Monday, November 21, 2016

Lincolnwood Turkey Trot 2016 10k Race Recap

For the first race in a long time, I was running the Lincolnwood Turkey Trot without dreams of a PR. I'm in the midst of taking a "time out" from running so my fitness is less than stellar. I've run this race seven times before, so it's an annual tradition for me. Therefore, I'm willing to take a break from my running break to keep the tradition alive. That said, I also enjoy racing and trying my best at a race regardless of how much or little training I put into it. Part of the fun for me is determining where my fitness is at the moment and then come up with a pace per mile that corresponds to that fitness so I don't leave time on the table by running too slowly. Conversely, I don't want to overdo it and run some "painful" positive splits. As for a race plan, I hoped that I still had a sub-40 still left in me somewhere, so I'd try for a 6:24 average pace per mile. 

The weather would be a factor however. Just like last year, an arctic chill set over Chicagoland the day before the race. Temps were 25ยบ. For the first race since last year I wore long running pants to cover my legs and three layers for my upper body. It would probably end up costing me a few seconds but since I was running this race for fun and not a PR, I was hardly concerned about the aerodynamics of my outfit. 

Luckily, I had picked up my bib on Friday, so I didn't need to get to the race early for packet pickup. My dad and I left the house at 8:15am for the 8:45am start. 15 minutes after leaving home, we scored a street spot, then waited in the heated car for a few minutes. Then with about five minutes left, we slow jogged over to the start line. Once in the start corral I talked with John B who was running the 5k. Over the PA system, the mayor of Lincolnwood announced that whatever we do, we shouldn't finish last and that he was too old too run. The race started with a countdown and then several confetti cannons sprayed the lead runners with confetti right after they crossed the start line.

Start of the race (src)

The Race
Mile 1: Some eight year old kids slipped in front of me just before the gun sounded so in order to pass them I decided to floor it and weave around them. I also got caught up in the 5k rush so my pace was too fast for the first quarter mile or so. There was a strong tailwind which also tempted me to over-speed.  6:26/mile.

Mile 2: The wind was now a headwind. I became concerned as my pace slowed and my effort noticeably increased. I wondered if I was going to die a slow death of positive splits, but put my head down and hoped for the best. 6:39/mile.

Mile 3: I started to settle down and locked into what I thought was a manageable pace that would take me to the finish hopefully under 40 minutes. Tried unsuccessfully to tuck behind a couple of runners to draft off of them.  6:27/mile.

Mile 4: We were briefly joined by the 5k walkers. This is the perennial problem with the LWTT: The 5k walkers and 10k runners meet up a few times during the race. Oh well, what can you do? 6:26/mile.

Mile 5: My lungs started to open up, but my legs were tight and just didn't have the turnover that I'm used to. I realized at this point my dreams of a sub 40 were out of reach unless I pulled off a miracle final mile. 6:32/mile.

Mile 6: The miracle was not going to happen with my flat legs and the 1.2 miles of wall-to-wall with 5k walkers. Running past the walkers, I felt like an el car barreling past a platform of commuters. I used a 10k runner to act as my "guide" and when she would find an opening within the walkers, I would dart through the same one. It was like an obstacle course with oblivious walkers taking up the road as our fast race was going on around them. 6:18/mile.
Turn at mile 5.5 last year
Mile 6.29: My legs were burning since they hadn't run that fast in three weeks. Some walkers were taking selfies at the 6.0 mile marker so again another swerve. Luckily the end was in sight and for good measure I passed a couple of 10k runners near the finish line!  5:48/mile.

Race Summary: 
  • Official time: 40:18. Official pace: 6:30/mile
  • Overall Place: 13th out of 477
  • Age Place: 4th out of 71 (these are 10 year age groups)
  • Slowest 10k in 3 years
  • AG medal attained! 

I picked up my finisher medal, met my dad then headed over to the tent to have some hot soup. Then it was back to the car and was home by 10am. The entire excursion only took an hour and 45 minutes! 

Race Takeaway:
I'm happy to have almost hit my sub-40 target, but slightly disappointed that I ran the first mile too fast which may have dashed my hopes of attaining my goal. The extra layers and the cold wind probably also cost me a few seconds as well. In any case, it was a fun time close to home, and I look forward to running the race again next year!

Next up:

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Time Out

Over the last 90 weeks I ran an average of 57 miles per week, which got me in physical condition to set multiple PRs this year. Over that time-span I also trained hard for three marathon PR attempts. In between those three marathons - I took only a handful of days off before ramping up once again for the next one. All the while, I stayed injury free, so I started to feel somewhat invincible and impervious to whatever training load I demanded of myself. However, during my post 2016 Chicago Marathon break, aches and pains surfaced that had been previously masked by daily doses of endorphins over the last 90 weeks. What also became apparent - without those daily runs to get my blood pumping - was that I was physically exhausted. Not only did I not have the energy to run, but forcing myself to jump back into my old running regimen so soon, seemed counter productive to my long term running health.

So, as much as I don't like running blog posts about people who aren't running, here I am with one of those posts. This break may last a week or it may last three weeks. I may do a spur of the moment turkey trot "just for fun" in a couple of weeks, but will be going in without any expectations or training for that matter. So far, I have even resisted signing up for a spring marathon and also for signing up for the 2017 Chicago Marathon. Not having any pressure of getting ready for a race is a welcome break after so many weeks with one looming on the horizon.

I know when I'll be ready when I feel my legs start to hunger to sprint again, and the fog has lifted from lots and lots of sleep. In the meantime, I still plan to continue to eat "healthier", catch up on sleep, do some yoga/stretching and strength training. My long term goal will be to resume training at some indeterminate time in the future, hopefully before my endurance fitness fades. I'm not going to let myself go completely, but just enough to get back "that feeling".