After only two weeks of training, I decided to enter a 10K race. Normally, this would be a poor idea. However, this was an exception. What better way to enjoy Thanksgiving than to bang out 6 miles before stuffing myself with comfort food? Turkey trots are so laid-back, I knew this "race" would be a good idea. Except for me, it wasn't a race at all but an excuse to get out of bed and get workout in on the laziest day of the year.
Thursday morning in San Jose was freezing. This isn't just the wimpy, extra-sensitive, San Diegan in me. It was 30 degrees when I woke up. That's officially cold, especially for California (even though it is NorCal). Plus, my parents had killed the heat to save energy as they slumbered, dropping the temp in my tucked-away room to a frigid 56 degrees. Who wants to get out of bed at 5:30 am on Thanksgiving morning to that? I seriously debated canning it and plunging back into the depths of the blankets. Excuses ran through my head. I could run later. It's Thanksgiving! Shouldn't I get to sleep in? I hadn't even registered yet. However, I have fewer weeks of training behind me than not, making consistent workouts even more critical during this period. Why did I pick the holidays to get started? When everyone else is taking some well-earned time off and relaxing, I'm beginning training. Smart, Rachel. Real smart. I knew I would never live down the internal guilt if I skipped this workout. Plus, there was this strange foreign feeling inside me. Was that, could it be...excitement?
Donning ear warmers, gloves, a long-sleeved technical tee with a vest, and running tights, I got into my parents car to drive to the start. After fumbling around for several minutes before my dad showed me how to start the damn thing (stupid keyless cars), I was off to the start. The temperature was 34 degrees, reminding me of my Wisconsin days. Luckily, the sun was out, and even more suprising, I actually didn't feel that cold. Yea for appropriate-weather clothes! I registered and retreated back to the car to stay warm until it was closer to gun time. No sense standing out there shivering.
We huddled at the start, crowding together for warmth. Somebody reeked of B.O. Can't people be polite enough to smear some deodorant on their armpits in the morning? What does it take, 3 seconds? I pinched my nose in disgust. After the race, I couldn't believe how ripe I smelled. When I got home, I realized it was I who had forgotten the deodorant in my early morning haze. The gun went off and we slowly crossed the start, all 15,000 of us. Oddly, it didn't seem like that many people. Many racers were dressed in costumes, including a myriad of gawky turkeys, drumsticks, a plate of food, and a poor, very cold, skimpily-clad Sacagawea. I coaxed my legs to turn-over, reluctant in the stiffening early morning cold. The route wasn't very exciting. Just a maze of confusing turns through the streets of San Jose. I looked wistfully at the Guadalupe River Parkway Trail beside us, where the race course had taken place in years past. Now, I guess there's just too many people to safely squeeze onto the trail. Oh, well. I was still getting a great workout in.
Even though this was a "workout", my competitive spirit kicked in. Based on my burning lungs and heaving chest, I was definitely running at race pace. I felt like I was kicking butt. I passed mile marker 1 and checked my watch. Oh. My heart sank. I couldn't believe how slow I was going! Just a year ago, when I had done this very same race, I had PR'ed, exerting the same exact effort. What a difference a year (and 6 months of not training) makes. I guess training really does help. Maybe mile 1 was just a slow split. I checked my watch again at mile 2, 3, 4, 5, and, yes, 6. Nope. I was consistently slow. A year ago, I could bang out sub-8s. Now, I was happy to be just below a 10-minute mile. Boy, do I have my work cut out for me! Before I could start beating myself up, I reminded myself that this was not a race but a workout. I patted myself on the back just for showing up, just for being brave enough to subject myself to this, and for pushing myself through the entire 6.2 miles. Originally, because my running mileage has been so low, I was only going to sign up for the 5K. But the 10K was the same price! Free miles! I just couldn't resist. However, this was the first time I had run 6 miles in 6 months. I was just happy to be able to get through the damn thing without pooping out!
After putting things into perspective, I sat back and enjoyed myself. I pushed myself just hard enough to make it what felt like "race pace" on that day. However, I stopped caring about time. I was thankful to be out there just doing it. Thankful to be healthy enough to run and to have the motivation to push myself through it. I crossed the finish line just under an hour, feeling deeply satisfied. I may have my work cut out for me but this will be a great baseline to start from.
HAPPY THANKSGIVING, EVERYONE!!!
Previous Silicon Valley Turkey Trot Race Reports: