in February, and decided that this would be a good race to put on my road-to-Boston schedule. The Red Hot 50K/33K is about two months prior, and while I don't think the 50K would be wise for me then, the 33K seemed like the perfect kind of event to throw in and keep things fresh with training.
I've never done it before, they limit the total field in both races to 350, and it should be one heckuva hill workout. Several fellow runners had mentioned the event over the past few months, so I think that no arm twisting would be required to get commitments from the usual suspects. It's been pretty empowering to progress from craptastic to an almost-average trail runner, so I just want to keep the ball rolling with that work-in-progress.